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I have 2 laptops sitting on my desk, but only one Ethernet outlet. At the moment, one of the laptops is connected via WiFi, but it's too slow for my needs.

I suppose I could buy a router, but they are bulky and I am running out of space and it seems like an overkill.

Is there a device I could buy that would allow me to connect both laptops to the Ethernet?

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Get a small 4-port switch. Switches will do what you want with no configuration needed.

There's no passive "splitter" style adapter that will do what you want, if you are asking that.

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The small switch is probably the best solution, but there is another option that you may come across that I'll just explain. You may find so-called Ethernet port doublers, which look like a twin phone adapter only Ethernet (RJ45) sized. These can work - but will only work at 10 or 100Mb Ethernet not Gigabit, and you have to have two doublers - one at your wall port and another at the patch-panel with cables going to two real switch ports.

The reason they work is that there are four pairs or cables in Ethernet cable, but only two pairs are used for 10/100. The splitter is wired so that the extra two unused pairs are connected to the usual pins on the 2nd port. Gigabit Ethernet uses all four pairs, so if you use a port doubler - you max out at 100Mb.

  • But for that to work, the Ethernet jack has to be wired for a second port in the first place. – Jamie Hanrahan Mar 20 '18 at 15:11
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Does one of the PCs have two Ethernet ports by any chance? Many do. If so, it could be configured to act as a Switch for the other.

It would take quite a lot of configuration work, and the performance hit may well be prohibitive. But, then again, it may work.

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