DIP switches are those nasty, tiny plastic toggle switches that come mounted together in a row on a little box-like part attached to your computer’s motherboard or on some of your add-in boards. Each individual switch in a DIP switch unit can be set either on or off, allowing you to control some aspect of your computer’s function. For example, on the older IBM pcs and compatibles, you had to set the DIP switches to match the amount of memory installed in your computer, to tell it what kind of monitor you had, and so on. On the add-in modem board I just installed, I had to flip some of the DIP switches so the computer would know where to find the board electronically.
DIP switches are a monumental pain. For one thing, they’re so small it’s hard to switch them. Use the tip of a ballpoint pen, an unfolded paper clip, a baby screwdriver blade, or some other fairly pointy, narrow tool. Worse yet, they’re always mounted in some out-of-the-way place, like on the back of your computer or inside it. Even if you can get to the switches without opening up the computer, you have to pull the machine out from the wall as far as it will go, cram your head back there, and just hope you’ll switch the right switch. And the labels that tell you which direction is on or off are horrible. The writing is too small to see, and usually it says 1 and 0 instead of ON and OFF (yes, 1 [one] means on, 0 [zero] means off).
The point is, if two products are otherwise equal in features and price, choose the one that doesn’t have DIP switches. It will set itself up automatically, or maybe it comes with a software utility that lets you set it up by choosing options on your computer screen.