How to choose a network adapter?

by sogrow team

How to choose a network adapter?

Buying a network card is a daunting task, especially if someone bought it for the first time. The various types of NICs (Network Interface Cards) on the market, such as PCIe cards, USB network adapters, etc., also complicate the buying process. Then how do choose a network card? Below are the factors to consider before purchasing a network card. 

Be careful with the bus type of the NIC 

NICs can be classified into PCI, PCIX, PCIe, and USB network adapters based on various bus interfaces. Generally, three types of PCI-based network cards are used to install the proper slots on the motherboard of devices such as host and servers, and the Universal Serial Bus (USB) network adapter is an external bus standard.


The PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) network card was developed in 1990 and has a fixed width of 32 bits (133 MB / s data transfer) and 64 bits (266 MB / s data transfer). Later, however, the PCI card was gradually replaced by a PCIX card. The PCIX (Peripheral Component Interconnect eXtended) network interface card is an advanced PCI bus technology and is backwards compatible with PCI NICs. The PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) card is the latest interface standard that only supports other PCI bus specifications through software. Its hardware design is different. On the market, x1, x2, x4, x8, and x16 are the four physical sizes of PCIe Express network cards (learn more about the types of PCIe cards). Since the hardware mechanism of PCIe differs from  PCI and PCIx, it is not possible to insert a PCIe card into a PCI or PCI-X slot and vice versa (see PCI vs. PCI-X vs. PCIe for details). 

Please note that PCIe NICs are the most popular type of NIC on the market, while PCI and PCIX cards are only used in older devices. Newly released servers, PCs, and other hosts often have PCIe slots. Therefore, PCIe NICs appear to be the best long-term option.


Determine the required speed of the network adapter  If you are not sure which network card to choose, this factor cannot be ignored. Make sure the speed of your new network card matches the speed of your network. For example, if your ISP only offers 1 Gbps, you cannot expect to get 10 Gbps with a 10 Gb Ethernet card. Almost all current network cards can operate with at least one-gigabit speed, which meets all the requirements of a home network. However, if you plan to use the new card in your servers that need higher speeds to handle more traffic, then you'd better choose a 10GB and 25GB network card, or even a 40GB network card.

Provide the port number of the network card. 

Usually, a single port NIC is fine, it will take care of most transmission needs. However, multiport NICs are good options for servers or workstations for a variety of tasks. For example, one port on a NIC can be used to deliver basic data, while other ports can be used to transmit conventional signals. This can improve the security of the network. In addition, multiport NICs can provide network redundancy. If one port cannot work, users can use another port to deliver data.


Check the type of connector that the NIC supports 

Some Ethernet cards have RJ45 connectors, and some fibre NICs use SFP + or QSFP + ports, or even some cards may use BNC (Bayonet Connectors). 

For an RJ45 card such as a 1 / 10GBASET NIC, Ethernet cables (such as Cat5e or Cat6) must be used to work with the card. Figure 2 shows the connection. 10 Gigabit Ethernet card connects to the RS7188 rack server. And the FS S58 S585048T4Q 10Gbps network switch will transmit data to the server using Cat6 patch cords. 

Optical NICs typically use single-mode or multimode fibre as the transmission medium, as shown in Figure 3. The 40Gb server NIC is connected to the RS7188 NIC. The FS S585048S6Q 10G Fiber Optic Switch with QSFP + ports then delivers the signals to the RS7188 server at 40Gbps through the OM4 MTP fibre optic cable. Please note that for short-distance transmission, DAC 40G cables can be used instead of MTP cable and QSFP + modules to achieve connectivity. 

For a network card with a BNC connector, coaxial cables are required for the connection. Please note that these kinds of network adapters are deprecated. Therefore, it is not recommended to buy a network card with a BNC connector.


Find out which operating system the NIC supports. 

PCs, network servers, and other hosts from different manufacturers support different operating systems (OS). For example, network servers can run Windows Server 2008 R2, Redhat Enterprise Linux Server, and so on. Therefore, your new network adapter must be compatible with the operating system your device uses before purchasing. Otherwise, the network card will not work.


Find out what features you expect from a network card 

Make sure the network card features are appropriate for your applications. If you only want to provide Internet access, all NICs can. However, if you need to support advanced features such as FCoE (Fiber Channel over Ethernet), iSCSI, or PCI-SIG implementation, you will need to read the user manual or contact the vendor directly to make sure the NIC supports the required feature.


Other factors should not be overlooked when deciding to purchase a network adapter. 

Budget is always an important factor when choosing a network card. The price of a NIC varies widely, as it accommodates different models, speeds, specifications, and manufacturers. Also, be sure to buy from reputable providers, as a reputable provider will generally offer better service. Some vendors may not offer a one-stop service to customers. Choosing a supplier that offers 24/7 customer service and technical support covering presales and aftersales.



How to choose a network card? Based on the above, it is recommended to consider the bus type, baud rate, port numbers, connector type, operating system, features, brand and price factors of the network card based on the actual network environment before purchasing.