What should you consider before purchasing a Network Interface Card?

What should you consider before purchasing a Network Interface Card?

Purchasing a network interface card (NIC) can be challenging. Additionally, the variety of NICs available on the market, including PCIe cards, USB network adapters, etc., adds to the complexity of the purchasing process. So, how do you pick a network interface card? The following things need to be considered before purchasing.

The PCI network card, which has a fixed width of 32 bits (133 MB/s transmission data) and 64 bits (266 MB/s transmission data), was created in 1990. However, over time, PCI cards were gradually superseded by PCI-X cards. The extended PCI bus technology known as PCI-X (Peripheral Component Interconnect eXtended) is backward compatible with PCI NIC and is used in network interface cards. The most recent interface standard, PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect express) cards, is only software compatible with older PCI bus specifications. It has a unique hardware arrangement. PCIe express network cards are available in four different physical sizes: x1, x2, x4, x8, and x16 (see more about PCIe card types). It is impossible to install a PCIe card in a PCI or PCI-X slot and vice versa since the hardware mechanisms of PCIe and PCI and PCI-X are different.

Keep in mind that PCIe network cards are the most widely used network card type currently available, whereas PCI and PCI-X cards are exclusively utilized in legacy hardware. PCIe slots are typically built into recently released servers, PCs, and other hosts. In the long term, PCIe network interface cards therefore appear to be a better option.

Find out the network adapter required speed

When selecting a network interface card, this issue certainly cannot be overlooked. Ensure that the network speed of your new NIC card is compatible with it. For instance, if your ISP only delivers 1Gb speed, you cannot expect a 10Gb Ethernet card to get 10Gb speed. Today, practically all network cards can run at least at Gigabit speeds, which will satisfy all requirements for home networks. However, you should pick a 10Gb or 25Gb network card, or even a 40Gb network card, if you want to utilize the new card in servers that need more bandwidth to handle more traffic.

Determined the Required Port Numbers

Most transmission requirements can be met by a NIC network card with a single port. NIC cards with numerous ports, however, are excellent options for servers or workstations to handle various jobs. One of the network interface card's ports, for instance, may be used to communicate core data while the other ports could be used to carry regular signals. This could strengthen network security. Multi-port NIC cards can also offer redundancy for the network. Users can utilize the other port to deliver the data if the first one is down.

Verify the type of connectors that the Network Interface Card supports

Common network interface cards feature three different connector types because of network transmission media. Two ports can be available on some network interface cards at once, and three ports can be available on other network interface cards simultaneously. AUI, BNC, and RJ-45 ports are included. Thicker coaxial cable is frequently connected using the BNC connection, while thicker coaxial cable is frequently connected using the AUI connector. Unshielded twisted pair is typically connected using the RJ-45 port connector. A tiny coaxial cable and a bus system with a BNC connector are used by many small local area networks.

Verify the operating system and network card compatibility

Different operating systems are supported by PCs, network servers, and other hosts from various vendors (OSs). Therefore, it's crucial to confirm before buying that your new network adapter supports the OS that your device uses. Otherwise, the card won't function.

Establish your expectations for the network card

Ensure that the network interface card's features can meet the needs of your applications. All NIC cards can provide access to the Internet if that is all you need them to do. However, you must verify the manual or contact the vendor directly to make sure the NIC card supports any additional capabilities you need, such as FCoE (Fiber Channel over Ethernet), iSCSI, or PCI-SIG implementation.

Additional Considerations When Purchasing a Network Adapter

When deciding which network card to use, your budget is usually a crucial consideration. Network interface cards come in a variety of models, speeds, performances, and manufacturers; their prices also vary significantly. Selecting a vendor who provides customer care and technical assistance for pre-sales and after-sales to address all your difficulties will be an added advantage.

How should I pick a network card? According to the information above, it is advised to consider the network card's bus type, transmission speed, port numbers, connection type, operating system, features, brand, and price aspects depending on your network environment before purchasing one.

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