As a rule, network cards already built into most computers. However, to achieve a better connection quality, it can help install a new network card on the computer. Also, depending on the type of network adapter, the speed of the Internet can become faster.
We should consider some factors to find the right network card for your devices. Our network card test should help you with your purchase decision. We have answered the most critical questions about the topic and compared the different types of network cards.
The essentials in brief
- The use of a network card is to connect your computer or laptop to another network. In this case, this could be a WLAN connection or LAN connection, for example.
- When buying a network card, the type of connection is crucial. We should consider beforehand whether it should be a normal or a wireless connection. The selection of network cards and adapters varies accordingly.
- We should evaluate many different criteria for network cards before making a purchase decision. The decision depends very much on the requirements of the respective user.
Ethernet PCI network card
This Ethernet PCI network card, manufactured by the D-Link brand, is ideal for connecting your computer to the Internet via gigabit. The bandwidth reaches a speed of up to 2000 Mbit per second. There is no need for a fibre optic connection because there is a connection of the network card to the PC via cabling.
All can use the network card in any PC with a Windows, Linux or Mac OS operating system. The connection is via a LAN connector. Use the adapter and only the driver software installed after connection. The network card is then ready for immediate use.
Editor’s rating: For different requirements, The Ethernet PCI network card used in various ways. It is suitable with all standard operating systems. It also guarantees a stable internet connection and a good transfer speed.
Gigabit PCIe network card
The Gigabit PCIe network card with the model number TG-3468 from the TP-Link brand is an inexpensive network card for all computers with a Windows operating system. The plug-in connection is effortless. So no specific expertise is required. As soon as the network card has appropriately installed on the PC, an Internet connection is immediately possible. The computer only needs to be connected to a nearby network.
The network adapter has a LAN connection to establish an Internet connection. The transmission rate ranges up to 2000 Mbit per second. The data transfer is very stable both in the download and in the upload. It is ensuring by the two antennas that are in the scope of delivery. A Bluetooth cable for connecting the network card is also there. For fast installation, a Quick Installation Guide included.
Editor’s rating: The TG-3468 PCIe network card from TP-Link is an inexpensive and suitable option for anyone looking for a new network card for their Windows PC. The transfer rate is very high for the price range, and it is easy to connect, thanks to the simple installation.
Archer T3U WLAN adapter
The Archer T3U WLAN adapter from the brand TP-Link is an adapter that connects to your device via the USB port. It is to connect your computer or laptop to WiFi. You can manually switch between two streaming bandwidths. For normal activities such as emails, social media and surfing the Internet, the speed of 400 Mbit / s is a must. For downloading large data, streaming in HD or gaming, the WLAN adapter achieves a transfer rate of up to approx. 870 Mbit / s.
This USB adapter is ideal for devices that have a Windows or Mac OS operating system. Its practical size makes it perfect for on the go and can connect to your device at any time. Including a CD in the scope of delivery makes the adapter’s installation easy, and no further knowledge is required.
Editor’s rating: This WLAN adapter from TP-Link is perfect for all end devices with a Windows or Mac OS operating system. It is suitable for every requirement, as we can set the two different variants manually and, thanks to the practical size, can be used at any time.
Ugreen USB Gigabit Ethernet adapter
As an alternative to a conventional network card, we can use the Ugreen USB Gigabit Ethernet adapter. The adapter guarantees a stable connection to the Internet for high-speed data transmission, video streaming or gaming. The speed of data transmission is up to 1000Mbit / s. It consists of aluminium housing for high durability and an intelligent design.
The USB adapter is compatible with all operating systems and devices, including newer Windows versions, Mac OS and Linux. The integrated LED light helps you to see the battery level at any time. In addition to the network adapter, a CD with the driver software supplied for easy installation. We can use the adapter on any end device that has a USB port.
Editor’s rating: Ugreen USB Gigabit Ethernet adapter is ideal for end devices whose Internet connection needs to be improved using a LAN cable. It ensures stable data transmission. In addition, it is compatible with many different devices and, thanks to its simple installation, is very easy to use.
The best WiFi network card
The dual-band PCI-Express WLAN network card from TP-Link is a PCI-Express adapter to improve and speed up your Internet connection. Achieve a transfer rate of up to approx. 870 Mbit / s. It is possible thanks to the two detachable antennas.
The PCIe network card is compatible with any end device that has a Windows operating system—built quickly due to the space-saving design, into your computer. In addition, the plan is self-cooling, so that heat dissipation is automatically guaranteed. The simple installation is made possible by plugging into the PCI slot and the enclosed installation CD.
Editor’s rating: This network card from TP-Link is ideal for Windows devices that want to improve the WLAN connection. Thanks to the detachable antennas, three times the speed achievement of a conventional rate. In addition, it can be installed by anyone as, thanks to the simple installation, no special knowledge is required.
The best powerful network card
The PCIe LAN network card from the brand 10Gtek is high quality for Windows servers and end devices with a Linux or Windows operating system. The card can help stabilize the server. It can be used on all PCI slots, making the connection very easy. When used, transmission speed can reach up to 10Gbit / s.
You can use the network card on all PCI slots. Before using it, installation of the associated driver software is a must. We can use the enclosed driver CD for this or download the official website’s software.
The connection and the installation are straightforward. Thanks to the high transfer rate, fast data transfer is made possible. It is particularly advantageous with servers or large data packets.
Editor’s rating: The PCIe LAN network card from 10Gtek is a high-quality version among network cards. It is particularly suitable for special requirements, such as a high-speed and stable connection. It is also ideal for processing large amounts of data.
Network cards: purchase and evaluation criteria
So that you can make the right choice for your needs when buying your network card, we should observe few points. To help you further, we have summarized the most important criteria for you below.
- Compatible operating system
- Transfer rate
- Suitability for desktop/laptop?
- Bus systems/interfaces
- Suitability for WLAN / LAN?
You can find out precisely what you should pay attention to here:
Compatible operating system
Before buying a network adapter, you should check which operating system your PC or laptop has. This system must be compatible with the new network card.
If there is no compatibility between the network card and the operating system, we can not establish any connection between the networks.
You can read beforehand in the product description whether your operating system is compatible with the network card or the adapter.
Systems such as Windows, Linux and macOS are usually supported. However, if you are using a separate operating system, you should inform yourself of it beforehand.
The transfer rate of your network card determines the speed. So the better the transfer rate of your network card, the better your connection.
The network cards offered on the market vary in their transfer rate between 10/100/1000 Mbit per second and 10 Gigabit per second. However, especially at very high transmission speeds, it is crucial to check whether your device supports this connection rate.
However, devices with a high transmission rate are usually correspondingly expensive. Before you buy, you should think about how fast your connection should not pay too much in the end.
Suitability for desktop/laptop?
Network adapters differ in their suitability for standard PCs and laptops. While the network card is installed and connected on a desktop, one speaks more of a network adapter on a computer.
We can use both a card and an adapter on the desktop.
In the case of a laptop, the adapter uninstalled but connected to the device via a USB port. We can use such network adapters for a PC, but they may not be as powerful as a network card, especially for the desktop.
We can use an adapter with a laptop.
The different types for PC and laptop differ mainly in their shape:
A network card for the PC is usually a conventional network card, possibly with antennas. A network adapter for a laptop usually has a USB port and a port for an Internet cable.
To be sure whether the network card or adapter is suitable for your device, you should read the product description carefully before buying.
Whenever you inquire about a network card, you need to make sure that you can connect it to your device. As a rule, you will come across two or three bus systems in your search: PCI, PCI-Express and USB.
A USB port offered with network adapters for laptops, but we can use it for regular PCs. On the other hand, a WLAN network card is built directly into the device and otherwise works wirelessly.
A PCI connection or a PCIe connection is usually only found on network cards built into desktops. The difference here is that a PCI-Express interface can guarantee fast data transmission.
Suitability for WLAN / LAN?
Whether a network card with WLAN or LAN connection is suitable for you depends on the network you use on your device. The fundamental difference here is that a cable is used for a LAN connection, while a WLAN connection is wireless.
So if you use a cable for your Internet connection, you should look for a network card that supports an Ethernet or LAN connection. With a conventional WLAN connection to the Internet, i.e. without a cable, we can purchase a network card without Ethernet. Often, however, network adapters are also offered that support both WLAN and Ethernet.
At this point, you should also read the product description more closely to make sure that the selected network card meets your requirements.
Network card: Frequently asked questions and answers.
In the following, we have compiled the most frequently asked questions about network cards and answered them for you. They are used to give you better insight before buying to make the purchase decision that is best for you.
What is a network card?
A network card is there to permanently connect your device, whether PC or laptop, to the Internet. They vary primarily in terms of their transmission speed and the types of connection with the end device. Network cards ensure Internet connection and fast data transfer.
A network card or adapter enables data to exchange between two end devices. It allows the controlled flow of data between two devices. In addition, sending and receiving a wide variety of data is simplified because the information converts into compatible formats.
Replacing the original network card can stabilize the Internet connection. It also improves the speed.
A network card or network adapter is usually already present in every conventional device. However, we can achieve a better connection or transmission rate through an extension or an exchange.
What types of network cards are there?
We can consider different types of network cards that when making a purchase. To give you a better look, we have put together the advantages and disadvantages of the variants offered below:
PCI and PCIe network card fast connection, reasonable transfer rate mainly suitable for PCs without an existing network card
USB network adapter easy to connect, ideal for mobile devices does not achieve the performance of an integrated (WLAN) network card
A network card with WLAN high transmission speed installing network card requires the necessary knowledge.
The difference here lies either in the transmission speed, in the interface and the type of connection.
- PCI or a PCIe network card: This type of network card connected via a slot. The transfer rate depends on the model of the respective network card. It’s a particular recommendation for devices that do not have a built-in network card.
- USB network adapter: This type of adapter is beneficial for laptops. Due to its compact structure and practical design, it can be used flexibly and used anywhere. It is simply connected to the laptop’s USB port and does not require any further specialist knowledge. However, a network adapter does not achieve the same transmission quality as network cards built into the device.
- A network card with WLAN connection: A wireless network card usually has one or more antennas. It enables an excellent transmission speed to be established, which is often better than other network card variants. The challenge here, however, is the installation of the WLAN network card in the end device.
Which type of network card is best for you depends primarily on whether you use a wireless connection or have a WiFi connection. In addition, we must take into account which device it is.
What does a network card cost?
The price range for network cards and adapters is relatively high. The reason for this is the different types and transmission speeds. The product starts at around € 10 and offers up to € 120 or more in price.
Price range available products
Low price (10 – 30 €) Speed of 1000Mbit / s, partly only for Windows
Medium price (30 – 70 €) multiple connections, compatible with standard operating systems
High price (from 70 €) High transmission speed, often multiple connections and antennas
The USB network adapters located in the lower to mid-range price range. The conventional network cards cover the entire price range.
We can find the Network cards with standard speeds in the two cheaper price ranges. The use of the affordable variants can usually only be for Windows devices. In the medium-priced category, we see cards and adapters that are compatible with all standard operating systems. The variants with LAN connection usually have more than one connection.
The network cards in the expensive price range have high transmission speeds, which is because they almost exclusively have several connections or many antennas.
Where can I buy a network card?
All different types of network cards are usually available in electronics stores such as Saturn or Media Markt. To make sure that you buy a network card or adapter that fits your requirements, you can only get advice for the time being.
A new network card can be an advantage, especially for gaming and high data packets. To make the right choice, detailed advice from specialist retailers will help.
Alternatively, online dealers or shops are also suitable. There is usually an extensive selection here, and, especially when looking for a specific product, there is often better availability.
You can also look at large shops and retailers such as Amazon, Saturn or Media Markt. Many online retailers such as Cyberport or Alternate specialize in electrical and household appliances and accessories.
What alternatives are there to a conventional network card?
The alternatives that you have compared to a conventional network card depend primarily on your requirements.
(USB) network adapter has the same function as a network card but can be easily connected anywhere to the device via the USB port.
WiFi repeater This device is connected to the WLAN router and improves the Internet connection from a distance, e.g. in other rooms.
We can find a perfect alternative to a typical network card built into the PC in a USB network adapter. It is easy to use as only one USB slot is required for connection. The only losses here are the transmission rate.
If you don’t want to rebuild your PC, a USB adapter can help. It connects via the USB slot.
You can use a WLAN repeater to improve the Internet connection. It works by strengthening the WiFi connection. Your mobile devices, such as computers or smartphones, can then be connected to the repeater. It is ideal if the link is to have a more fantastic range, for example, over more than one floor.
A network card helps to achieve a stable internet connection and good transfer speed on your PC or laptop. The different variants of the network cards and adapters have distinct advantages and disadvantages. In addition, you must consider specific criteria such as the operating system, the speed and the connection.
However, you do not always have to resort to an expensive variant. For everyday use when surfing the Internet or in the home office, choosing a cheap option is often enough. Commissioning is usually also very simple. Once the network card is connected, nothing stands in the way of using it.
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