Network adapter – how to choose according to power, type, connection method, network standard and price

The content of the article

For access to the Internet, the network adapter for the computer / laptop is responsible, which in modern devices is connected via a USB or BNC connector. Since it is built-in, and in most cases masters configure the ability to explore the World Wide Web, the question is what it is and how to make it work, it arises if breakdowns occur. It’s not easy to figure it out, but it’s quite possible.

What is a network adapter?

An additional connecting element between a PC or laptop and other devices that provide access to the Internet is called a network adapter (terminology of the manufacturer of Intel processors). In most modern computers, it is built into the motherboard. There are other device names. What is a network card, board, or Ethernet adapter? These are all variants of the names of one device..

What function does

In the OSI system model, the network adapter is responsible for the operation of the second, data link layer. In conjunction with the driver, it also provides the physical equipment. Each producer solves the task of distributing responsibilities between them for himself. In addition, the OS module (operating system) is responsible for the data link layer. Together they perform two main operations: sending and receiving data from the network to the PC and vice versa, and they also take part in:

  • monitoring of incoming / outgoing traffic;
  • remote configuration change;
  • Improving network performance and prioritizing
  • remote activation from the central workstation;
  • encoding / decoding sent / received data;
  • packet formation (transmission / reception mode).



Although network cards are built-in in most modern PCs, they can break, which will require replacing them. To do this, it is not necessary to completely disassemble the computer, since there are two large groups of these devices:

  1. External Some are connected via the PCI-connector of the motherboard, others use the ISA bus.
  2. Embedded. They are also called integrated. The output is presented as a connector on the panel near the USB ports. Nearby there are indicators – LEDs, by which they are guided about the operability of the device. Plus built-in device: convenience. Less: Insecurity.


3Com approached classification on the other hand. In it, all adapters are divided into generations. Varieties include:

  1. Adapters of the first generation. Built on discrete logic circuits. They had low performance – even if the computer’s memory was large, the adapter buffer contained only one frame. They had many types, each of which needed its own driver. In addition, the OS modules were not standardized. As a result, configuring the network card was difficult. Used devices on older computers.
  2. Second generation adapters. ASIC chips are used, the size of the buffer memory allows multi-frame transmission in parallel. Reliability of the 2nd generation adapters is increased, standard specifications for drivers and interfaces are developed. In addition, the transmission speed has increased..
  3. Third generation. These are the latest devices to which 3com refers its EtherLink III boards. Personnel processing – conveyor. The adapter is configured automatically. It is connected to the network via the BNC connector (for cable type – twisted pair).
  4. Fourth generation. High Speed ​​Fast Ethernet Boards.
  5. Fifth generation. Gigabit Ethernet supporting modern network protocols.
  6. Sixth generation. 400 Gigabit Ethernet, which is currently under development. It will begin to be applied no earlier than 2020 for home PCs. Sixth generation Ethernet adapters for servers have already appeared (they are used by providers).

First generation

There are other parameters by which devices are classified. The main ones are listed below:

  • on the medium of data transmission (wired, wireless);
  • by functions performed (implementing the first two OSI levels / first four);
  • by topology (similar to local networks: bus, ring, star, tree, combined);
  • by type of PC (client, server);
  • by bus type (ISA, EISA, PCI, MCA).



Although in order for the device to be selected and configured correctly, it is advisable to know some of the subtleties and features of the adapters, it is not necessary to have all the knowledge of a system administrator. The main types of boards that you need to know:

  • wired;
  • wireless
  • virtual.



They vary in case size and external parameters, they can be connected directly to the motherboard or through a USB socket. The rest look similar, representing a cable with the appropriate key for connecting to the computer port. Provide data transfer to a wired network, connect a PC / laptop and a router. Sometimes they are bundled with software (drivers) for various operating systems, but most modern OSs find and install it automatically.

With USB socket


Often, a network adapter refers to the wireless appearance of a device. It is small, mobile and versatile, it is also called a modem (although they are designed for 3G), but within the framework of this variety, the concepts are used interchangeably. For working with wireless networks – that’s what the network card is for in this case. It looks like a flash drive, plugs into a USB port, configures itself, and searches for available Wi-Fi points. Convenient thing if the integrated peripheral device is broken.

Connect to affordable Wi-Fi hotspots


Designed to create private and secure networks (VPN). They work with the help of special programs, are built on the basis of physical adapters. Installation depends on the type of virtual card and the selected software. For example, in the Windows operating system there is a special section “Control panels” for configuring the adapter. Another feature of this type of board is the ability to remotely configure.


How to connect

The two most important points regarding connection: what type of connector is used by the network adapter and which drivers are necessary for its operation. There may be several answers to the first question: a USB slot, a PCI port, or an ISA bus. The last two options involve connecting directly to the motherboard. Drivers in most cases are detected automatically or come with an adapter. If not, they need to be searched on the Internet by device model. Complete instructions for connecting a wired network card:

  1. Buy a device in one of the stores in Moscow, St. Petersburg or any other city in the Russian Federation.
  2. Unpack, read the instructions, determine with it the type of connector.
  3. Connect the plug to the desired port of the router and computer.
  4. (option a) See the automatic installation, wait for it to finish.
    (option b) If there is a driver disk – insert and run the program.
    (option c) Find the right software on the Internet (use proven services!), download and run.
  5. Go to Control Panel – Device Manager – Network Adapters. The name of the board should be displayed in the list. If there is no exclamation mark next to it, everything is set correctly.

Connecting a wireless device is done in the same way, but in this case only a PC and a USB connector are used. Drivers are installed automatically. After this operation, the computer immediately begins to search for available Wi-Fi networks. There may be conflicts with the OS so that they do not arise, you need to choose a device with the correct parameters (to be discussed below).

How to connect

Why the computer does not see the adapter

If the device manager does not have a network adapter, this means that something went wrong during the connection. But what exactly? The main causes and solutions:

  1. Board malfunction. Unlikely cause if there was no physical damage. If there were – you need to carry it in for repair or replace the adapter yourself.
  2. Errors in the operating system. Solution: Roll back to the previous restore point. If not, reinstall the system..
  3. Problems with the drivers. They are solved either similarly to the previous paragraph, or updated manually. You need to download the software from the official site, since dubious services are the main reason why the network card for the computer does not support the driver.
  4. Intervention of the built-in antivirus protection of Microsoft Windows or another. Start the system in safe mode, disconnect your antivirus and check the operation of the equipment.

Why the computer does not see the adapter

What to do if the adapter does not work

Make sure that the computer sees the device, if not, use the instructions above. Check the system for viruses with built-in OS protection. If the problem persists, check out the following solutions:

  1. Diagnose the card through Device Manager. To do this, call the context menu and find the corresponding item.
  2. Remove all adapters from the Device Manager list. Restart your computer / laptop.
  3. On behalf of the Administrator, open a command prompt. Scan the system: type sfc / scannow and Enter.
  4. Update or roll back drivers.
  5. Check board operation indicators. If they do not light up or blink – it is time to contact a service center.

Check board operation indicators

Network adapter price

The higher the generation and capabilities, the greater the cost of the device. But there is no reason to chase the highest price, since the question is not what technology the adapter supports, but what computer processor can work with. You can look at the specifications on the packaging, check with the seller, or read on the screen by going to the manufacturer’s official website. Price breakdown for Moscow and the region – in the table below:

A type

The minimum cost, rubles

Maximum price, rubles



2 190






59 950

How to choose

If you know exactly which model you need, you can order it in the online store. If not, it is best to consult the seller. When choosing, pay attention to such factors:

  1. View. Wired – for a regular network, wireless – for WiFi. External boards can also be used to create your own Wi-Fi points..
  2. Connection method. You must first check whether you have a suitable free connector on your computer.
  3. Network Standard. Although, for example, 802.11ac provides a speed higher than 802.11n (up to 10 Gb / s), there is no point in overpaying if the provider provides only 100 Mb / s.
  4. Power. Optimum – 20 dBM, accepts signals even from weak sources.
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