Computer network card overview

Computer network card is one of the hardware elements of a network to connect computers each other. Without a network card, a computer cannot connect to a network.

Generally, a network card also called network adapter, Ethernet controller, LAN adapter, is a device, which serves as an interface between a computer and a network.

Whether you want additional information or need more clarification on network cards, this article will highlight basic information you should know before buying, upgrading or troubleshooting the existing computer network adapter.

Types of computer network card

There are two types of network adapters based on the computer network technology they are designed for: wired and wireless. Even though, the purpose of both adapter types is similar, they are different in the makeup and the way they transfer data.

Wired network adapter requires cable to transfer data between computers, whereas wireless adapter do not necessarily need a cable. Wired network adapter is already integrated into a motherboard in most recent desktop and laptop computers. However, if the integrated card does not work or the speed is slow, you can easily buy one hook it on the computer motherboard PCI express slot.

The wireless adapter broadcast signals wirelessly. It employs Wi-Fi technology (radio transceivers) to transfer data across a network. Commonly, wireless network has two basic parts: access point and Radio transceivers. These features are already built in a single wireless adapter. Wireless adapter comes in at least four formats: wireless router, USB, Card bus and PCI adapters.

The PCI adapter is designed so that it can be fitted on a computer motherboard. This is a wireless network adapter type with small antenna that can be fitted in desktop computers.

The card bus (also called PCMCIA) type is used in notebooks and laptop computers, though now recent laptops integrates wireless adapter into the motherboard.

The USB computer network adapter can be used in any computer that supports USB connection (we can also call it external USB network adapter).

Computer network card features

The two most important features of a network card are its speed and communication channel. Network card comes at different speed. A standard computer network adapter runs at speed of starting from 10Mbs to 1000Mbs (Gigabits network adapter) even there are network adapters that run at a speed of 10GB. These types of adapters are expensive.

If you have Gigabit Ethernet card, it also supports lower speeds. Therefore, when you buy a network card, always look a card with higher speed regardless of your maximum requirement of network speed.

The other feature of a computer network card is communication channel. Communication channels are grouped into simplex, half-duplex and full-duplex.

In Simplex channel, data is transferred in one direction only. In half-duplex communication channel, data is transferred in both directions but not simultaneously. In full-duplex channel, data is transferred in both directions at the same time, you can receive and send data at the same time in full-duplex channel. Modern computer network adapter supports full-duplex. Therefore, make sure that when you buy network card it also support full-duplex that helps to run a network faster.


To summarize, computer network card is an essential component that helps to connect computers each other. If you want to install any kind of computer network including modem and broadband internet, the type of network adapter you choose will determine the speed of data transfer within the network.

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