Network Cards

Almost all the modern computer motherboards have network adapters built into them. So, you may think that there is no need for you to buy one separately. But what if something went wrong with your network adapter? Would you buy an entirely new motherboard? Fortunately you can buy a network adapter separately. Your network adapter is very important because without it, your computer will not be able to connect with any network. Even if you have a small office setup with a couple of workstations, you need network adapters to connect these. Read buying guide

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Buying guide

Choosing your network adapter


Find out about the different types of network adapters

There are essentially two types of network adapters that are available in the market and you need to choose one of them. You have those old Ethernet network adapter to connect with the internet. These adapters require a LAN cable for a single computer to connect with a network. But the use of Ethernet network adapters is on the wane. You may rather want to choose a USB Wi-Fi network adapter because everyone tends to use it these days. If your computer already has a network adapter installed in the motherboard, then you don’t need the USB adapter. This is one point you must keep in mind when shopping for this piece of hardware. You also need to note that Ethernet network adapters can be connected through USB too.


Choose between Ethernet and USB network adapters

It is important for you to choose between internal and USB network adapters. While the internal network adapter saves you from any hassles, it could be quite difficult to set up and you may need to call an expert. The USB network adapters, on the other hand, are plug and play devices that can help you connect with a network on the go. Portability is a big advantage that the USB Wi-Fi network adapter offers to you and this is not something that you get when your network adapter is installed in the motherboard of your desktop. Another big advantage of the USB network adapter is that it can be used in multiple machines. One simply needs to know the user ID and password to log in. These are important points to note when you decide between internal and external network adapters.


Signal strength and speed

Most of the well-known ISPs have their USB network adapters, in case you want to buy one. There are two elements to consider when you look for one – signal strength and speed. If you have used USB network adapters you would know that the signal varies from place to place. The same USB that works absolutely fine in your home may not work properly in your office. Hence, you need to do some R&D to find out an ISP whose USB network adapter offers you the best signal strength in places that you frequent the most. As far as speed is concerned, even the best signal strength may not give you proper connection speed. This is another point to be noted regarding this purchase.


Choose a network adapter with antenna

Some of the USB network adapters have antennas and some don’t. It is best to consider those with antennas for the simple reason that you can tweak and reposition the antenna if you are not getting a proper signal. The antenna can be positioned in such a way that the adapter is able to catch on to a strong signal.


Which network adapter for which use?


If you want to buy a network adapter for your desktop computer, choose a PCI wireless network adapter. But before you make your purchase, make sure that your computer motherboard has a PCI slot. The installation is not very difficult although you may need to call an expert. Some of the best PCI network adapters are made by HP, Intel and Cisco.


If you have a laptop or a notebook, you should consider PCMCIA or Mini PCI. Again, you need to make sure that there are slots in the motherboard for these adapters. In this also, the top manufacturers are companies like HP, Intel and Lenovo. There is a wide range of products available from all these companies.


The most convenient of all network adapters are perhaps the USB adapters. These adapters come in extremely small sizes and they can easily fit into the USB slot of your computer. All these devices are plug and play and installation happens automatically. These adapters are especially useful when you spend a lot of time travelling. With these adapters, you can make sure that you are always connected to the internet if it is available where you are. Linksys makes excellent USB adapters.


If you have a palm or a pocket PC with a CF slot, opt for a compact flash network adapter. This adapter can be used with a PCMCIA adapter and can provide wireless connectivity.


And of course, you have the standard Ethernet network adapters that can be connected through wire or wirelessly. Intel makes some fine products in this category.

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