Where can I buy network cards

network card

Purchase advice network cards

Build a digital network for several computers

Your home office should live up to its name and, like in a professional IT environment, connect all the computers in your house with one another. That's why you have all your PCs with fast ones Network cards fitted. Now you can access the central printer and the large network hard drive from the study, while your children can play their favorite games over the WiFi and your partner can surf the web from the living room. With a network card, you can make all your computers fit for data communication - this guide shows you which variants are available and which card you should use.

Table of Contents

Fast internet connection in a shared network
What network cards are there?
This is what matters with cards for network connection
The right network connections for your PC
Suitable network accessories for your card
Conclusion: Build a fast network for all computers

Fast internet connection in a shared network

Network access transforms your computerfrom an isolated solution to a talent for communication. Your PC contacts other computers in the network via cable or wireless connection and accesses the Internet via a DSL router. Most computers are factory-equipped with a network interface, but older models usually only support slow transmission standards. In this case, a new network card acts like a data turbo with speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbit / s). If your PCs are integrated into the network, you can also use special peripheral devices such as printers, hard drives and switches within your LAN ("Local Area Network": local network).

What network cards are there?

When it comes to network cards, you can choose between two fundamentally different designs, namely wired and wireless solutions.

Wired ethernet cards

Cable networks rely on the widespread Ethernet standard with rectangular, eight-pin sockets, which are referred to in technical jargon as "RJ-45". You can connect up to 100 m long network cables to this to connect computers that are far apart. Cable networks are characterized by fast and stable transmission rates and meet high security standards.

Wireless WLAN network cards

WLAN cards dispense with the classic Ethernet socket and transmit their data via the ether to the central WLAN router in your home or office. For this purpose, antennas are attached to the rear panel of the card, which you can rotate and tilt freely in order to optimize the reception properties. WiFi networks can be set up very quickly and easily.

This is what matters with cards for network connection

When choosing the network cards for your own computer network, you should pay particular attention to the following product features and technical data:

Ethernet speed

The maximum transmission speed of wired cards with an RJ-45 interface is usually specified using the three standardized Ethernet standards: 10/100/1000. This means that the transfer rate can be 10, 100 or 1,000 megabits per (Mbit / s) depending on the device connected. 1,000 Mbit / s has established itself as the standard and is referred to as "Gigabit Ethernet". This allows up to 125 megabytes per second (MB / s) to be transferred, which is more than sufficient for most areas of application, including gaming and video streaming.

Tip: The network speed is determined by the slowest component. For example, if you use an older switch with only 100 Mbit / s, the speed is reduced by a factor of 10 compared to the gigabit standard.

Fiber optic technology with SFP port

In fiber optic networks, the data is transmitted with optical signals, what Data rates of up to 10 Gbit / s enabled - that's 1,250 MB / s. Corresponding network cards are equipped with an SFP interface ("Small Form-Factor Pluggable": plug with a small form factor), which enables your computers to be integrated into particularly fast networks via special transmission modules and fiber optic cables. Please note, however, that the maximum transmission rate can only be achieved with an appropriate network infrastructure, namely with routers, switches and network cables that are suitable for optical signal transmission.

WiFi speed

Network cards with wireless WLAN connection should support the 802.11 b / g / n / ac standards, which means Transmission speeds between 100 and almost 900 Mbit / s become possible. In addition to the 2.5 GHz frequency band used by almost all WLAN devices, adapters that comply with the ac standard also use the less heavily used 5 GHz band, which is particularly suitable for multimedia applications such as video streaming.

MIMO technology and antennas

Wireless network cards should be able to use the MIMO standard ("Multiple Input Multiple Output") for optimal transmission and reception properties. over two or more separate antennas the available frequency band is used more efficiently, which leads to more stable connections and faster data rates. Make sure that the antennas are 4 to 10 cm long enough and have movable bases for precise alignment.

Internal connection

Network cards are used to connect to the motherboard of your PC (technical jargon: mainboard) equipped with PCI-Express connectors (PCIe). Before buying, make sure that your computer has a free PCIe slot (“PCI” stands for “Peripheral Component Interconnect”). Installation is quick and easy: unscrew the PC, remove the protective cover behind the free PCIe slot, insert the card, screw the cover on and close the housing again.

PCB design

While most network cards come with open circuit boards in classic green, some manufacturers offer encapsulated models for ahigher radiation protection and better cooling in continuous operation. The corresponding metal capsules are often designed in red or black, so that they are particularly noticeable in a gaming PC with a viewing window, for example.

The right network connections for your PC

Depending on the spatial conditions in your home or office and which areas of application you want to cover, you should decide on certain models.

Ethernet cards for small home networks

You want to combine two to three PCs into a network as quickly as possible. In that case you come Withsimple Ethernet cards in the 10/100/1000 standard at a unit price of 10 to 15 €. Your WiFi router usually has three to four RJ-45 sockets so that you can connect the corresponding PCs directly to the router with network cables of the appropriate length. A complete network equipment with WLAN router and network cards for three PCs plus Ethernet cables comes to a total of around € 200 to € 350.

Network cards for large home office networks

If you want to include every room in your family home or your large home office area in the network, do you need a mix Ethernet cards for around € 10 to € 115 each and WLAN cards for a single price of € 15 to 25. The latter enable the connection of PCs in remote rooms. You can connect basement or attic rooms with a poor WiFi connection to the router via Powerline. A network hard drive serves as the central storage location for large files. The costs for a complete network system for five PCs with WLAN router, NAS server, cables and powerline adapters are between 300 and 500 €.

Tip: You can find out how you can get more speed into your network in the UPDATED guide "Increasing Internet speed: It works with these tips".

Fiber optic networks for offices

In your office, five or more PCs should be integrated into a particularly fast network. That's why you rely on fiber optic technology for data rates of up to 10 Gbit / s. You can get suitable network cards with SFP connections for € 130 to € 290. A fiber optic infrastructure for five computers with special cables, suitable switches and converter modules for connection to classic Ethernet networks costs between € 500 and € 1,500, depending on the equipment. Alternatively, you can use Gigabit Ethernet with high-quality network cards for € 70 to € 130 and suitable switches, which reduces the total costs to less than € 500.

Suitable network accessories for your card

A network consists of many individual components - below you will find some devices with which you can expand your network infrastructure as you wish:

  • A LAN router takes the Ethernet cables of the network PCs and usually also establishes the connection to the Internet via DSL or cable.
  • A WLAN router offers both RJ-45 sockets for cable connections and antennas for wireless data transmission.
  • A switch serves as a central distributor for four to 48 end devices - a “multiple socket” for networks, so to speak.
  • With adapters for Powerline, you can use your house's power grid for data transmission, for example to equip remote rooms with network access.
  • A NAS server is a hard drive integrated into the network, with 1 to 120 terabytes (TB) of space for large amounts of data, backups or media files for streaming.
  • Smart TVs and game consoles can be integrated into the network via Ethernet sockets or WLAN modules in order to establish contact with the Internet and stream media data.

Conclusion: Build a fast network for all computers

With network cards you can bring older PCs up to date in terms of speed or equip them for wireless reception via WLAN. When making your purchase decision, the most important thing is how big your network is:

  • If you are in a private environment Network with up to three PCs want to establish, simple Ethernet cards in the 10/100/1000 standard, which you can get at a unit price of 10 to 15 €, are sufficient.
  • A comprehensive home network throughout the house, If you also want to connect remote corners, you can set up Ethernet and WLAN cards in the 10/100/1000 standard for 10 to 115 € each.
  • For a fast professional network in the office you can use 10 gigabit cards with an SFP port for around € 130 to € 290 or gigabit ethernet cards for € 70 to € 130.