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A network adapter is also called a network interface card is a plug-in card that serves to allow computers to both transmit and receive data on a local network. It is a component of a computer's internal hardware that facilitates communication over a network.
In a more current context, network adapters will refer to an Ethernet adapter where the Ethernet circuitry is built into motherboards of the latest desktops and laptop computers. Other times, a network adapter may also refer to a wireless (Wi-Fi) adapter.
In all instances, the adapter allows a computer to connect with another computer, a server, or other networking devices through a LAN connection. The use of a network adapter is not limited to wired connections as it is used for wireless networks. The adapters for wired networks come with a RJ-45 port that may use either the twisted or untwisted pair cables for network connectivity. For the wireless adapters, the network connection is facilitated through a built-in antenna or an externally connected antenna. Both the wired and wireless network adapters support the popular LAN protocols including TCP/IP. We have 1-port, 2-port, 4-port, 6-port, 8-port, and 16-port options that support speeds of 10, 25, 40, or even 100 Gigabits.
The plug-in network interface cards (NICs) are normally used in high-performance machines especially if a faster Ethernet standard is relatively new and available but is yet to become mainstream. In fact, the major difference between network adapters lies in the network protocol it supports.
We have the different types of network adapters necessary for building computer-to-computer networks that don't have a switch or hub. All the network adapters are fairly inexpensive and readily adaptable to different applications within a network. Some of the common types available are:
Network adapters common types
- Desktop Network Interface Card: This adapter is usually connected to a PCI or PCIe slot, whichever is available on the motherboard of your desktop computer. You will need to open your computer's case and it, therefore, presents the most difficult installation method. The PCIe slot is generally found in new computers.
- PC Card or PCMCIA Card: PCMCIA is the abbreviation for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. The name has undergone changes over time to be referred to as a PC Card or ExpressCard. For dimensions, the PC card is almost similar in size to a credit card but is significantly thicker. The PC card is connected to a PC or PCMCIA card slot in your desktop computer or laptop computer.
- USB adapter: This network adapter is typically a small device, similar to a thumb drive, with a USB interface. Installation is easy and straightforward since it is plugged into the USB port of your desktop or laptop computer or other network devices that have a USB port.
- Wireless game adapters also referred to as media adapters, are connected to the older game consoles and home entertainment devices so as to act as a bridge to Wi-Fi capability. They help expand functionality on these entertainment devices through connections to the internet.