Get an Ethernet Card

Alex Satrapa grail at
Sat Sep 7 10:00:24 EST 2002

On Saturday, September 7, 2002, at 12:37 , Damien Elmes wrote:

> How much do they go for? Could you justify recommending one of these to
> people for their home network, over some el-cheapo card based on 
> realtek's
> popular chipset?

I've used NE2000-PCI clones and I've used Tulip based chipsets.  My 
perception has been that games like Quake III and FreeSpace run a little 
more responsively when using the "smarter" cards.  Perhaps on a much 
faster machine I wouldn't notice any decrease in performance.

At least the Tulip chipset is busmastering/DMA, so the processor doesn't 
have to actually load the data into the card.  The greatest claim to 
fame of the 8029 chipset is that it supports 32-bit transfers over the 
PCI bus (but so does every other PCI card) - they're still old fashioned 
"let the processor do all the work" style cards, but the PCI version 
requires as little as 1/4 the effort of the 8-bit NE2000 from way back 

But don't just take my word for it - see what Donald Becker has to say - 
he's the guy responsible for evaluating many of the 100Mbps network 
hardware that Linux drivers exist for:

When it comes down to "the bottom line", you're looking at about $20 for 
a Realtek 8029 based board, and about $20 for a Tulip or consumer 
EtherExpress Pro - perhaps as much as $40 if you let them sell you the 
retail boxed version (which is what you'll get from Cougar or Page 
Data[1]).  People who manufacture NE2000 clones are interested in 
*profit* not *service*.

I would suggest that Cougar are not the place to buy NICs from - their 
"consumer" NICs are NE2000 clones, and for the same money you could buy 
a Tulip (DFE-530TX) or VIA Rhine 2 (DFE-530TX+) from Page Data in 
Fyshwick.  The lowest model Intel Pro/100 Cougar sells is the IPSec 
coprocessor (which you don't need unless your business runs on IPSec).

If anyone finds a shop in Canberra that sells good[2] PCI NICs OEM (ie: 
just the card without manual/box/lots of wrapping), please let this list 


[1] I have bought lots of stuff from Cougar and Page Data, amongst other 
places.  AB&T Systems in Belconnen, Civic and Phillip still provide 
great products for decent prices, but the only NICs they sell are NE2000 
clones or Intel server-end cards - a slightly smaller range than 
Cougar's.  Page Data sell D-Link hardware, but only boxed retail.  I 
recommend Page Data because I've actually used the stuff they sell, and 
I've never had problems with D-Link products.

[2] By good, I mean something like:
  - 3Com 3C905 ("Boomerang", *not* "Vortex")
  - SMC EtherPower II (*not* the SMC EZ series)
  - Anything with a Tulip chipset (2114x)
  - Anything with an Intel i82558

PS: When it comes to connecting an ADSL modem, you only *need* a 10Mbps 
ethernet card.  However, since most retail stuff is 100Mbps, it's 
probably easier/cheaper to buy a 100/10Mbps card that can automatically 
talk 10Mbps to the ADSL modem, than to hunt for a 10Mbps card, which is 
most likely going to be ISA anyway.
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