December 22, 2008

Buying a PC #4 Network Cards

So by now you're halfway through scoping out your PC. I'd like to take a little time to talk about network cards and the few options out there.

Back during my 486 build the only option for most people was dial up networking. With speeds of 1200 or 2400 baud rates things were fairly slow (of course everything was smaller also).

Now days if you do have a dial up network card also called a modem you are going to have a 56k modem which is currently the fastest speed available by FCC rules of it's kind. If you have a modem you will most likely have a 56kV90 or 56kV92 modem. If you're restricted to dial-up only the difference is negligible and your Internet Provider will help you with setup on your software.

The next network card I want to walk you through is the ethernet card.

Most modern PC's will come standard with a dual speed 10/100 ethernet card. Briefly the 10mb speed on the card is for antique technology from the early 80's when it was used to convert existing co-ax cable in a post token ring network. The 100mb speed on the card is for modern ethernet networks that are connected by cat5 or cat6 cabling.

We are now starting to see the expansion of networks in some suburban and metropolitan areas of the 1G network (1000mb). Check local providers if they have this option for you. This will run on your cat5 / cat 6 or fiber optic network.

There is also a new emerging, the 10G network, that will more than likely only run on fiber optic, but since there is not ratified standard yet we will wait and see how it develops.

Finally we need to discuss wireless networking.

Wireless networking in the modern era comes in 4 classes of cards...

Wireless A 54mb transfer speed running on a 5ghz band
Wireless B 11mb transfer speed running on a 2.4ghz band
Wireless G 54mb to 108mb transfer speed running on the 5ghz band (can communicate with Wireless B equipment)
Wireless N-draft 240mb transfer speed running on the 5ghz band

Although Wireless G networks are the standard for high speed wireless, I would look for wireless N to be ratified by the WIFI community soon and become the new standard.

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