Network Cards that will keep your laptop in top shape

Every computer needs a network adapter to communicate both with computers on your Local Area Network (LAN) or Wireless Area Network (WAN) and with the internet.

Most laptops and tablets have built-in network interface cards, but many PCs require a network card to be installed before they can interact with the internet. Many PCs that do come with a network card only have the wired LAN (RJ-45 or 8P8C modular) connector that allows them to communicate over an Ethernet cable. If properly set up and installed, a network card auto-negotiates with any connected network. Auto-negotiation is usually seamless if all passwords and permissions are accurate.

When installing your own network adapter, you may want to select a Wireless-N or other Wi-Fi adaptor and free yourself from one more unnecessary Ethernet cable.

Wireless-N adapters

Wireless-N adapters (technically 802.11n-2009 adapters) are the latest standard for high-speed Wi-Fi. While they do not quite allow the gigabit-speeds possible with an Ethernet connection, they are usually quite fast enough for home or business use, topping out at roughly 600 Mbit/sec compared to Wireless-G's max of 54 Mbit/sec. Many Wireless-N adapters are technically dual-band links, capable of connecting to the slower Wireless-G networks as well.

Different types of Network adapters

Beyond the type of network they connect to, the main difference between different network adapters is how they connect to your PC. A network adapter may take up a PCI slot, a PCI Express (sometimes abbreviated PCIe, PCI-X or PCI-E) slot, or may attach via a USB adapter, typically either USB 2.0 or USB 3.0.

Dual-port network adapters

Dual port network cards or adapters have two or more wired LAN network ports, allowing the client device to connect to different networks at the same time.

D-link network adapters

D-link changed their name to Datex Systems Inc. in 1994, but many D-link branded network adapters are still in use. The company ships some 33 percent of the Wi-Fi adapters sold today, including the DWA-582.

Other popular network adapters include the TL-WN851ND, Intel's X520-SR2 and I350-T2V2, and Asus' PCE-AC68 and PCE-N15.