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How do I Choose the Best Network Card?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Choosing the best network card typically depends on your needs, your budget, and the type of network to which you are trying to connect. You should look for a card that will work with the computer you already have, and this is especially important in reference to the operating system (OS) you are running and the hardware you already have. It can also be helpful to have a set budget to work with so you know the price range of the card for which you are looking. The best network card for you also will typically be one that can connect to the type of network you are using and will take advantage of the speeds of your network or Internet connection.

One of the first things you should consider as you look for the best network card for your needs is what kind of hardware and software with which you need the card to work. For example, you should be sure to find a network card that will work with the OS you have on your computer. This is especially important in regard to the version of the OS you have since some newer hardware will not work with older versions of a particular OS. The best network card for you will be one that does not require a great deal of other modifications or upgrades to your computer to work properly.

You should also be sure that the card you end up with will actually connect to your computer. If you are uncomfortable making internal installations, then the best network card for you will likely be an external card that can connect to a universal serial bus (USB) port on your computer. You should also set a budget for yourself so you have a price range in which to look for your new card. If you can wait for your card, then you may be able to find a good deal on a card simply by watching advertisements for sales at electronics retailers or computer hardware websites.

The best network card for you also will be one that can connect to the network you are using and take advantage of the speeds of the network. This means that if you are using a wireless router or hub, then you will want to find a card that provides wireless connectivity. Different wireless routers and hubs use different types of wireless technology, often signified by a letter, such as “Wireless-G” or “Wireless-N,” and you should find a card of better or equal quality to the network to which you are connecting. On the other hand, if you are connecting to a wired network through an Ethernet cable or similar connector, then the best network card for you would be one with a port for such a connection.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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