Network Interface Devices: It was the lag, I swear!

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It was the lag, I swear! Network Interface Devices

There are two main categories of NICs, or Network Interface Devices, which you may already be familiar with. They are Wi-Fi and Ethernet, both come in several flavors, but all do effectively the same thing.


Ethernet is a physical connection to your network, done over a cable connected to an access point. In most networks, ethernet is going to be your fastest option, and the least susceptible to interference. Modern motherboards will have ethernet capabilities and are normally going to be either 1Gbps or 10Gbps connections. The downside of this is that you are tied to a single spot due to the cable. While this tends to not be a problem for desktops, it can be problematic for more mobile devices like laptops.


Wi-Fi, or wireless internet is something we’ve all probably used at some point. It creates a connection with your router using super-high frequency radio waves, in either the 2.4GHz or 5 GHz band and allow you to connect to the broader internet through your router. The downside of this is that it tends to be slower than ethernet, and is susceptible to interference from a variety of sources. (Author’s note: A fun party trick is to set a microwave close to a router and turn it on while someone else is trying to watch a movie or something. They work in a close enough range to interfere with each other, however the microwave is orders of magnitude more powerful.) The downsides are frequently outweighed by the convince of Wi-Fi. There are many motherboards that provide integrated Wi-Fi, just ensure that it is compatible with your router which will be an article for another time.

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