Are you looking to buy the 10Gb network card but does the rest of the network meet the requirements of that speed? 10Gb (Gigabit) Ethernet (abbreviated 10GbE) is a technology for fast wired connection that is in great demand nowadays for fast internet, gaming, and creative work.
It’s very likely that your network card, switch, or router only supports speeds of up to 1Gbps. This bottleneck can be a limiting factor in enjoying higher data rates. A Cat 6, Cat 7, or Cat 8 cable alone isn’t enough, but you need to have a rounded whole without bottlenecks.
If you have previously chosen the best Ethernet gaming cable and found that you are still stuck on a slow network, it’s time to switch to 10GbE.
1. ASUS XG-C100C 10Gb Network Card
The Asus XG-C100C is its most affordable 10Gb internal network card model. This NIC is a PCIe X4 with one RJ45 port fully compatible and with slower network standards such as 5Gbps, 2.5Gbps, 1Gbps, and 100 Mbps.
There’s support for Windows and Linux only. The NIC comes with a standard size bracket, but you also get a low profile in the package. The chip on the Asus 10Gb network card is Aquantia AQC107. Asus doesn’t refresh drivers very often. Drivers can be buggy, so I recommend that you download fresher and more stable drivers from the Marvell site (Aquantia is now part of Marvell).
Also, I recommend that you do this for any card that has an AQC107 chip on it. If you use Cat 5e cables, I recommend Cat 7 or Cat 8, as your connection will be more stable for higher bandwidth.
The Asus XG-C100C gets very hot during operation, so ensure your case is well-ventilated.
2. ALFA APCIE-10GA 10Gb Network Card
Advanced Linux users greatly appreciate Alfa for its exciting products. Suppose you’ve ever done a penetrating test of your or someone else’s WiFi network (on the Kali distro). In that case, chances are you’ve used one of the Alfa network adapters.
The Alfa NIC APCIE-10GA also uses the well-known and reliable Aquantia AQtion AQC107 chipset. 10Gb network card is backward compatible with slower network standards 5Gbps, 2.5Gbps, 1Gbps, and 100 Mbps.
APCIE-10GA comes with a standard size bracket, but you also get a low profile in the package. The included CD comes with drivers for Windows and Linux. Still, I strongly advise downloading the latest drivers from the Marvell site for the AQC107 chipset.
I didn’t find new drivers for this card on the Alfa manufacturer’s website or explain where to look for them, so I take that as a minus. The build quality of the Alfa 10Gb network card is excellent; the large passive cooler has proven itself well in operation without overheating.
The performances are at the level expected, so I don’t have any significant comments. The only drawback is the price. The Alfa APCIE-10GA is more expensive than the others on this list, but I attribute that to this brand’s rating among advanced users.
3. TRENDnet TEG-10GECTX 10Gb Network Card
TEG-10GECTX (Version v3.0R) is a 10GbE network card with a single RJ45 port. Also, like all cards on the list, it is backward compatible with slower network standards 5Gbps, 2.5Gbps, 1Gbps, and 100 Mbps. The NIC comes with a standard size bracket, but you also get a low profile in the package.
Unfortunately, the manufacturer for this revision 3.0 only provides support for Windows OS, so keep that in mind. Alternatively, you can download drivers from the Marvel site for the Aquantia chip. Currently, version 2.2.3 is for Windows OS. Still, you also have drivers for Linux on the site, so check compatibility with your kernel version.
The network card works great on the Windows platform, and I didn’t get to try it for Linux. The cable used for the test is Cat 6A, and the switch is TP-Link TL-SX105. The average file transfer of 30GB is about 1GB/s, close to a maximum of 1.25 GB/s.
TEG-10GECTX is quite a decent 10Gb network card. It needs one PCIe X4 slot in the motherboard to work, so make sure you have a free installation slot.
4. TP-Link TX401 10Gb Network Card
The TP-Link TX 401 is a PCIe X4 10Gb network card with a single RJ45 port fully compatible with slower network standards such as 5Gbps, 2.5Gbps, 1Gbps, and 100 Mbps. There’s support for Windows OS and Linux only. The NIC comes with a standard size bracket, but you also get a low profile in the package.
You get one Cat 6A cable 1.5m (5 ft) long in the package, which is very useful if you haven’t bought a better cable to try a faster network. Windows 10 automatically installs the drivers but just in case, install the latest drivers from the TP-Link official site.
NIC didn’t achieve the declared speeds. Still, it’s difficult to determine whether it’s up to the system or the driver because there’s no difference with official drivers. TP-Link TX 401 worked stably with the included Cat 6A cable, but I still recommend for 10GbE cards, go for the Cat 7 or even Cat 8 variant for higher bandwidth.
The price is reasonable for a 10Gb network card and will work stably and above expectations for most users.
5. QNAP QXG-10G1T Network Card
Like most 10GbE cards in this budget segment, QNAP QXG-10G1T is also based on the Marvell AQtion AQC107 chip. Everything I have said about concurrent network cards also applies to this one. QNAP QXG-10G1T comes with a single RJ-45 port that is fully backward compatible with older standards.
Unlike other network cards on the list, the QNAP version comes with a low-profile bracket. But don’t worry because the retail package comes with three different brackets for card installation in a compact desktop or rack chassis. Like TP-Link, QNAP also offers a Cat 6a cable (1m (3.2 ft)), which may be enough for you to get started.
You may be concerned about the small passive heatsink, but I didn’t notice much warming during the operation because it keeps the Aquantia chip cool. The card does not come with drivers, so I recommend downloading the latest drivers from the Marvel site.
QNAP advertises this card as the best option for their NAS solutions. I didn’t manage to check it in practice, but the performance cards are pretty decent and at the level of others with the Aquantia chip. I assume that if you already own a QNAP NAS, you will first consider a QNAP NIC QXG-10G1T card.
Question to ask before choosing the best 10 Gb network cards
What are the Benefits of 10GbE?
First, you need to know about 10GbE speed and your existing network in your head.
You should know that there’s a difference between Bit and Byte’s terms. We use the bit to measure the amount of data sent over the internet or local area network. We use a byte to express the size of files or memory media (HDD, USB Flash drive, DVD, etc.).
Let’s calculate a little now:
8 bit = 1 Byte
As we can see, the Byte is eight times bigger than one bit.
1Mb = 1000000 bit = 125000 Byte = 125 KB
1Gb = 1000 Mbit = 125 MB = 0.125 GB
10Gb = 10000 Mbit = 1250 MB = 1.25 GB
What do these Numbers and Bit and Byte Ratios Say?
If you are stuck on a 1Gbit network, you can send a maximum of 0.125 GB of data per second. Of course, if you have 10GbE, things drastically change when sending 1.25 GB of data per second is possible. If you have a 15 GB file, you can send it in less than 15 seconds.
I hope it’s clear from this example what the benefits of a 10GbE network are and how much it can help you if you are a demanding user with a lack of time.
Should you Upgrade to 10GbE?
Of course, a 10GbE wired network is faster than any WiFi combination you can make at home. So I suggest that if you have the funds, set up 10GbE as a backbone for your computers and network devices. This setting will improve your overall network performance.
If you aim for a smaller investment, consider a 10 Gb network card and a quality cable to your ISP’s router. If you haven’t already, it remains for you to check if you have or can get multi-gig speeds at your ISP. In addition to 10GbE ISPs, they also offer 2.5GbE and 5GbE options to improve internet performance. In general, any option faster than 1Gbps is better.
Suppose you have a small business or home network. In that case, introducing 10GbE can significantly affect your productivity and data exchange speed. Fast ethernet is especially important if you store large amounts of data on a cloud or NAS on a local network.
Also, gamers benefit significantly from a faster network, especially in the era of complex and graphically rich online games, where every second can be a victory or a defeat. You don’t want your network to slow you down.
Here are some suggestions if you’re thinking about a 10GbE:
- Are You a serious gamer, and there is lag and interruptions due to a slow network, or
- Are You often share large files like 4K movies, projects, and games between multiple devices, or
- Do you have a NAS and want the system’s full read/write speed?
If you are in any of the above, you should upgrade your network devices to 10 Gbps.
How to set up a 10Gbps Ethernet?
To build a 10 Gb network, you need a network gateway (WiFi routers, switches), clients, and cables that support 10 Gb speeds. The first and most important thing is that your routers and switches support connecting your clients at 10 Gbps.
Second, suppose you want to increase your wireless devices’ performance using a fast-wired network. In that case, you can set up a 10Gb WiFi 6 router. The third is clients (computers, laptops, smartphones). Premium PC motherboards have 10 Gbps ethernet ports. Check your motherboard to see if it falls into that category.
If you don’t have an integrated, you must purchase a 10GbE PCI-e x4 NIC. Before buying, check the motherboard specification to see if there’s free space to install a 10Gb network card. Last but not least, choosing a suitable 10GbE Ethernet cable is essential.
Does a network card support lower speeds?
Yes, your network card is backward compatible with slower speeds. Suppose you have a 1 Gbps (1 GbE) network card connected to a 100 Mbps switch with a LAN cable. Such a connection will work without problems but at a slower speed than 100 Mbps.
What is PCIe, and how is it relevant to network cards?
PCIe (PCI Express) is a newer standard for connecting devices to the motherboard to replace old standards such as AGP and PCI. PCIe offers higher bandwidth, supports full-duplex communication, and generally offers better network device performance.
You can insert a PCIe card into the PCIe slot in the motherboard, and as time goes on, it is increasingly difficult to find the older standard on new motherboards. So when choosing a new network card, let it be exclusively a PCIe interface for connection.
How many network cards do I need?
The maximum number of network interface cards (NICs) is limited by the number of slots in your motherboard and the possible operating system and driver limitations. Add the number of integrated network cards on your motherboard to the total number of NICs. You only need multiple NICs if each NIC connects to different networks.
What speed network card do I need?
When choosing a new network card, you may not need the fastest one but one that will match the speed of your network. If you’ve opted for a 10GbE network card, it won’t reach that speed if your ISP or home switch only offers a speed of 1Gbps.
As you can read, it’s not enough to take a 10Gb network card and a Cat 7/Cat 8 cable to enjoy the extreme speed of your network. Many factors affect the quality and fast connection.
It’s already a significant advantage if you have a router and a switch that can track 10Gbps.
It can happen that the devices aren’t compatible, or you don’t have any luck with the settings, which can cause frustration. It would not be bad for your network devices to be from one manufacturer for compatibility and support.
These four 10Gb network cards from the list aren’t without flaws. However, suppose you go into proper installation and settings in more detail. In that case, you will be delighted with their performance. I chose from a budget segment but still reputable manufacturers, so you have room for some excellent ethernet cable or switch.
There are also minor differences between 10Gb network cards in construction, quality, and performance. So, your choice can be on your favorite brand or lower price. In any case, you will not go wrong.
If you have any additional questions or suggestions, leave a comment.