what do I need out of a PCI ethernet card?

I’ve had a wireless card for a few years, but am moving to a place where I’ll have a cable internet connection. I just need a basic PCI ethernet card. I was looking at NewEgg, and they seem to run anywhere from $4 to $50. What’s the difference? What do I need to get the most out of a basic home cable internet connection?

Actually, why would you want to bother with an Ethernet card at all? Why not get a fairly inexpensive wireless 802.11g router and stick with wireless? Once you do the initial setup and turn off SSID broadcast and set up WPA encryption you’ll be relatively secure behind the router’s firewall and you won’t be tied down to your wired connection.

Let me amend my initial answer a bit. You might need to use a wired connection to set up your wireless router. I’d go with a cheaper name brand 10/100 card to do the initial setup. You can almost always find PCMCIA cards from manufacturers such as Belkin, D-Link and Netgear at reasonable prices. Install the ethernet card just long enough to set up the router, then remove it and store it in your laptop case for later use. It’s always good to have a 10/100 card on hand, but stick with a well-known brand whenever possible.

BTW: I’ve had good luck at home and at the office with Belkin’s 16-bit model F5D5020 card. It’s easy to install and I found mine for under $20 new.

Since he’s had the wireless card for a few years, it’s possible he may have a ‘b’ adapter. If that’s the case, I’d recommend a direct hookup over ‘b’ anyday.

But to answer the question at hand, I’d also recommend what Guy Incognito as far as brands go. Between $10 and $20 should get you a good ethernet card.

Even still, FreeJooky won’t experience much of a performance boost because most cable internet connections won’t approach 802.11b’s 11 Mbps maximum transmission speed. However, if the OP is sharing large files between computers on a home network, 802.11g is the way to go.

What’s the difference between 10/100 and 10/100/1000? I’ve seen 10/100’s on newegg for like $10. What’s the “1000” about? Does it make a difference to a home user using a consumer cabel connection?

10/100/1000 are megabits per second. That is the highest rate provided the hub/router also has that bit rate. For all practical purposes a home network never gets data from the outside fast enough to tax even a 10mbps card. You might get some benefit in your local network if you are moving large amouts of data between your own computers.

Also, if you decided to go with a 10/100/1000 card, it will still be compatible with other 10/100 cards. It just won’t utilize the 1000 link. The 10/100/1000 is just the latest and greatest in Ethernet speeds. Well, not the latest. But it’s still Ethernet, and they’re still compatible between each other.