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Old 02-18-2014, 02:55 PM   #1
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Question Intel NIC - need recommendation please

I need a recommendation for both a single port and multi-port PCI-e NIC for use in a Network Appliance (firewall).

Presently using CAT-7 cable, Cisco 2911 router and Cisco SG-300 switch.

Note: Must be Intel NIC

Currently prepping for Cisco CCENT test but baffled by wide range of pricing and features in NIC's. Briefly, this network appliance with run pfSense on Ubuntu 12.04.4 LTS and function as a firewall, then Cisco 2911 router and on to Cisco SG-300 switch with 5 computers, server and other hosts.

Point of confusion: I see that most Intel NICs are rated as CAT-5, which I would assume to be a minimum and not a maximum?


1) Why the wide range of pricing in NIC's?

2) Would two PCI-e single port NICs work better than a multi-port NIC?

3) Your recommendations?

Thanks guys!
Old 02-19-2014, 02:51 PM   #2
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Not sure they rate a nic as a cat number. That is really an entire design reference that some people use to describe cables but it should refer to the entire installation to provide a signal at some specified speed.

A nic can't run at the advertised speed for the most part. It is a theoretical speed. Many issues come into play here. Add in a switch and the suggested speed drops to 70% of rated generally. The speed of a backplane and hard drive and nic overhead also limit speeds available. No use buying a gig nic and expecting your hard drive to deliver that speed.

To answer your question.

A price for a nic represents a few variables. One is quality. Business/Enterprise level nic's have both quality for long term deployment and advanced features that a business would like. Some have speeds as a sales pitch while other may have advanced configurations available.

There are a lot of rules to how tcp/ip works and how some advanced configs on nics could improve speed. It would depend on the use I'd guess as to how to configure it.

From my experience, Intel provides not only good devices but offers almost in all cases a linux driver and tools for their products.

Last edited by jefro; 02-19-2014 at 02:53 PM.
Old 02-20-2014, 09:24 AM   #3
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Actually Intel does rate its NIC cards by CAT numbers (, but I don't know why. I am fairly deep into, actually buried completely by, Cisco networking in preparation for the exams so I do know the various types of cables and what they are used for.

All that posturing aside, I did come to the obvious conclusion that I might need my head examined if I even considered enterprise-level NICs for the limited throughput of the Network Appliance I am building.

So I throttled my need to over-buy and purchased more sensibly: 2 of the Intel Gigabit CT PCI-E Network Adapter EXPI9301CTBLK

In closing, I would very much like to thank you for your response. It was very balanced and informative good old "common sense", if there indeed be such a thing. Thank you.


I could post this separately if you deem it better to do so.

I make it a policy to purchase Western Digital hdd's - and nowadays primarily Greens because they spin down when not in use and which once they perform seek (often faster than blacks) have decent access.

Although I do have a number of computers which are dedicated to different purposes and I work off separately, I make it a point to back up critical files both in the cloud and on a File Server (not a true server but JBOD WD greens for redundant storage).

Question: I doubt that it would behoove me to dump Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit in favor of Ubuntu server if I am not running WD Reds which would be more appropriate on a "true server"? Your thoughts, kind sir?

Oh and btw, patient and informed people such as yourself make the net a really wonderful place. Thank you!


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