The Hardware Needed for Basic Ethernet Networks

The Hardware Needed for Basic Ethernet Networks

Below are the basic hardware requirements for any Small Ethernet network. One of the advantages of Ethernet networks is their simplicity. You don’t need a degree in Advanced Thakamology to install your network, (since PCs today have built-in Ethernet ports), you can put four computers into a simple Ethernet network for the cost of a few cables.

Ethernet cables
There are two different types of cable for connecting a computer to a computer (or computer to a network device):
1. Coax: The same type of cable used to connect your TV to the cable box. Coax is thick stuff and it’s not easy to tip or hide. Also, each end of an ethernet coax must have a spacer to mark the end of the network circuit, which is problematic (small, granted, but tricky nonetheless).

2. Twisted pair: Almost like a telephone cord or cable that runs between a computer’s dial-up modem and a telephone wall jack. Twisted pair is much easier to conceal and much easier to direct.
The downside to using twisted pair Ethernet is that you need a switch that acts as a central connection point. However, twisted pair cable is generally much cheaper than coaxial cable.
If you’d rather avoid cables entirely (well, almost completely), consider a wireless network. Although it’s a little slower, you have the freedom of movement that a wired audience couldn’t dream of. Heck, you can even completely throw caution to the wind and get a wireless switch or router that can provide both wired and wireless connections. (In fact, alternative wired networks can use the phone in your home or office, or AC power lines. No, really!)

Ethernet adapters
The switch is basically just a bloated communication box, which connects (via cables) every computer on your network to all the other computers and peripherals on the network, such as a printer. It is as visually interesting as a shoe box. Inside, the switch prevents vile collisions; The switch narrows down the broadcast of the packet to only the computer that needs it.
Most Internet sharing devices and routers designed to work with broadband connections have switches built in – just keep in mind that you need some kind of switch for a twisted pair network. Switches are very inexpensive – how much you pay depends on the number of ports the switch provides, which ranges from about $50 to $200.
Switches have virtually replaced the earlier, less efficient Ethernet hub. Always choose a switch over an Ethernet hub.

Network Interface Cards (NIC) for Ethernet
You need a Network Interface Card (NIC) for each computer on your network. If your desktop or laptop computer doesn’t have a built-in NIC, an internal adapter card is probably the best option, but installing a NIC doesn’t necessarily require opening the computer case.
You can get a NIC from the International PC Memory Card Association (PCMCIA; or PC Card) for your laptop, and other network adapters can be connected through the Universal Serial Bus (USB) port. However, you probably don’t need to purchase a separate NIC for your computer because almost all computers now have built-in network connectors. (Check your computer manual or look for a port called Ethernet 10/100 or network on the back of your computer.)
NICs are rated by network speed. Most home networks use a 10/100 NIC (which means your network can run at either 10Mbps or 100Mbps), which will set you back roughly $25-30. The third speed – Gigabit Ethernet – runs at a whopping 1,000Mbps, but you might not need that much throughput unless you regularly transfer huge multi-megabyte files between computers.

(Gigabit devices used to be as expensive as meeting a good lawyer, but the prices for this faster equipment are now on par with 10/100 devices.) Well-known Ethernet hardware manufacturers include D-Link, NETGEAR, and Linksys.
When shopping for your card, check the manufacturer’s website and check which drivers the card uses. The card must support at least Windows XP, Vista and 7/8. Also check how often these drivers are updated; The two-year-old driver is not a good sign. In general, most manufacturers display certification data (both on the box and on the company’s website) to ensure that the NIC works with specific operating systems.