All About Network Interface Controller – Ethernet or Wireless Card

Computers have been known to be highly effective in the modern world. Other than act as data storage and retrieval devices, they are also among the most used communication devices and other related tasks.

In the world today, more and more devices have been introduced that can access the internet such as smartphones and tablets.

Almost everyone has access to the internet today;

Computer networking is also very common, especially in the corporate world. This is made possible by one major component on the motherboard called Network Interface Controller, also known as Network Interface Card. This article shall abbreviate it as NIC.

#So, What is a Network Interface Controller?

A Network Interface Controller is simply a card that is installed in the motherboard to allow access to a network like an internet or a home network.

It is also referred to as a Local Area Network (LAN) or network adapter. NIC is both an input and output device. A protocol such as CSMS/ CD is used for connection purposes.

In a corporate setting for instance, most or all computers are interconnected such that staff members can communicate to each other. That is a simple network.

#Types Of NIC Configuration

There are mainly two types of NIC configuration used to use the network device, which are “Plug And Play” and the “Driver Software”.

Plug and Play (PnP):  PnP is the latest technology that is currently in use on modern Operating Systems. The computer recognizes a device once a user plugs it in. Manual configuration is actually not necessary.

Driver Software:  On installation, this needs to be manually configured by the user’s side. Mainly, right after when you installed a new Operation System or maybe install a new Network Device while running the old OS in your computer, and that’s the part where once you need to install a program named “Network Driver”, in order to interact that network hardware with the running Operating System.

#Different Types Of Network Interface Controller Card

Ethernet Network Interface Card: This is a wired NIC that is mostly used on Local Area Networks (LAN) Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN).

Ethernet is the most commonly used NIC in the world today.  It was invented by Engineer Robert Metcalfe and was first commercially introduced in 1980.  Its introduction replaced popular Local Area Networks such as token ring and FDDI.

Initially, Ethernet networks could support 10 megabits per sec (10 MBPS) and this has greatly improved. Today it has gone as far as 10 Gigabits per second.  Other than computers, Ethernet is today used for connectivity of personal appliances such as tablets and smartphones. It is the leading network adapter in the world today.

The traveling of data on Ethernet is facilitated by protocols called frames. A frame is basically a communication transmission.

Actually most of the times, the Ethernet Card is mainly integrated on the motherboard of every latest desktop or laptop motherboard release;

But in some cases, you actually might need to install an extra network card into your motherboard.

Wi-Fi – Wireless Network Interface Card: This is known as wireless network adaptor. It is a wireless network technology that allows devices to communicate over wireless signals.

It is usually connected to a wireless radio-based computer network and under this type of NIC cables are not necessary for connectivity of various devices. Rather than cables, radio waves are used for the same.

For a wireless network to work there must be a router which has antennae that enables connectivity. A router is the main thing under making a wireless network connection;

And you know, the strength of the connectivity is totally dependent on the quality of radio waves being received at any particular time too.

Even sometimes Bluetooth is also being used. A Bluetooth device is just like Wi-Fi who uses radio waves for connectivity with other devices. So, for the connectivity to take place, all the sharing devices must have Bluetooth radio and software and a computer chip. The pairing of devices is also mandatory.

In a Bluetooth network environment, the device sending information is known as the master and all other devices receiving information are known as the slaves.

Unlike the two above, connectivity using bluetooth can only happen when devices are within the same range probably like the same room. The further the distance between devices, the weaker the strength of the Bluetooth radio waves.

Bluetooth comes in so many different interfaces and so do WIFI, you can buy a WiFi/Bluetooth PCIe Card for your desktop or you can buy a “USB Bluetooth/WiFi Dongle” which can be used on any computer or laptop.

Most of the laptop’s already comes with a WIFI or Bluetooth card installed in it, I’m not sure you’ll get the preinstalled Bluetooth but that’s for sure you’ll definitely get WiFi card installed in every latest laptop.

Multiple Network Interface Controllers: There are instances where multiple Network Interface Controllers can be connected to one device.  In such cases, proper configuration is one key to ensuring success. The available network settings should be carefully understood and adhered to otherwise connectivity would be an issue.

Manually specifying IP settings of each Network Interface Controller would be ideal for avoiding automatic IP assignment.

While many would be found in instances where they need to use more than one Network Interface Controller, probably due to slow connectivity speeds of one, it is not a good idea as there are so many control mechanisms to ensure effectiveness and success.

#When Network Interface Controller Fails

There are instances when connectivity will fail to happen. In such cases, it is important to first run diagnostic. If the Internet system is working then the problem is probably a software or hardware related.

Should the internet also be a problem, however, then a chance that Network Interface Controller is faulty is very likely.

The common reasons why Network Interface Controller may fail are NIC hardware failure, software failure and malware.

On suspicion of Network Interface Controller failure, the following steps should be followed first:

  • Test the hardware to rule it out. For instance change of cables and use on different machines would highlight whether the problem is the cable.
  • Test the software. This can be achieved by doing a computer reboot. At times software just shuts off and a reboot restores everything. Checking the status of network adapters in the device manager may also be a perfect idea.
  • To protect Network Interface Controller from failure, actions such as use of genuine antivirus, protection from power surges and restoration of the operating systems are among the measures a user should take.
  • A Network Interface Controller is very important to corporates and also to individuals especially those that use the internet. It is necessary to have the right conditions to ensure the proper functionality.

“And that’s all for now, thanks for sticking with the article, and you know it will always good to let me know about the tutorial, in the comments down below.” 🙂


  1. I was looking to buy network card but was not sure about the information. Now understood the different network cards. Thanks for the information.


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