** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Discuss the core components that make up the heart and soul of any good computer.

Moderators: Flying Fox, Thresher

What is your preference regarding motherboard LAN controllers?

the choice of vendor for the LAN controller doesn't matter
13
20%
I use an add-on network card
1
2%
Marvell
3
5%
Intel
47
72%
Atheros
0
No votes
Realtek
1
2%
 
Total votes : 65

** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 5:00 pm

Hello again, Tech Report community!

I have a poll and discussion that I'd like to get your feedback on to help us make some decisions related to motherboard network controllers (NICs). As always, we come to the forums first to try to get the widest reach of customer input and feedback.

I'm sure many of you have noticed that the integration of Intel NICs on our motherboards has become more and more prevalent of late on our motherboards (mainly Intel chipset motherboards) and there are many reasons for this which I will explain in this post. However, the point of this thread is to get your feedback on this and see if this is something that is important enough if your eyes for us to continue doing.

We included Intel Gigabit LAN on many of our Z68 boards, Z77 boards, and on all of our X79 boards. One reason this decision was made is the robustness of the driverset and the various options included in the Intel LAN chipset allowing power users as well as the average user to customize his/her online experience. Some of these options are Advanced Networking Services Teaming, VLANs, fine-grained control of link speed and duplex, Identify Adapter option, different packet options for specifying preferred frame size of certain data transfer scenarios, offloading of certain tasks to the NIC hardware because the NIC hardware can process certain things faster than the OS can and thus free up CPU cycles, etc.

Another reason we often use Intel LAN controllers is because of its higher degree of interoperability and compatibility with different types of software and operating system environments.

The third advantage that the Intel controller offers is its high level of performance. With all of the new software titles and applications coming out everyday that involve sending more and more data over a network, we feel the performance factor advantage to be a very important one to the majority of computer users out there. In our testing, as well as Intel's, we've noticed a higher level of performance with Intel LAN controllers, especially with larger packet sizes.

Of course the reason why we started this thread is to get your feedback on these items and find out whether you're experiencing these same advantages with Intel LAN controllers as well as how much of an impact the choice of NIC vendor makes when you consider purchasing a motherboard. For the poll, the information we would like to get is whether or not the manufacturer's choice of LAN controller makes a difference to you, if more often than not, you purchase an add-on LAN card, or if you do use the on-board LAN and do think the choice of vendor makes a difference, then which vendor you prefer. Along with your selection of LAN controller preference, please also post why you chose what you chose and your experiences good and/or bad regarding LAN controllers.

Thanks again for your valuable feedback which will help us to put out products catered more to your needs and wants.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 5:42 pm

Mason@ASUS wrote:For the poll, the information we would like to get is whether or not the manufacturer's choice of LAN controller makes a difference to you

A very small difference, but not really a major deciding factor.

Mason@ASUS wrote:Along with your selection of LAN controller preference, please also post why you chose what you chose and your experiences good and/or bad regarding LAN controllers.

Choice for the controller was influenced by reasons # 2 and # 3 noted in the initial post.

My P8Z77-V choice was more influenced by PCI, Wi-Fi, UEFI, advanced fan controls, forum recommendations, current experience with Asus P45 (not forgetting TR's preview and review).
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 6:00 pm

Since there is little to no price difference between on board NICs, I would opt for the fastest and most efficient (cpu usage wise) solution (not an option in the poll).

Since that is not an option, in my past history I've found Intel NICs to be the best and most supported of all the above solutions. They even go so far as to update drivers for old NICs and add in features from newer ones. Intel onboard driver packages are quite robust if you actually get the driver from the Intel website and even have things like load balancing, which is only found in high end solutions or nix.

That said, having something like a 'killer nic' would be cool, but only if it didn't represent a huge price hike. The same could be said about an integrated X-Fi audio solution (the full blown one, not the widdled down crappy version). With less and less of a reason to buy a discrete sound card, it becomes more of a reason to buy a motherboard with decent integrated audio. Plus adding buzzwords to a motherboard like 'X-Fi onboard or Bigfoot NIC' couldn't hurt sales either. I'm actually surprised how few motherboards go out of their way to differentiate themselves in that fashion.

If you turn such a system into a mini-itx solution then it becomes even better, but that's more of Zotacs territory.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 6:18 pm

For those of you who don't vote Intel, you're not a real gerbil. Get out.

Obviously I chose Intel. Throughout all the boards I have owned they have the best reliability and great drivers(at least compared to Realtek). CPU utilization shouldn't really be an issue with the CPUs of today. Throughput is more or less equal on most controllers.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 6:25 pm

DancinJack wrote:For those of you who don't vote Intel, you're not a real gerbil. Get out.


Really? There is obviously a measurable difference between the Intel solutions and the others, but in terms of how that affects real world applications, I really don't think it matters. Now without a doubt I'd prefer to have Intel controllers throughout, including Wifi modules (those new mPCIe setups should be on everything!), cost vs. benefit in consumer boards really isn't in their favor.

Also, thank you ASUS for directly engaging the enthusiast community. We appreciate it!
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 6:29 pm

Airmantharp wrote:
DancinJack wrote:For those of you who don't vote Intel, you're not a real gerbil. Get out.


Really? There is obviously a measurable difference between the Intel solutions and the others, but in terms of how that affects real world applications, I really don't think it matters. Now without a doubt I'd prefer to have Intel controllers throughout, including Wifi modules (those new mPCIe setups should be on everything!), cost vs. benefit in consumer boards really isn't in their favor.

Also, thank you ASUS for directly engaging the enthusiast community. We appreciate it!


I got excited. Sorry.

I disagree though. The reliability of Intel LAN chips is, at least I find, much better than the competition. You don't notice the NIC until something goes wrong. That's what makes a NIC so important to me. With nearly everything requiring or benefiting from an always-on internet connection, down time is really annoying.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 6:31 pm

I can admit to having a flaky Marvell controller- on an nForce 3 board, over 8 years ago. Whatever Realtek/Marvell/Blah has come on boards I've used since then has not given me problems.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 6:48 pm

Intel!!
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 6:52 pm

GbE controllers from Realtek and Marvell are good enough to play back HD video or copy files from one PC to the other. I'm much more affected by limitations for throughput and latency of stuff coming through my cable modem.

Sure, I'd like to have an Intel controller, but it's not a show-stopper.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 6:53 pm

My current board has Realtek and I don't see any issues. As long as it's stable and doesn't add to the cost of the board, I don't really care.

Then again, I'm not buying "enthusiast" class boards. I have an entry-level Z68 board. It has 2 PCI-e (physical) x16 slots but that's just what came on it. The big thing to me is that exposes as many of the USB ports as possible. 6 on the backplane and 6 via headers. Not having to use hubs is nice.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 6:55 pm

Intel, since 3Com doesn't make consumer NICs anymore. :wink: They seem to have the best cross-platform drivers and are built into the Intel chipsets anyway, so more efficient, and they just seem more reliable and a bit faster.

I've had occasional driver trouble with Realtek NICs, though other than that they're OK. Trouble with Atheros, IMO, is that they don't provide drivers themselves and you have to hope the OEM will release updates. No experience with Marvell outside of their SATA controllers.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 6:57 pm

I'm a heavy Linux/FreeBSD user, and I won't buy a computer, or board, without an Intel NIC/WNIC. I consider a NIC to be core feature where price is no object; I will cut other things out of a build before I compromise my NIC selection. Intel has the best support in alternative operating systems, and their NICs are solid with good features.

I don't recommend boards with Broadcom or Realtek chips simply because they have a spotty history of support for alternative operating systems, and I usually end up suggesting an Intel branded board, which I'd rather not do as I think Asus boards are better quality with better features. Then there are shoddy WNIC implementations based on Broadcom and Realtek chips... I'm sure Intel WNICs could be implemented poorly, but I haven't seen it yet.

Personally, I've been favoring Tyan simply because they offer Intel NICs on AMD and Intel based boards (as well as having excellent Linux/BSD support :) ), but I would like to have Asus as a buying option.

I don't have any direct experience with Atheros chips, but Atheros NIC/WNICs have been pretty rare as of late. When they were big, the drivers were reversed engineered, and I'd rather have official support. Marvell NICs are pretty rare as well. I would definitely have to validate chips from both of those companies before I recommend them.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 7:14 pm

bthylafh wrote:Intel, since 3Com doesn't make consumer NICs anymore. :wink:


3c905b cards were awesome back in the day. Those things just worked, much like modern Intel cards.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 7:16 pm

If motherboard manufacturers would provide extra expansion slots, I would always choose an add-on NIC card. I remember the old 3Com NICs had an on-board RISC controller to take the load off of the CPU. I would like to see this again. I suppose onboard would be great if they also put a seperate on-board processor just for the on-board NIC. Yes, I know that NIC's don't really affect the newer CPU's, but I'm a purist. Also would like to see the return of hardware accelerated sound cards. Putting everything into software just doesn't seem right to me. And a word of advice to ASUS, there is a market out there for purists, potential income for you hardware manufacturers. I can't be the only purist out there.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 7:36 pm

I prefer Swiss, the holes let the data go through faster than other cheeses.

But Swiss wasn't an option so I picked Intel.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 7:40 pm

I agree with Flatland_Spider. When it comes to the NIC, be it wired or wireless, I always try to get an Intel chip because I know I'm not going to have headaches with compatibility and I'm going to get good performance. Case in point: Realtek wired ethernet controllers on a board I have are nominally "gigabit" and work OK in the default mode, but if you try to use the standard 9000 byte jumboframe to really get good performance, the card falls over. Intel cards work just fine even when you set different network options.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 9:30 pm

After coming from my last board with an Atheros GigE network card that was giving me constant problems you bet I looked closely at the integrated NIC. Granted, it was a low end board, but still.

There were other reasons for choosing the mATX Gene Z with the Intel NIC but it was definitely a deciding factor.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Tue May 08, 2012 3:45 am

Thanks for listening!

Intel NICs are definitely a deciding factor for purchase. They "just work." I don't get LAN cards anymore because onboard seems good enough these days, but usually do go with a dual-NIC mobo with at least one Intel if I can get it.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Tue May 08, 2012 7:21 am

An Intel NIC is nice, though I cant say I have had any problems that I could pin down to an integrated Realtek controller. If I was choosing between two pretty similar boards, I first look at fan controls. So when I bought a P67 board, I went with ASUS for the fan control, but I couldn't justify paying extra for the Pro with the Intel NIC, as it would have been about the same to just buy a PCIe one. And if the realtek one works ok, I don't need to buy a NIC. If it has issues, I just buy a PCIe one and I can then move it into the next build when the time comes.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Tue May 08, 2012 7:42 am

Bought a PCI-E Intel NIC so I don't ever have to bother about onboard again - it'll spend 99.99% of its time disabled anyway :)*. Same with the onboard audio. Really wish Intel would release a PCI-E wireless card, as they seem to be the only people that can do WiFi right.

*Obviously if we're talking an ITX board or something, I'd only buy one with an Intel NIC, assuming there was one ... if not I'd struggle.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Tue May 08, 2012 8:00 am

Due to many previous issues, add me to this list of "I don't care, as long as it's not a Marvell NIC."
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Tue May 08, 2012 8:04 am

I voted for Intel nic, even though I currently use an addon pci-e. I would prefer future boards came with the onboard Intel.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Tue May 08, 2012 3:13 pm

Mentawl wrote:Bought a PCI-E Intel NIC so I don't ever have to bother about onboard again - it'll spend 99.99% of its time disabled anyway :)*. Same with the onboard audio. Really wish Intel would release a PCI-E wireless card, as they seem to be the only people that can do WiFi right.

*Obviously if we're talking an ITX board or something, I'd only buy one with an Intel NIC, assuming there was one ... if not I'd struggle.


Intel has mPCIe cards available at the 'Egg. Maybe try a PCI Express to Mini PCI Express Card Adapter? They have one from StarTech that's just a simple pass-through.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Wed May 09, 2012 10:47 am

First of all, thank you for asking these questions. It's nice to know somebody is considering the issue as it had been a pet-peeve of mine for years. Second, I'd like to apologize in advance for this mini-rant...

My job has me working with many computer configurations both hardware and software, and our main applications are very sensitive to network performance and stability. Many of them are installed at remote locations where my only means of administration is Remote Desktop/Logmein or ssh. In the past, I have been bitten many many times by bad implementations of either networking adapters themselves, or (much more likely) the abysmal state of their driver software.

In my experience, the worst offender is by far Realtek, especially in Linux. Their drivers often exhibit strange issues or are unstable, and under Linux they are usually binary blobs with no community support. I've had a few Linux machines configured as Samba server machines that would randomly explode when run under heavy network loads which required me to spend a fairly long amount of time updating, patching, and reconfiguring the machines to achieve stability.

On the Windows (typically client machine) side, I am even currently dealing with some kind of unexplainable issue regarding some combination of TCP, Realtek, and Virtual PC. Once again, replacing network controllers with Intel cards nips the issue in the bud.

Atheros hardware I have had very positive experience with, but I have heard some mild complaining from others with regards to their hardware quality. With Marvel I don't have any 1st or 3rd person experience regarding their stability or quality.

Intel, on the other hand, sports well documented hardware with proven track records. Their Windows drivers almost always come WHQL certified directly from Microsoft, and are typically included on the installation media which makes for extremely trouble-free installation. On the Linux side, their drivers are regularly added to the official kernel source, allowing community review and easy porting to other architectures.

In my experience, Intel networking has always been the gold standard, and after several headaches, I have become wary to purchase motherboards without Intel (or at the very least not-Realtek) networking hardware.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Wed May 09, 2012 11:43 am

Another vote for Intel. As far as chipset/LAN goes, their stuff Just Works.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Wed May 09, 2012 11:59 am

Intel NICs leading with 71% (40/56) here. Also has the majority in other forums where this poll was posted (5/5 at Legit Reviews, 26/36 at [H]ard|Forum, 7/11 at Asus ROG, 8/8 at XtremeSystems).
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Wed May 09, 2012 12:02 pm

I've been paying a price premium for boards with Intel NICs. If you make that standard, it's one more advantage for you.

Broadcom is also a valid answer, but generally costs as much or more than Intel and less widely supported, so no real reason to have that onboard.

Help me retire my large pile of Intel PCIe adapters, Asus.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Wed May 09, 2012 1:11 pm

Airmantharp wrote:
Mentawl wrote:Bought a PCI-E Intel NIC so I don't ever have to bother about onboard again - it'll spend 99.99% of its time disabled anyway :)*. Same with the onboard audio. Really wish Intel would release a PCI-E wireless card, as they seem to be the only people that can do WiFi right.

*Obviously if we're talking an ITX board or something, I'd only buy one with an Intel NIC, assuming there was one ... if not I'd struggle.


Intel has mPCIe cards available at the 'Egg. Maybe try a PCI Express to Mini PCI Express Card Adapter? They have one from StarTech that's just a simple pass-through.


Thanks for the info - I don't actually need one, but there have been occasions where I've had to buy a desktop card/USB adapter for someone's machine, and almost without exception the one I've ended up with has caused hassle, even from someone like Linksys or Netgear :(. WTB Intel WiFi card please.
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Re: ** Official ASUS Poll & Discussion - LAN Controllers **

Postposted on Wed May 09, 2012 2:37 pm

Mentawl wrote:
Airmantharp wrote:Intel has mPCIe cards available at the 'Egg. Maybe try a PCI Express to Mini PCI Express Card Adapter? They have one from StarTech that's just a simple pass-through.


Thanks for the info - I don't actually need one, but there have been occasions where I've had to buy a desktop card/USB adapter for someone's machine, and almost without exception the one I've ended up with has caused hassle, even from someone like Linksys or Netgear :(. WTB Intel WiFi card please.


Got me a nice Dell 1505 desktop adapter, it has a nice miniPCIe slot internally, goes into a PCIe 1X slot on the desktop board, and has two rear antennas (easy to add a third). The very best part, for me, is being able to swap out the miniPCIe card that's attached. I took out the default Dell Broadcom POS and put in a Macbook Pro-surplus Atheros ABGN 3X3. It picks up way better signal now. I could drop in an Intel WLAN just as easily, and I have a bunch to choose from. ;)
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