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Intel NIC faster than on-board Realtek?

So you start to wonder if your on-board Realtek adapter is any good, and within minutes you read a ton of reviews and forum posts about how switching to a NIC made their downloadz so much faster. At first I was skeptic, considering broadband doesn't even come close (unless your lucky, most of us get < 10Mbps), but I soon got caught in the hype. Less load on the CPU? Realtek sucks? A PCI-Express card = so much faster?

I bought a pair of Intel Gigabit CT PCI-Express adapters ( Newegg Link ). The end purpose for these cards is for them to be used in a linux router, but for this article I am testing them in my main office PC and a half-way built HTPC.

pair of cards

For those of you that did not know, a 1x PCI Express card also works in a 16x PCI Express slot (the slot commonly used for video cards).

pci 1x slot

Obviously I could use the 1x slot, but this was an example... 😛

Without thinking, I started coping large movies back and forth, alternating between the Realtek and Intel ports. The transfer rates looked familiar, where had I seen those numbers before? Oh ya, those are the same transfer rates as my hard drive. Even at peak speeds ( 110 MB/s or 800 Mb/s ), they can't stress a gigabit connection... plus there is all the operating system overhead. It just wasn't a good test. So...

I used a cool little program from Microsoft called NTttcp ( Docs and download ). You run this program on both computers, it links up, and blasts your network with a load of data. I was able to reach, I assume, the practical limits of 1 gigabit ethernet at around 950 Mb/s. At this point, I really thought the Intel NICs would take the on-board Realtek easy.

ntttcp example

Example run... I did this a lot for the averages

  • Realtek: AVG 944.452 Mb/s
  • Intel: AVG 943.261 Mb/s

Exactly the same. I don't feel so bad about my on-board Realtek ports anymore. Good job. Still going to use the pair of Intels in my router. Peace.

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  1. Very interesting! I haven’t heard the hype on the dedicated NICs but I recently tore three out of an old server and threw them away just to find they’re worth at least $20 a piece used… It made me wonder.


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