What is Network Interface Card (NIC)?

The acronym NIC, which is spelled "nick," means for "Network Interface Controller." A NIC is a part that gives a computer networking features. It might make it possible to join to a local area network wirelessly or through a physical connection, like Ethernet or Wi-Fi.

In the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s, NICs were frequently found in desktop PCs. Many computers in the 1980s and early 1990s lacked networking features, so a NIC could be installed as an extension device. The majority of NICs were mounted in a motherboard PCI port. Coax network links could be made using a BNC socket on early NICs, but Ethernet interfaces quickly became the norm. As a result, the majority of NICs have one or more Ethernet connections.

Wireless NICs gained prominence at the same time that wireless networking did. Wireless NICs are made for Wi-Fi links instead of Ethernet connections and frequently have a receiver to improve the computer's wireless connectivity. While the majority of contemporary wireless NICs are connected to PCI Express slots, older wireless devices have PCI interfaces.

Since there are numerous various networking standards, it is recommended to match a NIC's specs to the network standard. A Gigabit Ethernet NIC, for instance, is the ideal option if you're linking to a Gigabit Ethernet network. Although a 100Base-T card will function, the maximum data transmission rate is only 1/10 of what is feasible. You might also be able to connect using a 10 Gigabit Ethernet card, but the network will only support gigabit rates. The least common denominator between the network and the NIC is also used by wireless devices. However, a wireless device might be unable to join to the network if it does not support a more recent wireless standard (like 802.11ac).

Network adapter vs. NIC

A NIC is a real, tangible device that plugs into a computer's extension port. A network adaptor, which is an incorporated networking component, is now found in many laptops and cellular gadgets. This could be a tiny wireless networking device found on the motherboard or an Ethernet driver and socket affixed to the periphery of a motherboard. A network adaptor could also be a tiny accessory that plugs into a USB interface. Although the words "NIC" and "network adapter" are frequently used interchangeably, NICs are a specific kind of network adapters, whereas network adapters are not always NICs.

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