OnBoard Intel or External NIC



  • Hi
    i considering to build pfsense box.
    and find many post that advice to get Intel NIC for better cpu utilization.
    So the question is what to choose
    On-board VS External NIC or there is no difference.

    in case if advice is External

    also some other question about external NIC

    i found on ebay some used cards from US
    about 30$
    INTEL PRO/1000 PT DUAL PORT PCIE SERVER NETWORK ADAPTER D50868‑003 EXPI9402PTBLK

    and find new one from china about 20$-50$ example:
    INTEL EXPI9402PT PRO/1000 Dual Port Server Adapter PCI-E Network Card 82571 OEM

    but on Chinese ones they put this note
    Note: This card it is 3rd party cards with Intel chip set.
    So its worst to get used one (looks like original) or try a new(Chinese) card with intel chip set.

    Thx for help



  • If it's an integrated Intel NIC there's zero difference between it and a separate card on the PCIe bus assuming they use the same chip. Both NICs connect to the same bus and have the same I/O and CPU utilization. The idea that motherboard integrated chips are made "cheaper" does no longer apply, it used to be somewhat true in late '90s with cheap audio chips and integrated modems but no longer.



  • Agree.

    If you - for instance - have an Intel 82574 chip or a 210at chip on your motherboard it is exactly the same as using a PCIe NIC with that same Intel 82574 or 210at chip.

    That being said, on board networking chips on non-member boards are usually crappy Realtek chips.  I wouldn't personally use Realtek Ethernet for anything, whether on board or not.

    Look for on board Intel chips or use Intel NIC's.  Don't use anything Realtek.

    The most common on newer boards these days are i210, i211 and i217.  They differ slightly, but you would likely be very happy with any of them.



  • **kpa
    mattlach

    Thx for help**

    this is MB GIGABYTE GA-H170N-WIFI

    Mother Board Main Specifications according to hardwaresecrets website

    On-board LAN: two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by an Intel I219V chip, and one controlled by an Intel I211AT chip

    for some reason gigabyte do not provide more detailed information about lan chips

    i assume it's an good solution ?  with more newer chips on board.



  • So the question is what to choose
    On-board VS External NIC or there is no difference.

    The question should be more likes consumer or server grade NICs.

    i found on ebay some used cards from US
    about 30$
    INTEL PRO/1000 PT DUAL PORT PCIE SERVER NETWORK ADAPTER D50868‑003 EXPI9402PTBLK

    Some of the PT card are having issues, problems and/or running not fine under pfSense.

    and find new one from china about 20$-50$ example:
    INTEL EXPI9402PT PRO/1000 Dual Port Server Adapter PCI-E Network Card 82571 OEM

    This ones can also be fine running but without a guarantee of this!

    but on Chinese ones they put this note
    Note: This card it is 3rd party cards with Intel chip set.

    Perhaps they payed a license fee to Intel
    Perhaps this are original chips and they produce in license
    Perhaps this is a fake and worse the money you want to pay, you only know it really late!

    So its worst to get used one (looks like original) or try a new(Chinese) card with intel chip set.

    An original is an original and will it even be it and refurbished is also an original.

    And a fake will be even a fake, it can be running well, but as said before without a guarantee.

    A third party NIC must not be bad and can also using original chips or is produced in license
    but to be sure that your card will be benefit from the drivers and the given by them features too.
    Here is an example for 3rd party NICs from HotLava



  • BlueKobold
    thx for help

    @BlueKobold:

    So the question is what to choose
    On-board VS External NIC or there is no difference.

    The question should be more likes consumer or server grade NICs.

    Not exactly
    you can get server grade board with onboard lan
    (in this case its only matter  how much you wanna spend  )

    what i ask if external lan adapter have benefits over onboard lan
    and  opinion of people who work with different hardware on pfsense platform.

    @BlueKobold:

    So its worst to get used one (looks like original) or try a new(Chinese) card with intel chip set.

    An original is an original and will it even be it and refurbished is also an original.

    And a fake will be even a fake, it can be running well, but as said before without a guarantee.

    A third party NIC must not be bad and can also using original chips or is produced in license
    but to be sure that your card will be benefit from the drivers and the given by them features too.
    Here is an example for 3rd party NICs from HotLava

    fully agree
    i'll never know until  try



  • Unfortunately on this forum i can give to every one thanks for they post (only one per topic).
    only find out when i use first time "Thanks you" button

    **kpa
    mattlach
    BlueKobold

    I really appreciate your help**



  • Not exactly
    you can get server grade board with onboard lan
    (in this case its only matter  how much you wanna spend  )

    This one mostly then came only without a real DSP and/or FPGA/ASIC, only with a LAN chip and are cheaper.

    what i ask if external lan adapter have benefits over onboard lan
    and  opinion of people who work with different hardware on pfsense platform.

    On consumer or desktop NICs you will only have a small chip that is handling the parity of the TCP/IP packets
    On server grade NICs you will have a real DSP (digital signal processor) that is mostly much more offloading
    from the entire TCP/IP workload and packet flow and this is then saving much CPU horse power. And the greater
    ones are sorted with a real ASIC/FPGA that can fully offload network tasks such as VLAN, NAT, ect…...

    And so the price will differ from a small amount to a huge amount for that cards mostly.



  • Unfortunately on this forum i can give to every one thanks for they post (only one per topic).
    only find out when i use first time "Thanks you" button

    Under each name of a forum member you will be able to click on "applaud" or "smite" to give
    them plus points or minus points how often you want.



  • @BlueKobold:

    Not exactly
    you can get server grade board with onboard lan
    (in this case its only matter  how much you wanna spend  )

    This one mostly then came only without a real DSP and/or FPGA/ASIC, only with a LAN chip and are cheaper.

    what i ask if external lan adapter have benefits over onboard lan
    and  opinion of people who work with different hardware on pfsense platform.

    On consumer or desktop NICs you will only have a small chip that is handling the parity of the TCP/IP packets
    On server grade NICs you will have a real DSP (digital signal processor) that is mostly much more offloading
    from the entire TCP/IP workload and packet flow and this is then saving much CPU horse power. And the greater
    ones are sorted with a real ASIC/FPGA that can fully offload network tasks such as VLAN, NAT, ect…...

    And so the price will differ from a small amount to a huge amount for that cards mostly.

    Now i get more clear image about external and onboard nic, and now i understand why you said that :"The question should be more likes consumer or server grade NICs".
    thx you  for more  detailed explanation about differences.

    i will considering to get an external nic(on more big networks),
    and for home i assume onboard is more than enough?



  • I am running that exact board with an i5 and 16gb of ram.  I'm sure you will run 2.3 but one of the Nics isn't supported in 2.2.6 without a lot of fiddling.  I run both on board nics and a dual PCIe Intel nic and cannot tell the difference.

    one thing about that board is it takes forever to boot off the USB,  probably 10 minutes or more. be patient,  once up and running,  it is very solid and runs great.



  • I run both on board nics and a dual PCIe Intel nic and cannot tell the difference.

    There might be not difference pending on the traffic that runs through the NIC.



  • @xman111:

    I am running that exact board with an i5 and 16gb of ram.  I'm sure you will run 2.3 but one of the Nics isn't supported in 2.2.6 without a lot of fiddling.  I run both on board nics and a dual PCIe Intel nic and cannot tell the difference.

    one thing about that board is it takes forever to boot off the USB,  probably 10 minutes or more. be patient,  once up and running,  it is very solid and runs great.

    Good to know
    Yep its will run 2.3.1(or latest one)
    i hope its will  work smooth out the box without problems



  • For the same ethernet chipset, onboard might have different performance than the add-on one.
    There is another thread in this board (the J1900 w/4 LAN port) which shows something we might easily missed during selection.

    The PCI-e bandwidth sharing can be a problem for LAN chip, some consumer grade device manufacturer might be putting quite a number of devices together on the same lane, somehow for certain low end processors they might be able to provide very limited PCI-e lanes which is not capable to have onboard LAN running at full speed all the time. But for a LAN card occuping separate PCI-e slot, most of the time this is using a dedicated PCI-e lane and so the performance can be guaranteed. Of course you don't need to worry about i3/i5/i7/xeon platform as these CPUs provide plenty of lanes for us while some low end ATOM processors might probably have this issue.


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