The Type of Ethernet Network Desired

  There are three types of Ethernet networks for the home: 10-Base T, 100-Base TX, and 1000-Base SX, with speeds of 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps, and 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) respectively. Due to non-data overhead, Ethernet networks can get about 80% peak data bandwidth utilization. Since Internet connections tend to be slower, the bandwidth requirement will depend on how much information the user needs to transfer from machine to machine on the internal network (LAN).  
  Most systems now incorporate the network adapter (NIC) into the motherboard. However, there are still some choices for external NICs. Some brands to choose from include: 3Com, Intel, SMC, Asante, Netgear, Linksys, and Allied Telesyn. 3Com and Intel are still considered among the best. When choosing a NIC, it is important to consider what LEDs are built in, which can indicate: link, activity, 100 Mbps (for 100 Mbps adapters), full-duplex, and collision. Netgear's FA310-TX model is the only one I have seen that has all five LEDs. However, this model is no longer made.  
  To network more than two systems together, a hub or switch is needed. Although it may be cheaper to purchase a dedicated bandwidth hub or switch (i.e. 100 Mbps), it is better to purchase one that has multiple bandwidth capability (i.e. 10/100 switch).  
  Hubs divide the rated bandwidth between all ports. If this is a concern, consider a switch. Switches guarantee maximum bandwidth to each port. In addition, switches allow for full-duplex communication, which guarantees maximum bandwidth for both sending and receiving data. The difference in cost between a home hub and a home switch is negligible, unless there is a need to connect more than eight systems together.  
  The last thing to consider is cabling. Most all cabling is UTP now (unshielded twisted-pair). You can still buy shielded cabling, but the extra protection is less noticeable then the fact that it's already UTP. Category 3 (CAT3) cabling is designed for 10 MBps networks, but it is no longer cost-effective to manufacture. The most common type is Category 5 (CAT5), which is used in 100 Mbps networks. CAT5 cabling is also capable of gigabit (1 Gbps) transfers. Other types of cabling include: Category 5e (CAT5e), FastCat5, datatwist 350, and Category 6 (CAT6).  

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