An Introduction to Computer Network Adapters

A network adapter is defined as the component of a computer’s internal hardware that is used for communicating with another computer over a network. A network adapter enables a computer to connect with any computer, server, or other networking device via LAN connection. They can be used over both wired networks via ethernet cable and wireless networks through a router.

The network is typically the only component within a computer for interfacing or connecting with a network. Adapters are commonly built on a printed circuit board with jumpers that connect to the computer’s motherboard. Adapters for wired networks feature an RJ-45 port that uses cables for network connectivity. Wireless adapters connect to the network via a built-in or externally connected antenna. Both network adapters, whether wired or wireless, support LAN protocols like TCP/IP and others. This blog will provide further insight into network adapters, their types, and functions.

Several types of hardware adapters exist: integrated wireless chips, USB adapters, media adapter, and PCI adapters. An integrated wireless chip is a built-in network adapter that is pre-installed in a new computer. This is common only in newer models. A USB adapter is probably the most commonly-used adapter. It is a simple USB plug that fits into a port to enable computer network connections. This is found in WiFi or ethernet applications. A media adapter, sometimes called a game adapter, is used to connect to older models of game consoles or other home entertainment with modern networks, simultaneously providing WiFi capability.

The final type of network adapter, the PCI adapter, is found on older PCs. Also called a NIC(Network Interface Card), the PCI adapter is a type of add-on card installed inside a desktop computer. A variation of the PCI called a PC Card can be inserted into the side of a laptop computer and provide the same function. In addition to these, there are some types of network adapters that have no hardware component, but rather consist solely of software. These are called ‘virtual adapters’ because they lack any physical parts. Virtual adapters are commonly found in VPNs (virtual private networks), which mask your IP address and encrypt your internet traffic to protect your online identity. In addition to VPNs, virtual adapters are used in research computers or IT servers that run virtual machine technology.

How to Install A Network Adapter? 
The process of installing a network adapter differs depending on the type and model of adapter you are using, but, generally speaking, consists of two simple steps. The first step is to connect the adapter hardware to the computer, and the second is to install any corresponding software needed for the adapter to operate. Most adapters can be installed while the computer is running normally, but PCI adapters require the user to turn off and unplug the computer before installation. Regardless of the network, adapters are a necessity. Any adapter you purchase will support either WiFi or ethernet standards, and is an essential piece of both wired and wireless computer networks. Specialized adapters with very particular applications are also available, but are not commonly found or needed in most personal or workplace networks.

At ASAP IT Technology, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all the wireless devices and network storage adapter parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries. Our inventory of over 6 billion new and obsolete parts also contains wireless NIC (network interface controller) parts and much more. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at 1-714-705-4780.


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