Have you ever heard of the Network Adapter? It’s a critical hardware component found in almost every modern computer. Without it, your computer will still be a powerful machine, but it would lack essential abilities that we use daily.
What is a Network Adapter?
A network adapter is a hardware component located within a computer. Its primary purpose is to allow your computer to communicate over a network with another computer device. It can also make it possible for computers to speak with each other through a server, a Local Area Network (LAN), or even a networking device.
Additionally, some network adapters are external. Therefore, you’ll need to download and install a driver manually if the operating system requires it. We should note that a network adapter is different from a router.
Types of Network Adapters
There are both wired and wireless network adapters which can be used in various computer devices. If you’re not well versed with the different types, keep reading to gain some valuable information. We will discuss the following:
- Network Interface Controller, also known as NIC
- Peripheral Component Interconnect
- USB network adapters
- Virtual network adapters
- How to find the wireless network adapter in Windows 11?
- Do you need a network adapter to connect to the Internet?
1] Network Interface Controller, also known as NIC
This type of network adapter is the most common since it is usually built directly into the motherboard of most computers. The Network Interface Controller, also known as the Network Interface Card, uses 802.11 as the primary standard for Wi-Fi connectivity.
This standard is found in most tablets and laptop computers, but not only that, it can communicate with most routers since they support said standard.
2] Peripheral Component Interconnect
The Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) network adapters were standard in the 90s and early 2000s. For the PCI to work, the user must connect it directly to the PCI card slot for it to interface with the motherboard.
From what we can tell, these adapters usually come with an antenna attached to receive wireless signals to connect the computer to the internet.
Despite being external network adapters, Peripheral Component Interconnect devices are designed similarly to the NIC adapter, and as such, they can enable both wired and wireless network connections.
We should note that the PCI standard was later replaced with PCI Express or PCIe for short.
3] USB network adapters
When it comes down to this type of network adapter, it typically comes in the form of a USB dongle that plugs directly into the USB port on your computer. Some designs have a protruding antenna, while others have the antenna built-in.
Folk tends to use these adapters on older computers that lack an internal network adapter or the Wi-Fi standard of the internet adapter is too old.
Some USB network adapters support wired and wireless connections, but these designs are not very common.
4] Virtual network adapters
Yes, there is something called a virtual network adapter. These things are typically found in a virtual private network or VPN.
5] How to find the wireless network adapter in Windows?
Locating the wireless adapter from within Windows 11/10 is very easy to get done. Right-click on the Start Menu button, and from there, select Device Manager. After you’ve done that, please scroll down until you have come across Network Adapters. Expand this section, and you should immediately see your wireless network adapter on the list. They are usually listed as WAN.
Read: How to Reset Network Adapters using the Network Reset feature in Windows.
6] Do you need a network adapter to connect to the Internet?
The simple answer to this question is yes. No matter which computer you’re using, whether a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, it is impossible to connect to the internet without a network adapter. This physical hardware makes it possible for the PC or Laptop to connect to the internet, i.e., sends data packets to the router or ISP, receives data from them, and sends it to the PC.