Network Cards & Overclocking
When trying to get a
high FSB (Front Side Bus) everything in the computer is your
enemy. The first few things we always suspect are the memory,
motherboard and CPU. However, these may not be the only limiting factors!
Today we're going to be looking
at how Network Cards (NIC's) handle overclocking, and if they might be the thing
that's holding you back from getting higher speeds.
As you already know, every peripheral in the PCI slots of
your computer is linked to the FSB, and when you're going past 133 MHz (with
most boards) you're going to be running the PCI bus out of sync. This means the
PCI cards will no longer running at their specified speeds - they willl be
running faster then the are supposed to.
The motherboard we'll be using to test these five
NIC cards is the EPoX 8KHA+ (VIA KT266A) which has a 1/3 and 1/4 PCI divider.
You divide the FSB using the divider to get the PCI speed, PCI natively runs at
Knowing the limits of the other devices in the
test system already, it was all up to the network cards now. Good
thing the board has a 3/4 memory divider, because one of these
NIC's outlasted the memory being used, going well above 171 MHz FSB (42.5 MHz).
I was very surprised to say the least. Here are the contestants:
3Com 905CX-TXM 10/100 NIC ($56 CDN
Allied Telesyn AT-2700TX
10/100 NIC ($60 CDN Retail Price)
DLink DE-528 10Base Combo NIC ($25 CDN
Accton 10/100 EN5038 NIC
($20 CDN Retail Price)
Smartlink 10/100 NIC ($15 CDN Retail
These were all the NIC's I could gather up for the tests
and special thanks goes out to Mike and Ben atPerfect Systems for
lending us the 3Com 905CX. Why did
I go out of the way to include the 3Com? Well, 3Com
are one of the largest well known Network card manufacturers in the world
and this roundup wouldn't be complete without one!
The Allied Telesyn AT-2700 10/100 was
pulled out of our AthlonXP2000+ testbed. It's a example of quality, with
WoL features and a boot ROM option, it's a very feature rich NIC.
The D-Link DE-528 is the only 10Base
card of the lot, however it does have it's worth, it's good for those older
coaxial network connections since it is a combo card.
Both the Accton EN5038 and Smartlink are cheap
NIC's. They're prime examples of what you would get if you spend very little.
No options at all, but they get the job done.