Last week I took a look at the Intel Pro/1000 PT gigabit Ethernet adapter. This week I am going to show off the Intel Gigabit CT Desktop adapter which runs around $35 new (see Amazon for Intel Gigabit CT Desktop adapter) and is a go-to adapter for users looking for high levels of compatibility. The Gigabit CT Ethernet adapter is a PCIe x1 part, so it will work in almost any PCIe slot whether it is PCIe x1 or larger. That small size means you can use the card in most systems, even many consumer platforms as the name suggests. The big bonus with this card, over a lot of other, less expensive cards is that it uses the Intel 82574L NIC. As many regular readers will notice, this is a go-to controller of choice for NICs integrated on server and workstation parts which means it is out-of-the box compatible with Linux, VMware ESXi 5.0, Microsoft Windows 7, 2008 Server R2, FreeBSD, Oracle Solaris Express 11, OpenIndiana.
When it comes down to it, I keep two of these available at all times. When I’m installing an OS I just add this and I know I will have at least one port with network connectivity. You name it, this works. Let’s take a look at the card.
The Intel Gigabit CT Desktop adapter is a low profile card with a full height bracket typically installed. You can see, this Ethernet adapter does not have heatsinks over the processor and has a fairly simple layout. I still have not seen one fail due to heat, but it is best practice to put some airflow over them.
The I/O plate portion of this card is very basic. There is a RJ-45 gigabit ethernet port and LEDs noting if there is a link, and the 10/100/1000 status of the NIC. I did find it funny my version depicted above has a label saying it is not a phone port, yet many of today’s phones run on Ethernet networks so hopefully nobody plugs a phone chord into this Ethernet adapter.
Price wise one can find these cards for $35 new (see Amazon for Intel Gigabit CT Desktop adapter) or about $30 used (see this ebay search.) Deals happen occasionally, but not overly often. Less expensive network adapters run in the $15 range, so these cost about double, but in nominal terms not much more than an inexpensive Ethernet adapter based on Realtek gigabit NICs for example.
Bottom line: these are great cards, and well worth the money if you are looking for a well supported NIC.