Jun 06

Think Before You Buy… PCI vs PCI-E Gigabit NICs


As most of us building our home labs are considering doing so on the cheap, it may be tempting for you to purchase a PCI NIC as a 2nd NIC for your host. Although this is cheaper (however not significantly) than a PCIe NIC, you may want to think about what you are doing.


PCI bus speed runs at 33Mhz x 4 bytes (32 bits) = 133MB/s. Gigabit Ethernet runs (maxing out) at roughly 100MB/s.  So yeah, this could work. However, understand that the Bus speed is shared and that the likelihood that you will attain this speed in your lab diminishes as you may add more devices that share the bus.

PCIe is different and depends on the version of PCIe. the Capacity per lane (each direction) is the following:

  • v1.x 250 MB/s
  • v2.x 500 MB/s
  • v3.0 985 MB/s
  • v4.0 1969 MB/s

As you can see, PCIe is the way to go if you are adding in multiple NICs or devices onto your motherboard. Definitely look for a PCIe NIC that handles WOL if you plan on using WPM to cut power costs at home with hosts you are not utilizing.

I have picked up 4 TP-Link TG-3468 Gigabit PCIe NIC’s recently and have them running out of the box on my lab (ESXi 5.0.0) http://goo.gl/trU56

The best part is these NICs are only $12.60 which is only a few dollars more than your cheap PCI NICs.


Give them a shot!




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  1. Paul Braren

    Hey Brian, other TP-LINK fans out there, see this recent comment:
    and yes, the Realtek chip its based on can still work on ESXi 5.5, seen here:

    1. Brian Graf

      Thanks for your comment here. I have been pretty busy with work and have neglected this site, I am hoping to add some of my posts I’ve planned on later this week. It is true that 5.5 seems to not have support for all the same drivers that it had in the past. For those of us that have home labs that do not run actual servers, there will be the need for the ESXi Customizer. Great post by the way, you beat me to it.

  2. Slaingod

    Gigabit Ethernet speed is 1000 Mbps. Not 100 MB/s. You wrote 100 megabytes per second.
    Gigabit Ethernet is 1000 megabits per second.

    Also, you keep using PCI-E and PCI Express interchangeably. Not really wrong but confusing.
    PCI Express is officially abbreviated as PCIe.

    1. Brian Graf

      Sorry that may have been confusing. You are correct that Gigabit Ethernet is 1000Mbps, if you do the conversion it actually comes out to 125MBps. It just depends on how you do your math and decide to write it out. I will go in and critique my post and fix the PCIe stuff to be more uniform. Thanks.

  3. Omal

    The 100Base SC Dietary fibre PCIe Adapter, type TE100-ECFX, gives a trusted good performance link at a PC or server to your Multi-Mode SC-type fibre link pertaining to kilometers all the way to 3 km’s (1.3 miles). Full-Duplex engineering creates facts premiums all the way to 200 Mbps. Visit Dueltek.com.au to learn more.

  4. Sergey

    Hi. What about situation where 1 Gbit Atheros chip adapter is built-in motherboard and simple quite old (2008) PCI 1 Gbit Dlink card with realtek chip ? Will the second old card get all performance it designed for?

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