Is USB/Ethernet Adapter slower

rpg51

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 4, 2012
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than a Thunderbolt / Ethernet Adapter when I am connecting to a large government network for internet access, file transfers and for running software over the government network (Microsoft Office programs).

I'm running a MBA with thunderbolt port. I have a USB/Ethernet Adapter and I am trying to decide whether to purchase a Thunderbolt/Ethernet Adapter or if it really won't improve things.
 

drsox

macrumors 68000
Apr 29, 2011
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Xhystos
It's much much faster. I have a 2011 MBA.

12MBps (96Mbits/sec) for the USB/Ethernet (as it is only Fast Ethernet).
100MBps + (800Mbits/sec +) for the TB/Ethernet. IF you have a Gigabit LAN connection (i.e. Cat5E wiring and above).

I have both and I was so unimpressed with the USB/Ethernet that I bought a Belkin GBLAN connector (USB/Ethernet) as a temporary item until the TB adaptor was available. With the Belkin I achieved 18MBps.
 
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rpg51

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Original poster
Jul 4, 2012
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Thanks for the reply. But how do I know if I have a gigabit connection in my office? If I don't have a gigabit connection - I'm I correct that the Thunderbolt adapter won't change a thing??
 
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justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
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I'm a rolling stone.
Thanks for the reply. But how do I know if I have a gigabit connection in my office? If I don't have a gigabit connection - I'm I correct that the Thunderbolt adapter won't change a thing??
You think they don't have, they have to, otherwise it costs them tons of money, people waiting costs money.

If you have a thunderbolt and the network is the 10/100 Mb/s it won't change a thing, you're right about that.
 
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drsox

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Apr 29, 2011
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Whatever the wiring you have you will be better off with the TB version. If you buy it from the Apple store you can even try it out for 14 days and send it back if it's really no use.

When you are next in the office ask one of the support bods, or have a look at the connecting cable. Running along the edge of the cable is a long string of codes. One of them will say CAT 5, or CAT 5e or CAT 6. That's what you want to know. But, you might have non-GB LAN switches and routers, so you might still not get 100+ MBps.

I'm fortunate that I did my own wiring, so it's all CAT6 and GB connections.

PS The other thing to watch out for is to check that the MBA is actually using the TB NIC and not the WiFi connection. I suggest you get a copy of Bridge Checker and set it to disable WiFi when the TB NIC is connected. (http://accessagility.com/products/bridgechecker.html) It's in the App store. Make sure the TB NIC is given priority over WiFi in System Preferences.
 
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rpg51

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Jul 4, 2012
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Well, it is next to impossible to get any good advice from the tech support people - I have learned to figure things out best I can on my own. We have offices all over the state and we all use citrix to get access through terminals at our desks, but I have started connecting my own lap top - works better. Enough said on that.

I think I'll just order one or pick one up locally and give it a try.
 
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drsox

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Apr 29, 2011
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Well, it is next to impossible to get any good advice from the tech support people - I have learned to figure things out best I can on my own. We have offices all over the state and we all use citrix to get access through terminals at our desks, but I have started connecting my own lap top - works better. Enough said on that.

I think I'll just order one or pick one up locally and give it a try.
If you are working through a remote connection, then you will be limited anyway to the WAN speeds, so TB rates are irrelevant. Maybe it's worth it as an investment for when you are local to a MegaNetwork facility.
 
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rpg51

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Original poster
Jul 4, 2012
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I am always - 100% of the time - in a remote location. So is it the WAN speeds that are typically the bottle neck? If so is it likely that the lesser speed USB/Ethernet adapter won't be slowing things down? I'm trying to get the fastest connection I can get with my equipment but I don't know enough to understand where the bottle necks are.

I may be wrong, but it is my understanding that our huge network is run to many remote locations over the internet somehow and then we have wire strung around the various remote offices. We use Citrix. We have little terminals about the size of a book sitting on our desks. Keyboard, monitor and mouse plug in to the terminal. I suspect this is all very old technology - wiring probably not upgraded in a decade or more.

I see they have these things in the local best buy. I'll probably just pick one up and see what happens. Not optimistic.
 
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drsox

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Apr 29, 2011
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I suspect that you may well not see any benefit from the TB adaptor after all !
There's a 2x - 3x difference in cost, so up to you to decide.

Yes, 10 year old infrastructure will be CAT5 at best and maybe v slow Internet speeds also. Easy to test though with a point-to point network speed checker.
 
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