USB vs Thunderbolt ethernet adapter

bkribbs

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jan 15, 2012
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So I can buy a USB ethernet adapter for 16 bucks, or a thunderbolt one for 25.

For 9 dollars difference, am I really going to see a difference?
 

drsox

macrumors 65816
Apr 29, 2011
1,474
36
Xhystos
What are you connecting to ?

When I connect my MBA to my Gbit switch with the USB version, I get ~20MBps read speed. With the TB version I get >100MBps read speed.
 

marzer

macrumors 65816
Nov 14, 2009
1,329
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Colorado
So I can buy a USB ethernet adapter for 16 bucks, or a thunderbolt one for 25.

For 9 dollars difference, am I really going to see a difference?
A USB2 adapter will give you 100Mbps performance. USB3 and TB can both give you 1000Mbps performance.
 

bkribbs

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jan 15, 2012
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What are you connecting to ?

When I connect my MBA to my Gbit switch with the USB version, I get ~20MBps read speed. With the TB version I get >100MBps read speed.
I suppose just an Ethernet port for internet?
 

cocacolakid

macrumors 65816
Dec 18, 2010
1,108
19
Chicago
I suppose just an Ethernet port for internet?
If you want a faster Internet connection, pay the little bit extra and get a USB 3 or Thunderbolt ethernet adapter. They are wayyyy faster than any inexpensive USB 2 ethernet adapter (or USB 2 wireless dongle), because USB 2 is the limiting factor in speed.

Startech makes a great USB 3 ethernet adapter, but like most USB 3 things, it's a tad expensive also ($33 or so at Amazon). The Apple Thunderbolt ethernet adapter is actually cheaper ($29 and probably the only Thunderbolt accessory that is less expensive than it's USB 3 equivalent).
 

bkribbs

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jan 15, 2012
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If you want a faster Internet connection, pay the little bit extra and get a USB 3 or Thunderbolt ethernet adapter. They are wayyyy faster than any inexpensive USB 2 ethernet adapter (or USB 2 wireless dongle), because USB 2 is the limiting factor in speed.

Startech makes a great USB 3 ethernet adapter, but like most USB 3 things, it's a tad expensive also ($33 or so at Amazon). The Apple Thunderbolt ethernet adapter is actually cheaper ($29 and probably the only Thunderbolt accessory that is less expensive than it's USB 3 equivalent).
I'm going to buy a used- like new for 25 shipped from amazon but I guess that's what I'll do.
 

cocacolakid

macrumors 65816
Dec 18, 2010
1,108
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Chicago
I'm going to buy a used- like new for 25 shipped from amazon but I guess that's what I'll do.
Good deal, but if you're talking about the Apple Thunderbolt Adapter beware that there are millions of counterfeits of every Apple product and many of them do not work well. Personally I'd spend the $4 extra to avoid being ripped off. But if it's the Startech USB 3 adapter you're talking about, ignore my warning. :)
 

bkribbs

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jan 15, 2012
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Good deal, but if you're talking about the Apple Thunderbolt Adapter beware that there are millions of counterfeits of every Apple product and many of them do not work well. Personally I'd spend the $4 extra to avoid being ripped off. But if it's the Startech USB 3 adapter you're talking about, ignore my warning. :)
No its the real deal, from a reputable seller, the official thing. If it is in fact a ripoff I'll just return it!
 

theluggage

macrumors 601
Jul 29, 2011
4,198
2,921
For 9 dollars difference, am I really going to see a difference?
Not for surfing/streaming/downloading over the typical home broadband connection, which is slower than a USB connection, no. Maybe a bit less lag on online games or slightly lower CPU usage....? I doubt its going to be dramatic, though.

For file sharing between computers on your home network (if they all have 1000mbps ethernet - yes).

...but check your home equipment actually supports 1000Mbps ethernet (including your router). A lot of cheap/older stuff doesn't (1000Mbps kit will still work with it, bit only at 100Mbps).
 

waw74

macrumors 68040
May 27, 2008
3,203
204
I suppose just an Ethernet port for internet?
if all you're doing with this is browsing the net, keep in mind the fastest internet available from time warner cable in NYC is 50Mb/s. (and that's a $30 premium over their standard service)
their standard service is 15Mb/s.
if you've got DSL you're probably slower.
if you've got Fiber to the home (like FIOS) you're probably faster.

so the 100Mb USB adapter will be more than enough.

if you're wireless N, that is faster than 50Mb/s. (and probably faster than 100Mb/s if you've got a good signal)

wireless G is also probably faster than the standard level from time warner.


*if you alt-click the wifi icon in your menu bar, the "transmit rate" is the speed of your connection, see how that number compares to what you're supposed to be getting from your net provider. if they are close you probably won't see much speed increase.

** i keep saying probably, because there are a lot of variables that affect wireless, so speeds seen by you may not match others, or even if you move from one side of the room to another.


the only time you'll see a noticeable difference in speeds is moving files around your network, so to another computer, or to a back up device like a time capsule.
 

NewbieCanada

macrumors 68030
Oct 9, 2007
2,574
34
Not for surfing/streaming/downloading over the typical home broadband connection, which is slower than a USB connection, no. Maybe a bit less lag on online games or slightly lower CPU usage....? I doubt its going to be dramatic, though.

For file sharing between computers on your home network (if they all have 1000mbps ethernet - yes).
And to that I would add - for file TRANSFERS between computers. If I'm streaming 1080p video from one computer to another, wireless N is more than adequate. But when I'm copying 50 GB of files over, wired makes a big difference.

If you do go wired though, definitely go for the Thunderbolt, which will also free up a USB port that you probably need more.