Will a usb to ethernet adapter for macbook air limit speeds?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Narada, Sep 8, 2012.

  1. Narada, Sep 8, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012

    Narada macrumors newbie


    Aug 10, 2012
    Hi guys,

    This may seem like a bit of noob question but here goes anyway.

    Recently I moved into a new flat and got broadband. For the first few days the speed was 5mbits/s. Today it went down to 1mbit/s. I called the provider. They asked me to do some speedtests with a direct connection to the router i.e. ethernet to eliminate wifi as the problem.

    The problem is: the macbook air doesn't have ethernet. So I started thinking about the adapter.

    Now, the ethernet max speed is around 100mbits/s. But this is an ethernet to usb adapter. My question is to what extent will the usb throttle the ethernet speeds? In other words - what's the max speed of the usb end of that adapter when connected to a 2010 macbook air? Is it 12mbits/s or 480mbits/s?

    I know usb1 is 12mbits/s and usb2 is generally 480mbits/s but I've also seen some distinction between usb2 and high speed usb2 only the latter of which is supposedly 480mbits/s. Can I use this adapter to perform those broadband speed tests without skewing the results?

    Maybe I should just get the latest MBA and have the thunderbolt adapter. Searching for reasons to get it :)

    Many thanks.
  2. tbobmccoy, Sep 8, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012

    tbobmccoy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Short answer: the USB adapter won't be the bottleneck for your broadband speeds.

    480mbits is only the theoretical max of USB, and relies on perfect conditions to hit that speed. However, you should easily get 1/10th of that through your dongle, which is still faster than your broadband speed. The dongle might not be operating correctly, in that case, it would be the issue, but other than that, you should be fine...

    As for thunderbolt, unless you need gigabit ethernet (you won't get that kind of speed over most any ISP, except Google right now), don't waste your money. USB is fine.
  3. jbzcar macrumors regular

    May 11, 2012
    They're the same price, lol.
  4. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    Assuming your Air has USB2 ports, all of a sudden it thinks you have a USB1 dongle?
  5. Alameda macrumors 6502a


    Jun 22, 2012
    Using the Thunderbolt Ethernet adapter with an Air means you can't attach a display or thunderbolt storage at the same time.
  6. Narada, Sep 9, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2012

    Narada thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 10, 2012
    Thanks. That's what I thought. I just wanted to confirm with someone other than myself. I'll go for the adapter. Looks like wifi is useless given that router is in kitchen cupboard surround on three sides by obstructions. Thanks a lot.

    EDIT: Just realised I don't have a usb port free :( The left side port is taken by a portable hd for time machine and the right hand side by the 27" display connector. I suppose I could shuffle the hard drive to the back of the monitor or to the sides of the keyboard.

    Update: just purchased an airport express to take it an Ethernet cable and create a wifi point. This will solve my wifi issues not just for my MBA but also for my iPhone and iPad. Will try it tonight. Also purchased the USB Ethernet adapter to do the broadband tests but will return this afterwards.

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