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My system has a NIC (Marvell Yukon) built-into the motherboard, but I also have a D-Link (RealTek) card. I figure that using the D-Link and disabling the Marvell makes the most sense, though I'm wondering if maybe the built-in one has better throughput (not that my Internet connection is so fast). Also, I'm wondering about the merits of using both at the same time.

My router has four ports and I have experimented with enabling and plugging both NICs into the router. I was able to connect to the Internet, but the pattern of usage seemed irregular (which adapter was chosen for the transfer and any given point).

I also considered bridging the two, but am having difficulty in finding out what exactly creating network bridge does in the context of the Windows Network Connections window. I am familiar with the concept of connecting networks, so it seems to me that birding two connections on the same segment is pointless at best (and can cause problems like loops?)

Does anyone have any tips on what to do if a system has more than one NIC and any clarification on the bridge option?

Thanks a lot.

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migrated from serverfault.com Jan 14 '11 at 18:39

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Why not use iperf to test performance between this computer and another. Try testing each nic, and see which performs better. –  Zoredache Jan 14 '11 at 18:28
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This probably belongs on superuser, since it sounds like a workstation question. But, if both cards have the same specs (IE: 10/100 or 10/100/1000), there is no advantage to using an add-on card over the built-in. In all of my servers, I use all available on-board NICs before I think about adding an additional card, there is just no need, it just adds complexity.

As for using both cards in a bridge, this could be if you do not have a router. One card would go to your internet connection, and the other would go to another device that needs a connection to the internet. The two NICs would be bridged to provide connectivity.

If you are looking for redundancy, you would need to look into NIC teaming, and the last I looked into that, the cards usually had to be identical, and support it, as not all do.

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as a side note, bonding (name for teaming in Linux) is possible between any two NICs in Linux :) so you could double your performance if you dual boot. But yeah, you'd have to have nVidia or Intel I believe for teaming to work. Also, there can be a reason not to use an onboard card: some NICs have TOE and/or iSOE support. Not in consumer-grade hardware, but it does happen. –  Michael Lowman Jan 14 '11 at 18:28
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