What Is a Network Interface Card – NIC Definition, Function & Types

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 The NIC card or the network adapter is the crucial component in devices like computers and servers. They help these devices connect to the network. These devices have several crucial types and roles in the operation of computers and other similar devices that use the network connection.

In this article, you will understand the meaning of the network interface card, its working process, and some important types. So, if you want a short introduction to it, keep reading this article.

What is NIC or network interface card?

The NIC or network interface card can be explained as the card with the port to establish communication between the devices. They are the hardware components that can exist internally or externally in the devices that need access to the Internet. These devices control Internet access or network communication. They can be classified as wired and wireless controllers or adapters.

Today, these devices can control network communication in the OSI model with both interfaces or layers. Generally, the NIC can effectively control the physical and data links between devices. The NIC also has other names such as Network Interface Controller, LAN Adapter, Patch Card, and Ethernet Card. These devices are capable of DMA, I / O interrupt, partition, and data transmission functionalities.

Types of network interface cards

NIC has two different types known as internal and external NIC; both are briefly explained in the sections mentioned below.

Internal network interface card

The internal NIC or the internal network interface card does not require any other card for the network connection. Since these cards are already associated with the motherboard, there is a port or slot where the network cable can be connected. Currently, there are mainly two types of internal NICs, such as PCI and ISA. PCI refers to the interconnection of peripheral components, while ISA stands for Industry Standard Architecture.

The ethernet cable can be easily connected to the available NIC slot on the motherboard. The registration connector is the standard form of the Ethernet connection and is also a preferred facility available. It is also pronounced as the RJ 45 connector and connects the computer or other device to the network.

External network interface card

External NIC is the type of controller or network interface card that is widely used for network connection. If you use a motherboard that does not have the built-in NIC or the internal NIC, you can connect your device using the external NICs. These cards are available in wired and wireless options and connect through the USB port of the computer you are using.

The wired connection is suitable for connecting your device to the Internet if you don’t need to travel a lot. But it is better to look for the wireless option when you need to travel from one place to another. The wireless NIC allows you to connect the device with a WiFi connection. Therefore, it does not require any wired solutions.

Network Interface Card Features

Generally, the role of the NIC is to connect the device to the network and continue to provide a stable connection experience. Here is what you can expect from these devices.

Wired network connection

The NIC already connected to the computer, mainly in the monitor, works as a network connection. It allows the ethernet cable to connect and pass the connectivity to the Internet. These devices generally have the switch and hub in the center from where you can control network connectivity. And it ensures that the connection cable can help the device to communicate with other devices with Internet access.

Wireless network connection

A wireless network connection is another function that a NIC card can provide to its users. These cards do not need any cables to access and can be done with a small antenna that is available with the external NIC. It uses radio waves to pass communication and can be turned off with the central switch.

Work as middleware

It also works as a middleware between the computer and the network that provides data. As it sends the query to the Internet, and then with the help of a LAN card, it receives the data, passes the query to the Internet, and presents the required result.

Work as a transmitter

The network interface controller also functions as a transmitter because it takes the data and translates it into digital signals that communicate with the network.

How does NIC work?

You might also be thinking about how the NIC works; so you will learn the same to get full clarity about the network interface card.

  • First, you establish the connection and get data.
  • After that, he used and collected the data available on the motherboard. When you collect the data, you can enter the destination address of the data. NIC also creates and adds its destination and also calculates the checksum in its buffer.

  • Then it streams the data to the network and performs a checksum for the given query.
  • And after the given query matches some results and no errors are found, it commits the submitted data.

This is how the NIC device works on computing devices and presents the result to the user.


The network interface controller is the card that ensures that the device is connected to the network. And help him to access the query given on the net and find the best possible solution if the error does not occur. The NIC has two main types, as wired and wireless network interface cards. The wired network interface controller is a card built into the motherboard. Because of this, the user is not required to connect any external card for data connectivity.

However, if the computer does not have a built-in network interface controller, then you can use the external network interface card. It has a small antenna and it is easy to connect with your device and use the Internet.

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