I have a relatively new server that I need to add an interface to. Sitting right next to me I happen to have an old 3Com 905b TX. This card came out of an old Windows 98 machine. It hails from back in the days before CPUs were fast enough to support software nics, and so it's a real hardware-based card. Aside from it's age it's in otherwise good shape.

The cheapskate in me really wants to use this card in the new server, and so I need someone to talk me out of it ;) Why shouldn't I use this card in the server?

This is for our utm/gateway server, which runs a custom linux distro. I know there are linux drivers available for the card. The new interface is to add an additional WAN connection (just dsl, we have dedicated fiber for the main WAN interface) to gain increased internet bandwidth for our users + a little redundancy. This means that:

  1. If it goes down by itself, it's not taking our full connection down with it as long the server continues to run.
  2. Though there will be a 100Mbit connection to the dsl modem, we'll never have more than 12Mbit on the line.
  • Funny statement - modern motherboard cards are also hardware nics. Nothing special there, no software implementation. Only so cheap now that basically they put the hardware on the board. – TomTom Nov 10 '10 at 5:20
  • On server motherboards, yes. On desktops, not so much. But here it's not important: I don't have any interfaces remaining on the motherboard, and so I must add one. – Joel Coel Nov 10 '10 at 5:31

Wow, a 3C905bTX. That is a throw back. That being said, my opinion is that it will do just fine. As Tom stated, that model NIC was a perennial standby in it's day.


I suppose that depends on what this "server" is doing. Honestly, it will probably be fine unless you need some advanced features, and if the destination box is Windows, it probably has the drivers for it. I happen to know that XPSP2 had the drivers for 905CTX, which is my standby utility NIC I keep in my toolbox.



Only thing I hear about old cheap NICs is that they cause too many IRQs for the traffic they process, and it's possibly really heavy traffic may be dropped by the NIC driver as a result.

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