Buying a USB 3 - Gigabit Ethernet adapter (posted 2013-07-05)
I currently have a MacBook Air and plan on getting a MacBook Pro with Retina Display when the new models are released.
Both of these lack Ethernet ports. So I got Apple's 10/100 Ethernet to USB adapter two years ago. But it's pretty useless, because it only does 11 MB/sec, while I get 14 - 16 (sometimes as high as 22) MB/sec over wifi. So when a year ago Apple released a 10/100/1000 ethernet to Thunderbolt adapter I got that one. Which is great, except that you can either plug in the GE adapter or an external screen, not both.
When I get the new computer, I guess I'll have to buy a second GE adapter so I can transfer data between the two computers at the highest possible speed. There are now 10/100/1000 Ethernet - USB3 adapters. Those should give me full GE performance on the new computer that will have USB3, but in the meantime something better than wifi using USB2 on my current machine.
So I asked for suggestions on the Ars Technica forums:
Looking at Amazon UK, there are numerous options. Can anyone recommend a specific one? My requirements:
- has to work with MacOS
- preferably no driver required
- full GE performance over USB3
- at least 200 Mbps over USB2
- wake on LAN support is important
- jumboframes and energy efficient ethernet support would be nice
I didn't get any recommendations. I decided to go with the Anker one. Here are the unboxing photos:
This is how it compares to Apple's 10/100 USB and 10/100/1000 Mbps Thunderbolt adapters:
- the box is very small, the USB cable is bent a bit further than I like and the driver CD barely fits, despite it being an 8 cm CD
- because it's not a regular CD, it won't fit in many drives, including the ones Apple has been using for the past decade
- the installation leaflet doesn't tell you where to download the Mac driver] (or that this is needed in the first place)
- the adapter and the USB 3 connector are rotated 180 degrees relative to each other. So under normal circumstances, the adapter will be upside down
After installing the driver, you get a new ethernet interface:
Although it says the MTU can only be 1280 - 1500 bytes, values up to 4070 are accepted and larger ones are replaced with 4070. Strangely, the actual MTU setting that you get is 4 bytes larger: you can do pings with 4074-byte packets.
The wake-on-LAN seems to work as it should, but I'm not sure the energy efficient ethernet is implemented in the driver. With the Thunderbolt adapter it says it uses EEE when connected to the new Time Capsule, but this one doesn't:
en6: flags=8863<UP,BROADCAST,SMART,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> mtu 1500 options=23<RXCSUM,TXCSUM,TSO4> ... media: autoselect (1000baseT <full-duplex,flow-control>) status: activeSpeed tops out at around 30 MB/sec over USB 2, but drops once you start sending and receiving at non-trivial rates at the same time. So that's pretty good right now, at double my wifi speed, and it's only going to get better once I have a machine with USB 3.
I got mine from Amazon.co.uk, at the time of this writing for £21.99 (associate link), but it's also available from Amazon.com, as I write this for $21.99 (associate link).