Updated on October 14, 2022
Years ago, when notebook computers were significantly larger, Ethernet connectors were commonplace. The Ethernet connector is disappearing from ever-thinner laptop designs, but that doesn’t indicate you have to do without it.
Ethernet Over USB
Ethernet connections aren’t standard on new laptops because they’re too big to fit in the ultraportable designs we’ve come to expect. They rely heavily on cutting-edge Wi-Fi systems to stay linked. However, there are many scenarios in which a hardwired link would be preferable. For starters, wired connections are typically more stable and quicker than wireless ones. Fortunately, a wide variety of adapters exist to facilitate the joining of an Ethernet connection and a USB port.
A USB to Ethernet adapter is a simple way to connect your computer to a network, but there are a few things to bear in mind before making your purchase. Although the maximum throughput of USB 2.0 adapters is lower than that of USB 3.2 Gen 1 and USB 3.2 Gen 2 adapters, for the vast majority of applications, this difference is likely to be negligible. The highest data rate for USB 2.0 is 480 Mbps, which is more than enough for most common uses.
But at the same cost, USB 3.2 Gen 1 can achieve gigabit speeds. An adapter for USB 3.2 Gen 1 is all you need only if you have a very specific use case that necessitates using USB 2.0
While you may purchase a Thunderbolt to Ethernet connection separately, you should avoid doing so unless you plan on investing in a docking station. Thunderbolt 3 and 4 cables are pricey relative to their USB counterparts, but their bandwidth far outstrips that of most Ethernet cables.
If you want a no-frills solution for connecting your laptop to an Ethernet network, a USB-A to Ethernet connection is generally what you need. They are convenient in that they are portable, cheap, and easily accessible. As of May 2022, the vast majority of laptops still feature at least one USB-A connector, and they will continue to be standard on both Windows and Linux machines.
As of 2015, Apple no longer installed USB-A ports on their laptops, so if you’re using a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, you’ll need to pick up a USB-C Ethernet Adapter.
This TP-Link adapter, which is USB 3.1 compliant, is quick enough to work with a gigabit network connection. On most up-to-date systems, you should simply plug it in and start using it.
TP-Link USB to Ethernet Adapter
TP-UE306 Link’s is a plug-and-play USB Ethernet adapter that is compatible with virtually all modern operating systems and can handle connections at gigabit rates.
The USB-C to Ethernet adapters differ slightly from the USB-A adapters, but otherwise function similarly. Given that USB-C is a more recent standard, a USB 2.0 to Ethernet adapter with an USB-C plug is unlikely to be found. Moreover, unlike USB-A connectors, Type – c to Ethernet adapters could be inserted in with any Thunderbolt port on your laptop.
All newer Android phones use the USB-C connector. Depending on your phone, you may be able to utilise a Type – c to Ethernet converter to connect your home network to your mobile device. Even though it probably won’t work, it might be useful if nothing else does.
Similar to the USB-A adapter we suggested, this TP-Link USB-C to Ethernet converter is part of a series of products. Gigabit transfer rates are supported, and it is a USB 3.1 devices as well.
TP-Link USB C To Ethernet Adapter
All newer laptops with a USB-C connection can use this TP-Link USB-C to Ethernet converter. It’s compatible with both Thunderbolt 3 and 4, and it can handle connections at gigabit rates.
Docking Stations with Ethernet Ports
If you wish to connect your laptop to a network through Ethernet, a docking station is the most feature-rich solution. Most docks contain a USB-C cable connection and extra video/audio/Ethernet/USB connectors. There are many more types of devices that may be connected to a dock than Ethernet, so it’s best to choose the quickest one you can afford, such as Thunderbolt 4 or USB 3.2 22.
Laptops from Microsoft and other manufacturers require special docks. They typically cost more than similar items due to their high demand. A dock is something to think about if you use your laptop in one fixed spot and find yourself needing more than one port. In any other case, saving money is easy: just use USB to Ethernet adapters.
What If It Doesn’t Work After Plugging It In?
Today, most USB adapters are “plug and play,” meaning they may be used straight from the box. However, there are occasions when things don’t function as intended. Try installing the manufacturer-supplied drivers on your laptop if the adapter fails to establish a connection.
TP-Link offers a helpful site where you can enter the model number and get the appropriate drivers if you’re running either of the ones we suggested.
Simply plugging in a USB accessory (or even a network connection, as we’ve seen) to a modern laptop is all there is to it; we truly live in the golden age of plug-and-play compatibility.
David Hodo is a highly experienced and respected writer in the field of laptop technology. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, he has a deep understanding of the latest trends and developments in the world of laptops.