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Now that windowsXP is released, and many of you will probably be running it in the comming months, i'd like to provide a little tip for the 3Com series of cards used with broadband connections.

I am going to focus on the 3Com Ethernet PCI 10/100 PCI TX NIC - more specifically the 905B-TX card and cable 13113v2111n modem connections. This is a good card and was a good performer in windows 2000. However in WinXP something happened, the drivers that winXP provide for this card work but are not good at performance. MS always has included drivers in their OS's that are intended to just get the thing working and thats it. The MS provided drivers are not top of the line performers, never have been and probably never will be.

The problem with this pecific NIC and the MS drivers is that the MS drivers default to an "Auto Select" level for the card bandwidth. This generally in 99% of systems means that the auto select function on broadband connetions selects 10mb full duplex. Even changing the cards properties to 10mb half duplex doesn't help as the card still wants to default to its hardware default at 10mb half and while this is selected the MS drivers still want to operate at 10mb full duplex like it was connected to an internal LAN. This in my opinion is improper for a stand alone cable connection to be treated like a regular LAN connection.

The solution for the problem is to go to the 3Com site and get the drivers for windows 2000 and change the drivers. After you change to the windows 2000 drivers look at the advanced tab for the card properties and you will see that the default configuration says "Hardware default". There is a difference between this (not just because it says it) and "Auto Select". With Auto Select with the MS drivers the card will always select 10 MB full duplex, with "hardware Default" the card will initialize always at the hardware default of 10 mb half duplex which is what you want for best performance on most cable systems. The 3Com drivers will treat the connection like it should be treated. The MS drivers will always try to treat the connection like it was a regular LAN full duplex connection which essentially cuts your connection speed in half.

May I confused you some by trying to explain this, sorry about that.

So the Tip 'o the day is : Try the windows 2000 drivers from the manufacturer for your NIC. They will generally perform better.

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