Hardware Required for ResNet

To connect to the ResNet network, you will need two important pieces of equipment:

Network Interface Card (NIC)

  • For many newer computers, the NIC is already built in. An exception is the Macbook Air.
  • For older computers, you will need to purchase a separate NIC that can be installed inside of the machine. This service is provided by our staff for all students living in the residence halls.

All residence halls and Greek Court chapter houses at NC State are wired with 10/100BaseT (also known as twisted pair) Ethernet. All adapters must have a 10BaseT, 10/100BaseT, or 10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet ("gigabit") connection. ResNet is beginning to upgrade to 100 mbit connectivity in several residence halls, though 10BaseT adapters will continue to function effectively.

Purchase only an Ethernet adapter that has one of these connections:

  • 10BaseT
  • 10/100BaseT
  • gigabit.

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Ethernet Adapter Recommendations

The type of adapter card appropriate for your computer depends on the model of your computer. You will also need an Ethernet cable to connect to ResNet.

For other types of computers, please contact ResNet.

Purchasing Information

The NC State Bookstores' Computer Connections department (919-515-3400) stocks Ethernet adapters and cables. ResNet will install all of our recommended Ethernet cards for free, regardless of where they are purchased. However, during the first week or two in the fall you may need to wait several days for an appointment.

We strongly recommend buying your Ethernet adapter from a vendor who will accept returns. Also, be sure the warranty allows enough time to connect and test your adapter before the warranty expires.

While we strongly discourage you from purchasing an adapter not recommended by ResNet, if you do, be certain that it has both of the following characteristics: 

  • Supports 10BaseT, 10/100BaseT, or gigabit
  • Has an driver appropriate for the operating system you plan to use.

ResNet Staff may not be able to assist you with Ethernet adapters not recommended by ResNet. There may be computers that do not function well with a given adapter. This is more often the case with older computers and with computers that are intended primarily for home use. There are also some Ethernet adapters that consistently don't work on our network. Please be sure to see our list of recommended adapters before purchasing one.

In addition to making sure you have the right type of 10BaseT, 10/100BaseT, 10/100/1000 Base T Ethernet adapter and cable for your computer, make sure your computer meets the minimum computer requirements for use on ResNet.

Category 5 Ethernet Cable

You will need to purchase a Category 5 Ethernet cable to connect your Ethernet adapter to the wall jack. The NC State Bookstores carry cables in several lengths and of a brand that is known to work on ResNet. We have occasionally had problems with other brands, but any brand should work. Use only a cable rated for Category 5 network use. Do not attempt to use a telephone cord or Category 3 cable with your Ethernet adapter.

The images below show the difference between Ethernet cables and phone cables. The plug of the Ethernet cable is about four millimeters (~ 1/8 of an inch) wider than the plug of a phone cable. An Ethernet cable also has eight wires while a phone cable only has four or sometimes two.

Differences in width of Phone and Ethernet CableDifferent Wires