Updated: 05/19/2017 by Computer Hope

Network Interface Card or NICShort for Network Interface Card, the NIC is also referred to as an Ethernet card and network adapter. It is an expansion card that enables a computer to connect to a network; such as a home network, or the Internet using an Ethernet cable with an RJ-45 connector.

Wireless network cardDue to the popularity and low cost of the Ethernet standard, most new computers have a network interface build directly into the motherboard. The top image shows the SMC EZ Card 10/100 PCI network card, one of the more common examples.

The bottom picture shows a PC Card, more specifically the SMC EZ Card 10/100 wireless network card; found in laptop computers that do not have onboard wireless capabilities.

How does a computer with a network card connect to a network?

A network card can communicate with each other over the same network using a network switch or if only two computers a direct connection. If computers on your network need to connect to a different network (e.g. the Internet) they must be eventually connected to a router that allows networks to communicate with each other.

Connection, LAN, Network terms, Processing device