Best NIC? Intel, Killer, Broadcom, Realtek, Qualcomm etc. Whats best and why?

I have been watching some of Wendell's videos and he often implies that the Intel Nics are good. I don't really understand what makes one better than another. Anyone have any insight? I couldn't find much on the topic, other than random BS in other forums... Is there something technically superior about Intel? Whats the difference between the Intel I218V, Intel I217V, Realtek RTL8111GR and Killer E2205?

I think it is the quality and the consistency that makes Intel NIC stands out. Killer NIC relies on software while Intel NIC is inheritantly faster and more stable. That is what I have heard, don't quote me on that.

Yea, that seems to be the general feeling. I Dont understand why intel makes more than 1 nic if they are all the same... #confused

If your using Linux stay away from killer. They use proprietary software that hasn't been reversed engineered fully and don't work very well.

That's is the main reason Intel NICs are highly recommended its mostly hardware based and has excellent support on almost all operating systems

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Intel NICs do TCP checksum offloading as well as other offloads which take some of the load off the CPU and are able to get a little more bandwidth. Most other NICs support this too to some degree but a lot of them are broken and you get better performance with the feature disabled.

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I ran across this on the pfsense website for hardware recommendations:

Selection of network cards (NICs) is often the single most
important performance factor in your setup. Inexpensive NICs can
saturate your CPU with interrupt handling, causing missed packets and
your CPU to be the bottleneck. A quality NIC can substantially increase
system throughput. When using pfSense software to protect your wireless
network or segment multiple LAN segments, throughput between interfaces
becomes more important than throughput to the WAN interface(s).

NICs based on Intel chipsets tend to be the best performing and
most reliable when used with pfSense software. We therefore strongly
recommend purchasing Intel cards, or systems with built-in Intel NICs up
to 1Gbps. Above 1Gbps, other factors, and other NIC vendors dominate

It's pretty general, and doesn't answer your specific question, but it's one piece of the puzzle.

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i personaly prefer intel lans realy.
They allways have been decent and stable.

The diffrence between intel and killer is mainaly that killer gets included with some kind of wonky software, to priortise network traffic like gaming over something else.
But the problem with this is that it uses cpu sources.

Intel does QoS on a hardware base if im right, and letting the router mainaly deal with it.
Intel nic´s also using less cpu sources like @Dexter_Kane allready said.
I also think that intel is also the most used in an professional envoirement because of its functionality,like teaming possibility´s, and virtualization support. and reliability.

Realtek, well i basicly dont even wanne start about it, i have realtek onboard, and i dont like it at all, the drivers mainaly suck, and in my case, the lan chip causes allot of DP latency.
And its not allways realy stable.

Came here to say this. Thanks for pointing it out.

However, on a sidenote:
mostly Broadcom and Realtek are also well supported, but there is also that 10% chance that one is simply out of luck with the particular chip / model.

Intel NICs are generally a little bit more expensive that their competitors, but the advantages have already been pointed out above.
In addition, it is not like one is buying a new NIC every 2-3 years (like CPU, GPU et cetera)

I'm a little worried about the games Intel has started to play recently. For example, the I217-V :
Intel will try and stop you from installing the drivers in Windows Server and you have to manually tell it to use the driver for I217-LM instead.

While most users typically won't notice much of a difference between any of the various modern NICs in performance or stability - I ran into issues with RTL8169 Realtek cards dropping on older pfSense systems - haven't tested it after the move to the FreeBSD 10.1 kernel though.

Looking through the design and datasheets, You could actually find pros/cons for all the different solutions that might make you want to pick one over the other, but those generally aren't going to make a perceivable difference unless you're really looking to save a few milliwatts in power.

I would instead focus more on driver maturity/stability/availability for whatever OSes/etc you plan on using.
For me, that used to be Intel PRO/1000 PT cards and ignoring whatever was on-board - but most of my systems are migrating to 10GbE fiber now.