Which 10 Gigabit network card?

Hi. I have 2 desktop PCs that I want to network directly with a cable (without a switch)

  • the computers will live right next to each other, so a short network cable is all that is needed
  • I have found some enterprise network cables that were tossed out (see pic). If the 10 gigabit network cards use any of these cables, then I can omit ‘esoteric’ cable costs, so it’s just the cost of the cards themselves I need to concern myself with
  • I can’t remember exactly what these two types of network optical cables are called so I decided to attach a picture so they can be identified (I have zero experience with them but I have seen them on the internet in the past)
  • both computers have spare PCIe slots
  • I am willing to buy new or used

Which inexpensive 10 gigabit network cards would you recommend I take a look at?

Looks closest to the first one.

You could also go 40gig on the cheap:

For example: not sure if these can be flashed with Ethernet (mellanox website and serve the home forums usually have more info).

[ Edit: sorry, eBay links are horrible I have no idea what I was pasting]

mellanox has PDFs describing each of their series of cards with a table that decodes the model to a feature set at the beginning of the PDF … There should be 40gig cards for 30-50 a piece.

This would be the cable for those cards (40gig): https://www.fs.com/de-en/products/30884.html

Just for your info, the picture at the top looks like a DAC, a direct attached cable, which incorporates the transceivers.
The other two are types of fibre cable, which would need both a transceiver and a network card for each end.

I would recommend starting with the top cable, and either a Mellanox nic. Or Chelsio nic. Either should accept SFP+ transceivers.
If you went 40gigabit, you might need QSFP+ transceivers, depending on the card.
Q is just quad (4) Times SFP+ (small format pluggable) which looks like an extra wide version of the metal plug in the top picture.

Anyway, there should be enough buzz words to google for now…

You would use a DAC (Direct Attach Copper/Cable) if going with one of the SFP variants. Those cables are relatively cheap (compared to transciever + fiber).
This is not of concern when going RJ45.

There are two types of fiber:

  • Single-mode (SMF)
    – Usually in a yellow sheath
    – Used for long range connections

  • Multi-mode (MMF)
    – Usually a blue sheath
    – Used for “short” distance (< 300m/900ft)

If you want to read more about it

Intel X540-T1 or T2 can be found for cheap used.
10GB cards usually need PCIe2 x8 (half a GPU) of lanes.


Thanks to all of you for the helpful replies. I still haven’t decided on a set of cards but I’m shopping. Much appreciated.