April 9, 2001

Review: 3C905TX-C Network Interface Card

Author: JT Smith

- By Jeff Field -

Recently, I found myself in need of a Network Card, and decided to go with the 3c905TX-C from 3Com. The 3Com 3c905TX-C is the same card as the TX-B except with "remote management" features, in other words "wake-on-LAN." Here are my findings.
The board
The board is a very simple network card, and that's a good thing, because it does its job with little hastle. The 3c905TX-C I purchased came in nothing more than a static bag with the remote wakeup wire and the driver disc, as well as a quick start guide. The board itself has little to talk about physically -- it has a link indicator for 10 megabit connections and one for 100 megabit connections. It also has an activity light to show when there is network activity -- useful sometimes for diagnosing network problems.

Documentation and installation
The paper documentation included with the 3C905TX-C was simply the quick start guide, with the manuals residing on the included disc. The practice of doing this has grown very common, and I am not sure what my opinion is -- sure, it is cheaper for a company to include documentation on a disc it would have to include anyway. But sometimes it is nice to be able to sit back and read something on paper, especially if the PC you need to read the document on is inoperational because you are installing the very card you need help with. The 3Com documentation is certainly adequete, telling you how to physically install the card, and connect the wake-on-LAN cable if you so desire.

The instructions also go into detail about how to install the Windows drivers, but that is a non-issue because the Linux kernel supports the 3Com card. You need only compile the driver into the kernel or compile the module and load it into the kernel for the card to show up. I've used this card in several systems, including one system where it temporarily replaced a TX-B, and there was no problem with the card on any of them.

The 3c905TX-C is an excellent network card, and is a blessing compared to some of the ISA NICs I am used to. Install it in a system, plug in the network cable, setup the card and let DHCP do the rest. You will be up and running in no time with very little hastle.

The 3Com works reliably in a variety of environments, from a relatively empty PC that serves as a firewall to my main Linux machine, which has many devices and which I regularly abuse heavily. And, perhaps the 3c905TX-C's (and -B's, which I highly recommend if you do not need the management features of the -C) best feature is its price -- an all around good PCI 10/100 network card which can be had for $30 according to Pricewatch. It's manufactured by 3Com.

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