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Affordable MacBook Air physical USB ethernet adapter

Posted by jpluimers on 2012/01/13

DealExtreme product #34691: USB 2.0 10/100Mbps RJ45 LAN Ethernet Network Adapter Dongle

A big drawback from a MacBook Air is that it only have wireless LAN/WiFi (in the form of Integrated AirPort Extreme 802.11 a/b/n/n), no physical ethernet.

Transferring large amounts of data over any WiFi is can be a pain (being slow, suffer from signal quality) and for the MacBook Air: it makes the built-in fan swirl like crazy.

Since the MacBook Air does not have USB 3.0, I went looking for a 100 Mbps USB Ethernet dongle for it, and fone the DealExtreme product #34691: USB 2.0 10/100Mbps RJ45 LAN Ethernet Network Adapter Dongle.

At a price of about USD 7 including shipping, it comes in an Apple compatible shiny white color too, nicely fitting the 4 port USB hub (DealExtreme # 45773) on the right  :)

Even better: it works like a charm!

Note that first need to download and install the ASIX AX88772B drivers first. Choose the Apple Mac OSX 10.4 to 10.7 Driver for x86 and Power PC download package labelled “For Apple x86/Power PC, 32-bit/64-bit platforms”.

The install tells you to reboot at the end, but no need for that: as soon as the install finishes, the USB Ethernet dongle works. And it is fast too: 12 megabyte/second over a 100 megabit cable is fast!

In the readme of those drivers, it also mentions the AX88178, which is capable of gigabit (there is a separate AX88178 driver download page and Mac OS X download package).

NB: the cool thing about both these ASIX chipsets is that they are supported on a broad range of platforms (Mac, Linux, Windows CE, Windows 7/Vista/XP/2003/2000) and bit sizes (32-bit and 64-bit).

For even faster transfers, I might try the DealExtreme product #15336: Arkview USB 2.0 1000Mbs Gigabit Ethernet LAN Network Adapter.

It is slightly less than USD 20, and  user Janipro indicates it is based on the ASIX AX88178 chip at the DealExtreme forum.

On the other hand: I might not, as for more than twice the price, user cyberic mentions in the same forum thread it is only about twice as fast: 23 megabytes per second, about half the maximum USB 2.0 speed of 480 Mbps. And it is not Apple white :)


Via: USB 2.0 10/100Mbps RJ45 LAN Ethernet Network Adapter Dongle – Free Shipping – DealExtreme.

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