Upgrade your connection by adding this 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet adapter to any system

When I made the switch to using a newer model MacBook Pro, I knew I was sacrificing i/o options for power and other modern upgrades. I have a 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro, which only has USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 input/output ports. Therefore, I am somewhat limited when it comes to activities that involve a straight Ethernet connection. Fortunately, Plugable, one of my new favorite accessory companies, has designed a USB-C Ethernet Adapter specifically for this use case. 

DETAILS 

The Plugable 2.5Gbps USB Ethernet Adapter makes it possible for USB-C computer to connect directly to Ethernet without a larger docking solution. This adapter has been tested to be faster than a traditional Gigabit Ethernet connection and is compatible with both USB-C and USB-A connections thanks to the included attached USB-A adapter. The 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet signals that the Plugable adapter provides are designed to work with existing Category 5e cabling. The adapter is compatible with all modern operating systems including Windows (10, 8.X, and 7), macOS (10.7+), and Linux (Kernal 3.2+). 

Specs

  • Chipset: Realtek RTL8156
  • USB Connection: USB Type-C or USB Type-A with attached adapter
  • Transfer Rates: 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T, and 2.5GBASE-T (IEEE 802.3bz) with Auto-Negation
  • Supported OS: Windows 10, 8.x, and 7; macOS 10.7 and above; Linux Kernel 3.2 and above
  • 1x USB-C to Host: SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps
  • 1x USB-C to USB-A Adapter: SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps
  • 1x Ethernet (8P8C) Port: NBASE-T 100/1000/2500 requires CAT 5e and 2.5GBASE-T network equipment for full performance. Reduced performance with half-duplex
  • Additional Features: 9k Jumbo Frame Support, Auto MDI-X (Crossover Detection and Correction), and IEEE 802.1Q VLAN support (Depending on OS), and Power/Activity LEDs

USER IMPRESSIONS

The adapter came boxed in a standard retail package. Plugable’s brand colors include white and green and so the box features green as an accent color. There is a photo of the adapter on the front that clearly shows the attached USB-A adapter that makes this device universally compatible with modern USB connections. The back of the box provides specs and details about the product including the model number. Once you open the box, you’ll find the adapter and a quick start guide. That’s all that’s in the box. While it’s a very nice box, I do think that the packaging could be reduced a bit given the compact size of the device. 

The instructions are very simple, but this isn’t just a ‘plug-n-play’ device. You will likely have install drivers prior to connecting to the Internet using the adapter. The first step is to connect the Ethernet adapter to your computer. The second step is to install the driver. Now, the driver must be downloaded from Plugable’s support information prior to installation (the box indicates that the driver is not included with the product). So, you will need to have your computer connected to the Internet using an alternate method to the adapter before installing the driver. 

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My installation process was pretty simple on my end. I was able to find the driver download quickly and easily (the link is noted in the quick start guide) and it only took a few minutes to complete the installation process. I will admit that at first, I didn’t look at the quick start guide right away and I wasn’t sure how to get connected. When you plug the adapter into a connected Ethernet cable and a computer, an orange LED comes on. I thought that meant the connection was live. When I went to the preferences on my computer, I saw that I had no connection and then I turned back to the quick start guide, which pointed me in the right direction. 

While I was on Plugable’s website, I also found the following information about the LEDs on the adapter.

The orange link LED on the Plugable USBC-E2500 is an indication that the Ethernet cable plugged into the adapter is live and it stays steady as long as the live cable is plugged in. The blinking white activity LED is an indication that data is transferring through the adapter. Both these LEDs will not light up when:

  1. The adapter is not receiving enough power because it is plugged into a port that does not provide the required 900mA (max) of power.
  2. The drivers for the adapter have not installed properly or are corrupted.
  3. The Ethernet Cable plugged in is not live or is faulty.
  4. The adapter has failed.

I thought this was very useful information and an easy way to determine if the product was working properly. In addition to simply connecting to our network using this adapter, I also completed a speed test through Ookla. The results showed that I was getting the super-fast speeds that I should based on my Internet plan. I also noticed that the adapter did not get exceptionally hot when it was in use. While I was using the adapter I didn’t have any interruption of signal or speed. In fact, using the Plugable adapter caused me to have a much more reliable signal no matter what activity I was completing on the Internet. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

While most of the world turns to wireless connections as the answer to the Internet, it’s not the only answer. A good wired connection comes in handy when you really need a dependable signal. The Plugable 2.5Gbps USB Ethernet Adapter provides an impressive, fast connection that is hard to beat. The device I compact, lightweight and easy to carry around. It will definitely make its way into my standard laptop kit for those times when I have to connect through Ethernet.

For more information, visit plugable.com, Facebook, and Twitter.