How to Test a NIC Card

By Candace Benson

Network interface cards, or NICs, provide computers with the means to communicate with other computers and to network devices, including modems, printers and network storage drives. Testing a NIC generally takes no more than a few minutes, although troubleshooting any problems that arise while testing may require more time. In order to perform a test, make sure you have a network (preferably a wired and wireless hybrid) installed that you've previously tested and verified. Although you can test wireless NICs on public wireless networks, you will need a hub or switch for wired networks.

Things You'll Need

  • Administrator access
  • RJ-45 or Ethernet cable (if applicable)
  • Access to appropriate network

External NIC

Step 1

Turn on the computer and insert the NIC into the port that matches the card's interface. Allow your operating system to detect the NIC and install drivers.

Step 2

Examine the external NIC to make sure that the power indicator light is on, if applicable. If testing a wireless card, skip to Step 7.

Step 3

Insert an Ethernet or RJ-45 cable, if the network card is a wired card.

Step 4

Insert the other end of the Ethernet cable into the router, hub or switch.

Step 5

Click on "Start," then "Control Panel." Click on "Classic View" in the left column.

Step 6

Double-click "System."

Step 7

Click on "Device Manager" in the left column in Windows Vista and in Windows 7. Click on the "Hardware" tab, then "Device Manager" in Windows XP.

Step 8

Find and expand the "Network Adapters" category.

Step 9

Double-click the NIC. If the NIC isn't present, eject it, restart the computer, and try again.

Step 10

Read the "Device Status." If it does not report that the "Device is working properly," you will need to troubleshoot the driver or software problem.

Step 11

Install the NIC into another computer to make sure that the problem isn't computer-specific.

Internal Card

Step 1

Install the NIC according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 2

Power on the computer. If testing a wireless network interface card, skip to Step 4.

Step 3

Examine the Ethernet cable port on the NIC, if testing a wired NIC. Insert an Ethernet cable into the port.

Step 4

Let the operating system detect the card and install the drivers.

Step 5

Click on "Start," then "Control Panel." Click on "Classic View" in the left column.

Step 6

Double-click "System."

Step 7

Click on "Device Manager" in the left column in Windows Vista and in Windows 7. Click on the "Hardware" tab, then "Device Manager" in Windows XP.

Step 8

Find and expand the "Network Adapters" category.

Step 9

Double-click the NIC. If the NIC isn't present, shut down the computer. Follow the same manufacturer instructions to reopen your case. Remove and re-seat the NIC. Complete the installation process, reboot your computer and test your card again.

Step 10

Install the NIC in another computer, if the NIC still doesn't work, to make sure that the problem isn't specific to one computer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Test your wireless cards in a location that features at least one wireless network. Make sure the card connects with the network and can browse the Internet or connect with other computers on the network.
  • Make sure that your NIC is compatible with your operating system. Check the Windows Hardware Compatibility List if you are unsure.