Dual LAN motherboards are quite common in the high-end home range, as well as professional-grade products. In this article we will review what it means to have dual Ethernet and in which cases it is usually used. In general, we will see quite beneficial situations for those who want to take advantage of a powerful local network to the maximum.
What is dual LAN exactly
Every current motherboard has at least one card or network controller, also called NIC (Network Interface Controller), from which the Ethernet connection that we will see in it comes out. But, as we say, we found precisely ” at least ” one, being common that there are motherboards with two NICs. This is how Dual LAN is achieved, plain and simple using two different network cards on the board. They can be of the same model, but of course there will be two different ones.
Depending on the user, this will be more or less relevant, and its number of benefits will change. In the article we will analyze to what extent it is an interesting addition, since it must be taken into account that these NICs are usually very cheap, so even if it is not really useful, the manufacturer may not care to include it in order to differentiate itself. When something like this happens, there is a kind of domino effect, because other manufacturers also start to use it even if it is not necessary.
On the other hand, another issue that must be taken into account is that it is common for two different NICs to be used , as indicated before. So, we could benefit from that difference, in addition to the fact that a network card could support much more powerful connections (for example, a card can have 1 Gigabit / s Ethernet and another 10 Gigabit / s).
Some of the most useful advantages of Dual LAN
The most exploited advantage in dual LAN is to use a totally separate network in order to connect to the Internet in one and directly to other devices in another. We are talking, for example, of a NAS (Network Attached Storage). Obviously, a normal person will have enough to take advantage of their existing local network, since it will surely have performances quite similar to those that the NAS itself can give.
For example, using a normal Gigabit connection, assuming all the bandwidth is available on the local network, we would have 1000 gigabits / s at our disposal, which is 125MB / s. This transfer rate is similar to what a normal HDD can give.
However, there are cases where this is not enough. A very high-quality content creator who needs a NAS or auxiliary server for mass storage will greatly benefit from dedicating an entire network to it or directly connecting a dedicated LAN to the NAS, without losing internet access. This becomes even more beneficial if we consider that one of those additional LANs could even reach 10 gigabits of ethernet, allowing extreme applications.
Link aggregation to get performance on the same network
Another extremely interesting possibility will be to forget about using different networks, but to use two different links to the same network and combine them into one. This is what is known as link aggregation, and in theory it offers some interesting advantages, allowing more bandwidth and a load balancing of the connections that should mean an interesting performance improvement.
However, in practice, not everything is perfect. Let’s start from the idea that not all routers support link aggregation, in fact most do not, in addition to that it cannot be said with certainty that the performance with the NAS will improve, and we also have to do that aggregation with the own NAS. Perhaps the previous idea will be more profitable.
We can also benefit from the load balancing or load balancing, on the motherboard distribute the load between these two links in the most efficient way possible, and balance the bandwidth used by each link.
Redundancy so you don’t depend on a single cable
In addition to link aggregation, this use of 2 LANs to connect to the same network can have redundancy benefits if one of the cables fails. Needless to say, this is highly unlikely in the home environment, but in many more professional applications such a possibility could be appreciated.
Not depending on a manufacturer’s drivers
This is an increasingly less interesting advantage, since most operating systems support almost any Ethernet NIC on the market without problems . But there may be a specific case in which having two different LANs saves us from possible driver problems with one of them. Actually, it is somewhat unlikely even on Hackintosh machines, where more and more Ethernet cards are supported.
What can be considered a more common advantage is avoiding performance problems that may be caused by a specific NIC. In network cards there are quality differences that for some demanding users can be made noticeable, or you can even benchmark both connections to see if there are substantial differences in speeds and latencies.
Examples of boards with dual LAN
Now we go with some real examples of current motherboards that incorporate two LAN ports, focusing on the domestic range of processors AMD Ryzen 5000 and Intel Core 11th generation. In all cases we will be looking at motherboards of a fairly high level, which are the ones that usually incorporate it, but obviously there can always be an exception if the motherboard is intended for a specific purpose.
Examples of Dual LAN on AMD AM4
The Asus Crosshair VIII Formula and its combination of 1 Gigabit Intel and 5 Gigabits Aquantia, or the Hero with 1 Gigabit Intel and 2.5 from Realtek. We also find B550 boards with this feature, such as the Gigabyte B550 Vision D and its dual 1 Gigabit Intel Ethernet.
11th Gen Intel Core Dual LAN
The ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero includes two 2.5GbE ports , each with an Intel I225-V controller. We can raise the bar with the Gigabyte Aorus Z590 Xtreme, as one of the ports also uses the same controller, but another includes a 10GbE Aquantia, an extremely interesting figure for a high-performance local network (the same is included in the equivalent AMD AM4).