D-Link DFE-530TX+ 10/100
PCI Ethernet Adapter
Last updated: 5/29/01
D-Link DFE-530TX+ a very different Ethernet adapter than the D-Link
DFE-530TX recently reviewed in the Digest. It is physically
much smaller, measuring only 4 3/4 X 1 1/2", excluding the bracket,
and even smaller than the LINKSYS
LNE100TX reviewed earlier this week. That appears to be
the trend in Ethernet adapters lately. This shrinkage of real estate
is made possible by the Realtek RTL8139A single-chip Fast Ethernet controller. According
to Realtek's data sheet,
Realtek RTL8139A is a highly integrated and cost-effective single-chip
Fast Ethernet controller that provides 32-bit performance, PCI bus master
capability, and full compliance with IEEE 802.3u 100Base-T specifications
and IEEE 802.3x Full Duplex Flow Control. It also supports ACPI, PCI power
management for modern operating systems that is capable of Operating System
Directed Power Management (OSPM) to achieve the most efficient power management.
The RTL8139A is also suitable for motherboard with built-in network controller
application. The RTL8139A keeps network maintenance cost low and eliminates
usage barriers. It is the easiest way to upgrade a network from 10 to 100Mbps.
It also supports full-duplex operation, making possible 200Mbps of bandwidth
at no additional cost. The RTL8139A is highly integrated and requires no
“glue” logic or external memory. It includes an interface for a boot ROM
and can be used in diskless workstations, providing maximum network security
and ease of management."
They wrote it so well I decided just to quote
it. However, the general description should have also said that the
RTL8139A chip includes two independent 2 Kbyte receive and transmit FIFO's
(First in First Out) buffers to improve memory transfer efficiency, an integrated
N-Way auto-negotiating transceiver, and a Wake-up on LAN (WOL) capability. The
board includes a WOL connector and cable.
Not only does the RTL8139A require no "glue" logic,
it requires very few other parts, including capacitors. I counted four
high-quality, 105°C electrolytics and one ceramic. There are also bunches
of surface mounted capacitors and resistors. The lower overall component
count should make the board more reliable and less prone to failure.
One thing is blatantly missing: a socket for
a boot ROM. Good, if it will reduce the cost of an Ethernet board. I
haven't put a boot ROM on an Ethernet board since the days when hard disk
drives were $350 (or was it more?) for 80 MBytes.
The manual is a bit skimpy, which is typical
for low-cost adapters, but well-written.
Software is provided on a single floppy disk
and supports: Windows for Workgroups; Windows 95, 98, NT, LanMan, Novell
(client and server); and Linux. I didn't see an SCO UNIX driver, but
it does have a Packet Driver and Realtek's
web site has the SCO driver and gobs of other stuff--a very good
and useful site.
Installation was very easy with Windows 98
SE: shut-down, turn-off, and unplug computer; remove the cover; install
the board; plug-in and turn-on computer; insert either floppy and the Windows
CD when Windows asks for them; click when prompted to reboot after the files
All in all the DFE-530TX+ packs a lot of punch
in a small package, to produce a low-cost Ethernet adapter suitable for PCs,
high-end workstations, and workgroup file servers. It includes a lifetime
warranty from a major manufacturer.