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help installing an ethernet jack.
October 17, 2012 5:58 AM   Subscribe

help installing an ethernet jack in an HP pavilion tower.

a relative of mine was recently given a second-hand PC tower (his previous had died some time ago and he never replaced it, so he still has a functional modem/monitor/etc). the tower is a pretty old HP pavilion 7915 which is known to be working just fine, and as my relative will be using the computer at an absolute minimum (just reading the news and checking the weather really), it should be more than sufficient for his needs.

in attempting to set up his internet for him, i found that the ethernet cord coming out of the modem wouldn't fit into the jack on the back of the computer as the jack itself was too small. i realized this was probably an old phone cord connector and that there was no ethernet port.

i'm very capable with computers but haven't yet encountered this particular issue. i figure i should be able to buy some sort of ethernet "card" or whatever and install it in one of the slots on the back of the computer. could someone kindly confirm this and maybe recommend a cheap & reliable card?

many thanks.
posted by austere to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
According to HP's web site, it already has a 10/100 ethernet port. Take another look at the back.
posted by mzurer at 6:22 AM on October 17, 2012

Assuming the on-board ethernet is no-go or whatever, then yes, you can buy an add-in card. They're called "NICs" Network Interface Cards. 10/100 will be the most speed you need (it refers to 10 megabits/sec or 100 megabits/sec, two common network speeds...100 is more common today) but you may find that all that's available are "gigabit" (1000 megabits/sec) NICs, and those are just fine-- they will slow down as needed to the speed of the available network.

The NIC will go into a "PCI" slot, which is one of the slots available on that computer-- PCI is the name of the connector on the motherboard.

NICs are cheap! You shouldn't have to spend over $20. Hopefully more like $10. Of computer parts, this and power supplies are the least reliable over a period of, say, 3-4 years, so replacing this is common and painless. It will not, however, come with any ethernet cable, so that's your job.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:38 AM on October 17, 2012

If you have no luck finding the port, a standard PCI Ethernet card will do the trick.
posted by samsara at 6:41 AM on October 17, 2012

There are probably two ports on the back. A small one, which is probably a modem, and a larger one, which is probably Ethernet. I'd look again.

Yes, you can install an aftermarket NIC if the computer doesn't have one, but that would be surprising for a PC of that vintage.

If you need a NIC, I'd ask around rather than paying for one. Somebody probably has one sitting around in their junk box and will give you one for free. (I have a bunch, but I'm not in your area.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:45 AM on October 17, 2012

When looking for a card keep two things in mind. Find out what version OS is on the computer. It's probably Windows XP. Make sure the card has drivers for that OS.

Also, do not buy a PCI Express card, also known as PCIe. This is a newer standard and they won't fit in the slots in your computer. Make sure it's a just a plain PCI card.
posted by beowulf573 at 8:16 AM on October 17, 2012

FWIW, you can get a vastly better PC off of Craigslist for $50 or less.

This PC is ancient beyond belief (well over 10 years old), and I'm not quite sure what you expect to be able to do with it once it's got an Ethernet card.

Sure, NICs are cheap, but I'm not sure that it'll be worth the investment. Those specs aren't really even adequate to fire up a modern web browser.
posted by schmod at 9:44 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

thanks for the replies all. i don't have the computer in front of me at the moment but i swear there was no ethernet port. there are only two applicable ports which had been labeled with a marker as "P" (phone, i assumed) and "L". i thought for sure that there must be an ethernet port, but there just wasn't. it was one of those situations where i tried again and again to see if the ethernet cord fit into the available port as if it would magically resize itself.

i suppose i will look into some other towers on craigs list if the computer is really that outdated, though again, he will literally be using it to check the weather and read the news and that's about it.
posted by austere at 10:24 AM on October 17, 2012

It looks like it should be below the mouse and keyboard ports. Right next to the USB ports.

Scroll down to the bottom and you can see the ports. It does look like it was an option. In figure #3 it is port 2.
posted by Climber at 12:30 PM on October 17, 2012

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