The ability of a network to perform well demands on the devices attached to the infrastructure. Standard home network cards typically are available with two data rates: 100 megabits per second (Mb/s) or 1000. It is important to note that gigabit is another term that is often interchanged with 1000 Mb/s speeds and they are both used frequently. Essentially, this is how much theoretical data could be transferred through each link.
Another concept that is important to recognize, but not as prevalent as it was in the past, is duplex. Duplex essentially is the ability for data to pass simultaneously in both directions at the same time. The term full duplex is used when data travels down both the send and receive portions of the cabling. Half-duplex means that data may only travel down the wire in one direction at a time. Essentially, running at half-duplex cuts potential bandwidth over 50 percent, since it is consistently waiting for the line to open to transmit the next piece of information. While it is rare to find a card that only support half-duplex, it is important to ensure any new device does offer full-duplex functionality.