Microsoft has released all kinds of accessories for their Microsoft Surface line-up of devices. One of them is Microsoft Surface Ethernet Adapter - a USB to Ethernet adapter that's designed to work with all Surface devices as well as other PCs with a USB 3.0 port available. We tested this adapter on our very own Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and we would like to share our conclusions, in this review:
Unboxing The Microsoft Surface Ethernet Adapter
The Microsoft Surface Ethernet Adapter is packaged in a very thin box on which you can see a diagram of the device. As it says on the packaging, this device is compatible with Surface 3, Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2.
When you open the box, you see the adapter but not its cable.
When the box is completely unpacked, you will find the adapter with its USB cable attached and a leaflet with warranty information and cleaning and use instructions.
The hardware specifications for such a device are very simple: it offers wired Ethernet connections of up to 1 Gbps. As you will see later in this review, we did not manage to reach exactly 1 Gbps but we did get close in some tests.
The device itself is rather small as it is 2.4 x 0.86 x 0.66 inches or 62 x 22 x 17 mm (width x depth x height). The cable adds another 8.38 inches or 213 mm. Obviously, the adapter is very lightweight, at around 0.92 ounces or 26 grams.
The USB port on the adapter is a USB 3.0 port that also works on computers and devices with USB 2.0, but at lower speeds, obviously.
Using The Microsoft Surface Ethernet Adapter
Using the Microsoft Surface Ethernet Adapter is as easy as plugging the USB port into the computer or device where you want to use it and then plugging in the network cable into the adapter. The discovery and installation of this adapter takes only a few seconds and you can start using it very quickly.
We used this adapter on a Surface Pro 3 device with Windows 10 as well as a few laptops with Windows 8.1 and we did not have any issues on any of them.
The name "Microsoft Surface Ethernet Adapter" is a bit misleading. Yes, this adapter is compatible with Microsoft Surface devices but it is also compatible with any Windows computer that has a USB port. This is just a branded "USB to Ethernet Adapter" and any adapter of this type should also work on a Microsoft Surface device, not only the adapter we are reviewing in this article.
In order to evaluate how well this device works, we connected our Microsoft Surface Pro 3 device to our network, using a network cable. Our Surface Pro 3 comes with an Intel Core i5-4300U processor, running at 1.9 GHz, 8 GB of RAM and a fast 256 GB SSD drive from Samsung.
For comparison's sake, we also used our desktop PC equipped with an Intel Core i5 4460 processor, running at 3.20GHz, 16GB of RAM and a very fast Samsung 850 Pro 512GB SSD. Our desktop PC has ASUS Z97-AR motherboard, with a built-in 1 Gbps network card.
Our network is managed by an ASUS RT-AC56U router and we have a fast 1 Gigabit Internet connection that's capable of uploads on the Internet of up to 200 Mbps.
For our first batch of measurements, we used SpeedTest to see how fast our Internet connection is when using the Microsoft Surface Ethernet Adapter. As you can see below, Microsoft Surface Ethernet Adapter was 26% slower in terms of download speeds when compared to the built-in network card on our desktop PC. Since the Internet connection we have is limited at 200 Mbps in terms of uploads, Microsoft Surface Ethernet Adapter delivered the maximum speed possible.
Then we measured the download and upload speeds when transferring an 883 MB file to and from our desktop PC and Surface Pro 3, which used the Microsoft Surface Ethernet Adapter. Below you can see that the Microsoft Surface Ethernet Adapter delivered an average download speed of 888 Mbps (6% faster than the built-in network card on our desktop PC) and an average upload speed of 631 Mbps (18% slower than the built-in network card on our desktop PC).
As you can see from our measurements, Microsoft Surface Ethernet Adapter delivered decent performance. It doesn't reach the promised 1 Gbps in terms of speed but it is fast enough to enjoy vastly improved speeds over wireless connections.
Unfortunately we did not have other USB to Ethernet adapters at hand, to compare it to, so that we could put things into an even better perspective.
Microsoft Surface Ethernet Adapter is a rather expensive USB to Ethernet adapter that's guaranteed to work with all kinds of devices, including Microsoft Surface. It's small, easy to carry and it delivers good-enough performance, so that you notice a meaningful improvement when switching from wireless connections to wired ones. However, it's price is not for everyone.