Everything you need to know about networking in laptops

Every laptop or general purpose portables have at least one or more networking options built into it. Today’s laptops come in with a set of 802.11, Bluetooth and wired Ethernet connection. They generally work the same way it works for the desktop but you may come across few issues that is found only in portables.

802.11 Wireless networking

All of the modern laptops have a built-in Wi-Fi directly into the chipset that connects directly to any Wireless Access Point (WAP) and from there to the open, Internet. 802.11g and 802.11n standard is found more on old laptops. All newer laptops typically use 802.11ac.


802.11 is not as omnipresent but almost all of the portables have a Bluetooth. Bluetooth on laptop is quite handy and suits oh so well. You can adapt to any Bluetooth peripherals like mice, keyboards, even monitor as well. These examples given here are just few and there are more cases out there and chances are the kind of Bluetooth device you are looking for is already out there.

Hardware Switches

Any portable computers which has the 802.11, mobile broadband, GPS, Bluetooth or some form has some sort of on/ off switch that toggles the antenna on or off. This is incredibly useful where the emission is not allowed, a commercial aeroplane for instance. If the switch is not there, you may have a fn key combination, like fn key + other key. On top of that, if you are not using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, it does not make sense to keep them turned on since this can drain the battery and electricity and save your battery life in the long run.

Wired Ethernet

Most of the full-size laptops have a built-in RJ-45 wired Ethernet connection. This port is similar to the one that you have on your desktop and motherboard to be precise. The way it works is just like any other Ethernet jack. This port has link lights and connect via an UTP cable. If this is a priority for you, watch out because there are smaller contemporary portables which do not offer this port.

You should know that the RJ-45 come in with two issues. First one, they do not have an on/ off switch as of the 802.11 and a Bluetooth connections. You are able to turn them off like a NIC on a desktop by going to the device manager and turning the NIC off on BIOS level. Second issue, weakness of the physical connection. If you plug a laptop into a wired network and the OS does not pick up the connection, you need to check the RJ-45 port.

Portable-specific Expansion Slots

Manufacturers of portable computers developed methods for you to add features to a portable through a specialized connections known as expansion slots. Over the years, the PCMCIA ( Personal Computer Memory Card International Association ) established standards which involves portable computers especially for the expansion cards and slots. This was one of the most dominant features of the old laptops which now has been replaced by the USB. The very last standard was known as ExpressCard. In case you need to enhance your older laptops which has ExpressCard slot, can easily be enhanced.

USB, Thunderbolt, FireWire and eSATA

These are the standard of IEEE 1394 which enables users to connect other devices while their computer is running. You do not need to reboot your device to install the new peripherals. Modern computers are designed in such that they pick up those devices automatically and take care of the necessary behind the scene so that you have the plug-n-play experience. Since portables do no have the luxury of desktop’s multiple internal expansion slots, methods like USB and Thunderbolt (Firewire to some lesser extent) are one of the most popular methods of connecting your peripherals to laptops and other portables.

Docking stations

This box like device offer support for legacy and modern single-function ports. Traditional docking station uses a proprietary connection, but the high speeds of USB 3.x and Thunderbolt 2 and 3 made universal docks more common. Docking station is an excellent companion to all the small portables with fewer ports.

These are one of those few things to look for when you are deciding to get a laptop or already have a laptop but not limited to these points mentioned.