digicube wrote on 2021-01-14, 02:58:
The idea is to have fastest transfer speed possible, so a gigabit card will definitely be faster than a 100mbps card even if I can't reach 100mbps.
You have to find the bottleneck and then remove it. If it's the NIC itself, then what you say is right. However if it's hard disk etc, it won't make the slightest difference, and if it's CPU, it could actually make matters worse. NICs don't just differ in the PHY rate they offer but also in how much of the processing they offload. That was a BIG thing in the old days. Both silicon (the chips/cards) and drivers had a role to play there. If you had a weak, crappy CPU but a card that could do a lot itself and drivers for your chosen OS that supported that functionality, it could run rings around a fast but unaccelerated design.
I don't think anyone seriously tried networking with Win95, but in the P3 era when FPS games on LAN under Win98SE were a thing, people did and benchmarked them. If you're only doing network transfers, Realtek NICs (eg. RTL8139B) are cheap and fast. But they hog CPU very badly. Your Q3A framerate would take a nosedive. A 3Com NIC from the same time (eg. 3C905C-TX) would perform similarly in pure network stuff, but in games it would thrash the Realtek. Now, you're proposing using a significantly slower CPU with an OS known for bad network performance. I'd be surprised if you even came close to 100Mbps, let alone any more. You should be focusing on best drivers. In Win9x days that invariably meant 3Com, so a 3Com PCI Gigabit NIC would probably be your best choice.
As for PCI-X cards: yes, they are backwards compatible with PCI, but if the card needs PCI 2.2 your old P2 board with max PCI 2.1 isn't going to be able to run it. But... the card you mention isn't a PCI-X card, just a regular 64b PCI card. Still, it's PCI 2.2. That can be backwards compatible with PCI 2.1 buses, but no guarantees.
But to go back to performance, take a look at this thread:
Maximum Network Speed on Win 95/98/SE
CPU plays a big part as others say. 9x is especially inefficient. WinME might be a significant improvement over 95/98. It has some network improvements.
I've played with Intel Pro 100 and Pro 1000 GT on 98SE with very fast hardware. Like Athlon 64. The Pro 1000 GT gets you a touch more LAN SMB transfer speed but we're talking like 100mbps at best.
So with a CPU ten times the speed of yours and some known-fast Intel NIC hardware - plus a lot of experience/knowledge in optimizing network performance - he's not getting over 100Mbps on Win98SE.
You really shouldn't be looking at faster NICs on this OS. With NT4 it *might* be relevant, but even there that CPU is likely to bottleneck faster than the NIC.