Plugable 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet to USB 3.0 Multigigabit Adapter

Plugable makes this inexpensive 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet USBC-E2500 adapter. It is based on Realtek RTL8156B chip. On Windows and macOS it works out of the box. If you want to use it on a Linux machine like WLAN Pi Pro or Raspberry Pi 4, expect some troubles along the way, but good performance when you get there.

The USB-C to USB-A adapter is allows you to use it with a MacBook (USB-C) or Raspberry Pi 4 (USB-A)
The adapter itself has a plastic shell and is very lightweight

Windows 11

When they say “update the driver using Windows Update first”, they mean it. Windows 11 will recognise the adapter and you can start using it, but the default driver distributed with Windows 11 significantly reduces this adapter’s performance.

727 Mbps down and 2.34 Gbps up with default driver

Now, let’s use Windows Update to download the latest driver.

Don’t forget to update the driver using Windows Update

As you can see, download throughput (from iperf3 server to iperf3 client) has dramatically improved.

1.78 Gbps down and 2.35 Gbps up with updated driver

Although the box suggests Jumbo frame support, Windows driver settings don’t give me any option to edit the MTU size. So, I assume Jumbo frames are not supported.

MacOS Monterey

On macOS, this adapter works out of the box with no additional driver installation required. That’s a very nice surprise. And performance is great.

Symmetric 2.35 Gbps throughput on macOS

Auto-negotiation worked just fine. If you want to configure speed or MTU manually, you can, but Jumbo frames are not supported on macOS either.

Jumbo frames are not supported

Linux

Now the bad news. If you are considering to use this adapter on a Linux machine, the default driver cdc_ncm is a trouble as it only supports 2.5 Gbps Half duplex. Setting Full duplex manually using ethtool command doesn’t work either.

Default driver only supports Half duplex

As you might expect, with the default driver and Half duplex, throughput is very poor.

1.22 Gbps down and 704 Mbps up with the default cdc_ncm driver on WLAN Pi Pro

On WLAN Pi Pro and Raspberry Pi 4 running 5.15 Linux Kernel I managed to fix the duplex issue by the steps listed below. But I hit new auto-negotiation issue between the Plugable adapter and Cisco Catalyst WS-C3560CX-8XPD switch. It took the adapter to eventually negotiate 2.5 Gbps Full duplex around 15 minutes of constantly flapping the interface. Forcing speed and duplex on the Plugable adapter by ethtool did not work. Certainly not ideal, and definitely worth testing before you commit to the Plugable adapter. With other multigigabit adapters, the Plugable had no negotiation issues.

1.7 Gbps down and 2.09 Gbps up with r8156 driver on WLAN Pi Pro
1.91 Gbps down and 2.06 Gbps up on Raspberry Pi 4 using the correct r8156 driver
Raspberry Pi 4 also known as WLAN Pi Community Edition

How to force Linux to use the right driver

To enable Full duplex capability, we need to tell Linux to use Realtek r8156 driver instead of the default cdc-ncm.

  1. Download the latest driver from Realtek’s website
  2. Unzip it and copy the 50-usb-realtek-net.rules file to your Linux machine
  3. On the Linux machine copy this file here sudo cp 50-usb-realtek-net.rules /etc/udev/rules.d/
  4. Reboot by sudo reboot
  5. Verify that the adapter negotiated 2.5 Gbps Full duplex and is using the Realtek r8156 driver.

Published by

Jiri Brejcha

Jiri is passionate about mobility ranging from Wi-Fi to folding bikes;-) He is a Wi-Fi Technical Solutions Architect at Cisco UK, proud member of the Cisco Live Network Operations Center deployment team, and WLAN Pi development team. If he is not working, he is most likely riding his Brompton bike.

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