Recently at STH, we built a system with both Intel E810-CQDA2 (100GbE QSFP28) and Intel E810-XXVDA4 (4x 25GbE SFP28) network adapters. When we did this, we found an interesting quirk to Intel’s drivers that prevented installation, leaving us with the dreaded Windows 11 Ethernet Controller without a driver. As part of the process, we found a workaround we thought we would share with our users since this is unsupported, but it has now worked through multiple driver revisions.
How to Install an Intel E810 100GbE Network Adapter in Windows 11
A quick primary, Intel has a number of Ethernet adapters. Usually we see the “i” series such as the i210, i225/i226, i350, and so forth, used for the 1GbE-2.5GbE generation. The “X5” series came next with adapters like the X520, X540, and X550 and is generally the 10GbE generation. Next was the “X7” generation with NICs like the X710’s, but also the XXV710’s and X722’s, that were part of the company’s 40GbE generation that also encapsulated 10GbE and some 25GbE offerings (XXV.) Now we have the E810 generation where we generally see 100GbE and 25GbE offers.
In Linux, this is easy. The drivers are as follows:
- igb – 1GbE for the “i” series
- ixgbe – 10GbE for the “X5” series
- i40e – 40GbE for the “X7” series
- ice – 100GbE for the “E810” series
In Windows, there are some differences. For example, the X540-T2 uses the Intel IXT driver, so technically, Windows 11 is not supported. The newer X550-T2 uses the IXS driver, and Windows 11 client is supported. When we get to the newer E810 series cards, things are more complex, to say the least. Here is the official support list as of when we are publishing this article.
Windows 11, or more broadly, “Windows Client” is not supported. Most users know the trick. Download the latest Windows Server 2022 drivers, install, and everything should work.
That process was a bit different in this case. The Intel E810-XXVDA4 quad 25GbE adapter was installed without an issue.
Even though that was installed, the Intel E810-CQDA2 was still showing up as an Ethernet Controller.
That was a bit of a challenge since we wanted the 100GbE adapter to work as well. We tried up to “Wired_driver_27.8_x64” released 2022-12-29 but this has been the same for several versions we tried with this system.
The answer was a bit strange, but we found a workaround. Instead of the normal 37.5MB Windows driver pack, one instead needs the 795.2MB Intel Ethernet Adapter Complete Pack (we used 27.8). Then one can manually install the driver by simply:
- Download Release_27.8.zip (or presumably newer when available)
- Extract the zipped folder which will be called “Release_27.8” or newer
- In Device Manager, click Update driver and point at the extracted “Release_27.8” folder with the subfolder option checked
Doing that easy process got us to a working setup:
With that, we finally have Intel 10Gbase-T, 25GbE, and 100GbE all in the same system.
On the one hand, this is an unsupported configuration. On the other hand, with 32+ core desktop PCs these days and in an era with $5000+ professional GPUs, getting 100GbE networking is not as expensive as it once was. We just showed a MikroTik CRS518-16XS-2XQ-RM switch that offers affordable 16x 25GbE and 2x 100GbE, making a higher-speed network attainable, and we are going to have a sub $800 100GbE switch option on STH very soon. As a result, we see more of our readers potentially trying this. It is a bit silly that the 25GbE adapter was installed fairly easily but the 100GbE E810 adapter required a less obvious installation route.
Hopefully, this helps some of our readers install an Intel E810 100GbE adapter on Windows 11 in the future.