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Ask Max: Can an ethernet card from a PC be used in a Mac?

Asked on 04/17/2007:

I have an old PowerMac 8600 that I upgraded with a G3 processor several years ago, and it's a machine I simply can't bring myself to give up. Lots of sentimental attachment for me.

I've got it stuffed with hard drives, inside and out, and it has been a faithful file server and juke box for me for years and serves my needs nicely. Especially the wonderful audio output capabilities (plus the monster video card I installed, the USB capabilities, etc.).

It's on an ethernet network here in my home office along with a couple of Mirrored-Door G4 towers (one for me, one for my wife). However, the ethernet on the old 8600/G3 isn't the fast ethernet. And its ethernet is the bottleneck in my home network.

I just gutted a nice PC for parts for a friend's computer (mainly for its video and sound cards), and I'm left with a Network Everywhere-brand Model NC100U-WM network card. There's not a spot of documentation that says it can be used in a Mac, but I'm thinking it could be.

Can I place this fast ethernet card in my last remaining PCI slot on my faithful Mac 8600/G3 so that it will speed my network up?

I appreciate your help. If memory serves, I think I even bought this 8600 from your company several years ago.


I have no personal experience with a NC100U-WM but I have found that Mac OS 9 or OS X will often work with generic 10/100 ethernet cards. And there's no harm in trying: if it doesn't work then you can just pull it out. It will not damage your 8600 to try it out. In most cases it will work without any additional drivers. Sometimes you will have to get the model number from the main chip used on the card and look for drivers for that chip online. A Google search for chip model number plus the word "Mac" will often do it.

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