Gigabit connection not working on Dell Dimension 9200 (XPS 410)

I’ve had my Dell Dimension 9200 (also known as the XPS 410) for a few years now and have been connected to a Netgear WGR614 router which has a maximum wired speed of 100mb. As I have been acquiring a lot of wireless N equipped devices, I decided to upgrade my router to the Netgear WNDR3700 wireless N router with Gigabit wired network ports.

I have a Windows Home Server and my main machine running Windows 7 (Dimension 9200) which both have gigabit network cards in them. I thought it would be awesome to have a gigabit router which would allow me to copy very large files between machines at super fast speeds. This is where all of my trouble began.

My shiny new WNDR3700 gigabit router is delivered and I am psyched to get it online. I power it up and start connecting my machines. First, my Windows Home Server which is running on a Dell Optiplex GX620 slimline. I connect it and watch the router port light turn green which means it’s connected at gigabit speed. Sweet!

Next I connect my Dimension 9200 and watch as it blinks green a few times then promptly switches to an amber light which means it’s connected at 10/100mb. What the hell?

I check my router settings and make sure I’m running the latest router firmware just to rule out a router issue. I even pulled out a gigabit switch I have to see if the machine would connect to that at 1000mb. It would not. That rules out my new router.

So my troubleshooting begins. My first logical thought is: Oh! The Network cable I’m using is only CAT 5, which doesn’t support gigabit! So I swap the cables with my Windows Home Server that IS connected at gigabit speeds. Well that didn’t do it.. as a matter of fact the home server still connects at gigabit with the CAT 5 cable (turns out it was CAT 5E which does support gigE) and the Dimension 9200 still comes up amber even with the “good” cable.

Crap!

Next I try checking the NIC speed and duplex settings. They are set to Auto Negotiate by default, which is connecting at 100mb/s. I decided to force it to 1000mb/full duplex. The green gigabit light on the router blinks several times and then goes dark. No joy!

I start googling the issue to see if anyone has a quick fix. I can find only one reference on a Dell forum talking about the problem. Some people on that page said they fixed the issue by going into the NIC’s advanced properties and forcing the gigabit master / slave mode setting to “Force Master Mode”. I check mine and don’t have that option anywhere. Apparently my original version of the nic driver doesn’t have any of the real advanced options.

So I promptly head off to the Dell Downloads page for new drivers for my machine. The first thing I noticed is that there is a new version of the BIOS for the Dimension 9200 (ver. 2.5.3). The description of what the new BIOS does sounds like it’ll fix my problem: “Improved NIC Compatibility in Gigabit network environment.”! Sweet! I’ll be in gigabit land in no time!

So I download and install the new BIOS and… nothing. It didn’t change a dang thing.

So next I check the network card driver… I notice that the one on Dell’s site is more than a couple of years old as it’s from 3/30/2007. I am currently using the generic Microsoft driver courtesy of the Windows Update website. Considering it’s an Intel network card, I decide to head over to Intel’s website to see if they have updated drivers. I found this driver auto update page on Intel’s site. They ended up detecting my Intel 82566DC nic and had a newer driver for it.

I downloaded the driver, but before installing it, decided to get rid of the old one. I opened Device Manager by right clicking Computer and choosing Manage. When the Computer Management window came up I clicked on Device Manager, then double clicked Network Adapters, which showed my currently installed network card.

 To uninstall the current drivers, just right click the network card and choose Uninstall. A confirm uninstall prompt comes up (see picture below) with a check box to delete the drivers the device is using. Check the box and click “OK”. Remember that when you do this, it will knock you off the network so make sure you have already downloaded the new drivers from Intel to your hard drive and remember where you saved them.

Uninstall Network Drivers Screen

After installing the new driver, I was hopeful that the gigabit connection would just start working. My hopes were dashed after a reboot.

 The good news was now the advanced options were available. I promptly changed the gigabit force master mode option and hit apply… No joy.

As you can see in the image above, nothing I tried could get the nic to connect at gigabit speeds. At this point, I googled everything I could think of and tried changing a lot more settings including getting a CAT 6 ethernet cable. In the end nothing has worked. considering a lot of the posts I’ve seen on the web imply this is a known, sporadic issue and my machine is out of warranty with Dell, I don’t think it’s worth my time to try to resolve this anymore.

Instead, I have opted to buy the Intel Pro 1000 GT NIC card (which is a bargain at about $35) and a batch of CAT 6 cables to replace my aging CAT 5 cables.. I have installed several of these nic cards at client’s offices with gigabit connections and never had any issues. They just work and that is what I need.

I will still be watching for any updates or possible fixes for this issue as it bugs me to no end to not be able to resolve things like this, but at least I can move on now that I’ll be looking at the green gigabit connection light on my router and watching my copies fly across my network!

Are you having the same issue? Have you found a fix or a work around? Let us know by adding a comment below!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to “Gigabit connection not working on Dell Dimension 9200 (XPS 410)”


  • Hello,
    glad to see I’m not the only one :o).
    I’ve got a dimension 9200 too linked to a brand new netgear gs105 switch. In my case, the link speed is sometime gigabit, and sometime 100Mb. It’s totally random. I’ve contacted netgear support and they told me to try “force master mode” as you. I will see in the next few days if it works.
    Did you try to unplug/plug the cable multiple times, doing that I can get a gigabit connection.

    Laurent

  • Hello from Spain…

    I have the same issue with a HP DC7600 and WHS.
    The NIC is an on board Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet 5752.

    Exactly the same steps you done, exactly the same results

    The cable test shows noise in a pair. Broadcom says (the diagnostic software): “Noise: probably forced 10/100 speed”

    Who force this speed? W2K3? The NIC driver?

    If it happens with Intel and with Broadcom…

  • Exact same problem, I followed the same steps, exact same result: 100 Mbps only.

    Grrrr. I even updated to the latest drivers from Intel 9.15.11.0 (10/14/2011).

    Bleh.

  • We had an issue where an Intel Pro 1000 GT card that would not connect from the front office position. I know the cabling guys used a cable tester to do noise measurements, cross talk etc and all were OK on Cat 6. They had a few issues, but re-terminated connectors to fix the issues.

    Anyway, we had three other computers using integrated Yukon ethernet interfaces, one was my Macbook Pro and the other two were 5 year old Windows PCs. We connected all three computers, one at a time, to the port where the Intel card was connecting only at 100Mbps, sure enough every PC connected at 1000Mbps first go. No user noticeable drop outs, it just worked every time. Unsure if we were dropping packets, never checked?

    We have six ports in the front office, a tried three different ports and the same result every time.

    When I moved the intel card, in the same PC, to another room in the building it connects at 1000Mbps.

    The patch panel is Cat 6, the patch cables are cat 6e, Cisco 527W Router, Cisco SG200 series switch. Longest cable run is 15 to 20m.

    I am still suspect about the cabling, as I find it hard to believe Intel have not covered this? The only other basic thing I can think of is that the card did not come with a disk, it probably loaded the Microsoft Generic Driver? There are lots of threads where people give these cards strong reviews.

    My friend has a professional grade cable tester and I will get him to retest the cables for cross talk etc. If all Ok, then I will just accept it and get on with my life.

  • In my case, it was the onboard intel nic on the dell motherboard that refused to connect at gigabit speeds. 

    The add on intel nic ha worked flawlessly. It is possible that you just got a bad nic. If suggest buying a new one for about $25 to see if it works. 

    If you have other machines that have no issues connecting at 1000mb then it’s not likely it’s the wiring. 

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply