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My computer is a home-built machine based on an ASUS M4A77TD Pro motherboard, running Windows 7 64-bit. The network adapter is some kind of Realtek 8112L onboard thing. Basically the problem is, after booting up today the network adapter consistently reported it's state as "cable unplugged". It had actually done this the previous night, but, after 15 seconds or so, detected the network. I have tried different ethernet cables and different ports on the router, all of which had the same result. There are a couple lights next to the ethernet jack on the motherboard that flash in a very repetitive pattern when a cable is plugged in.
Is there any chance that my onboard network card is not physically broken? Any troubleshooting method I haven't thought of, or any way to give the card some kind of virtual kick in the pants?
The fact that I am posting this from another computer connected to the same router seems to indicate that the router is not the issue. I've also updated the network card drivers to the latest version, as well as my motherboard's BIOS. Not really sure what else I can do.
I think the board is out of warrantee, and, even if it wasn't, replacing it would take several hours of my precious time so it seems like the best option would be to simply buy a replacement PCI network adapter card for $30. So my question then becomes - if this one component on the motherboard has an issue, is there a chance that the malfunction could spread? I don't know a lot about hardware. Would a PCI network card be slower in any way?