Which VMware VNIC Should I Use?


Which VMware VNIC is Best?

I recently attended a tech talk where Doug Baer, VCDX, was speaking about all the different VMware VNIC adapters there are now to choose from for vSphere.

After the meeting, I spoke with Doug and asked him if I could share his VMware VNIC data on my blog.  He gave me his approval so here it is:


  • Emulated version of the AMD 79C970 PCnet32 LANCE NIC
  • An older 10 Mbps NIC
  • Drivers are available in most 32-bit guest operating systems except Windows Vista and later.
  • A virtual machine configured with this network adapter can use its network immediately.


  • A virtual network adapter that has no physical counterpart
  • Optimized for performance in a virtual machine (paravirtualized)
  • VMware Tools contains the driver for this adapter


  • The Flexible network adapter identifies itself as a Vlance adapter when a virtual machine boot, but initializes itself and functions as either a Vlance or a VMXNET adapter, depending on which driver initializes it.


  • Emulated version of the Intel 82545EM Gigabit Ethernet NIC
  • Driver included only with the following guest operating systems
  • Linux versions 2.4.19 and later
  • Windows XP Professional x64 and later
  • Windows Server 2003 (32-bit) and later
  • Jumbo Frames (ESXi 4.1+)

VMXNET 2 Enhanced (Good)

  • Based on the VMXNET
  • •rovides high-performance features commonly used on modern networks
  • Jumbo frames
  • HW offloads (TSO, TCP/IP checksum)
  • Only available for some guest operating systems and on ESX/ESXi 3.5 or later

VMXNET 3 (Best)

  • Next-gen paravirtualized NIC (10Gb), designed for performance
  • Not related to VMXNET/VMXNET 2
  • All the features of VMXNET 2, plus several new features
  • multiqueue support
  • a.k.a. Receive Side Scaling (Windows)
  • IPv6 offloads
  • MSI/MSI-X interrupt delivery
  • Faster than e1000(e), less CPU overhead

Thank you, Doug!

Still not sure which vNIC to use? We’d like to recommend reading our new guide about the best step by step virtualization training available.


  1. athar

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