why does it matter: A suspected design flaw in Intel’s I226-V Ethernet controller is causing communication outages on some Intel z700 series motherboards. The break, which has been reported on multiple forums since late last year, usually lasts several seconds and occurs without warning. The issue is specific to the Intel 2.5Gb controller on the affected boards and does not affect Realtek, Marvell, or any other types of embedded controllers.
According to research conducted by the team at TechPowerUpthe case attributed to I226-V Controller when running in its default 2.5GbE state. Short-term contact drops happen randomly and may not be noticed by some users depending on their specific activity level. However, it does create a noticeable impact on any users who are engaged in tasks or activities that require a stable and reliable connection such as gaming, streaming, or using any computer-based communication tools.
There is currently no known solution to this problem, and the included controller is not replaceable or serviceable for the average user. The team has reported several solutions, which include using the on-board wireless capability or purchasing and installing a PCIe network adapter. Higher-level boards may also be able to avoid the problem by using any additional on-board connectivity options that don’t take advantage of the same Intel-based solution. Driver and firmware updates have proven ineffective in resolving the issue so far.
Users who suspect they may be affected can easily check any relevant warnings using the Windows Event Viewer. Events are categorized as e2fexpress in the viewer source column with the event id for 27. Clicking the warning will provide additional information, which specifies file names Intel(R) Ethernet I226-V Controller.
The defective controller creates another stumbling block in Intel’s line of cost-effective but problematic embedded network controllers. The console’s predecessor, the I225-V, was already known to get its fair share of problems over the past several years. Users have reported connection issues similar to the ones above, right down to losing and reporting connectivity Enter the event viewer ID 27. I225-V connectivity issues can be resolved by forcing the switch to run at 1Gb.
Unfortunately for 700 series users, the 1Gb workaround is not applicable to I226-V issues. This leaves owners of low to midrange boards who need a wired connection in the very unfortunate position of likely having to spend extra money to retain basic functionality. Hopefully Intel will find a way to remedy the current situation, as asking users to purchase another piece of hardware to augment an already known defective component is not acceptable.
Image credit: Steve devices