Reliability of USB Ethernet Dongles

This has been a constant low level issue from thread to thread. People suggest using a USB dongle to get an extra port on an SBC like the RPi4, and a small number of people will come along and say that they are unreliable. If they were unreliable, given how many people have started using RPi4s, I would expect a flood of people asking for info. But we don't have actual positive data, what we have is what we can infer from the fact that there is no such complaint thread... So instead here's the thread where you can say what kind of dongle you have, what the chipset is, how long you've been using it, and whether you've had any issues with overheating, disconnects, or hardware failure.

For myself I have a UE300 which uses RTL8153 and it's run as my gigabit WAN continuously for 15 months with no hiccups even.

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Running for 13 months on iTEC usb3 to Gigabit rtl8153, no issues.

UE300 (RTL8153) on a rPi4. Been using for over a year with zero issues.

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You're talking about the suggestion that they're, quote, "not made for 24/7/365 use and need to rest and cool down once in a while", end quote? Yeah, no. Nonsense. Absolutely nobody makes ethernet dongles to a "must rest once in a while" specification. ($6 knockoff mystery dongles from aliexpress are another matter: but all bets are off with those sorts of things anyway.)

Also, the cooling of onboard USB-connected NICs, functionally identical but for the fact that they can't be unplugged, is not necessarily improved by being on the same board. A typical embedded system doesn't put a heatsink on the NIC anyway, just the CPU/SoC and (rarely) the memory. If the cooling solution includes a fan it might benefit from that; but they don't make these chips on the assumption that that's the case, and in fact they know quite well that most of these NICs won't get any cooling at all. In which case, a dongle is very likely to be in the cooler setting of the two, surrounded by open air rather than adjacent to much more energy-intensive components.

TL;DR: you're responding to pure, made-up FUD.

For that matter, the vast majority of onboard Ethernet controllers on Pi 4s aren't even passively cooled, much less actively...what's the failure rate on those? I've yet to see a single report of a failed Ethernet port on a Pi (except for one where it was yanked off the board by an overzealous and slightly intoxicated user trying to remove a tight-fitting cable).

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Good thread. I've personally come around to using USB dongles under linux, especially 2.5GB as referenced here:

Some american isp already have 2.5G ethernet output with 1.2gbps/1.1gbps overprovisioned rates under their 1GB fiber plans.

I already have to turn off all offloads using ethtool under my intel pci-e due to potential issues as cited here:

Also some anecdotes here:

ARM gets faster, x86 is already fast, don't use offloads --> So most probably going USB ala realtek for my next adapters.


Also, people's ideas about and attitudes to to USB is based on the overhead and CPU load of USB2 and prior, when it was its own, resource-intensive subsystem developed in part to help Intel drive demand for new CPUs. USB3 is a completely different animal: probably best to think of it as a relatively thin layer on top of PCI-e.

Its "backward compatibility" with USB2 is not inherent in it at all, but by decree: USB3 device manufacturers have to build in the distinct USB2 functionality, whether you want it or not.


I too was one of those very suspicious of using USB Ethernet Dongles, but a UE-300 has been running flawlessly for several weeks now.

[   15.437481] usbcore: registered new interface driver r8152
[   15.688049] r8152 2-3:1.0: load rtl8153a-4 v2 02/07/20 successfully
[   15.726695] r8152 2-3:1.0 eth1: v1.11.11
[   24.691148] r8152 2-3:1.0 eth1: carrier on

If you only push little traffic over it, yes they are all fine.
Try pushing near gigabit over them for a few minutes, watch them burn.

That's just blatently untrue. I've been running a UE300 as the WAN interface on my RPi4 for several years, connected to a 1gbit connection. On multiple occasions I've had extended periods of downloading at full speed without any issues whatsoever.


So this topic is only about UE300 ?
Anyway, I've managed to crash every dongle AX88179 based that I got my hands on so far with a few minutes of sustained gigabit traffic, heating obviously observed too during that time.
Maybe the rtl based ones are better.

No it isn't. But your claim was that they all burn after pushing near gigabit over them for a few minutes. Which isn't the case.

As for problems with AX88179 based dongles, that's not surprising to hear. There's a reason the UE300 is usually suggested when users ask for suggestions about what they should buy.


Interesting, I'll try something realtek based. Thanks.

Yes, the Asix dongles are to be avoided. The R8152-based dongles (of which the UE300 is merely a cheap and widely-available example) are rock solid for myself and many other users.