Q: My Hyper-V virtual machine shows a 10Gbps network adapter, but the switch has a different speed network adapter attached--why does it show 10Gbps?

A: The speed shown in a virtual machine (VM) for its network adapter is just an arbitary number as Hyper-V has to show the VM something. In Windows Server 2012 and later it shows 10Gbps; however, the actual speed available will depend on several factors:

  • If the traffic is between two VMs on the same host, then the traffic never touches a physical network adapter and the traffic will process between them as fast as the VMBus and processor can handle the traffic.
  • If the traffic is external to the Hyper-V host, then the speed is based on the speed of the network adapter (or adapters, if a team) and also the processor. For example, if you have a 10Gbps network adapter, the speed will likely be determined by the processor, which has to process the traffic, so you might not actually see 10Gbps of speed. When receiving traffic, each VM NIC might be assigned a VMq from the NIC, which is processed by a single processor core (except in Windows Server 2012 R2, which supports virtual Receive Side Scaling, vRSS). This likely will result in speeds between 3-4Gbps.

The summary of this is, the speed shown in the VM is irrelevant and doesn't guarantee or limit the actual network speed, which is based on the physical network adapter speed and the processor capabilities.