It can take time for the network close to be observed – the total time is nominally about 2 minutes (yes, minutes!) after a close before the packets destined for the port are all assumed to be dead. The error condition is detected at some point. With a small write, you are inside the MTU of the system, so the message is queued for sending. With a big write, you are bigger than the MTU and the system spots the problem quicker. If you ignore the SIGPIPE signal, then the functions will return EPIPE error on a broken pipe – at some point when the broken-ness of the connection is detected.