Can anyone recommend a good PCI NIC. I am looking for something that will reduce the CPU load as much as possible. I have a 3mb/s cable modem and use it for internet multiplayer gaming. For example, is there something with DMA or on board packet cache?
3com and intel both make nics with checksum offload and all that, not that you really need it for a gaming box. Both intel and 3com make fine products for a box running microsoft os. The intels have an advantage if you ever plan on running one of the xnix's. Pretty much anything other than realtek will be fine at the speeds you are talking.
Theres nothing better than an Intel. I can piont ya to a nice study if ya want, but basically the Intels are the best there are. The MT desktop can easly be had for $25 ish for the 10/100/1000MT. Dont settle for anythign less