Im starting on my first pvr specs are
voodoo 3dfx 3000 w/ s-vid out
hp vectra vl400 mb intel 810 w/3 pci and 1 2x agp
280 w power in old pack bell tower
I have 2 40 gig hd's
My question is what are the top 3 cards i should look at for no more than $75.00 (us)
A good starter card would be a Hauppage PVR-150. It comes with a remote and a blaster, has hardware encoding, is compatible with most DVR software, but it will probably run a bit over your 75, more like 100.
Having a remote means you can operate it like a hardware dvr, and having a blaster means you can use it to operate a cable or satellite box via IR codes.
I'm guessing that the lower priced cards don't include all those features, so after you purchase them separetely, you would be better off with the 150.
It's also available in USB form, but I don't have any experience using it.