Need help: WinXP doesn't see network connection?

I'm having an annoying network issue with my Windows XP machines on my LAN where WinXP will say the cable is disconnected, yet everything is connected fine. This is happening on two different brand PC's at the moment. On one, I changed the cable and all is well (although tested the cable and it's fine). On the other, I can't figure it out.

Let me explain in more detail: I have an Asante router with 4 devices connected to it, along with my cable modem. The 4 devices are 2 Macs (1 connected via Apple's 802.11 Airport), 1 Vonage VOIP device, and 1 WinXP PC. The Macs and the Vonage adapter work fine - no problems. They are getting the DHCP Info from the router, and connecting with full speed. The problem only exists with my PC's. The PC is in another room from the router, and the cabling is built-in CAT5 wiring.

Here is the problem: When you connect the PC to the CAT5 jack (again, networked to the router), the PC says "the cable is disconnected" and doesn't recognize it's connected. My first thought was either a bad cable or bad wiring, so I unplugged the CAT5 cable from the PC and plugged it into my Mac laptop, and the Mac worked fine - it connected to the router, obtained DHCP, etc. So obviously, the problem lies with WinXP or the PC. The router also didn't see the WinXP PC, but did see the Mac. I then hooked up a powered ethernet switch (the PC was the only thing connected) to see what would happen, and immediately, it saw the connection. The internet was INCREDIBLY slow though, so I disabled the connection and re-enabled it in WinXP, and now it couldn't see the connection and gave me another "network cable unplugged." I've tried uninstalling and reinstalling the NIC driver to no avail, as well as rebooting multiple times. Obviously, the switch isn't needed, and since the networking works with my Mac, it's an issue with the PC. The only thing I can think if is a bad NIC (although it worked fine a few days ago, and it did work briefly) or a conflict with WinXP. The router works fine, because the Mac's work, and so did the PC a few days ago.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what might be going on, or what to try, to fix this issue?

Thanks for any help!
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  1. Quick follow-up: The PC sees the connection when the switch is used, but not when it's connected directly to the CAT5 jack. I'm only getting about 56k speeds though when the connection is working (using the switch), and if you disable the connection, and then re-enable it, the PC won't see the connection again. My Apple iBook works fine w/o the switch, connected directly to the CAT5 jack. The iBook is also getting full 1.9 mbps speed. Again, obviously the switch isn't needed, and the wiring and cables work fine with the iBook, so it has to be either the NIC or WinXP? The NIC is a couple years old 3Com, and I'm going to replace it and see what happens (yet it worked fine yesterday).

    Thanks for any help you can provide! It would be appreciated!
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