I've found that external modems are quite a bit better, because they do not use system resources like Winmodems do. I have a Zoom 56K External modem, and it is a lot peppier than the P.O.S. Winmodem I had.
Best external dial-up modem I've used; a 3COM U.S. Robotics 56K Voice Fax modem. It's pretty reliable, unless you throw it on the ground and jump up and down on it.
I greatly prefer an external modem, although they might cost a bit more. Why take up a PCI slot? External modems often have more features, and with newer operating systems, you rarely have to add a driver. You just plug it into a serial or a USB port, turn it on, and boot.
There's virtually no difference in the speed between a PCI modem and an external model, but no one would want an ISA modem unless you had no other choice. Heck, most people would prefer to stay away from ISA altogether. Talk about an outdated bus ... it's around 20 years old. If you need an ISA card, it might be time to consider upgrading ye ole' mainboard, IMHO ... unless you are a enthusiastic hobbyist, and really want to get that overclocked Pentium 90 on the 'Net.
Winmodems place too much reliance on the system, and often have more problems than any other. Software-based modems use fewer chips compared to traditional modems. The work normally done by the missing chips is transferred to software running on the host computer's main processor. If you are talking about stability and avoiding unnecessary troubleshooting, nix on the Winmodem. A Winmodem configuration can be messy, because Winmodems use a range of memory addresses instead of a fixed memory address. Winmodems require a DLL file that loads into memory at startup, using some of Windows' resources. They are usually the slowest, although you are talking about minor differences in speed between all of them, due to the speed of today's processors. It's all dial-up, anyway, even if you get a couple of PCI modems and shotgun them.
Are you stuck in an area where you can't receive Cable or DSL? Or is this a monetary issue?
Although I rarely sell modems for anything but FAXing anymore, I've had very good luck with the OEM 3Comm/USR PCI modems. (Models 2977, 2976 and successors) But their winmodems, suck just like everyone else's.
Yep, they're good too... I just haven't sold one in ages, so didn't know what to suggest. Most of my customers are in SOHO settings and are on about "so many wires hanging off my desk" so I tend to sell internals instead.
I do tech for AT&T Worldnet dial-up. 90% of my tech calls are customers with winmodems. Stay away from them.
Get a good US Robotics, 3Com, or Conexant. If you don't want the box on top of your computer internals are generally fine as well. Just make sure YOU UPDATE YOUR DRIVERS!!! Keep them up to the latest drivers according to your manufacturer's site. I can't emphasize that enough.
XP 2500+ Barton
2x512MB Corsair PC3200
ATI 9700 Pro
2x80GB 7200RPM Maxtor
I've had quite a bit of experience using <A HREF="http://www.usrobotics.com/products/business/business-pr..." target="_new">US Robotics Courier V.Everything</A> external modems. These have never let me down. I typically use them for connecting to routers at remote locations so I can access them in case of an outage. They are very reliable and have tons of extra features. Unfortunately, because these are considered a "business class" modem, they are a bit more expensive than your average modem, but they are very reliable and jam packed with features (don't trust the price on their site though, check out <A HREF="http://www.pricewatch.com" target="_new">pricewatch.com</A>. I have one here at home as well and have never had a problem with it...ever.
Regardless of what you end up going with, make it external. If you've got an internal modem, and it hangs, or has a problem, the only way to reset it is to reboot your computer. With an external modem, all you have to do is flick the power switch and then you're back in business!
<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Javic on 03/19/03 08:38 PM.</EM></FONT></P>