The network card's controller is the piece of hardware that encodes and decodes the frames of data sent through the wire. In addition, while each layer of the network model is theoretically the same, each manufacturer has a different set of instructions that operate at varying efficiency levels. Therefore, buying a NIC powered by an ubiquitous controller vendor can improve your networking experience.
While one of the most popular names is recognizable for manufacturing other components, the remainder tend to specialize in networking. Of course, Intel is that household brand, which provides a solid chipset with interesting features. Other major players in the NIC chipset market are Broadcom, RealTek, Marvell Technology and Qlogic.
Often, the manufacturer of the NIC itself is not the chipset manufacturer. As with AMD or Nvidia and its board partners, the controller is often purchased and placed on another company's PCB. Another important factor is that if a manufacturer develops a proprietary technology, the feature typically only works with other compatible devices. Therefore, it is important to perform research while determining the network interface card you are looking to purchase.