|othehill, i'm gonna answer all you questions now.|
yes it was a free board. don't know its history at all. i cleared the cmos and left the battery out all of last night. this morning i updated the bios, it has bios version F6 now. about the NIC cable: the cable was NOT plugged into the onboard LAN, it was not plugged in anywhere, and the yellow led by the onboard lan stays ON. it's always ON. bios does not have an option to enable or disable it, even after the bios update. i did try a different kind of pci device, a pci sound card, and it works perfectly i listened to winamp throught it.
now this is what i didn't understand : "The cable that connects a cable modem to the computer or a router is a crossover type cable. If you look carefully at the colors of the wires and their location on the connector you can tell the difference. Looking at a glance they look the same"
I told you, I tried the nic card on another pc, same cable used, same nic, same drivers, and it works fine. so if you're saying the cable could be faulty or wired for a different type of connection, it's not.
Now i'm gonna tell you guys what else I've tried today. I found and installed a win xp sp1, and as far as the onboard lan goes, nothing's changed. however, the nic card no longer says "limited connectivity", it look fine, says it's connected, however it does not work, no packets going in or out, oh and another thing, it sets an IP that makes no sense to me. it's supposed to have a 192.168 IP because it's hooked up to my router. instead it comes up with some other IP. aside from all that, nothing has changed. i now have two realtek nic pci cards and one 3com. i'm willing to try anything at this point. guys, tell me if you think one of them USB>LAN adapters would work? it's an adapter that gets plugged into the usb and has RJ45 female on its other side.
I always say it's best to doublecheck.