I'm a heavy Linux/FreeBSD user, and I won't buy a computer, or board, without an Intel NIC/WNIC. I consider a NIC to be core feature where price is no object; I will cut other things out of a build before I compromise my NIC selection. Intel has the best support in alternative operating systems, and their NICs are solid with good features.
I don't recommend boards with Broadcom or Realtek chips simply because they have a spotty history of support for alternative operating systems, and I usually end up suggesting an Intel branded board, which I'd rather not do as I think Asus boards are better quality with better features. Then there are shoddy WNIC implementations based on Broadcom and Realtek chips... I'm sure Intel WNICs could be implemented poorly, but I haven't seen it yet.
Personally, I've been favoring Tyan simply because they offer Intel NICs on AMD and Intel based boards (as well as having excellent Linux/BSD support
), but I would like to have Asus as a buying option.
I don't have any direct experience with Atheros chips, but Atheros NIC/WNICs have been pretty rare as of late. When they were big, the drivers were reversed engineered, and I'd rather have official support. Marvell NICs are pretty rare as well. I would definitely have to validate chips from both of those companies before I recommend them.