Computer Performance - Is the network behavior the culprit?

Having read a few articles about computer performance, I often come across the "big four", the four components of your computer that might be impairing performance: 1) CPU, 2) memory, 3) hard drive, and the 4) NIC.

Items 1, 2, and 3 are pretty straight-forward. Item 4, however, is a complete mystery to me. Can someone give me an example how the NIC (or, potentially, a slow network beyond the NIC) might impair the computer's performance, and how I might examine network behavior to determine if that's my problem? How might I use Task Manager, Process Explorer, or some other tool?
jdanaAsked:
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activematxConnect With a Mentor Commented:
When gauging computer performance related to any network issues the NIC comes into play.  If however, you are doing offline work it is very rare for the NIC to interfere with the computers performance.  (Unless, the NIC is a PCI Card and is reporting IRQ problems).

For example, if you are transferring files over a local network at a supposed speed of 100Mbps and it is going much slower I would look at the NIC.  Perhaps it is not setup at the right negotiating speed, or is only operating at half duplex.

If a user is reporting "slow" internet or transfer speeds I generally look at the NIC last.  It is usually related to something beyond the computer on the server or router.

I don't know where you got the "big four" sourced from, but it would help with this question if they were more specific on which criteria of computer performance they were referring to.

Task Manager will show you which processes are open and how much of a CPU/Memory load they are utilizing.  One way to use this tool is to sort the columns by memory usage.  The applications using the most memory are using up most of your computers performance.  If you see something like your browser is using a lot of memory this is normal.  If some other process such as svchost is using a lot then this is a good idea to investigate your services at that point.
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nobusCommented:
windows performance monitor does not mention the nic..
so, also doubt it is one of the big four
it only comes into play when you are using the network connections for sending receiving many data files
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