It's my dev box, yes (or rather the server which runs my development VMs and Emacs, since I don't actually like rebooting that much: it also happens to be a router between two halves of my local net).
I'd say that 90% of the issues on that machine have been NIC related. If I could have gone back in time to the time I bought the box and picked something other than an e1000e, I would have -- not only did this allegedly server-class box (with ECCRAM and hardware RAID) come with what turned out to be workstation-class 82574Ls wired into the motherboard, the things have had at least two nasty (link dead after a while, reboot required) unfixable firmware bugs requiring driver workarounds, and have had at least three bugs in the drivers breaking things like jumbo frames (which doesn't seem too bad until you realise that the *other* machines on the same subnet will still be using jumbo frames, whoops). I actually have to keep an eye on the log for drivers/net/e1000e these days to make sure that nothing *else* broke on each release. Probably as many as 75% of my upgrade problems come down to that one model of NIC on that one machine. (And yes, I report these problems when uncovered unless someone else has done so first.)
Perhaps the out of tree drivers would work better, but I have a general rule never to use out of tree drivers unless absolutely unavoidable -- the pain factor is just too high, particularly since I prefer non-modular kernels, especially for something critical to system function like the network card.
The question is, are there any gigabit NICs out there which don't suck? r8169 seems OK at first sight but has had rumours of very bad performance in the past, and even security problems where people able to send arbitrary Ethernet packets can cause the card to DMA over arbitrary memory.
'cos it's sort of stupid that with all this advanced and complex hardware in modern machines, and with rarely-used stuff like an Areca RAID card in one machine, the piece of hardware which causes me most trouble is not any of that but a widely-used model of NIC.