Any good hardware for connecting a guitar to your PC?

I am a bit of a guitar enthusiast and I have been playing thru amps and recording them thru a mic in order to edit them in  my PC; I have seen a few hardware (soundcards) that directly connects a guitar to a PC and have software that can emulate different stomp box effects...

So my question is, what would you recommend me to save my money for? Do you guys have any suggestions on what hardware I should get and what software that I can use to emulate real life stomp boxes? Thanks!

For capturing the guitar, I would go with an external soundcard/preamp like the AKAI EIE or something similar. I would pick external over internal any day for soundcards, both for portability and for the noise from fans.

There is a lot of free recording software that will work, almost all of them can use VST plugins 

VST plugins emulate the real hardware and you can get a lot of interesting VST effects ranging from free to your first born.

as for the stompbox itself, something like the Behringer FCB1010 seems to work, but i don't play guitar so I don't really know.