Which manufacturer is best? This topic is highly debated. There have been no reported consistent “bad” intakes on the market. Obviously, there may have been bad intakes sold, but not enough to report as “bad” overall.
Which intakes have the best gains? There is no irrefutable evidence that any intake has better gains than another.
How hard is it to install an intake? Allow around one hour for install time. Professional installation, depending on your area, is around $75. This is one vehicle modification that is very simple and can be successfully accomplished by even the greenest shade tree mechanic.
Do I need engine management/tuning with an intake? For most people, yes. Though there are a few that are or claim to be plug and play, tuning will make any intake shine or turn a “cheap-o unsafe” intake into a safe and power making unit.
Should I reset my ECU after this mod? It is never a bad idea to perform an ECU reset after a mod. The traditional route is to disconnect the negative battery terminal, press the brake pedal for a few seconds to bleed the system of charge, and reattach. Some use the more advanced Vishnu Reset.
What about just using a drop in air filter like K&N etc.? Many people will install an aftermarket air filter with two lines of reasoning:
A. Longer lifespan due to end user cleaning = cost savings
B. Freer flowing = more horsepower
While both are probably true, there are costs associated with using an aftermarket drop in air filter.
A. Comparing costs of the OEM paper filter at $10 vs an aftermarket unit at $40 mean you will have to use the aftermarket unit for 150,000 miles before you see any return on your investment based on change frequency schedules.
B. Freer flowing means more contaminants work their way into your engine. Filtration study and Filtration study.
C. HP gains are not well documented if at all.