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  • tamalero - Saturday, July 18, 2009 - link

    just wondering guys, why you didnt test on a NORMAL machine and not on a high end machine?
    to test the offloading, you should have used games that are heavily cpu bound or that limits cpu or similars.
    a dual core machine with some heavy source based engines and see if it offloads the cpu....
    if you're not gonna squish what the card promises, why even test then?
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Friday, July 10, 2009 - link

    A more useful article would be whether a sound card improves performance - I'd like to see a good article on that. Reply
  • hoak - Friday, July 10, 2009 - link

    I hope this isn't a trend, but this review and others like it on AnandTech are not of the caliber of other of reviews past, or what's offered on other sites like X-Bit Labs where rigorous objective testing standards, science, and hard facts are the arbiter of a review, not this subjective and half-assed swill that panders to the the difficulty of testing and baseless opinion.

    Five Frowny Faces For AnandTech...

    :( :( :( :( :(
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Thursday, July 09, 2009 - link

    "Adding to this, the Killer Xeno Pro hardware is capable of offloading other network centric tasks like VoIP, firewalls, and networked storage (though these features are not all fully supported with appropriate software at this point in time)."

    This is the ONE use I would find for this card, rather than gaming. I know people who rely on VOiP, or teleconferencing for distance-learning and therapy who could truly benefit from what this card has to offer. And of course, most of those features aren't fully supported.

    Hmm. Think I'll just make sure those people have a fast enough CPU to crunch things (which really isn't all that fast, a Core 2 Duo P8400 on a laptop can handle it no problem) and a low-latency network, since I probably can't guarantee even, consistent support with something like this product. Maybe someone like Cisco can buy the company or Killer NIC can look at the business aspect of this, since I think they'd make more money there, and then be able to use it to support the gaming side of things.
    Reply
  • jiulemoigt - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    I started reading through the comments to see if anyone posted this but the whole test was invalid. Two computers with the exact same hardware going to a location on internet could have totally different latencies because they took different routes to get to the host server.

    Though the results reflewct reality some times it is going to be fast some times it is going to be slow, but mostly it is dependant on how congested the net in general and how busy your server is. The network stack is not significant to transfering data unless something is broken.

    Last most built in NIC have traces directly to the north or south bridge depending on the chip and don't share bandwidth with anything else.
    Reply
  • swaaye - Friday, July 10, 2009 - link

    Onboard NICs are either on PCI or PCIe and definitely do share with other such devices. Reply
  • Teloy - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    «the Killer Xeno Pro can disable it's "game mode" and enable "application mode»; «(...)the major feature of the Killer Xeno Pro is it's ability to offload TCP/IP work(...)... "It's" is a typo only allowed to first grade children... You should pay more attention to grammar when writting an article on a website as prestigious as Anandtech... Reply
  • jaggerwild - Tuesday, July 07, 2009 - link

    I have to question why this article was done, unless EVGA is buying space here.........

    Reply
  • Rasterman - Monday, July 06, 2009 - link

    One question that would put things into perspective is how much CPU is used to do TCP/IP functions? My guess is a tiny fraction of 1%, especially with a monster CPU like in the test. Therefore even if you offload 100% of network computation, you are never going to notice a difference.

    It seems this card might be more useful for a web or file server. Testing it in a system with as high of a network load as possible would seem to be a much better test if the card is actually doing anything. Granted people are going to buy this for games, but the problem testing with games is they are designed to use as little network as possible.
    Reply
  • hooflung - Monday, July 06, 2009 - link

    Q: Who else would benefit from using this product?

    A: Among other things, Killer is a UDP (User Datagram Protocol) accelerator, so other applications that are UDP intensive could also see benefits. In addition, programmers, Linux developers, and other enthusiasts will love FNA because they will be able to write or download Flexible Network Applications that run on Killer's NPU. Flexible Network Applications could be VOIP apps, peer to peer file sharing utilities...the list is endless.

    Q: Some of the articles about your card say you offload TCP/IP. Is this true?

    A: While our card does perform some TCP/IP acceleration functions, it does not fully offload this network protocol (nor does any other network card in the consumer market today). Most MMO and First Person Shooter online games don't use TCP/IP as the primary protocol, but rather use UDP. Among other things, Killer IS a UDP (User Datagram Protocol) accelerator, which makes it EXTREMELY FOCUSED on gaming, and very different from what any other company is offering today.
    Reply
  • Exar3342 - Monday, July 06, 2009 - link

    It is interesting how they don't note any of this information on the box, in the marketing information, or on the EVGA website for the card. This sounds like one of those "bad suprises" you get AFTER you waste your money on this and find out it doesn't do anything. The theme of the review isn't that the product doesn't do what it says it does (it does that well) but that it doesn't make an appreciable difference in the real world. It appears clear this product has paper benefits only, and no real gains anywhere. Reply
  • hooflung - Monday, July 06, 2009 - link

    This is not a problem. The linux networking stack is more efficient than the XP stack. Even though the NPU isn't doing it in hardware its still not being done on XP.

    This is why the whole 'offloading' wording is confusing. The card is bypassing the OS stack, thus 'offloading' it to the card. The card then 'offloads' the UDP and 'some' but not 'all' TCP to hardware routines.

    While EVE might use a bit of UDP for non critical things such as polling the market but it doesn't help speed up combat which needs the TCP/IP to poll where your ship is in space, what gun you fired, where your enemy is etc etc etc. If you do not have a constant TCP/IP connection, not UDP becuase UDP doesn't require you to have an active connection, you will be booted off the EVE server.

    Its as simple as that. Derek should know that as he said he played EVE for 4 years.

    The Card does help somewhat on older PC's since it will bypass the Windows stack but not on newer ones. It also DOES help ping on DSL because of how you can manage the network bandwidth and how it gives UDP priority in game mode.

    Moreover, you need to be on a DMZ any time you use this card or the router with screw you over and take any performance you would gain and toss it out the door.

    I've been a bigfoot customer and have the M1 in my Phenom II 940.
    Reply
  • Rigan - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    Just for the record, the USB slot can be seen from the inside Linux install. So yes, it does have a use. And, yes, the thing does allow for the running of Linux apps on the inside Linux box. Works just fine.

    But, I'd be hard pressed to recommend this thing to anybody. In the world of modern multi-core cpu's the basic premise is rather silly.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    I might like to try that ... it could be fun to just play with. I mean from an ubernerd standpoint anyway.

    Is that available via their SDK, or is there some other hacking that needs to be done?
    Reply
  • Per Hansson - Monday, July 06, 2009 - link

    Why not just buy a decent router that supports OpenWRT and has a USB port instead?
    Then you have a great little device that supports QoS and whith which you can also download torrents etc while your computer is offline

    The only use for the Killer NIC is if the system is really pushing 1gbps of traffic, think file server of very demanding webserver.
    But that of course requires that the thing actually does offload the entire TCP/IP stack, and not just UDP (which I'm not 100% convinced it even does yet)

    A cheaper NIC by any of the major players supporting ToE would probably be a better choice for the file or webserver of course (Due to more testing being done by their driver development departments)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TCP_Offload_Engine">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TCP_Offload_Engine

    Saying that there may be any benefit at all to doing TCP offload for MMO's and other games which work just fine on dialup still to this day (i.e. less than 5KB in bandwidth requirements) is just plain fraud IMO
    But then again all reviews on the top sites including this one has come to the same consulsion so ;-)
    Reply
  • titan7 - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    Read about why Linux considers these a very bad idea and explicitly won't support them:
    http://www.linuxfoundation.org/en/Net:TOE">http://www.linuxfoundation.org/en/Net:TOE

    A friend bought the previous version. Their lousy drivers would bring down his entire system when doing torrents or even some games (e.g. Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor). No noticeable benefit, but it makes his system unstable.

    Stay away from bigfoot (and nvidia) NICs!
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    really, if bigfoot opened up their hardware the objections would fade away...

    honestly, bigfoot is probably using the linux network stack itself on the killer...

    if linux devs could program straight to the hardware, it might really be something they would have more interest in.
    Reply
  • davecason - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    I suspect that you will find that this sort of card would help a really old system that had PCI more than a new one. Think of it this way: if the task of the integrated network interface card is a burden for the CPU, this thing might actually help. Instead of an i7 chipset and compatible processor, think nForce 4 with an old 1.8GHz Athlon.

    We use Endace DAG cards at work and they work on basically the same principle: offload the Network work to the card.
    http://www.endace.com/dag-network-monitoring-cards...">http://www.endace.com/dag-network-monitoring-cards...
    Essentially the card is a computer withing your computer, dedicated to the task. The vendor recently let us know that we could get the same work done with standard gigabit ethernet cards in a more modern server... which supports my theory: not for high-end systems.
    Reply
  • aadder - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    Hmmm those cards seem rather nice. Any idea where I might be able to buy the Endace DAG card? Reply
  • has407 - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    The Endace DAG cards are intended for special-purpose applications. Unless you need high speed capture and analysis, you can do better with lower-cost Intel, Broadcomm, Alactitech, etc. NICs. Reply
  • mindless1 - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    The thing is, even with a slower CPU and PCI bottleneck, the network processing still isn't a substantial % of processing by the CPU, and the traffic for gaming not bottlenecked by PCI bus.

    Even a lowly Celeron 500MHz isn't much of an issue if jumbo frames are used, though CPU still has to be seen as a bottleneck to the gaming itself.
    Reply
  • has407 - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    Jumbo frames won't do squat in this case, and will likely cause worse problems. Even in well--managed and closed environment, expect very little gain unless you're using a very fast SAN, fast switches, and a network admin who knows what they're doing.

    Do the math: even for 1Gbe networks the efficiency gain for most apps using jumbo frames is noise. For 10Gbe you might notice it if you've got enough CPU and IO bandwidth; for the typical home network, it's not worth considering.
    Reply
  • davecason - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    PCIe, not PCI. Reply
  • Theunis - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    I wonder if it would be possible to use this board with my Linux x86_64 machine. LOL

    Wouldn't it be cool to run specific applications compiled for PPC, to run on this board? Does it come with it's own RAM?
    Reply
  • ShawnD1 - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    If they're trying to market this thing as something to reduce CPU usage, it doesn't really make much sense to test it with the fastest processor you can find. Try it with a CPU that has no speed at all, maybe a celeron or sempron.

    Of course that's not a real world test, but are any tests on Anandtech realistic? I don't run my games at 3000x2000 resolution, but ridiculous tests like that show us what a video card can do. For CPU tests we're looking at Phenom II and Core 2 Quad systems running games at 800x600 and getting 200fps. It's a ridiculous test, but it isolates the hardware being tested.

    The methodology in the article, in my opinion, is like testing a bunch of video cards at 800x600. Seeing that every video card is getting 200fps (the CPU bottleneck), the conclusion would be that upgrading the video card is a waste of money. Similarly, testing something that reduces CPU bottlenecking should not be done with a CPU that isn't bottlenecked by any game in existence.
    Reply
  • Gannon - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    This product has no real market, it's just an excuse to charge more money to clueless among the gaming population.

    What they should really do with this card is make it multi port and a router, I would love to ditch my piece of shit router that requires constant reboots because of someones Wifi dropping (it works fine for wires connections). If they could build a wireless router network add in card + network stack offloading + opening up the card to developers, then I'm in. Screw the "gaming" portion of it, how bout building a quality product gamers would want?

    Such as: Bandwidth control (so users can't flog the connection can have their bandwidth limited so it doesn't fsk_up your ping in an online twitch game like quake 3, etc, etc... othe routers have attempted this like Dlinks "Gamefuel", so one can have torrents + game at the same time, no one has really done it very though.

    The networking stack is the least of a gamers worries on a modern computer, there is a reason everything has become more integrated over time (audio + network), with the rise of the internet NOT having an ethernet port on a computer is stupid and most onboard NIC's are so good now-a-days unless you are doing some serious file transferring you don't need it.

    Anyone claiming to see a performance benefit is shitting you, the real problem lies in input output latencies to devices, RAM and hard drives.

    I'll take audio + NIC integrated on future CPU's with an integrated memory controller over add-in shite that is just going to fade away over the next 5-10 years.
    Reply
  • Gannon - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    Also the next real major speed up for games is in Solid state disks, what we really need is:

    -Newer faster Memory technology, CPU spends most of it's time waiting on RAM (and ram is damn fast comparable to hard drives and even solid state drives).
    -Newer faster permanent storage (SSDa and beyond)

    When solid state disks mature and they finally come out with a chipset that can really take full advantage of SSD's and the bandwidth they offer we'll see a lot more performance improvement.

    Try playing a game that chugs on an old hard drive, then put it on an SSD, notice it's not as choppy when things get harry. I noticed this when I moved many of my games from an older 320GB drive to my 1TB drive, games that were slow/choppy suddenly got a speed boost because the drive IO was a sever bottleneck, I can't wait to get an SSD once their capacity expands and price comes down to saner levels.
    Reply
  • navilor - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    I have on my old machine (a Core2Duo E6600) the Bigfoot KillerNIC M1. I thought that it was a complete crock of [expletive deleted] until a buddy of mine bought one and reported a much better gaming experience.

    And what exactly did it do?

    He played Everquest and it lowered his latency a lot. This means that his character is a lot more responsive to what is happening around him. Yes, you can disable Nagel's algorithm and do something similar, but that wasn't the end of it.

    He was able to report being able to run with higher graphical settings enabled. It also removed a stutter that he previously did not notice.

    So I sucked it up and decided to blow some cash on that product.

    Excellent investment. No longer did my CPU have to manage TCP/IP packets. UDP packets were invisible (via WireShark) yet passed through to the OS without issue (there is a Game setting and an Application setting for those who need it).

    This network card offloaded work so my CPU could be used to manage things. Now you might think that my CPU was lame. World of Warcraft, which is the game I play, barely touched the CPU at all. No matter how powerful your CPU is it still has to deal with networking.

    Unless it doesn't because you have a KillerNIC.

    Now did it lower my latency? No, but it did for my friend. Did disabling Nagel's algorithm help? Yes, but it didn't smooth out my frame rate. Combine the two and you will notice a difference.

    On my new rig (Core i7 920 with a GTX 295 and 12GB of RAM) disabling Nagle did jack for me. I am considering either purchasing the new Xeno Pro or possibly stripping the M1 out of my old system. My card can run a firewall on it (iptables) so I don't have to burden Windows with that overhead.

    Oh, and high end servers run network cards that do TCP offloading. I'm vaguely certain that those types of cards are there for a reason.

    You can prioritize your packets all you want on the network, too. That is always a good first step. What the network cannot do is reduce the time it takes for your application to:

    1). Generate a packet

    2). Have it go through the windows networking stack

    3). Go through the Windows network driver

    4). And then out the cable.

    The Killer products remove step two and the overhead of step three.

    Windows, by default, likes to lump packets together for high speed transmission. See also Nagle's Algorithm. That can be disabled via a few registry hacks. Removing the overhead of Windows compressing those and shoving them through the driver smooths things out. If you have a KillerNIC then you can still manually disable Nagel (which lightens the workload of packet management a small amount) and let the KillerNIC worry about the rest.

    So what this means is that the Killer products prioritize the packets INSIDE of your machine BEFORE they hit the home network to then be prioritized on your internet facing router.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    I get the things that the Killer is doing and that those things are real ...

    But if your friend took the $120 for the Killer Xeno Pro (or the likely much higher cost of the M1 at the time) and spent it on a faster CPU, the benefits would have extended to much more than just making packet processing faster.

    It would have benefited many other applications as well in addition to delivering the performance needed for smooth network play.
    Reply
  • has407 - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    I won't argue with your experience, as I haven't used one of these NICs. However, is it a cost-effective or appropriate way to solve the problem? Color me skeptical; the evidence is at best inconclusive.

    1. Nagle applies to TCP, not UDP.
    = You aren't going to see any improvement disabling Nagle for apps that use UDP.

    2. TPC_NODELAY is a way for apps to bypass Nagle.
    = Apps with time-sensitive needs and that use TCP should use it. Nothing you can do about this, but I would hope and expect game developers would be cognizant of it and use it appropriately (or use UDP).

    3. An old 2.2GHz Core-2 can drive > 150KBs of 1-byte packets with TCP_NODELAY; > 500KBs using 1-byte UDP packets; > 225MBs with 16KB packets; and peaks at ~300K segments/sec.
    = For modern CPU's, CPU time is noise given typical Internet bandwidth.
    = Latency/CPU due to the network stack is noise.

    4. Some NICs have features which you may want to disable. E.g.:
    - Interrupt coalescing. This reduces CPU load by not generating an interrupt for every packet. That may be counterproductive for games.
    - Large send offload. Removes the CPU overhead of segmenting large packets into smaller ones and moves it to the NIC. Doubtful there'd be much difference unless the game is sending large packets (which I expect isn't the case).
    - Jumbo frames. Don't. In this scenario they're at best a NOP and at worst will degrade performance.

    In short, will the Killer NIC perform any better than a properly tuned system? I doubt it. Is the $premium worth the equivalent amount spent on a faster CPU or GPU, or the time required to tune the system? Your call, but again I doubt it.


    p.s. No, disabling Nagle does not reduce "the workload of packet management a small amount". It exists to reduce per-packet overhead by coalescing small messages into larger packets.
    Reply
  • navilor - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    Thank you for your insight. I value your input.

    World of Warcraft uses TCP. I couldn't believe it as I thought it would use UDP. I ran Wireshark on my network just to make sure.

    The CPU doesn't have to generate an interrupt for any packets at all when packets are processed. I believe that it would be similar interrupt coalescing but without the assumed latency increase.
    Reply
  • has407 - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    Interesting.... Maybe the WoW dev's need some remedial instruction in network programming :) Even if they use TCP, they could easily segregate and prioritize time-sensitive TCP traffic. Hnmmm... so is the Killer NIC a $120 compensator for bad app design?

    As to whether "The CPU doesn't have to generate an interrupt for any packets at all when packets are processed."... Ummm... yes it does, in some form or another--even if it isn't a hardware interrupt--as that is how it eventually gets the app's attention (e.g., via DPC/IRP whether the result of a hardware interrupt or polling). You get one or the other: coalescing interrupts (hardware or software) and increased latency, or more interrupts and decreased latency.

    I can believe that the Killer NIC driver tries to split the line between latency and interrupt overhead. I can also believe it reduces latency bit, but I find it hard to believe it reduces by a significant amount--unless of course you're doing torrents and other stuff while you're gaming--in which case the appropriate answer is: Don't do That.

    Again, I assert that a properly tuned system with a decent and lower-cost NIC would fare as well. But I'd like to see some properly engineered tests to confirm that.
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    You overlook something significant. "Offloading" isn't necessarily a good thing, if the processor it's offloaded to is no faster, let alone slower, than the main CPU. I'm not suggesting it is or isn't, but the core ideal that offloading is a positive thing is quite misleading. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    This is a good point -- if you offload it you would want to offload it to something that could do stuff faster.

    the issue here, though, isn't as much that the 400MHz PPC core actually be able to do the work faster than something like a Core i7 3GHz ... the major bottleneck in network processing on windows is the operating system and the software network stack ...

    bypassing the OS, even though it doesn't seem to deliver a better experience from what we can tell, really does seem to be faster when using the Killer Xeno Pro ... but again the major issue is not client side processing but the rest of the network when we are talking about gaming on a standard desktop ...
    Reply
  • swaaye - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    Well it's nice to hear that you THINK that you are seeing a benefit.

    The problem is that it's apparently rather unprovable through testing and that means that it likely is placebo effect.

    I'd like to hear a network / NIC engineer chime in on these cards anonymously.
    Reply
  • navilor - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    Have a friend randomly switch someone's connection from their KillerNIC to an onboard NIC while they are out of the room. Ask them if they see a difference. Repeat several times. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    I'd want to try and make it double blind and do it with multiple people ...

    It'd be a great idea for a LAN party or tournament (maybe not during competition though as people would surely cry foul even if it didn't benefit anyone).
    Reply
  • haplo602 - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    I see this hoax gets the trashing it deserves ... folks just google windows xp tcp tuning or similar for vista and you will find advices that put this 120$ nonsene right into the recycling bin where it belongs ... Reply
  • swaaye - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Note that even Marvell and Realtek integrated NICs have substantial hardware offload these days. I just don't see the justification at all for one of these cards....
    Reply
  • RU482 - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Where I work, we use a PC to serve up hard drive images to as many as 96 computers at a time (using Symantec Ghost). With a consumer grade Realtek 8169 ethernet card, we achieve around 600MB/min (that's the metric that is reported) throughput. With a card like the one in this article, could we expect to increase throughput rates...slightly or dramatically?

    thoughts?
    Reply
  • has407 - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    Doubtful; a decent NIC is going to provide about the same at lower cost. However, 600MB/min = 10MB/sec = pretty slow. Sounds like you have another problem (your network infrastructure is 100Mbs?). Or do you--is 600MB/min really a problem or is that all the clients are demanding? What does your network configuration look like? Reply
  • has407 - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    There is an SDK (and other tools available). I've never used it, but it's the only reason I've bothered looking at the card. It's also a bit old...

    http://www.bigfootnetworks.com/Support/index.php?_...">http://www.bigfootnetworks.com/Support/...arentcat...
    Reply
  • croc - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Nice try Derek... but there are so many network variables involved in testing like this that any reliable test results would be almost impossible to obtain. Nice job trying, but the testing just showed the limitations of the variables involved.

    Maybe with a 250k Cisco Spider platform some reliable tests could be performed. Think Anand would go for that? :-)

    I would have liked to see some packet captures from something like Wireshark, but the average reader may not get much more information from them, and unless you had several captures running on all points of the system in question, it would have been just another pointless excercise. (I doubt that you would get permission to run Wireshark on a WOW server, for instance)

    Way back when, I tried testing an Anthem Eagle 802.10 vs. a Compaq server nic to see if there was any advantage to paying three times the cost for an exchange server's outgoing nic. It was an internal exchange server we were testing to, so I could also capture against that as well. And we had a pretty good network management system for that time as well, even if it was only Openview.... (No spider probes back then...) After poring over all the captures and relevant data from the Openview platform, our best guess was that it would take 50 years for the high end nic to pay for itself.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    That's sort of a conclusion in itself though ...

    I know my tests aren't perfect, but I really couldn't build anything better in a real world environment ...

    Of course, while I couldn't answer the question "is the Killer Xeno Pro always more efficient and higher performant than an onboard NIC" I could answer the question "does any difference in real performance delivered by the Killer Xeno Pro equate to a real difference in experience while gaming" ... the answer to the latter question is definitely no while the answer to the previous question (i suspect) is that the Killer does do more faster ... just not faster enough to make a big difference in modern games or for people to notice in the general case.
    Reply
  • siberus - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    "We played around with WoW for a while, but we don't have a high enough character to do anything where latency could really matter."

    Gotta respect anyone who admits to being a noob :)
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    Yeah, I'm a no0b in WoW, but my EVE character is slightly uber :-P

    Not as uber as it should be for the 6 years I've been playing the game ... but definitely up there.

    Besides, EVE is still where it's at for PvP play in any MMO. Nothing matches it in my opinion.
    Reply
  • JimmiG - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Well I've already got a Quad core CPU where one or two cores remain at least partially dormant while gaming - no need to "offload" anything... Reply
  • DerekWilson - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    well, bypassing the OS could have an impact -- and in fact very likely does have a very real measurable impact -- on response time (and thus lag reduction) ...

    but the problem is that this reduction in latency is very small relative to the rest of the network performance ...

    it really doesn't seem as much to me to be that it doesn't do anything useful -- just that games are currently coded to handle 100+ms latencies in shooters and can even handle many-hundred millisecond latencies for MMOs especially in the style of EVE.

    if network infrastructure continues to improve and game developers demand lower latency performance to accomplish certain tasks (like to support more people on a server for an FPS or MMOs with larger shards), something like the Killer might become more useful.
    Reply
  • flashbacck - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    "This hardware at this price is just not for everyone..."

    What the hell? This hardware at this price is not for ANYONE!
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    well ... while we didn't find much use for the scenarios we tested, it very well might have more beneficial uses in other applications.

    we are actually interested in doing testing, specifically with the voice chat acceleration, with multiple Killer cards to see if has any measurable or noticeable impact on voice lag.
    Reply
  • Pirks - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    "offload TCP/IP work from the CPU by bypassing the Windows TCP/IP stack" <<<--- THIS my friends if the proper fix for the infamous Vista MP3 network throttling issue. I wish this card were around when Mark Russinovich made his famous blog post. Reply
  • Zolcos - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Of course, internet latency is mostly dependent on the internet. Maybe I read this product wrong, but I always thought it was more for LAN gamers. After all, the client-side processing makes up a larger percentage of total latency on a fast LAN than over the internet. I'd like to see some game latency tests with a few computers on a gigabit LAN and no internet connection. Maybe even do a test with just a crossover cable between 2 Killer Xeno Pro cards to see "how low can you go". Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    I'd like to do that sort of testing as well. We've only got one card in our labs right now though. Reply
  • andylawcc - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    how much did they pay you guys to review this? Reply
  • james jwb - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    the "Anandtech has gone down hill" troll remarks aren't going to reappear again, are they? The last few months it's been nice here...

    There was nothing wrong with this review. Bigfoot marketed it at gamers, it was reviewed with this in mind, and it's failed in that respect. The review was solid, if anything blame Bigfoot Networks. Got it?
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Really?

    I was actually interested in finding out if it was any good.

    And we did recommend that people not buy it ... so ... there's that.
    Reply
  • crimson117 - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Okay then... um... how much did their competitors pay you to review it? Yeah! Reply
  • HerrK - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    It would be nice to see how good the ping reduction for torrent+WOW is in comparisson to a software solution like CfosSpeed, which does the trick at my PC for yeras now. And I would like to see CPU-utilization compared to onboard NIC´s for GBit file transfers in an internal network. I'm aware that you wanted to show the real performance benefits for a gamer, but you know...


    Last, since this is my first post here, I would like to thank you all for your great work at Anandtech, it is one of the sites I check almost every day, and be delighted.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    This could definitely be interesting and is something we would like to look into.

    we do really want to test with more than one card to see how it changes overall network performance.
    Reply
  • hyc - Monday, July 06, 2009 - link

    In my experience, having done a lot of heavy load testing on servers, you're only going to see any difference when you're near saturation of the network fabric. I.e., you need to be pushing enough packets to be at over 60% of the network's packet-per-second limit before you'll see any performance difference from any offload engine. For gigabit ethernet the maximum frame rate (at minimum frame size) is about 1.488M packets/sec. At anything less than 10% network utilization I doubt you'll even be able to measure the CPU overhead of network processing. Reply
  • marsbound2024 - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    "Let's start by saying that this isn't going to be a network card for someone hanging on to a 7 Series NVIDIA card or a Radeon 1k part from ATI in a single core CPU system."

    Dang...did you guys sneak into my house last night and check out my computer? I've yet to upgrade from my antiquated 7600GT, Athlon64 3800+ 2.4GHz single-core processor! The time to upgrade is nigh though. I've been hanging on to that system for a while now because it does everything I need it to at the moment with Windows XP. After work, I don't really care about coming home and doing anything CPU intensive on my PC and I play my games on console. However, Crysis Warhead and such have led me to continue to want to get a new system.
    Reply
  • Atechie - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    1. Eve Oneline is TCP, games that benefit are UDP based.
    2. "Since we can't get an assessment of ping times in EVE, we did some testing on WoW in the same unpopulated area. Normalized to the average latency we experienced while not downloading a torrent, here's the latency incurred by downloading a torrent"

    Unpopulated, not stressing area...why bother is yoo are going to scew the test?

    3. Clueless reviewer
    4. profit?

    Looking at this test it almost look as it was meant to be a less than stellar test
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    The killer benefits both UDP and TCP games ... not just one or the other.

    We tested in an unpopulated area in WoW in order to keep things as deterministic as possible. Some of the tests we ran were not strictly deterministic, but it is incredibly hard to construct tests that work in populated areas that generate usable data at all.

    the WoW test, even in an unpopulated area, did show that there is a difference in network performance while downloading a torrent. We didn't see this sort of difference while not downloading a torrent, however.

    The real issue is that proper testing almost needs to be in a clean room sort of environment where multiple scenarios can be played back across the network and on the PC to show what the actual differences in performance would have been.

    But even when that shows some actual performance differences (as I believe it would) the benefits just don't present themselves to the end user in any truly beneficial way.
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Quit your whining. Derek has already responded to these issues. Reply
  • hooflung - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    And Derek was wrong. At least I am not the only one who pointed this out. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Once again --

    EVE uses both TCP and UDP and not just TCP. WoW, it seems by all accounts I can find online, uses only TCP.

    Aside from this, the Killer hardware accelerates both TCP and UDP not just one or the other, so the whole issue doesn't matter one bit.
    Reply
  • stmok - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    While I can see why they tried to target the gaming market, it just feels like its more suited for server or hacker/enthusiast audience. (So I agree with the author in that regard.)

    The irony of this product is that, while it uses an embedded version of Linux on the NIC, it isn't fully supported under Linux! ie: Say if you used Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, or "whatever is your fav distro" in your system; you wouldn't be able to have full access to all its features! Its a "Windows only" thing!

    The product has potential...It just feels the company is focusing on an audience who won't really appreciate what the product can do. Its kind of wasted in that sense.
    Reply
  • trochevs - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    I agree. Until they open the access to the embedded OS and other people and hackers develop apps for it it will be doomed.

    If I had access to the hardware I would install scaled down version of my web server LAMP and shutdown the main PC. If the traffic jumps I would wake the main server and handle the demand.

    Other cool use could be to upload the Asterisk and have 24/7 VoIP PBX without the need to run the PC 24/7

    How about to run my torrent server without running the PC.

    And the end. Keep the PC in hibernate and when I need it for remote access I can connect to the NIC and wake it up.

    This has wonderful potentials, but until Xeno executives wake up from their dream to become the next Gates or Jobs with proprietary platform this would be yet one more great idea and impressive engineering that never going to see light of the day.

    Open platform please. Just like the PC.
    Reply
  • Stas - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Would be silly to bother with support for Linux when this is marketed as a GAMING product. Windows makes sense. Reply
  • stmok - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    "Would be silly to bother with support for Linux when this is marketed as a GAMING product. Windows makes sense."

    => What kind of gamer would take the time to download the SDK for this product and help develop applications for the hardware?

    This is EXACTLY what I mean when I say the product is aimed at the wrong market. Gamers won't bother. Gamers aren't developers.

    Than again, how much sense does Windows make when you are replacing its network stack with this?
    Reply
  • MrHorizontal - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Could you pit the Bigfoot NIC's against some other NICs.

    I'd like to know what the difference between using a 'Server Adapter' such as the Intel PRO/1000 PT Dual port would be (on a LACP compatible switch, even a cheapo one like the Netgear GS108T) for example, or even a direct comparison with the single port Intel PT card, since they all do a lot of TCP offloading work, though not the entire stack like the Bigfoot seemingly does...

    I do give a LOT of attention to my network connection being a very keen MMORPGer, so I'd genuinely like to know what I can do end-to-end beyond just having a good ISP to make my network as good as it can be with a fairly reasonable eye on cost (ie not forking out for f5 and Cisco kit!)
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    The Killer isn't targeted as competition to server NICs, some of which do a lot more like 10GbE and have specific optimization for handling massive numbers of VMs all trying to use the network at once ... Even server NICs like the Intel ones you point out -- even if they did do full network stack offloading -- are very likely not going to be of any more benefit to gamers than the Killer Xeno Pro.

    But there is no replacement for testing.

    It is something we will keep in mind, but with the limited usefulness the Killer Xeno Pro shows it's sort of hard to justify putting a lot more time and energy into this sort of investigation. I'd like to satisfy my own curiosity on the subject, so maybe it will be something we get up ... but no promises. :-)
    Reply
  • MrHorizontal - Monday, July 06, 2009 - link

    The Killer may not be targetted to server NICs, but as I and a lot of the other comments have noted the price point of the Killer is equal to that of a server adapter. As for whether or not the stack offloading in the Killer NIC and the TCP/IP Offload Engine in the Server Adapters are different and perform differently, only benchmarking both cards would actually provide a good and honest result.

    I'd like to see ping tests and iperf results using both cards, with and without jumbo frames, using Link aggregation where possible (LACP is effectively SLI for a network card after all) and a comparison with the best and worst mobo adapters versus the Intel / Netgear 'desktop' NICs and the Intel server NIC's versus the Killer NIC.

    Essentially what I'm asking from Anandtech is to find what kit we need to get and what configuration changes we need to make to the registry, routers and switches to get absolutely rocking performance from our LANs... which are after all one thing we can control and where a significant amount of lag originates over and above the latency in the ISP's network.

    That would be a useful article of the quality that I'd expect from Anandtech. Harping on about a product that noone including yourselves really believes has a market isn't a good report...
    Reply
  • UnclePauly - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    WOW! COUNT ME IN FOR TWO! Reply
  • Myg - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    This article started with the best of intentions, but fell flat on its face when it came to real value (just like the card apparently).

    You can't expect a network card to increase FPS (we all know thats just a marketing ploy) and you lot know better and should be able to see through that.

    This is a networking device, so it should be treated like one. A suite of dedicated server programs should of been used for the testing. It is terribly lazy of anandtech and seemingly a growing trend to not bother with going that extra mile (which made you guys popular in the first place).
    Reply
  • mesiah - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    They are testing it for what its marketed towards. The manufacturer makes clear claims in their marketing and this review tested those claims. While it may have some value as a server card, that is not what it was designed for and marketed for. Corvettes have a shitload of power, but whens the last time motor trend talked up their towing capacity? Its beyond the scope of the article. Reply
  • HotdogIT - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Why would they test it as a "networking device", when it's clearly being markteted to gamers? The manufacturer themselves claim ping improvements and FPS improvements in GAMES, so not testing GAMES is silly.

    Every site who has tested this product, HardOCP, Anandtech, TomsHardware, have come to the same conclusion: It's a 125$ NIC, that's better spent on other components. It either has no impact in gaming, or so minimal that it's within the realm of just dumb luck.

    The only benefit it might have is throttling of network connections, be it torrents (which you can throttle manually, unless you're an idiot) or downloads (Firefox has a plugin to throttle, and I'm sure it can be done with IE, somehow).
    Reply
  • hooflung - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    In fact, it doesn't do TCP/IP offloading the way you think. It does UDP offloading. That is why your EVE test is flawed. EVE uses a TCP not UDP because it needs a guaranteed connection. The Xeno and original Killer claim WoW FPS goes up, specifically in Really overworked zones, because it offloads that UDP to the NPU.

    So thanks for your totally crap review filled with misinformation.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Actually, bigfoot makes it very clear that it's the whole network stack that is offloaded. this includes TCP and UDP. which is also why it has a separate mode for applications that expect a dedicated software network stack.

    In fact, the WoW example is important, as they told us that WoW uses TCP and NOT UDP -- thus it was not specifically detected as a "game" application (it's the "unknown" blip in the bandwidth control pages).

    The Killer Xeno is definitely able to offload TCP because, as we showed, it reduced WoW latency (and potentially could benefit overall performance in heavily populated areas).

    I'm not sure whether EVE uses TCP or UDP, but it doesn't matter -- the Killer Xeno Pro should handle both just fine.
    Reply
  • hooflung - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Funny that, since I have played EVE Online for nearly 6 years and also have had a killer NIC since they came out.

    I have talked to their engineers and they told me that the Driver does not do TCP accelleration unlike UDP. Also, WoW uses UDP unless the WoW developers are wrong, which I doubt, and the Bigfoot engineer I talked to, aka the guy who designed it who also put a few hundred million into Intel's pocket by creating the offload engine for the Intel Server NIC's is wrong.

    I'll just assume you got your facts mixed up. Also, EVE absolutely uses TCP. If you for a single moment loose your TCP connection you will disconnect. You don't from WoW... because they use UDP after you handshake and authenticate to their login server.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    So ... I looked it up ... (search for something like wow port usage or wow port forwarding or something)

    It seems that everywhere I look, the internet tells me that WoW uses TCP over port 3724 ...

    I looked up EVE and it was a little harder to find info on -- but it looks to me like it uses both TCP and UDP for different things. Here's what I saw:

    UDP ports 26001, 3478 and 5060-5062
    TCP ports 26000, 80 and 443

    EVE definitely uses UDP for it's voice support and it seems like it requires both UDP and TCP ports for other game data.

    ...

    Additionally, the Killer Xeno Pro software only detects applications that use UDP and not applications that use only TCP ... so it makes sense that if it cannot detect WoW that WoW would be using TCP ... and if it detects EVE then EVE must be using UDP for at least something.

    If you still think WoW uses UDP and EVE uses only TCP then please post links to your sources ...
    Reply
  • mesiah - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    Strange how the wise ass know it alls disappear right after you hit them with facts. Its one thing for someone to come in and inform you that you got a point wrong in your review and back it up with sources. Its another for you trolls to show up, tout your epic knowledge you got from "the dude that made this shit." and then spit on the people that took the time to do the review. First, what is the point of reading the article if the only reason you are here is to give the writer grief? And second, If you thought you could do a better job maybe you should write you own articles so we can come and piss in your cheerios.

    Flawed or not, thanks for taking the time to do the article Derek and show us some real world numbers.
    Reply
  • crimson117 - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    I looked it up too!

    WoW similarly uses TCP for gameplay and UDP for voice support:

    From http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=...">http://us.blizzard.com/support/article....cleId=21...

    What do I need to know about ports?

    Anytime your computer receives incoming data, it is sent to a "port". Your computer has many ports that can receive data, and different activities will utilize different ports. World of Warcraft & Burning Crusade use TCP port numbers 1119 and 3724 to play, and UDP port 3724 for in game Voice chat. The Blizzard Downloader, which downloads patches, also uses TCP ports 6112 and the range 6881-6999. For walkthroughs on router and firewall configuration you can use the Networking Help for the Blizzard Downloader page.
    Reply
  • ShannonG - Saturday, January 30, 2010 - link

    It is hard to believe any major MMORPG uses TCP for situational updates. Logging in, updates, billing, web, etc... sure.
    But for for game updates? 90% of it is real-time and redundant.
    I don't play WoW, but if you routinely experience "warping" now you know why - craptastic network architecture.
    A MMORPG with a well-designed network infrastructure will use a [custom] selectively-reliable UDP protocol, colloquially referred to as "RUDP".

    If the card actually could/does off-load the networking stack [including firewalling et. al.] you stand to recapture 5%-10% of the CPU if it is bandwidth intensive.
    Most games are not bandwidth intensive, quite the opposite; and it cannot significantly improve latency - that latency delays of the Internet will swamp the latency delays of packet delivery (ms vs us).

    What this card will do is move the packet processing from whatever system bus your NIC is currently on to the ePCI bus. That's probably not a good thing either - the video card is on that bus.
    Reply
  • Stas - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Given the return on the investment, I would pay $25 for this NIC at the most. Not $100+ (shit, I might as well go for an Intel dual Gigabit LAN NIC, if I'm to spend over $100). Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    There is typically a baseline cost to add-in network hardware ... if you need something to put in your box, you'll probably spend at least $25-$30 just to get something equivalent to what's on most motherboards. Reply
  • bigboxes - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    I just replaced my gigabit card on my file server with a new Linksys gigabit card. $30. No, my mobo only had 10/100, so I had to purchase the card. I remeber that D-Link's was $25 and Netgear was $20. The U.S. Robotics card was $15, but seeing as that was the card that just failed I tried the Linksys route. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    So maybe $20 - $30 ... :-) but still, you've got to pay something for just the PCB, the port, and the chips ... I certainly agree that for what it delivers in realized performance the $100 premium is too much for the Killer Xeno Pro ... but it is definitely more reasonable than their first offering. Reply
  • Shadowmage - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    This is a horribly misleading article. The claim is that the card is better than standard networking cards, yet the author never tests the card against its competitors - add-in card NICs.

    Would you test a new graphics card against integrated graphics?
    Reply
  • CptTripps - Tuesday, July 07, 2009 - link

    How is it misleading? The author states that even tested against an integrated NIC there was no noticable difference. He then suggested we save our money.

    The "Claim" comes from the manufacturer and the result posted in the article is what I expected.
    Reply
  • Etern205 - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    How is this misleading? Most people already have onboard nic and it's already gigabit. Why would someone go out and spend extra money when they can spend it on somewhere else?
    Also some board sports 2 or even 4 (Asus P5Q Premium).


    As for your graphic cards, there is a major performance difference between integrated and discrete. This is why tech sites will benchmark cards either all discrete or all onboard cause putting a discrete card against a onboard will be a disavantage.

    Reply
  • mindless1 - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    It is misleading because the premise is that a potential buyer is someone who might buy a nic for increased performance, so they need to know how the difference add-on NICs compare. It is the most relevant testing possible and the article is sorely lacking this MOST relevant information. Reply
  • wicko - Monday, July 06, 2009 - link

    Read the title of the article, you might get a different picture about what's relevant. Reply
  • wicko - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    That is a horribly misleading analogy.

    The title of the article is "The Impact of Network Offloading". Of course they are going to test it against integrated NICs, otherwise how would they demonstrate effectiveness or the lack thereof over integrated NICs, the most common NIC there is? This is nothing like integrated video, which was made very clear by the results.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    I would have liked to see testing with a lower power cpu. A lot of people don't want to spend the money on an i7 system. Reply
  • crimson117 - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    You really think those same budget-minded people would consider dropping $120 on a NIC? Reply
  • Qi - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    I agree. In addition to being compared to an integrated NIC, it would have been interesting if the Killer NIC was compared to one of the add-in Intel network adapters. Most, if not all, Intel adapters have CPU offloading too, and therefore, might improve latency/fps as well. I'm especially interested in a one on one comparison between the Killer NIC and the Intel Gigabit CT. The Intel Gigabit CT is primarily intended for desktop use. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    there aren't any (to my knowledge) desktop targeted add-in NICs that do network stack offloading. there is no add in card that is comparable to the Killer in terms of what it does.

    while some desktop add-in network cards do more than on-board cards, they don't do much more. and with no significant difference between the baseline option and the Killer NIC, certainly no other add-in board is going to be worse ... and they aren't capable of being better.

    there really was no reason to test anything else ...

    And if you need a good add-in board, buy the cheapest gigabit card you can from a reliable network hardware vendor and you pretty much won't go wrong.
    Reply
  • rudy - Monday, July 06, 2009 - link

    Well good then comparing to other add in NICs should show the Killer is better, It still needs to be compared to others half the point of a site like this is to tell us about value. Maybe the killer nic is not much better then a integrated solution but maybe an add on card can beat the killer nic and is worth 30$ to some people. Reply
  • mindless1 - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    You might be overlooking that some do more or less offloading, some do it faster or slower than others, some have more or less efficient drivers, and with aging systems or add-on cards some make the mistake of being PCI rather than PCI-e.

    There is always a reason to test something else, even if the result is showing there is no difference it is still significant to show that, especially when other NICs cost quite a bit less. In the end the point is a consideration of alternatives for someone who would add a nic, replacing the oboard networking adapter. Such a person could choose this or some other card so the other alternatives are exactly what should be tested.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    Not to mention that ToE is not likely to make much of a difference in gaming ( if any ). Unless that machine is a server that has many high bandwidth connections, or the person gaming is moving files around from one machine to another while gaming (not very likely if they're pro gamers). I remember reading the original cards review, and claims from people saying something like how it improved their gaming experience immensely. I also remember wondering how full of **** these people were, or how much they were getting paid to make such claims. You're never going to see a difference that big, when you're pinging sub 1ms on a local connection, or much more than 10ms to a connection thats a state or two away. Even if there was, that difference will never be noticeable( assuming you're not dropping packets left and right, in which case you've got bigger problems ).

    People who game from home will see very little if any difference as their DSL, or cable service is much, much slower. Even if there was a difference, that difference would not be perceivable.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    Derek, all of Intel pro series cards should have ToE(TCP/IP offload Engine). Microsoft even supports a lot of these cards with special code for server applications. That is, I mean in their Server OSes. The Pro cards also have Link Aggregation, Fail Over, and high availability capabilities through software downloads from Intel.

    Now, I forget which model, but there is model from Intel that is basically two cards in one(two ports) that costs just as much as the Killer NiC here . . . and way out classes it minus the (oh joy) sound processing.

    Anyways, I would expect a person doing a review on a NiC to know all of this already . . .
    Reply
  • Qi - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Product page:

    http://www.intel.com/products/desktop/adapters/gig...">http://www.intel.com/products/desktop/a...ers/giga...

    Product brief PDF:

    http://www.intel.com/Assets/PDF/prodbrief/319831.p...">http://www.intel.com/Assets/PDF/prodbrief/319831.p...

    And it's also somewhat aimed at gamers:

    The Intel Gigabit CT Desktop Adapter allows you to take advantage of this dedicated I/O by combining Gigabit Ethernet with PCI Express to provide high-performance network connectivity for desktops with PCI Express slots. Make the Intel Gigabit CT Desktop Adapter your choice for applications utilizing rich media content such as video streaming, web applications, music, and gaming.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Again, nothing about network stack offloading ... just checksums and something about interrupts. Reply
  • mindless1 - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    The faster the system a nic is placed in, the less significant network stack offloading should be. IMO the article has it backwards, those benefitting the most would not have a certain level of higher end system, but at the same time it has to be remembered that networking in general is not an especially high latency scenario on the client side relative to wan latency. Reply
  • Spoelie - Monday, July 06, 2009 - link

    Actually the article has it right..

    While the impact of the killer NIC might be more significant on a old/slow entry system, spending that $120 on other parts will still net you way more performance.

    A killer NIC can only help during heavy network traffic, while a faster CPU is useful in almost any situation. So recommending this NIC to a gamer as an upgrade over other parts of his system is not a good idea IMO, only when there's nothing else to upgrade does this card become an option.

    @Derek:
    Maybe some other interesting tidbit is the impact on power consumption, since this is essentially a pc on a chip..
    Reply
  • Qi - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    The Intel Gigabit CT is a desktop NIC that offloads some of the work to my knowledge. This is on the Intel page:

    'Delivers increased performance while significantly reducing CPU usage'

    And in the product brief PDF we can read this:

    TCP checksum offload – transition control protocol (TCP), user diagram protocol (UDP), Internet protocol (IP)
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    This card does not offload the networks stack ...

    It looks like at most it offloads checksum generation / verification (though it is unspecific) and implements interrupts for some thing (though, again, it isn't very specific).

    That card doesn't do nearly as much as the Killer from what I can see...

    But, as per our article, anything as good or better than an on-board NIC is going to work just fine.
    Reply
  • lyeoh - Monday, July 06, 2009 - link

    You said:
    "That card doesn't do nearly as much as the Killer from what I can see..."

    And:
    "and with no significant difference between the baseline option and the Killer NIC, certainly no other add-in board is going to be worse ... and they aren't capable of being better. "

    But you have provided NO PROOF that an add in card does worse or better.

    We anandtech readers can make such claims as well. Forgive some of us for expecting Anandtech to do reasonably decent benchmarks - just like you do for other stuff.

    If there's a very expensive video card that doesn't do much better than an integrated video, that does not automatically mean that a different add-in video card would do about the same.

    At least with the SSD stuff Anandtech told the manufacturer "hey guys - this sucks", and the manufacturer eventually did something about it.

    It would be good to find out which scenarios this card makes a diff compared to integrated NICs and other add in NICs (e.g. Intel, Broadcom, Realtek, Marvel). After all this card costs about 3 to 10 times the price!
    Reply
  • GokieKS - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    How many people do you know of that another add-in card NIC for their gaming system?

    For the vast majority, if not all, of the people who would consider buying this thing, the alternative is the integrated NIC on their motherboard.
    Reply
  • james jwb - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Integrated NIC's are the de-facto standard in use by Bigfoot's target audience. Almost no one even thinks of looking for an alternative to what comes on there motherboard. We have always assumed the intergrated, free NIC's are more than adequate. This is not the sound card market where in the high-end, people automatically look at add-in boards like the X-fi or Xonar. If Bigfoot wants to sell a number of these cards it's going to have to offer something over the free, integrated NIC's, not add-in cards.

    This review tells me that for what the average home user does with their PC, it offers pretty much nothing, as most suspected. To me this stinks of an idea that sounded good on paper, in practice failed to deliver any adequate performance increase for the average user, and has only been funded because sometimes bad ideas marketed well can still create profits. Unless Bigfoot can offer something tangible here, I'd honestly like to see them go the way of the dinosaurs (Yes, a big meteor lands on their HQ).

    But hey, maybe in the future they can always try the Fatal1ty brand and really go to town :)

    Maybe I'm being a bit harsh, but i want something more for my money than marketing and geeky technical spec's for handling something no better (in performance terms) than the boring software TCP/IP stack
    Reply
  • Qi - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    But if no comparison between the Killer NIC and other add-in NICs is made, we don't know which add-in NIC is the best. Also, other add-in NICs are substantially cheaper. Take these for example:

    Intel Gigabit CT Desktop Adapter
    Intel PRO/1000 PT Desktop Adapter
    Intel PRO/1000 GT Desktop Adapter

    You can get these cards for around $30.
    Reply
  • Anonymous Freak - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    That's because those cards have the same chip as the onboard Gigabit Ethernet on many Intel-based boards. (Or at least, the same family of chip, with the same features. Deep down, it's probably the same silicon; just named different for the different interfaces.) Reply
  • lyeoh - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    Just claiming the cards have the same chip doesn't mean a thing.

    Lets see better benchmarks against integrated NICs and other add-on NICs. CPU usage, packets per second, throughput, max latency under various conditions.

    This review as it is isn't very useful.

    In my opinion if you want a better gaming experience you might as well use the extra money to get a fancy router and use it to squish torrent speeds down (and maybe even force torrents to use smaller packets, if you really want lower latency at the cost of throughput).

    A smarter router is even more useful if you are sharing the connection with other computers, since it can also help control traffic to those other computers. Whereas this expensive NIC won't help.
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    Do you know this factually or are you just guessing? Most boards do not use the same chip, and "family" means little, just a generational grouping. By saying they have the same features you are only saying they all have network features and of course they would.

    Deep down, saying it's the same silicon would be like saying all silicon is the same, all NICs were identical which they are not.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    Yeah well, "Those cards" are also the best Ethernet cards out there. They offer ToE, Link Agregrigation, and all the other goodies a network guru would want. I own an Intel Pro 1000 PT, and I can say with confidence that there is no way I am going to spend 6x as much money on a NiC, that will only perform *maybe* as good as the $20 NiC I got on sale.

    Reply
  • Souka - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    Here's a question...

    I have a c2d mid-level system..using on-board Marvell Yukon 88E8xxx gigabit adapter.

    I have an old Intel Pro/1000 GT PCI (not PCI-e) adapter sitting in a box.... would it benifit me to toss it in?


    Same question goes for my sound... Should I use, onboard ADI AD1988B 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC or my old Creative PCI Fata1ity Pro card?

    Always apprecaite constructive advice..ideas... :)

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    Maybe, but probably not. The Marvell Ethernet is possibly tied into the PCI-E bus of the motherboard, which means that it *may* not be sharing the bus bandwidth with other peripherals, CPU, and memory; or it could be. The PCI bus is flawed in that way; e.g. it shares bandwidth with all slots, PLUS memory, and CPU. The PCI-E bus in theory is not, but it does not always work that way.

    The best way to find it is try them both. The Yukon without the PCI card in, and the PCI card with the integrated Ethernet disabled in the BIOS. Myself, I test with the application I have in mind , but you'll probably have many naysayers say something along the lines of "No! you must use this test app" or whatever. Test apps are great if that is all you're going to do ( test ), but if all you want is XX amount of MB/s coming from your XFS + Samba box, well that is all that matters right ?

    One thing that I have found out over the course of *many* tests is that file block size can play a big factor in a lot of cases when testing for file transfers with many protocols. A lot of those times, if you pay attention you will see a pattern emerge. The problem here is that disk block sizes are often much larger than your Ethernet card can handle without breaking down into smaller chunks. Anyhow, to keep this reasonably short, unless you're directly transferring from a large RAM disk, you're going to see a performance hit no matter what between disks and Ethernet. That is where ToE is supposed to come into play, but it does not always work as some would have you believe. The idea is that ToE offloads that processing from the CPU keeping your CPU from bogging down. Still there is lots of possible processing going on, so you're likely to still see a performance hit, albeit probably less.

    Hope I did not bore you too much . . .
    Reply
  • Souka - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    not at all...thanks. What you said makes sense.

    I might play with it when I have some time.

    Sound card will be easy to test via game benchmarks/timedemos...but network card I'll probably just use file copy tests if different type/sizes to see how the NIC (onboard vs PCI) makes a difference.

    thx again
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, July 07, 2009 - link

    I would like to add that any add in sound card should perform better than integrated sound. I did a bunch of testing with Oblivion, and even my old 16 bit Sound blaster !live card made about 5 FPS difference. Now, keep in mind that if you have AGP graphics, that this would share the bandwidth from the PCI bus as well . . . So, if all you have is a single sound card using the PCI bus, you *should* be golden. Also, know that PATA HDD's can use the PCI bus for data as well. But typically, if all your peripherals use less than 133MB/s theoretical you should be ok. Theoretical meaning even PCI communications have overhead too, just like Ethernet and the SATA protocols. Reply
  • Samus - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    They need to make some software for this thing that gives it a purpose. The USB port could be used to attach external storage and a hardware torrent client could use this cards power for seeding...perhaps even during standby! I don't see why not. Reply

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