Here we are today reviewing one of the more controversial personal computer products to be released in the last couple of years. If you thought the AGEIA PhysX product generated controversy about whether it was a viable product or not then you should read the comments around the Internet about the Bigfoot Networks Killer NIC. The phrase Snake Oil is one of the most commonly used online terms to describe the Killer NIC. While this did not surprise us given the aggressive marketing of the product, we think it is a bit unfair if the commenter has never actually used the product.

Hopefully our review today will prove or dispel this phrase. Of course our article commentary on the product just might inflame the masses into a further war of words on the subject. First, however, we need to revisit the first line of this paragraph. We really cannot call the article you are going to read today a review; it is more like an evaluation of a very controversial yet interesting product.

Yes, we will present data such as frame rates and ping times in several of the latest games available today. Along with this empirical data will also be NIC specific results, but our test results should only be used as part of an overall evaluation of the product. When it comes right down to it, the actual experience we will convey of using this product on a daily basis should be the crux of your purchasing decision.

At this time you might be thinking we drank some Snake Oil but let us explain our comments. Our test results cannot be accurately replicated by our readers, other review sites, or even ourselves in a very controlled environment. Our test results are accurate based upon the criteria we utilized at the time of testing but they cannot be consistently replicated. In some ways our testing was a grand experiment that provided more information about our network capability and broadband provider than the Killer NIC. Wow, maybe there was something in that glass besides water now that we think about it....

In actuality, figuring out how to properly test this beast of a card was somewhat perplexing at first, reached a frustrating crescendo, and even continues to be puzzling to some degree today. The problem lies in developing a set of benchmarks that will be consistent, repeatable, and fair. Those words consistent and repeatable sound so simple when using our standard benchmark suite on a daily basis, but they still haunt us to this day when testing this card.

We centered our efforts on reducing the almost infinite set of variables in trying to test this card and its competition. Almost infinite set of variables you ask? For starters, the two most important variables to address are our network connection and the performance of the servers we connected with during testing. We tried several different methods to address (tame) this variability with each ending in a dead end, endless nights of desperation, or just creating additional complexity that did not provide any new details. In the end, there just was no way to accurately control these two critical variables that were completely out of our control. Besides our connection and the server, any testing that involves the Internet is subject to countless potential influences on performance, and with games you also throw in other players which vary in number and location.

While not perfect and open for debate, we feel like the benchmarks we utilized will provide a general indication of the card's performance while our experiences with the Killer NIC will provide the other piece of the puzzle. After all, it's not every day that a network card is launched specifically targeting the online gaming audience with promises of giving you the competitive edge you need in the heat of battle. The marketing blitz continues with statements like, "Killer frees up your computer's processor to focus on the game giving you those extra Frames Per Second and lower Pings when you need them most. Finally you can focus not just on winning - but dominating." We figure it takes a big set of brass ones to make such claims... or maybe, just maybe, the product actually works as advertised.

Let's find out if aggressive marketing or engineering genius defines the capability of this product.

Technology behind the Killer NIC


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  • mlau - Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - link

    Correct, I haven't (I do have bills to pay and don't waste what's left on improving my laptop). To me it's absolutely not worth shelling out 500$ so that oblivion runs with 5 fps more. Reducing resolution costs nothing. With the saved money you can buy loads of beers which will make playing that game much more interesting :)

    The card is too expensive for what it offers, and its benefits will vanish with the
    next cpu generation, no doubt. What makes the card interesting is the integrated
    offload of all of linux' filtering/routing. The card is marketed to the wrong crowd.

    PS: I think ati and nvidia need to be congratulated for finding another
    reason for gamers to shell out money. (and look, ati also wants you to buy 3 cards in the
    near future, for another completely useless thing: physics "simulation". I bet hundreds
    of people can't wait to post benchmarks and how it improved their framerates and how
    "physically correct" the dust now settles in $GAME)
  • rushfan2006 - Wednesday, November 01, 2006 - link

    Agreed. I am a gamer a very long time gamer btw...if that counts for anything to do with anything...LOL...I've always built my own gaming boxes throughout the years -- so I think I have some relevant experience to base my opinions on. Though the guy is a bit brutish in how he makes his remarks, factually I believe he's correct in that right now with the state of technology the price:performance ratio for dual cards in games is just not there. If I'm going to invest a total of $1000 (two cards) I'd want to see DRAMATIC improvements. Now we all have our own standards -- so let me define mine...even 10% performance game for that investment is NOT "dramatic" to me. Research the benchmarks from your favorite tech sites, don't take my word for it -- the benchmarks speak for it.

    As for the topic of this Killer NIC...for me personally, as a gamer, its just a waste of money and the concept of it kind of makes me laugh to be honest.

  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - link

    I agree, crossfire/SLI is not all that at all. Its just a marketing tool to make gamers think they need it. The difference though is that it has some nice uses other than games.

    Games should be the LAST thing people should think about when getting SLI/Crossfire.
  • Frumious1 - Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - link

    I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or idiotic. Hopefully the former? Marketing tools are trying to peddle something that has a negligible impact. You know, convincing people to upgrade from a 2.4 GHz E6600 to a 2.93 GHz X6800 for three times the cost... maximum performance increase is 22% for a 200% price hike! CrossFire and SLI on the other hand can give up to a 90% (and usually at least 50%) performance increase for a 100% price increase.

    Yup, that's totally marketing. So are large LCDs, because those are completely useless. (Yes, that's sarcasm.)
  • feelingshorter - Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - link

    How about spend 300 bucks and buy windows? My bit defender works just fine as a firewall and doesn't use 300 dollars worth of CPU. Hell, you can buy a new cpu and off set any performance hit using software firewall with 300 bucks! Reply
  • Hypernova - Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - link

    But as the review says currently there are still NOTHING that shows the potential of FNapps. This is the card 2nd biggest selling point yet there's still nothing to show for it. Reply
  • cosmotic - Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - link


    Yes, we will present data such as frame rates per second and ping times in several of the latest games available today.

    I don't think the "per second" is appropriate.

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