Bigfoot Networks has, for the past few years, been trying very hard to bring high powered, intelligent network interface cards to the desktop. We previously looked at their Killer NIC with some interesting results, and today we've got the Killer Xeno Pro in our labs.

The major difference between the older Killer NIC and the newer Killer Xeno Pro is the inclusion of an audio path and audio processing for voice chat acceleration. They Killer Xeno Pro also has twice the RAM of the original. Despite the improvements, one of the major benefits is that the Killer Xeno Pro will be available at a lower retail price than the Killer NIC was. Oh, and it is sort of cool to see the new hardware dialog talking about a PowerPC Processor:

I sooo want to hack this thing now.

In our original investigation, we did see some situations where the Killer NIC could make some difference, but, for what you get, the cost was much too high. One of the ways that Bigfoot is trying to combat this is by selling chipsets and letting vendors like EVGA build and market boards. They've managed to get their costs down and the price of the Killer Xeno Pro, while very high for a network card, is much more reasonable than the original offering. The EVGA Killer Xeno Pro can be had for about $120 USD.

The EVGA Killer Xeno Pro in all its glory.

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. When upgrading, spending the $120 cost of the Killer Xeno Pro on a better graphics card will net you a great deal more performance. Even putting that money into the CPU is likely to get you more for your money in general. This is a card that should be targeted at the online gamer with a good system who wants to make sure every possible advantage is covered.

This hardware at this price is just not for everyone. It still needs to come down to more of a commodity price in order to see wider adoption. In our opinion, those who should even consider this card should already have a modern dual core system with single GPU graphics hardware capable of delivering a good, steady, high framerate at the preferred resolution in the majority of games. We don't expect that everyone who has such a system will want to invest in the Killer Xeno Pro either, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Up first we will look at the Killer Xeno Pro, its features, and why we should expect some level of increased performance at all from a typical network card.

The Card and Features


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  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 3, 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 ...
  • mesiah - Saturday, July 4, 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.
  • crimson117 - Friday, July 3, 2009 - link

    I looked it up too!

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


    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.
  • 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.
  • Stas - Friday, July 3, 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 3, 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 3, 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 3, 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 3, 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?
  • CptTripps - Tuesday, July 7, 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.

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