Gaming Performance

As usual, gaming performance was tested with a variety of current games. We ran benchmarks at our standard 1280x1024 resolution. Given the number of users that run 19 inch LCDs these days, 1280x1024 represents one of the most commonly used resolutions at this time.

Battlefield 2

This benchmark is probably the most intense one we ran as it occurred on the Daqing Oilfield map with 64 players battling it out in a chaotic frenzy. This was also the most difficult map we had to experience from a viewpoint of keeping our players together and trying to accomplish the same tasks. If you saw two players constantly missing the vehicle rides and spending a lot of time in the trees sniping then it was us. We ran Battlefield 2 using the highest quality graphics settings available in the video settings. The game itself is best experienced with average in-game frame rates of 40 and up.

Gaming Performance - Battlefield 2

Ping Performance - Battlefield 2

In our first game we actually find our D-Link combination performing slightly better than the other solutions from a benchmark viewpoint. During actual game play we noticed the frame rates and general smoothness of the system was best on the NVIDIA nForce 590SLI and followed closely by the Killer NIC. Several times during our testing with the D-Link DGL-4100 we would see several pauses while vehicles passed or several characters were in close proximity of each other. This behavior was worse on the D-Link DGE-550T when GameFuel was disabled on the router. In our first game we do not see $279.99 worth of game play improvement and the Killer NIC certainly did not allow us to dominate.

F.E.A.R.

We played both the Asylum and Deadwood 16-player maps. We decided to report the Asylum results as this is our favorite map currently. The Deadwood map generated similar results so we are not hiding any information. F.E.A.R. is a very graphics intensive game and we switch all graphic settings to maximum (except for soft shadows, which are disabled). An average frame rate for F.E.A.R. can dip into the teens at times which is not good for a first person shooter. We still found the game playable around 35fps or above in multiplayer.

Gaming Performance - F.E.A.R.

Ping Performance - F.E.A.R.

This is the money title for the Killer NIC. BigFoot Networks ships a copy of F.E.A.R. with every card so it should be expected to offer better frame rates and ping rates. We see a 7% increase in frame rates over the NVIDIA nForce 590SLI NIC and a 10% increase over the D-Link combination. In actual game play we found the Killer NIC to offer the most fluid experience and our ability to quickly transverse the map actually felt smoother than the other two solutions. The ping rates were actually higher than the D-Link router and nForce 590SLI but we did not find ping rate making a huge difference in this game. The question is did the Killer NIC improve our game play or skills? It really did not but it could for those who are significantly better players at this game than we are currently. In this case we will chalk a point up for the Killer NIC for improving frame rates.

Quake 4

This game should be a significant test for the Killer NIC as it requires extremely good hand to eye coordination along with lightning fast reflexes. This is just the game that would truly benefit from both improved ping and frame rates. We played on the Campgrounds Redux map with a total of 16 players. This is our favorite map from Quake III Arena and we were glad to see it return. We set our video settings to high and then fired up the game.

Gaming Performance - Quake 4

Ping Performance - Quake 4

Actually, Quake 4 limits true frame rate to 60 fps during game play whether or not VSync is enabled. However, various timedemos and FRAPS will report the frame rate your system is capable of providing without the cap. In this case, we believe due to the speed of the game that ping rate is an extremely important performance measurement. This is one game where the Killer NIC loses on both fronts and it is mainly attributable to the excellent network code already provided in the game engine that does not benefit from offloading technology. The current performance leads us to believe we can expect to see the same results in the eagerly awaited Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.

Counter Strike Source

This is another game that BigFoot Networks touts as a premier title that will show improvements in both frame and ping rates. We are playing on the Office map with 32 players and we varied our online session times to ensure we were playing on a full server. Our settings were once again set to high quality at a 1280x1024 resolution. We find the game is very playable at 50 fps or better.

Gaming Performance - Counter-Strike: Source

Ping Performance - Counter-Strike: Source

We did see frame rate improvements between three to five percent in this game. However, at these frame rates we really do not think a difference of 5% is going to matter much. Like Quake 4, an excellent ping rate in this game will make a difference and in this case we just did not see a large enough variation to make a difference in our experience. The Killer NIC did provide a positive experience to some degree in CSS as game play seemed to be a little smoother after firing your weapon than our other solutions. It was not a fire, frame hitch, and then move event we experienced a few other times during testing, especially with the D-Link PCI NIC. The Killer NIC gets a point for improving frame rates as advertised. We have to take it away for failing to improve our ping rates in a game where UltimatePing (reducing ping rates on the host system) could make a difference in actual game play.

Call of Duty 2

This is another popular shooter where frame rate and ping rate are very important especially in close quarters fighting. We played on the Caen map with a 24 player limit. The amount of packet processing this game generates is significantly higher at times than Counter Strike: Source so we expected our Killer NIC to shine in this area. Our video resolution is set to 1280x1024 with all options but AA enabled. We find the game is generally playable with a 40 fps or higher rate in multiplayer.

Gaming Performance - Call of Duty 2

Ping Performance - Call of Duty 2

These results surprised us as we see minor frame rate improvements but ping rates were up to 7% greater than our D-Link router or NVIDIA NIC. The frame rate improvement is only worth mentioning because this game is generally GPU bound so any benchmark differences between systems is noticeable. Were the frame rate differences during game play noticeable? No they were not but we can tell you the increased ping rates were noticeable. This was the first game we encountered where the actual game play was not smooth with the Killer NIC. We noticed choppy break points at certain sections, especially when going building to building in the center of the map. We tried this map at different times during the day and noticed this issue several times. It seemed to be worse when throwing a grenade as we blew our selves up twice during testing. We might be slow and have weak arms in real life but our game characters did not need this handicap.

Testing Methodology More Gaming Performance
POST A COMMENT

87 Comments

View All Comments

  • DaveatBigfoot - Thursday, November 30, 2006 - link

    Dave from Bigfoot Networks here. We wanted to reach out to comments and forums around the Internet, address some of the issues being discussed, and be available for any questions you may have.

    I worked with Gary while he was writing this review. We have a tremendous amount of respect for him and Anandtech.com. I'd be liar if I didn't admit that we were disappointed with the performance and experience that the Anandtech review reflects. We welcomed the "Pepsi Challenge", and appreciated the real-world approach taken.

    While the performance numbers reported were lower than what our customers report, and what we see internally, we thought one of the best testimonials for the Killer was the blind test where a the Killer was added to gamers PC without his knowledge, and he thought there was a new video card or more RAM in the system. Truly, that is what the Killer is all about...smoother, faster gaming...less lag, better performance.

    Back when this review was written, we did have some issues with our drivers. I believe each and every issue manifested itself during Anandtech's testing. It was very unfortunate and not anticipated. Bypassing the windows network stack and putting a Linux computer on a PCI slot is a bit tricky. We aren't using that as an excuse, just stating it as a fact. Our latest software suite addresses all the issues that are referenced in this review.

    We have also recently released IPtables firewall for the Killer NIC. Many more FNApps are on the way, and with time the Killer's value will increase. A rarity in the hardware world.

    We sincerely hope, at some point, Anandtech will give the Killer another shot. We firmly stand by our product and believe it holds tremendous value for online gamers.

    I am also happy to answer any questions you may have about the Killer, so fire away!
    Reply
  • lwright84 - Thursday, November 09, 2006 - link

    http://hardware.gotfrag.com/portal/story/34683/">http://hardware.gotfrag.com/portal/story/34683/

    explains some of the features and shows some better results with this card.
    Reply
  • goinginstyle - Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - link

    They only tested two games and both were optimized for the KillerNIC. They give it an editors award for improving FEAR by 6.7%, come on. Reply
  • trajik78 - Sunday, November 05, 2006 - link

    did i mention $300 is f'in crazy for a NIC? Reply
  • cotak - Sunday, November 05, 2006 - link

    This is as useful as something that makes guys quicker during sex.

    As for people talking about this being enterprise storage technology. They use fiber for that with expensive fiber switches not Ethernet and not something you'd be able to afford at home.

    What's the point of reviewing something like this. In the first part of the review they say "the internet is variable". That's your key right there. There's no point in speeding up your connection to your cable/dsl modem when everything else from here to whatever is unknown. 300 bucks on a card like this and connecting it to your typical linksys router with the new VxWorks firmware with limited number of NAT connections it's about as dumb putting huge spoilers on a shitty car.
    Reply
  • trajik78 - Sunday, November 05, 2006 - link

    yup, pretty much every review has confirmed that this product is more than not-worthy of the $300 that could be better used for say a couple kegs of beer, or towards college tuition.

    when it comes down to it, your built in MB ethernet interface is more than worthy of your use for any circumstance, even it be HUGE FRAGFEST AT YOUR FRIENDS LAN PARTY!!
    Reply
  • aswinp - Wednesday, November 01, 2006 - link

    Check out this site for more info on TNICS:

    In my (small) experience in enterprise storage solutions, I believe one of the main reason for using TOE NICS is for iSCSI (SCSI over IP) SAN applications, instead of using Fiber Channel or other SAN solutions. So you basically have a SAN whose fabric is not based on expensive Fiber Channel hardware but on regular Ethernet.

    Top 10 Reasons to upgrade to a TNIC:
    http://www.alacritech.com/html/toe_top_ten.shtml">http://www.alacritech.com/html/toe_top_ten.shtml

    Benchmark Reports:
    http://www.alacritech.com/html/benchmark_reports.s...">http://www.alacritech.com/html/benchmark_reports.s...
    Reply
  • mlau - Thursday, November 02, 2006 - link

    I strongly suggest you read this mail and the paper it links to:
    http://www.cs.helsinki.fi/linux/linux-kernel/2003-...">http://www.cs.helsinki.fi/linux/linux-kernel/2003-...

    TOE is another marketing fad, nothing more.
    Reply
  • aswinp - Wednesday, November 01, 2006 - link

    I guess Killer NIC saw this technology starting to rise in popularity in the enterprise storage market and thought... "Hey, what happens if we apply this thing to gaming?". And so you get the Killer NIC.

    Although I admit the FNA feature is very interesting, if ever any software ever gets written to take advantage of it.

    What I'd really like to see is what happens when the Killer NIC is put in comparison to true TOE NICS in IP SAN applications. Coz its less expensive than these guys.
    Reply
  • soydeedo - Wednesday, November 01, 2006 - link

    hey guys. there have been scores of complaints regarding lag and such when running the new titan mode in battlefield 2142. if the titan [a very large airship] is moving while many players are aboard it things can get a bit hairy. i've experienced this myself although not very often, but it's pretty aggravating and severely impacts playability. i'm requesting that you play a couple rounds with a moving titan [it's imperative that it's moving] and report back your results with this killernic. i've made a post about this on firingsquad and totalbf2142 to no avail so if you guys would test this out i [and potentially many others if it offers any benefits] would appreciate it. thanks. =) Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now