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Bigfoot KillerNIC Review

By Jeremy Star on December 13, 2006 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Bigfoot KillerNIC Review

Jeremy Starley's Killer Nic Review continued (Page 2 of 5).

Testing Procedure - You did what with it?

Here's how I did what I did, why I did it, and what I did it on.

My test platforms were my very own PC, and my fiancée's PC. Here is the basic info, for those of you who like to know these things.

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My PC
Athlon 64 X2 4200 CPU
BFG Nforce 4 motherboard
2GB Corsair XMS DDR RAM
BFG 7800 GT video card
BFG PhysX card
SoundBlaster X-Fi Xtreme Music sound card
320 GB SATA2 Seagate hard drive

Running games at 1920x1200 resolution.

My Fiancée's PC
Athlon XP 2500 CPU
MSI Nforce 2 Motherboard
1.5 GB Kingston Value RAM
PowerColor Radeon 9600 video card
SoundBlaster Audigy Gamer sound card
120GB IDE Seagate hard drive

Running Games at whatever they will chug along on best, usually 1024x768 resolution.

All tests were run using driver version 2.1.0.6.

If you know anything about computers, you've figured out by now that I upgrade mine quite often, and my fiancée, well, doesn't. The purpose of using both computers as test platforms was to allow me to see how Killer influences performance on a higher end PC as well as on a lower end PC. I also tried to slip one over on my fiancée and see if she could notice the difference without me telling her I had done anything. That did not work out so well, but more on that later.

As for testing, I played some of the bigger MMOs, both with and without the Killer installed, and benchmarked some of my time on my PC with FRAPS. I tried to do the same exact thing both times, so that the results would be semi-accurate. I also tested some of the games on the slower PC, and benchmarked WoW on that one as well. I played to see if I could actually notice a difference, if I could quantify it with FPS benchmarks, and if I could see a reduction in ping times.

And now, a note on testing: Network lag is really unpredictable. There is almost no way to replicate the exact conditions I experienced on the first run through the second time I did a run through. There could be more or less people on the server, more or less network traffic on the internet in general, and more or less people on my cable internet hub in my town. All of these factors plus many more make ping almost completely random and therefore it is extremely difficult to test reliably for any sort of ping reductions. The only way to do something even close to reliable would be to have two PC that are exactly the same, one with the Killer, and one without. If you then connected to the same server, and ran pretty much side by side while watching the pings, you should be able to tell the difference.

I don't have two duplicate PCs. Truth be told, I don't bother looking at pings while I am playing MMORPGs, because unless they are atrocious, you don't notice so much. So I did what any responsible journalist in my position would do: I made the ping section really, really short.

On to the testing!

Performance - Is this thing on?

WoW

So, the first game I played was World of Warcraft. You knew that was coming, so I don't want to hear about it. With the built in NIC card on my Nforce 4 motherboard, WoW runs like it always does. I have all the graphics goodies and such cranked up as high as they will go, and WoW chugs along pretty smoothly. Until I hit Ironforge at peak time, or go on a raid when the server is busy, I don't notice too many slow downs except for the occasional lag spike here and there.

So of course, I wanted to push this and go on a raid in Molten Core at 8pm EST. My performance varied, to say the least. Wait, did the server crash? No, that was just a giant lag spike that wiped half the raid, it's ok! Ping? Well, the little bar showed green... NO! RED! No, green. Yelllllllow, RED! Oh, you kept moving, you're out.

No surprises from the built in NIC, so I popped in Killer and tried again. The game was smooth as always in most areas. Ironforge at peak times still slowed down, but I thought it was maybe a tad smoother.

Then I hit MC again.

Holy ghost, Scooby Doo! Game play was noticeably smoother. I seemed to experience less lag spikes pausing me momentarily, and it felt faster overall. Sure, we still wiped on a big lag spike, and there were still times when it felt like I was pausing, but they seemed to come fewer and farther between. The last time I noticed a performance increase that felt this big, it was when I went from 1GB of RAM to 2.

Ping was still a game of Red-light/Green-light.

Non-Killer Performance

Min FPS Max FPS Average FPS
0 62 56
0 62 55

Killer Performance

Min FPS Max FPS Average FPS
0 62 55
0 62 55

5 pages