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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 3 of 5).

As you can see, the numbers don't seem to corroborate my story. During the first benchmark, the average FPS is actually higher without Killer installed. However, the min and max FPS in most MMORPGs tend to be the 0 and as high as the game/card will let it go. What you can't see with the numbers is how Killer smoothed out the performance and resulted in less lag spikes overall.

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Next, I tried to install Killer on my fiancée's PC without her knowing. I got it in there ok, but when she fired up WoW after school one day, she immediately knew something was up. "Did you put that thing you are writing about in here? Something is different!" So, yeah, it didn't take her too long to figure out I had tried to pull one over on her.

It also took me a few days to convince her to let me pull it back out so I could continue testing. That's how much of a difference it made to her. I tried it out on her machine myself, and the difference was immediately apparent. Her PC struggles with WoW with all the settings on medium at 1024x768 resolution. It slows down when too many things are on screen, it slows down on the Griffins. Basically, it slows down whenever you are doing anything worth doing on Azeroth.

With the Killer NIC installed, it doesn't slow down very much at all. Whereas on my PC it smoothed it out noticeably, on her PC it sped things up very noticeably. Suddenly she is able to survive ganking attempts, dungeon groups, and she can actually run around in Ironforge without freezing every few steps.

I wasn't going to do any benchmarks on her PC, but I had to see for myself what the number said about this crazy speed up on her machine.

Non-Killer Performance

Min FPS Max FPS Average FPS
0 59 36
0 67 37

Killer Performance

Min FPS Max FPS Average FPS
0 60 46
0 62 48

Wow! Over a 10 FPS increase just by installing the Killer NIC. It is starting to look like it really makes a difference on older systems playing MMORPG games.

EQII

My next test subject was everyone's favorite lag monster, EverQuest II. I played EQII with the default settings that it recommends for my PC, since doing otherwise usually results in me spending hours tweaking settings and not actually playing the game.

I remember how excited I was when this game was released. I remember being excited right up until the point I left the new player island and hit the city of Qeynos, better known as "Lag City". I couldn't believe that even after chopping the city in to different zones, SOE couldn't control the massive lag occurring there. Even now, after many patches and server population hemorrhaging, the cities are still quite laggy. I could definitely see the jerkiness imparted on my frame rates by this, and I even experienced a couple of three second pauses. And, I was unpleasantly surprised to see that the Peat Bog still causes me to experience a slide-show.

Of course, outside the city the game seems much smoother, until you hit a populated dungeon area like Black Burrow or Stormhold. There, the FPS dip again and you sometimes die horribly because that gnoll or skeleton sure didn't look like it was right next to you two seconds ago. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Once again, after putting the Killer NIC back in, game play was noticeably smoother. Unfortunately, it still gets jerky in cities, although I did not experience any pauses with Killer. Outside the city, I did not notice any jerkiness or pauses until I once again found myself with a couple dozen other players in dungeons.

To be fair, I don't think that there is much you can do to make EQII run well all the time. I have friends who play nothing but EQII, and have the bleeding-est edge of technology installed in their systems. They still experience jerky framerates and pauses from time to time. I think that is more a side effect of trying to future-proof the graphics engine, and it's not really something any piece of technology is going to be able to solve. I'm of the mind that 10 years from now, EQII will still run like a three-legged dog on the PCs available then.

I couldn't even tell you if pings were lowered. They skip around so much in this game that I would swear they are just using random numbers. They seemed to stay fairly low, both with and without the Killer NIC installed.

Non-Killer Performance

Min FPS Max FPS Average FPS
0 269 38
0 242 37

Killer Performance

Min FPS Max FPS Average FPS
0 305 39
0 306 38

Again, the numbers do not reflect the additional "smooth" injected in to gameplay by the Killer NIC, and only show a 1 FPS average increase. However, this time, they also show that the max FPS reached was higher with the Killer installed, and by a significant margin. What does this all mean? Well, nothing really. It means that the numbers do not reflect well the fact that you can actually feel a difference with the Killer NIC installed, and that the occurrence of lag spikes was less frequent.

Once again, I tested this game out on the low end PC as well, and, as I expected, the improvements were much greater. My fiancée's PC has always had a difficult time with EQII, and the Killer NIC made a vast improvement in its performance. In the past, her characters have literally frozen in place for upwards of 20 seconds while running around in Qeynos, and now they seem to fare much better, although they do still occasionally pause for a couple of seconds here and there. Killer NIC's ability to free up more CPU time for the game definitely gives a huge benefit to the lower-end processor in her system.

5 pages

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