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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 4 of 5).

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Guild Wars

Everyone's favorite monthly fee-free MMORPG is up next. I didn't bother removing the Killer NIC to test without it, since I have been playing GW constantly the past three months, and I know what it runs like with all of the settings cranked up as far as they will go. Let me sum it up for you: Unless I am in one of the major hub cities, such as Lions Arch or Kamadan, I pretty much don't ever feel the effects of lag unless I am PVPing.

that's where I took the Killer this trip, to the Battle Isles to see if it would help me live just a bit longer in PVP. Well, it didn't, but that wasn't its fault. I just plain stink at PVP in Guild Wars. Come to think of it, I just plain stink at PVP, period.

What it did do, however, was remove most of the annoying tendency of players to "blink" around the screen. I say most of, because some players still "blinked" around due to their own laggy connection to the server. I'd love to say it did more for GW, but honestly, this game has always had very few noticeable lag issues.

Ping? Grats! Oh, PING. No, I have no idea if it was lowered. I cannot figure out how to display it, and the ever helpful GW community either doesn't know or wasn't willing to share the secret.

Non-Killer Performance

Min FPS Max FPS Average FPS
0 63 51
0 63 47

Killer Performance

Min FPS Max FPS Average FPS
0 63 53
0 63 50

This time the numbers actually show an increase in FPS that I didn't feel. Again, in GW, there were very few times that I ever experienced lag without Killer installed. It's nice to see the numbers show it was actually doing something, but aside from less "blinking" by PVP opponents, I didn't actually feel any difference this time.

But wait! Shocking news! On the lower-end PC, Guild Wars experienced a noticeable jump in FPS! Is anyone picking up on this trend yet?

Star Wars Galaxies, City of Heroes/Villains, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lions and Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!

For the remainder of my test games, I played exclusively on my PC, with the exception of SWG. All three of these games showed marked improvements in FPS with the Killer NIC installed.

I still cannot believe that after all these years, the SWG engine is still capable of bringing a system to its knees if you turn up all the options. Too bad no matter how high the settings, it still shows its age. This is yet another strike against future-proofing. It's a good thing I have a Killer NIC installed, since Mos Eisley likes to grind down your FPS into the single digit range sometimes, and Killer helped to keep it tolerable. Even my old player city, Estee Enwy, bogs down the FPS without some help from Killer NIC.

My fiancée's machine was finally able to break the 20 FPS mark with Killer installed. Too bad she has no interest in this game anymore, since it's actually playable on her system now.

I was really interested to take on City of Villains, since it allows me the unique opportunity to use the PhysX card in conjunction with the Killer NIC. During Mayhem missions, the PhysX card allows my PC to display all sorts of cool junk being thrown around when I destroy dangerous objects like cars, phone booths, and mailboxes. (Take that, Captain Mailman!)Unfortunately, all this flying debris really starts to bog down the frame rate when two-dozen cops charge around the corner to beat you down for scratching their cars, and the four other villains in your group start throwing sparkling special effects at them. When I tried it with the Killer NIC, I had a lot less slowdown. It was very cool to be able to run around freely without worrying about being thrown in jail because I was too lagged to get away.

Dungeons and Dragons Online also benefited from the Killer NIC. DDO has the unique distinction of being the only MMORPG I tested that requires you to dodge blows, manually swing your weapon, and generally do a lot more active things during combat. This is a great concept, but it can be frustrating when you lag. Again, with Killer installed, combat was much smoother and running around with a full party in the sewers felt a lot faster.

I also managed to slip in a few (hundred) rounds of Battlefield 2142. I know, this game is not an MMORPG, but most people don't play just one type of game or another. I wasn't sure the Killer NIC was even having an effect on this game until I found myself in the middle of an EM strike with the ground exploding all around me. This usually causes my computer to slow down to slide-show mode, which in turn causes me to get stuck in the explosions and die. I kid you not, the first time this happened with the Killer installed, I died anyway. I was so stunned that I could move normally during the explosions that I just stood there and looked around. My FPS still drop, but not by much.

Conclusion - Is it worth my hard-earned bones?

I admit, I first heard about the Killer NIC after the PhysX cards were released, and I was extremely skeptical. Sure, I said, we just need a separate card for everything now. First it was physics, then a company announced it was working on an AI card, and now a NIC? Wait a minute, I already have a NIC built in. I was convinced that PhysX was worthwhile for all the physics goodies it could add to games, but that a separate NIC was not something that would do anybody a whole lot of good.

Well, here we sit, six months later, and almost nothing uses the PhysX card. Sure there are plenty of games on the horizon, but for now it sits in my case collecting dust and raising my system temperatures. On the other hand, almost every multiplayer game out there now can see at least some small benefit from the Killer NIC.

Is it worth it? Well, let me tell you what I think of it, who I think it can benefit most, and then you can make up your own mind, since worth is very much a personal opinion.

5 pages

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