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Killer NIC WTF?

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July 31, 2008 11:01:23 AM

The price for these things has not really gone down at all... I remember thinking back in late 2006 that one of these might be *fun* to tinker with once the price goes down.

Well here we are in 2008 and the things are still really expensive with the low model costing $179.99 and the one with more features and the cool heatsink costing $229.00 on the EGG.

It can't cost anywhere near that amount of money to make that card.... don't they realize people might actually buy it if it's affordable?

More about : killer nic wtf

July 31, 2008 11:36:25 AM

Or its also aimmed at corporates, after all a firewall on each box would be "helpful" from a security point of view...

PS: This requires a manager who doesn't quite get it...
July 31, 2008 6:23:18 PM

1). it is not for corporates, it is for gamers who think it would help their system, your much better off getting a good INTEL gigabit NIC. like the one put into servers here. the killer nic is a good peice of h/ware but it is way to expensive.
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July 31, 2008 7:37:05 PM

I have read a few reviews of this card and the conclusion was that bang for the buck wise, this card is a terrible buy for a 5ms improvement in your online games.
July 31, 2008 8:21:42 PM

Lavacon said:
I have read a few reviews of this card and the conclusion was that bang for the buck wise, this card is a terrible buy for a 5ms improvement in your online games.


Exactly what I'm thinking, if they priced it right (like $50) then the mainstream might buy it and they might have themselves a very popular piece of hardware!
July 31, 2008 10:46:56 PM

When are they bringing out a PCI-e version haha
August 1, 2008 4:17:16 AM

chookman said:
When are they bringing out a PCI-e version haha


When they realize PCI-E is cheaper to make and offers performance improvements so they can jack up the price even more! lol :sarcastic: 
August 2, 2008 7:13:55 PM

Unless things have changed since i was looking into the fastest card for online gaming and such, that no matter how fast your NiC is, that you net was throttled, and not under your control?
For example the old standard 10/100, Internet would only use 10, while your network, and sharing could take full advantage of all 100. Its been a while since i actually dug up hard facts though. i run a 54mbps wireless that has netted me 1.2mbp/s so im not complaining
*although ive had issues with the linksys 300N i found not installing drivers and letting windows gives best performance and no crashes*
August 2, 2008 7:45:28 PM

ok your not all seeing the point of this card , if you download alot of stuff and like to play games too , this cards great , it serves a purpose as it can prioritize bandwidth usage very efficently , i do agree its overpriced however , but if they were a sensible price id snap one up straight away. onboard network aint as good as a seperate card like this imo
August 3, 2008 11:31:42 AM

samuraiblade said:
ok your not all seeing the point of this card , if you download alot of stuff and like to play games too , this cards great , it serves a purpose as it can prioritize bandwidth usage very efficently , i do agree its overpriced however , but if they were a sensible price id snap one up straight away. onboard network aint as good as a seperate card like this imo


if you download alot of stuff, you proberly have discovered uTorrent now which has option to lower it baqndwidth priority. set it to low and it doesnt desturb games. the killer nic is stupid. if you want a fsat connection to a network get a Intel gigabit card, just the plainest one, it what we use in servers here and nothing beats them, i have never ever seen a sever use a killernic EVER. and for that matter proberly will never see a comercial server do so.

its a nice idea but complicating thing just isnt a step in the right direction.
August 3, 2008 3:43:24 PM

The nice thing about the Killer card is that the chip is programmable. You can actually have a firewall running on it or, as i have read, a download program. But, as many mentioned already, the price is prohibitive for such a niche product.
August 3, 2008 5:28:45 PM

yea, but on top the firewire on your modem router + the windows firewall, do i really want a third? (the answers NO).
August 3, 2008 5:58:26 PM

ok on the bandwidth allocation , i think you'll find thats only relevent to other downloads your doing , the program is only capable of balancing it agianst other torrents , not your actual network , so thats wrong afaik
as for the network card you mention , i have onboard intel gigabit and yes it works fine , but it still uses windows network stack , the killer NIC doesnt , it bypasses that , so agian when downloading etc your not using the processor. i agree its too expensive , but if i ever see a cheap one ill snap it up , ive seen the difference it makes to latency in mmorpg's too and its very noticable when you enter a busy player area. + it has a more extensive control over bandwidth allocation as its a proccesor before the data reaches the pc , unlike a piece of software which cant possibly compare. dont write it off until you have seen it in action.
August 29, 2008 7:26:27 AM

I picked one of these up in early 2008 to screw around with. I found it cumbersome to use after installing and decided to take it out.

In June, after a significant driver update by Bigfoot Networks, I decided to try it again. After some troubleshooting I got it installed correctly.

It does appear to have a beneficial impact on FPS on online games - I would say 10% or so is fair, based on non-scientific testing. I did not notice a significant ping improvement. I had attempted to use WoW to see if ping was improved at all, and it wasn't; but apparently several months ago WoW changed how they measure the speed of a user's connection.

WoW uses TCP/IP acks to measure client's speed, although the game data itself is UDP. The Killer NIC's strength is in UDP 'acceleration'; for TCP/IP it is no faster than an onboard NIC (both do TCP/IP checksum offloading; most onboard NICs have this capability now.)

The end result was that the WoW client wasn't taking advantage of the faster processing of UDP packets because it was being 'bottlenecked' by the TCP ack speed; WoW simply won't let your client update more frequently than it thinks your system can handle based on the TCP acks.

Bigfoot Networks recently acknowledged this and claimed to be working on a fix, and suggested a work around. But in its current implementation you won't get much benefit from the Killer in WoW, which I would think would be the largest market for this type of device - considering the number of WoW users.

I have not attempted to gauge ping performance using the Killer in other games, although I may test company of heroes next week for kicks (currently the Killer is not in my system.)

Some other criticisms I have for the Killer, all of which I've submitted to Bigfoot Networks:

-From what I can tell they've removed IPv6 and UPnP capabilities from the network card and/or drivers, which means if you want these you have to use a different NIC.

-The integrated firewall, which is nice from a 'save precious computer cycles' standpoint if you disable your software firewall, also prevents Vista's Network Map from functioning properly (a cool but not essential tool.)

-The integrated firewall allows programs to bind listening ports by default; it alerts you when this is happening, but it the default action is to allow, and there is no option to change this behavior.

-There are no presets in the firewall configuration to allow windows file sharing or network discovery, which complicates life if you have a small network at home. I had to manually go into the Advanced Windows Firewall interface to find the various ports I needed to open to allow these basic networking functions. I would also think that there would be certain game presets for the firewall, considering that the Killer NIC is marketed for gamers; there are no presets at all.

-The bandwidth control is actually quite handy, but if you put in the wrong values when configuring it you will actually handicap your LAN transfer speeds to your internet download/upload speeds. This should be more clearly explained within the configuration of the bandwidth control, and it is not. It shouldn't be that easy for a user to shoot themselves in the foot.

-There are two modes for the Killer NIC - game mode and app mode. There are some games that perform better in app mode, but there is no list of what games these are to make it easy for users to decide which mode is the best for their particular game. When I asked for a list of which games work best in which mode, I was told that it wasn't feasible as there are 'thousands' of games. I found this response silly.

-LAN transfer speeds, especially for large files, aren't all that hot; the Killer tries to break these large files into smaller files for 'lower latency' and this results in a drop in transfer speed. They say they are working on improving this dramatically. I personally haven't seen this as a huge issue when I transfer files over my LAN.

In general the Bigfoot Networks guys have acknowledged all of the above shortcomings and say they are working on improvements, with exceptions noted above.

I think, in general, I expected the driver & interface to be more refined than it was, particularly for the price they are asking and the 'enthusiast gamer' market they are targeting.

I like the idea of the Killer NIC - and my FX-60, which can't overclock without absurd levels of additional voltage and worrisome heat levels, needs all the help it can get. The Killer NIC could theoretically provide that - it offloads a decent amount of UDP processing from the default Windows stack onto a separate processor, which is also capable of running a firewall, allowing me to turn off my software-driven Windows Firewall. The hardware itself consists of a FPGA, which makes the card very adaptable using driver updates, and so if improvements continue I think the card will be much more useful. And I do see some improvement in FPS in certain online games, although this is mostly anecdotal and not scientifically measured.

The bandwidth control feature is useful for limiting the overall impact of certain programs on your bandwidth; in particular I found that certain torrent or p2p-like download programs had a significant impact on my Vonage phone, despite my DGL-4500's supposed 'gamefuel' quality of service feature. The Killer's bandwidth control allowed me to cap the amount of bandwidth used by these programs, in particular the download programs used by Adobe or WoW.
September 16, 2008 7:17:39 PM

Hell, I'd consider buying one if there were a PCI-E version. I got rid of my last PCI card a year ago.
September 16, 2008 9:44:04 PM

I think they have problems with heat. Maybe it causes the FPGA to screw up or something, but this card gets really hot, and it often doesn't function after being on for sustained periods of time while sitting between my two 8800 GTX cards.

I'm not using it any longer.
October 9, 2008 10:30:19 PM

We’re always listening to the community on hardware sites, and I wanted to make sure we posted here to let you know that we’re not ignoring anyone, and to keep you updated on the things we’re working on for Killer technology.

First and foremost, many posters have mentioned that the price of the Killer is too high for a NIC, as the network connections that come with their motherboards are “free”
, when in actuality, the comparison doesn’t really stack up when you evaluate the two side by side. The chipsets on your motherboards or built into your factory systems are essentially “dumb” connections that simply allow the computer to physically connect to a network and negotiate the right network speed. All the other heavy lifting of network operations relies on your CPU. The closest comparison is the hardware / software modem discussions that started when soft modems were first introduced – a hardware modem was better since it didn’t rely on the CPU for your dialup connection.
And that’s only the first difference. Your software-based firewall relies on the CPU for operation, while a Killer NIC runs its own. The Killer can also manage the network traffic on your client with hardware bandwidth control to keep other network operations from stepping on your game. With a Killer NIC, you can finally live worry-free in the DMZ on your home router, bypassing your router’s firewall and removing any firewall lag that it might cause.
And none of the “free” NICs on your computer can claim a 10-20% performance boost in online gaming by the simple fact of being there.

And a $50 add-on NIC (like the Intel NIC) will only help with throughput. It still relies on Windows’ Networking protocols to adjust for better throughput, and won’t deliver each packet when it arrives in a time-sensitive manner with a hardware interrupt.

Which leads us to the next question – performance.

A fast network connection doesn’t address client-side latency. And a fat network connection doesn’t address client-side latency. And the Killer NIC doesn’t address the Internet. (Yet.) We’ve never claimed to fix the connection between the gamer and the server. The best performance gains today come from fixing the connection between the game client on the PC, and we do that by bypassing the Windows Network Stack.

Performance gains with the Killer NIC are real, but difficult to measure consistently because network load on a game is impossible to keep consistent. What is consistent is Killer’s performance gain in ALL network conditions. When you’re grinding against rats solo in some field somewhere, Killer’s helping your framerate and latency. But when you’re healing a 40-man raid with a ton of mobs and 38 players typing “Heal plz” and 2 more spamming “w00t,” it offers the SAME performance gain, even with all that traffic.

It’s a high-horsepower, gamer-grade card. Sure, sometimes it takes your ping on a CS:S server down from 125ms to 100ms. But it’ll take your framerate up 20% and give you the edge when everybody else’s ping starts to climb into silent-movie mode.

Finally, it’s an upgrade that’s as permanent and useful as your case. This is a component that can go into any configuration and “just work” with any online game. It won’t get slow like a CPU or full like a hard drive – this is the high-end NIC that you can carry with you for a few years of gaming. The fact that Microsoft’s Windows planning shows no sign of changing means that the Windows Network Stack will only get bigger and more unwieldy, so you’ll get better performance by routing around it. We’ve verified bigger performance gains on Vista with the Killer NIC, and we see the same performance gains between brand-new machines and those wildcard home built rigs.

But don’t take our word for it. Have a look here at the basic concept behind offloading TCP / IP traffic:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TCP_Offload_Engine

And then take a look at our review on Tom’s Guide from earlier this spring:

http://www.tomsguide.com/us/killer-m1-nic,review-1083.h...

“…gamers reported quicker reaction times in their virtual worlds, a better ability to anticipate and track opponents and general improvements in their scoring as well.”


And let’s close on price. Right now we’ve got the Killer NIC K1 available for as low as $149 in most online retail stores. This for a NIC that runs its own Linux-powered Freescale Network Processing Unit, that can run a firewall, bandwidth control, Bit torrent and your game simultaneously, without causing your game to hiccup or puke entirely. It’s a pretty sweet deal compared to a “dumb” NIC, and we’re happy to say that thousands of new Killer NIC users are reporting the same.

Thanks,

BFN Sean
October 16, 2008 6:11:14 PM

Quote:
simply allow the computer to physically connect to a network and negotiate the right network speed. All the other heavy lifting of network operations relies on your CPU.

Lame Justification maybe if I had a P4 Id care...most people are running quads and dual cores who would be interested in this product and our games are just unlocking the ability to use 2 cores....might as well save 200 bucks by not buying your NIC....

Quote:
It’s a high-horsepower, gamer-grade card. Sure, sometimes it takes your ping on a CS:S server down from 125ms to 100ms. But it’ll take your framerate up 20% and give you the edge when everybody else’s ping starts to climb into silent-movie mode.
an avg CPU and GC can run that game 60+ FPS and past that it doesnt normaly matter...Also for the People who are running lower than that there mind our on a new system not a NIC

Quote:
this is the high-end NIC that you can carry with you for a few years of gaming.
Hmm theres been rumor of TCP/IP 2.0 which will be based off 62 bit (more IP adresses) does your NIC support that?? (hmm im guessing the anwser as no...)
October 17, 2008 1:52:09 AM

TBH I can't see the point. I mean that sincerely. The Toms test didn't factor in another add-on NIC, therefore it's conclusion is based solely against the onboard, which obviously isn't going to be as good as a dedicated card.

More tests, with a decent standard NIC, and a decent Server NIC, and then I'll consider the test to be worthwhile.
October 22, 2008 9:31:18 PM

Beaker,

Good point - the review doesn't bring into play a "standard NIC" or a "decent Server NIC."

There are a few reasons this wouldn't play a major part in the outcome, however:

- the vast majority of game machines are sold with onboard NICs, so this is a pretty valid comparison between onboard and Killer.

- a "decent standard NIC" is essentially the same as an onboard NIC - mostly the same chipsets, just attached to the PCI or PCIe bus and occupying a slot. They still require the Windows Network Stack to operate, and do nothing to optimize UDP traffic or address the latency inherent in the stack.

- a "decent server NIC" comes in two classes.
-- One kind can do standard Windows Network Operations really, really fast, manage traffic, provide an onboard firewall and provide gigabit speeds on a LAN. We do all that currently, and optimize for latency, which standard NICs don't do.
-- the other class of server NIC, TOE, is a good comparison. These don't offload UDP like ours do, but offload TCP/IP operations, commonly called TOE NICs. Go ahead and look up a TOE NIC on Google Shopping. The least expensive one I could find is ~$400 from Alacritech.

So, standard gigabit NICs, Intel NICs and Server NICs all offer benefits, but if they offered specific gaming benefits (UDP acceleration, enhancement for latency, Windows Networking Stack bypass) they'd be more comparable.

As always, feel free to dig in to this topic or join us over on the Killer NIC forums. Tom's deletes manufacturer's posts from time to time, but we're always home on our website.

BFN Sean
November 19, 2008 2:01:14 PM

why the hell would i pay $200+ for a 5 ms ping improvement and a 5 fps improvement? i would just save up for a 4870x2. stupid company with stupid marketing plan. 2 thumbs DOWN.
November 19, 2008 2:28:01 PM

BFN Sean said:
Beaker,

Good point - the review doesn't bring into play a "standard NIC" or a "decent Server NIC."

There are a few reasons this wouldn't play a major part in the outcome, however:

- the vast majority of game machines are sold with onboard NICs, so this is a pretty valid comparison between onboard and Killer.

- a "decent standard NIC" is essentially the same as an onboard NIC - mostly the same chipsets, just attached to the PCI or PCIe bus and occupying a slot. They still require the Windows Network Stack to operate, and do nothing to optimize UDP traffic or address the latency inherent in the stack.

- a "decent server NIC" comes in two classes.
-- One kind can do standard Windows Network Operations really, really fast, manage traffic, provide an onboard firewall and provide gigabit speeds on a LAN. We do all that currently, and optimize for latency, which standard NICs don't do.
-- the other class of server NIC, TOE, is a good comparison. These don't offload UDP like ours do, but offload TCP/IP operations, commonly called TOE NICs. Go ahead and look up a TOE NIC on Google Shopping. The least expensive one I could find is ~$400 from Alacritech.

So, standard gigabit NICs, Intel NICs and Server NICs all offer benefits, but if they offered specific gaming benefits (UDP acceleration, enhancement for latency, Windows Networking Stack bypass) they'd be more comparable.

As always, feel free to dig in to this topic or join us over on the Killer NIC forums. Tom's deletes manufacturer's posts from time to time, but we're always home on our website.

BFN Sean



I repeat, without more comparison the test isn't really valid. What would be the real world difference between your card, the onboard, a decent add-in card and standard server NIC? Without those figures you'll not really swing as many people as you hope to.

Lets see an actual comparison between your cheapest NIC, another £100+ NIC, a £50 NIC, a £25 NIC and a cheapy £5 one. Then if the test stacks up you'll justify your claims it's worth the money. If you want the truth most people view these in the same way they view Snake Oil.

Your product may be as good as you say (It's too expensive for me to buy one just to see), however without a decent set of benchmarks you'll see a hug number of sceptical posts.
November 19, 2008 5:03:10 PM

I would just steer clear from these, I've had nothing but problems with them - even just using normal day to day stuff. I keep telling myself I'm going to give up on the Killer, and I keep trying to get it to work without crashing my computer, and I think I need to put the misery to an end.

On the bright side my most recent attempt at using during working for an extended period resulted in more than 24 hours of non-crashing network connectivity. Might be a record.

I know there are people out there who use it with no problems, and I'm sure the BFN people are going to say I should troubleshoot (some more), but after the 100 or more hours I've spent fiddling with this card over the past 10 months I'm pretty disappointed.

I wanted this card to perform as claimed, I really did. But being told to turn off functionality of my computer in order to get it to work isn't an acceptable solution; if my computer works fine with a given set of software using my onboard NIC, I would expect a dedicated NIC like the Killer to be just as compatible (but more capable.)
November 19, 2008 5:21:27 PM

Umm, balthazor, you might try not putting it between two super hot cards and see if that cools it down. Just a crazy thought...
November 19, 2008 5:28:45 PM

To mitigate heat being an issue I cranked up the fans on both GPUs, bringing my card temps to the low 60s tops. I also rewired my case to give better airflow. And the crashes I get while using the card are often NOT while my system is stressed during a game, but more often just using normal work-related software (email, downloading, web browsing.)

When I asked about heat being an issue on the Killer forums I was told by a moderator that they use it fine next to a 9800 GX2 that reaches 100 C.

It could still very well be a heat issue. But if it is, they really don't have any business marketing to the high-end gaming crowd, a large portion of which is likely to have two or more GPUs that generate significant heat.

And if I get heat related crashes doing work stuff, how much worse during intense game sessions?
November 19, 2008 5:52:11 PM

Interestingly, the Alacritech network accelerator server cards I looked at have a max operating temperature of 55 C.

BFN won't admit to there be a heat issue, but I wouldn't be surprised if there is a problem with heat on the Killer. The big K heat sink will touch the adjacent card if you aren't careful (I put a small bit of eraser to ensure this doesn't happen, ghetto, but it works.)

My only options to prevent the Killer from being seated between my two 8800 GTX cards are to:

-Remove a card (sacrificing the additional graphical horsepower for a NIC with slight benefit)
-Watercool my cards (an expensive and annoying solution, since I would have to refrofit an entire watercooling system onto the rig)
-Remove the Killer and use my onboard NIC (sacrificing whatever small benefit the Killer might give me)

Of these options I choose #3.
November 19, 2008 5:55:23 PM

lol gaming NICs, I should start making GAMING DVD DRIVES

EASY INSTALLATION*

128MB DEDICATED CACHE FOR QUICK BURST SPEEDS

DEDICATED CPU SO IT WON'T USE UP YOUR CPU TIME! THAT MEANS MORE FPS!**

SATA 3 Gbit/s FOR EXXXTREME TRANSFERS

104x CD READ SPEEDS and 40X DVD READ SPEEDS

CUTS 5 SECONDS OFF YOUR INSTALL TIME SO YOU CAN GAME QUICKER, PWN NOOBS FASTER!!**

ONLY $199.99

*requires 3 5.25" internal drive bays for self contained water cooling system

**your results may vary

/capslock / extreme advertising bs
November 20, 2008 3:13:55 PM

turboflame said:
lol gaming NICs, I should start making GAMING DVD DRIVES


You probably should, actually. If you sold only ten of them, think of the profit!

See also http://www.dallasfood.org/modules.php?name=News&file=ar... for the story on Noka Chocolate: It STARTS at $309.00/lb, but its only rebranded Bonnat at an over 1,300% markup from RETAIL.
November 23, 2008 5:00:16 PM

Just wanted to add:

Apparently the dying Killer NICs in my system was the result of them not receiving enough power. I upped the voltage on my southbridge slightly and now its been working fine for three days straight, including a lot of online gaming (Left 4 Dead, Company of Heroes.)

So my apologies to BFN for directing my frustration at them when the problem appears to be from Asus.
March 18, 2009 4:41:46 PM

turboflame said:
lol gaming NICs, I should start making GAMING DVD DRIVES

128MB DEDICATED CACHE FOR QUICK BURST SPEEDS

/capslock / extreme advertising bs
Thats actually a pretty good idea. Especially for burning applications to avoid buffer-underruns. Its not like the DRAM price is the problem.

On the killer-NIC though: Even it if it does do everything it promises, it is still too expensive. The price needs to come way down.

Other suggestions:
- PCI-E version instead of PCI. (PCI can barely saturate a gigabit connection.)
- DIMM slot (If my RAID controller can take a DDR2 DIMM and still fit in one slot so can the killer NIC)
- A heatsink that actually works instead of just looking pretty.

Otherwise I'll just stick to my Intel PRO1000 PT...
March 18, 2009 4:44:18 PM

[EDIT]Didn't realize this thread is 4 months old. Why was it listed on the sidebar of the frontpage???
March 19, 2009 1:03:57 PM

VTOLfreak said:
[EDIT]Didn't realize this thread is 4 months old. Why was it listed on the sidebar of the frontpage???


Because people like you (and now I) keep responding to it, THAT'S why.
!