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General: Bigfoot Networks Killer 2100 NIC Review

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,585MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

In her latest hardware review, MMORPG.com correspondent Carolyn Koh takes a look at the BigFoot Networks "Killer" Network Interface Card (NIC). Carolyn takes the challenge that BigFoot offers gamers: Improved network performance and reduced lag in online games. Does the Killer NIC measure up? Read Carolyn's review to find out.

Bigfoot Network’s Network Interface Card (NIC) is a PCI-e based gigabit Ethernet card which contains its own proprietary network processing unit (NPU) and Bigfoot’s Game Networking DNA™ technology to identify, classify and accelerate online game traffic in your PC. The NPU takes the network information processing load off the CPU and the software suite allows you to tweak your computer’s network traffic and the applications it is running in the background. In doing so, it seeks to reduce stuttering, freezing, mob rubber-banding and other symptoms of lag, improving game performance and responsiveness

Read the BigFoot Networks Killer NIC review.


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Comments

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,183Member Uncommon

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but I have seen a few reviews on this product indicate very little difference between this product and a  normal nic.  Could be that DSL is your problem and not your nic.

    Lag usually is the result of poor connections via your isp than the local nic in your computer.  While the card does offer some benefits, it is in my opinion stil highly overpriced for the little advantage it offers. 

    Not criticizing your review, you did a nice job with it, but it is quite hard to measure any nebulous results this cards provides.

  • xoringxoring Silver Spring, MDPosts: 65Member

    Any difference was likely attributable to the offloading of the network stack onto the hardware NPU.  What that means is that if you had spent $90 more on the CPU or GPU when you built the system you would have probably seen the same performance as you did with when you used the Killer NIC.

    Even with an MMO, the CPU load that could be attributed to the network stack is extremely low. BitTorrent is more taxing than an MMO becaue it's maintaining connections to dozens or even hundreds of remote hosts. In enterprise setups you really only need expensive NICs for the really high-traffic servers like the public-facing web servers or the NAS that is being mounted on a few hundred systems. I'm with Ozmodan on this, the $90 could be better spent if you only care about game performance.

  • CarolynKohCarolynKoh Staff Writer Redmond, WAPosts: 202Member

    Originally posted by Ozmodan

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but I have seen a few reviews on this product indicate very little difference between this product and a  normal nic.  Could be that DSL is your problem and not your nic.

    Lag usually is the result of poor connections via your isp than the local nic in your computer.  While the card does offer some benefits, it is in my opinion stil highly overpriced for the little advantage it offers. 

    Not criticizing your review, you did a nice job with it, but it is quite hard to measure any nebulous results this cards provides.

    Oz, the DSL connection is totally the problem.  The pleasant surprise was that the NIC helped as much as it did. 

    What really matters is the balance between the components, and which upgrade benefits more.  Here's a review one of our MMORPG staff did in 2007 of an earlier card: http://www.mmorpg.com/showFeature.cfm/loadFeature/1214

    I think he came to the same conclusion.  If you've already got a kick-ass system, you're not going to see much improvement. I'm at a stage in my hardware where I have to upgrade the entire works - new motherboard, new CPU. So at a time where the budget is tight, a smaller upgrade is giving me the better online performance I crave.

    Notice: The views expressed in this post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of MMORPG.com or its management.

  • ArulinArulin Memphis, TNPosts: 28Member

    Ok, hate to crash on this bashfest, Sylvene got a point. Here a nice list of bottlenecks that cuase lag:

     

    Harddrive (if you are not running SSD or SCSI 160 your a lag bag)

    Video card (not running at least a a card with 512 of ddr2 , welcome to being a lag bag)

    On-board NICs (F MOTHER LAG BAG)

    AND THE KING OF LAG .... DSL or Cable period, shell out for a t1 or go as far as a OC48 if you want to do 40 vs 40 battlegrounds in WoW without a lick of lag. If you can shell for a killer high-end nic then you can afford a T1. Get something that the killer can actural excel on.

  • ArulinArulin Memphis, TNPosts: 28Member

    Ozmodan and xoring:

     

    You both failed your A+ certs didn't you, just a point, multi-processors off-loading processes is a good thing and having the software (the drivers you nit-wits) to tell which processor to off-land to is VERY good. Don't talk down unless you know what you are talking about.

     

    Prince Arulin has spoken.

  • HawkBladeHawkBlade Plano, TXPosts: 8Member

    Ozmodan and xoringYou miss the point of the NIC... 1 - it is better to have an OFF board NIC than a on-board, and 2 - it is better to have the CPU NOT handle the network traffic.  Sorry, but I am with Arulin on this, you must have failed your A+ test.  Off board NIC still has the CPU handling some of the network traffic.

    Question... a cup or a bucket will fill a tub faster?  Bucket... yes.  So if you have a T1 (bucket) is better than DSL/Cable (cup)... correct.  Sure...

    Jitter is your issue in games/MMO as well as streaming video/music/etc.  You will always have a variance in your connection, it's how your system handles that and compensates for it.   So if you have a bucket you don't see the "lag" that much cuase the bucket is pouring the stuff to you.

    That is the point of this NIC, handle the network traffic instead of the CPU, and to handle the Jitter/variant connection.

     

    Go to the main website, or Youtube and watch the EQII test they have.  Most people say they don't "see" a difference with these NIC's.  Well most people can't hear a dog whistle, but the whistle is still doing something even though you can not hear it.

     

    And Arulin: T1's are not available in a lot of areas.  So, a Bucket is NOT an option for most people, but this NIC is something that could potentially help them with their "lag".

    Hardware is a factor in lag, but a Harddrive... Defraging is a must, but to tell someone SCSI 160 or higher??? really... sorry, but most people can't afford, nor how to handle SCSI.  Nice you can build with SCSI, but most don't.  SATA is helping with speeds, but most gamers out there buy a system, and don't build.

  • maddbomber83maddbomber83 Andrews, TXPosts: 422Member

    Carolyn, thank you for the review.  I wonder how this card affects performance in a home network setup with 2 computers playing games and downloading stuff (as is often the case in my household).

  • linadragonlinadragon Emmaus, PAPosts: 95Member

    Originally posted by Arulin

    Ok, hate to crash on this bashfest, Sylvene got a point. Here a nice list of bottlenecks that cuase lag:

     

    Harddrive (if you are not running SSD or SCSI 160 your a lag bag)

    Video card (not running at least a a card with 512 of ddr2 , welcome to being a lag bag)

    On-board NICs (F MOTHER LAG BAG)

    AND THE KING OF LAG .... DSL or Cable period, shell out for a t1 or go as far as a OC48 if you want to do 40 vs 40 battlegrounds in WoW without a lick of lag. If you can shell for a killer high-end nic then you can afford a T1. Get something that the killer can actural excel on.

    Clearly a troll we have here it would seem, 

     

    Hard drives will cause load times to increase but will not do much for causing lag period its data fetching and the like and once things are properly loaded nothing should be seen as far as lag until you go through a bloody portal or something that involves a load screen.

    Video card memory is subjective to Monitor Resolution and the actual aspects of the cards, I ran WoW fine back in the day on a 6800 GS and they upgraded some shader based things so now it runs better on higher end cards yes and 512 is a good reccomendation but higher than that itself is very very subjective unless you are running a huge ass monitor.

    On board NIC's cause very very little in the way of actual lag if the rest of the components inside the computer (mainly the CPU) do not suck, I will typically have a ping of 90 or lower and i'm using onboard and my system is good.

    Oh please to this last point, DSL and Cable are both fine, DSL tends to be more expensive for lower speeds (god knows why) and Cable depending on the actual network its on its actually quite good (my cable company is a fiber network to the pole and then copper to the house) This works fine and i'm running a 10 Meg connection. 

    T1 is often slower on the download side and faster upload and unless you are running a server that faster upload really wont be seen, or unless you are doing torrent crap,  Speed of a t1 line is typically slower or the same speed as DSL on the download side coming in at 1.5 Megs, 

    And we wont even get into OC48 the costs to install it alone range in the hundred's of thousands of dollars and then 3,000 - 5000 dollars a month which is 36,000 - 60,0000 a year which is what a good chunk of middle class people make.

    So none of these things are really are good recommendations realistically unless your rich and can afford to blow at least 135 grand in the first year if not more, Nor are these recommendations really astute if you have a decent computer/connection to begin with, onboard nic's and soundcards have come a ways some even having thx certifications for onboard sound. 

    _______________________________

    Now to stuff at hand with this card in general... These are not worth the money unless you really have a need for that tiny tiny bit lower ping, which realistically if you actually look at the reviews was maybe an 8 ms ping difference. This is of course assuming you have a stable onboard NIC or a stable NIC in the pci or pci-e slot to begin with or a stable connection. Yes it may of helped this guy but his onboard NIC could be a problem so it is a distinct possibility that any NIC would of helped out in this situation. 

    Packet prioritization is the only real necessity for an NIC to be able to do and a good router will already be doing this for you so there should be no need for it over any decent NIC and Router, It does what a good router does plane and simple *shrugs a bit* for those that have no need for a good router though i suppose it could be a good investment, 

    Also i agree with you hawkblade that onboard nic's are pushed to the cpu but at the same time there are less costly alternatives that will work well if done right (most people should have a router realistically but we wont get into all that...) This will help people yes, its not a necessity though and wont help certain systems all that much if at all really. I for one have never seen an issue running onboard NIC's or high pings unless i was torrenting or something went haywire in the program running (ie something staying open that shouldnt of been...) 

    I think its down to utilization of overall system resources really, people with a heavy cpu load are likely going to see a bigger improvement than say me running a core i7 860 which alot of stuff doesnt take a huge advantage of to begin with. I'd say given the price range of some other NIC's its kind of in the mid range but pushing the 2 port design cost with its original price point, 

    Is it worth it to some people yes, is it worth it to everyone out there where a 30 dollar NIC would suffice? No

  • Thomas2006Thomas2006 Millersburg, INPosts: 803Member Uncommon

    Actually there is hard evidence that a standalone NIC provides better latency then a onboard nic.  Actually I have tested this myself using my motherboards nic and then disabling it and using a standalone expansion card.  The difference in between 30ms to 40ms.  With onboard any type of heavy activity on the machine your latency is going to increase 2 fold sometimes even more so depending on what is going on. If your doing blueray decoding with software thats uses all your CPU's core then your network stack is going to get pushed to the bottom of the priority in the processing list.

     

    Try playing AOC on high with a onboard nic and then put in a expansion card and try it. Monitor the latency via ingame tools or by running Ventrilo off to the side.  I can almost grantee you will notice a difference in ping.

    Obevesly the Killer Nic cards are not going to fix ISP issues. They will however fix issues caused by your machine itself. And believe it or not your machine can be the difference betwen 30ms ping and a 130ms ping.

    Also a bigger pipeline (connection) does not fix anything if you are not running into the limits of your connection.

  • linadragonlinadragon Emmaus, PAPosts: 95Member

    Originally posted by Thomas2006

    Actually there is hard evidence that a standalone NIC provides better latency then a onboard nic.  Actually I have tested this myself using my motherboards nic and then disabling it and using a standalone expansion card.  The difference in between 30ms to 40ms.  With onboard any type of heavy activity on the machine your latency is going to increase 2 fold sometimes even more so depending on what is going on. If your doing blueray decoding with software thats uses all your CPU's core then your network stack is going to get pushed to the bottom of the priority in the processing list.

     

    Try playing AOC on high with a onboard nic and then put in a expansion card and try it. Monitor the latency via ingame tools or by running Ventrilo off to the side.  I can almost grantee you will notice a difference in ping.

    Obevesly the Killer Nic cards are not going to fix ISP issues. They will however fix issues caused by your machine itself. And believe it or not your machine can be the difference betwen 30ms ping and a 130ms ping.

    Also a bigger pipeline (connection) does not fix anything if you are not running into the limits of your connection.

    This goes to what i was saying though really... Its ultimately down to the person's computer and all really. My ping is typically never above 100 maybe sometimes depending on the distance of the connection and all. The point is that a stand alone NIC vs say a Killer NIC like this here is packet prioritization based on applications and you can set it and all, thats the only real plus to it over a stand alone NIC, and you can save yourself almost 60 bucks getting just a stand alone.

  • Postal13Postal13 Milton, ONPosts: 94Member

    Lotta NIC haters here!  Don't NOBODY tell mee that they can do better than my onboard sound either! VIA95 FTFW!!!

    Cunfushus says "Only through wasting time do we realize that time should not be wasted."

  • farlinfarlin Colorado Springs, COPosts: 36Member

    To be honest, I can't justify the expense for a minor (yes, minor in my opinion) improvement in network performance. The deciding factor is the equipment and connections between my system and the destination system since most of that is well outside of my control. This card won't do squat unless those connections are clean. If you make the assumption the connections are clean, the routers and switches are untaxed (god forbid there be a hub in there), then maybe you'll see a minor improvement in performance. Personally I would first look at my CPU utilization, then memory, then disk queue before I look at my NIC. Once I've ruled those out, I'd move to looking at the switch and router to make sure they are not dropping packets or hitting their maximum memory/connection limits.
    I run fine with my on board 1G NIC and quad core processor and doubt the NIC will do much more than improve my ping, which isn't a great measure of lag anyway as ping is a measure of round-trip and not a measure of bandwidth performance or true latency on burst or continuous data streaming. The only performance improvement you will probably see is in your primary CPU, but I doubt (especially in my case) that will be significant enough. Most high-end gaming rigs will not benefit from this upgrade, but some lower end systems that are running on older, single core processors may see some improvements with the network processing off loaded to the NIC core.

    EDIT: Ironically the Bigfoot Networks website was down when I posted this one...

    -- Farlin

  • FaelanFaelan CopenhagenPosts: 826Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Thomas2006

    <snip> If your doing blueray decoding with software thats uses all your CPU's core then your network stack is going to get pushed to the bottom of the priority in the processing list.

     

    <snip>

    Obevesly the Killer Nic cards are not going to fix ISP issues. They will however fix issues caused by your machine itself. And believe it or not your machine can be the difference betwen 30ms ping and a 130ms ping.

     

     

    Perhaps, but how many people are running bluray decoding in the background while playing MMOs? How many MMOs max out both cores in a dual core system? What about quad core? I've only seen one game max. out all cores on my 3.75 GHz quad core and that game isn't an MMO nor a multiplayer game. I'm sure there's plenty of leftover CPU cycles if you have a decent system.

    Also, 30ms vs. 130ms ping is nice on paper... but I frankly can't feel the difference in MMOs. If we are talking first person shooters, then it's a big deal.

    I'm a big ol' fluffy carewolf. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  • FaelanFaelan CopenhagenPosts: 826Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Arulin

    <snip>

    AND THE KING OF LAG .... DSL or Cable period, shell out for a t1 or go as far as a OC48 if you want to do 40 vs 40 battlegrounds in WoW without a lick of lag. If you can shell for a killer high-end nic then you can afford a T1. Get something that the killer can actural excel on.

    /facepalm

    Of course, to do anything in WoW you need an OC48... and a 6K gearscore.

    Seriously, who the heck invests in an OC48 just to play MMOs?

    I'm a big ol' fluffy carewolf. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  • northauntnorthaunt Ottawa, ONPosts: 5Member


  • northauntnorthaunt Ottawa, ONPosts: 5Member

    Testing this card using standard network traffic isn't really a good testbed since the card is made primarily to offload UDP packets used in online gaming. It may not change your ping by leaps and bounds, but it does offer a smoother gaming experience when it comes to your actual game play lag/jitters/whatever you want to call it.

    If you want to see the best results, you also have to set  the application/game executable to Priority 1 (gaming mode) in the Killer Network tool, otherwise it will behave like a regular network card.

  • wfSegwfSeg berkeley, CAPosts: 96Member

    Thanks for the review, I've been considering one of those PCIe NIC cards. Always gamed with the onboard, but even with a decent pc there was still lag. I'll follow the board's comments and look for a $30 card.

    "I am the harbinger of hope. I am the sword of the righteous. And to all who hear my words, I say this: What you give to this Empire, I shall give back unto you."
    -Empress Jamyl Sarum I

  • SmokeysongSmokeysong Lewisville, TXPosts: 236Member

    It is ridiculous to say the type or quality of the connection is the problem when the only thing that was changed was the NIC. What was changes was in her computer, not the connection that goes to it.

    If you read only bad reviews about this card, then you read selectively. There are numerous postive reviews about Bigfoot's cards. Why they aren''t all positive - I suspect has to do with a variety of factors, but is mostly because of the "loose nut behind the wheel" factor. Some people just shouldn't be allowed to open a computer's case.

    Now, if your game uses the TCP protocol, such as WoW, you can do a registry hack that will get you almost all the benefit this card will give you - IF you are comfortable with hacking the registry (and it is a simple hack, no real reason to get scared, it is certainly no more complicated than replacing the NIC connection in your computer). You won't get the other goodies that come with the card though.

    However, if your game uses the UDP protocol, there is no registry hack; you need something like the Killer NIC to make the network system work better.

    Carolyn gets a double-whammy; she's using TCP, and needs more CPU to get the most out of WoW, which has been called a "CPU intensive" game - meaning it's graphics load is more CPU dependent than other games tend to be. Any off-loading of the CPU will make a difference. Carolyn shows a lot of good from the card, maybe more than someone with a more powerful system, in terms of how the game feels if not what the numbers say.

    I guarantee this has nothing to do with her connection. I don't know these things from reading about them, I know them from building systems and trying WoW out with the card, without it, in high-end systems, and low-end. My internet connection is FIOS, 20MB/5MB, an excellent connection. WoW feels smoother, no question, with the card set up properly or the registry hack. On a lower end system the difference in feel was huge. On my high end system the difference is not as pronounced, but definitely noticeable, The game is smoother, especially in areas like Dalaran, and the latency is much lower, important when you are doing things like raiding.

    Back when the Killer NICs were over $200, I'd tell people who played WoW to just do the registry hack; it's free and easy enough. With this particluar card though I'd be more inclined to say just buy the card. I bought a card before I knew about the hack, and learned about it later, so I've done both. Do the hack if you are comfortable with it, buy the card if you like gadgets  :D , have the cash, and want the extra features.

    Check the game you play; if it uses the TCP protocol to talk over the web, then the registry hack will work. If your game uses UDP, or some of the other games you play use UDP, I say give the carrd a shot if you care about your latency.

    I'll add this, too: the numbers don't tell the whole story. Audiophiles and video professionals can tell you this, and the same is true with internet connections. The parameters we tend to measure, ping and bandwidth, don't give you the whole picture, and won't describe your experience. Try it. Do it right, be objective,

    There are youtube videos describing how to do the hack. Note, some say it will only work for XP, but that's not true, it will work for Vista and Win7 (I've done it on all 3 OSes to drop my in-game latency from around 200 to around 60). The most important thing when doing registry modifications is that you must do EXACTLY the right thing, or it won't worl. For example, in this case you have to create a new "D-word, and call it "TcpAckFrquency". It must be exactly that; Tcpackfrequency won't work. Tcp Ack Frequency won't work either. Also, create a 32-bit Dword even if you have a 64-bit OS; creating a 64-bit Dword made no difference in Vista for me.

    ;)

    Have played: Everquest, Asheron's Call, Horizons, Everquest2, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Warhammer, Age of Conan, Darkfall

  • FaelanFaelan CopenhagenPosts: 826Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Smokeysong

     

    Check the game you play; if it uses the TCP protocol to talk over the web, then the registry hack will work. If your game uses UDP, or some of the other games you play use UDP, I say give the carrd a shot if you care about your latency.

    ;)

     

    I decided to Google the hack and try it out just for fun.

    Before the hack:

    WoW - latency as reported by the game, around 100-175ms depending on location.

    LOTRO - latency as reported by the game, around 25-30ms.

    After the hack:

    WoW - latency as reported by the game, around 40-60ms depending on location.

    LOTRO - latency as reported by the game, around 25-30ms.

     

    So yeah, I'd say it makes quite a difference in WoW compared to LOTRO. As for feeling the difference... not sure to be honest... maybe chaincasting was slightly more snappy.

    I'm a big ol' fluffy carewolf. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  • ZeetochtZeetocht San Diego, CAPosts: 4Member

    Originally posted by Arulin

    If you can shell for a killer high-end nic then you can afford a T1.


     

     

    Can someone teach me that math? Maybe if I could learn that I could get me both a T1 AND a killer high-end NIC :p

  • linadragonlinadragon Emmaus, PAPosts: 95Member

    A t1 connection costs a few hundred bucks a month so the math is ridiculous really, a Killer NIC is like 90-100 bucks at most maybe a little more with shipping :P

  • eyeswideopeneyeswideopen Fresno, CAPosts: 2,414Member

    Overpriced.

    Get rid of the "shiny" ( I don't stare into my computer case so it gives me no benefit ). Half the price is because it "looks nice". At least they got rid of that big stupid chrome "K".

    Price it at $40, and I'll *think* about it.

    Price it at $30 or less, and I'll buy it.

    -Letting Derek Smart work on your game is like letting Osama bin Laden work in the White House. Something will burn.-
    -And on the 8th day, man created God.-

  • adam_noxadam_nox hays, KSPosts: 2,073Member Uncommon

    How much was this site paid for this 'review'?

  • ArulinArulin Memphis, TNPosts: 28Member

    LOL, you folks crack me up. Ok, A+, Cisco, and Net+ are still rare. The reg hack is a nice one, it can help sometimes. Frankly, if you have the cash you can ditch the latency. As for the DSL vs T1....Can you get a 39ms ping on WoW over DSL, I think not. The Megs that ATT/Quest/Verzion keeps selling you dumb ill-eddies out there has nothing to do with true speed, dsl and cable both are on what is called a ring/ star/ring hybred topology. T1 is on a more direct network configuration called a star topology, shorter wait time for the server. Hint the fact you get a 39 ~ 60 ms reponce rate on a T1 over 150~300 ms+ on dsl or cable.  With a nic on it own cpu you can cut your ms by 20~. Thus on a T1 you can get 40 or less, on dsl even with a Killer you can't. 

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