Here we are today reviewing one of the more controversial personal computer products to be released in the last couple of years. If you thought the AGEIA PhysX product generated controversy about whether it was a viable product or not then you should read the comments around the Internet about the Bigfoot Networks Killer NIC. The phrase Snake Oil is one of the most commonly used online terms to describe the Killer NIC. While this did not surprise us given the aggressive marketing of the product, we think it is a bit unfair if the commenter has never actually used the product.

Hopefully our review today will prove or dispel this phrase. Of course our article commentary on the product just might inflame the masses into a further war of words on the subject. First, however, we need to revisit the first line of this paragraph. We really cannot call the article you are going to read today a review; it is more like an evaluation of a very controversial yet interesting product.

Yes, we will present data such as frame rates and ping times in several of the latest games available today. Along with this empirical data will also be NIC specific results, but our test results should only be used as part of an overall evaluation of the product. When it comes right down to it, the actual experience we will convey of using this product on a daily basis should be the crux of your purchasing decision.

At this time you might be thinking we drank some Snake Oil but let us explain our comments. Our test results cannot be accurately replicated by our readers, other review sites, or even ourselves in a very controlled environment. Our test results are accurate based upon the criteria we utilized at the time of testing but they cannot be consistently replicated. In some ways our testing was a grand experiment that provided more information about our network capability and broadband provider than the Killer NIC. Wow, maybe there was something in that glass besides water now that we think about it....

In actuality, figuring out how to properly test this beast of a card was somewhat perplexing at first, reached a frustrating crescendo, and even continues to be puzzling to some degree today. The problem lies in developing a set of benchmarks that will be consistent, repeatable, and fair. Those words consistent and repeatable sound so simple when using our standard benchmark suite on a daily basis, but they still haunt us to this day when testing this card.

We centered our efforts on reducing the almost infinite set of variables in trying to test this card and its competition. Almost infinite set of variables you ask? For starters, the two most important variables to address are our network connection and the performance of the servers we connected with during testing. We tried several different methods to address (tame) this variability with each ending in a dead end, endless nights of desperation, or just creating additional complexity that did not provide any new details. In the end, there just was no way to accurately control these two critical variables that were completely out of our control. Besides our connection and the server, any testing that involves the Internet is subject to countless potential influences on performance, and with games you also throw in other players which vary in number and location.

While not perfect and open for debate, we feel like the benchmarks we utilized will provide a general indication of the card's performance while our experiences with the Killer NIC will provide the other piece of the puzzle. After all, it's not every day that a network card is launched specifically targeting the online gaming audience with promises of giving you the competitive edge you need in the heat of battle. The marketing blitz continues with statements like, "Killer frees up your computer's processor to focus on the game giving you those extra Frames Per Second and lower Pings when you need them most. Finally you can focus not just on winning - but dominating." We figure it takes a big set of brass ones to make such claims... or maybe, just maybe, the product actually works as advertised.

Let's find out if aggressive marketing or engineering genius defines the capability of this product.

Technology behind the Killer NIC
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  • Gary Key - Wednesday, November 1, 2006 - link

    We have been trying to develop a benchmark for BF2142 and our issues always revolve around the Titan when it is full. ;-) I tried BF2142 right before we ended testing with the Killer NIC and could not tell any difference with it. However, I did not benchmark while we were trying to develop a benchmark. If I get a chance I will go back and try it with the new drivers.
  • soydeedo - Wednesday, November 1, 2006 - link

    cool beans. thanks for that quick first impression. i was just curious if it could somehow benefit from the packet optimization etc. anywho, keep us posted should you find something noteworthy with the new drivers. =)
  • goinginstyle - Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - link

    Any update on BF2142?
  • Nehemoth - Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - link

    Now i just need that anandtech review this">
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, November 1, 2006 - link

    Looks like a flat panel, and you'd do better with a 21-23DB gain Andrew, trust me, I've had the last two years to play with both since we've been wireless internet for about that long. We have just now switched (tonight, just got he hardware) to AT&T 'Wi-Max', and it is much much better than our previous provider using 802.11/G. Get this, it doesnt even need a dirrectional, just set it next to a window (such is true in our case), and you're getting an instant 2.52Mbit from a tower 8 miles away.

    It's pretty dahmed cool, and I didnt believe it myself, until I hooked up a neibors system for him, and he's got it in a window that sits on the opposite side of his house from the tower. Although, from the little technical information the tech support team was able to provide me with, it's only availible in our town, and only if you cant get DSL, supposedly, this is some sort of trial service for them, to determine whether its feasable to setup in other areas *shrug*. Nothing like downloading at 200 KB/s +, seen it swing as high as 800+ KB/s
  • feelingshorter - Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - link

    Buddy, that thing is realistic. Dont tell me you never herd of a directional antenna?!?!? Thats all it is. No its not overpriced because good antennas cost a lot and it does stop your internet from dropping.
  • Frumious1 - Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - link

    Only problem is it's completely impractical for laptops where you move around a lot. For desktops, if you want a consistent quality connection, just run the damn wire and be done with it. The fastest wireless 802.11 stuff can't even come close to 100 Mbit for typical use, let alone gigabit!
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - link

    I have to admit, I'm a bit disappointed in you fellas, for not even benching the in-expensive Intel PCI-E NIC">Intel Pro 1000 PCI-E
    , Or atleast comparring the two. For $40 USD, this card should perform very close, if not better than the $300usd 'snake oil' NIC.

  • Gary Key - Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - link

    We tested the Intel PRO/1000 PT and the Koutech PEN120 PCI-Express Gigabit adapters. Both adapters scored slightly less than the NIVIDIA NIC across the board in our tests so we did not show the results. Both cards support Linux so that is a plus but then again we were reviewing a NIC designed for Windows based gaming.
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, November 1, 2006 - link

    Hmm, guess i missed that review, however, the last review on saw on the Intel PCI, and Onboard Intel solutions (a year or so ago from *ahem* THW, showed both those leading the pack, of course, I guess the killer NIC wasnt availible at that time . . .

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