Bigfoot Networks has, for the past few years, been trying very hard to bring high powered, intelligent network interface cards to the desktop. We previously looked at their Killer NIC with some interesting results, and today we've got the Killer Xeno Pro in our labs.

The major difference between the older Killer NIC and the newer Killer Xeno Pro is the inclusion of an audio path and audio processing for voice chat acceleration. They Killer Xeno Pro also has twice the RAM of the original. Despite the improvements, one of the major benefits is that the Killer Xeno Pro will be available at a lower retail price than the Killer NIC was. Oh, and it is sort of cool to see the new hardware dialog talking about a PowerPC Processor:

I sooo want to hack this thing now.

In our original investigation, we did see some situations where the Killer NIC could make some difference, but, for what you get, the cost was much too high. One of the ways that Bigfoot is trying to combat this is by selling chipsets and letting vendors like EVGA build and market boards. They've managed to get their costs down and the price of the Killer Xeno Pro, while very high for a network card, is much more reasonable than the original offering. The EVGA Killer Xeno Pro can be had for about $120 USD.

The EVGA Killer Xeno Pro in all its glory.

Let's start by saying that this isn't going to be a network card for someone hanging on to a 7 Series NVIDIA card or a Radeon 1k part from ATI in a single core CPU system. When upgrading, spending the $120 cost of the Killer Xeno Pro on a better graphics card will net you a great deal more performance. Even putting that money into the CPU is likely to get you more for your money in general. This is a card that should be targeted at the online gamer with a good system who wants to make sure every possible advantage is covered.

This hardware at this price is just not for everyone. It still needs to come down to more of a commodity price in order to see wider adoption. In our opinion, those who should even consider this card should already have a modern dual core system with single GPU graphics hardware capable of delivering a good, steady, high framerate at the preferred resolution in the majority of games. We don't expect that everyone who has such a system will want to invest in the Killer Xeno Pro either, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Up first we will look at the Killer Xeno Pro, its features, and why we should expect some level of increased performance at all from a typical network card.

The Card and Features
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  • Pirks - Friday, July 3, 2009 - link

    "offload TCP/IP work from the CPU by bypassing the Windows TCP/IP stack" <<<--- THIS my friends if the proper fix for the infamous Vista MP3 network throttling issue. I wish this card were around when Mark Russinovich made his famous blog post.
  • Zolcos - Friday, July 3, 2009 - link

    Of course, internet latency is mostly dependent on the internet. Maybe I read this product wrong, but I always thought it was more for LAN gamers. After all, the client-side processing makes up a larger percentage of total latency on a fast LAN than over the internet. I'd like to see some game latency tests with a few computers on a gigabit LAN and no internet connection. Maybe even do a test with just a crossover cable between 2 Killer Xeno Pro cards to see "how low can you go".
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 3, 2009 - link

    I'd like to do that sort of testing as well. We've only got one card in our labs right now though.
  • andylawcc - Friday, July 3, 2009 - link

    how much did they pay you guys to review this?
  • james jwb - Friday, July 3, 2009 - link

    the "Anandtech has gone down hill" troll remarks aren't going to reappear again, are they? The last few months it's been nice here...

    There was nothing wrong with this review. Bigfoot marketed it at gamers, it was reviewed with this in mind, and it's failed in that respect. The review was solid, if anything blame Bigfoot Networks. Got it?
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 3, 2009 - link


    I was actually interested in finding out if it was any good.

    And we did recommend that people not buy it ... so ... there's that.
  • crimson117 - Friday, July 3, 2009 - link

    Okay then... um... how much did their competitors pay you to review it? Yeah!
  • HerrK - Friday, July 3, 2009 - link

    It would be nice to see how good the ping reduction for torrent+WOW is in comparisson to a software solution like CfosSpeed, which does the trick at my PC for yeras now. And I would like to see CPU-utilization compared to onboard NIC´s for GBit file transfers in an internal network. I'm aware that you wanted to show the real performance benefits for a gamer, but you know...

    Last, since this is my first post here, I would like to thank you all for your great work at Anandtech, it is one of the sites I check almost every day, and be delighted.
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 3, 2009 - link

    This could definitely be interesting and is something we would like to look into.

    we do really want to test with more than one card to see how it changes overall network performance.
  • hyc - Monday, July 6, 2009 - link

    In my experience, having done a lot of heavy load testing on servers, you're only going to see any difference when you're near saturation of the network fabric. I.e., you need to be pushing enough packets to be at over 60% of the network's packet-per-second limit before you'll see any performance difference from any offload engine. For gigabit ethernet the maximum frame rate (at minimum frame size) is about 1.488M packets/sec. At anything less than 10% network utilization I doubt you'll even be able to measure the CPU overhead of network processing.

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