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Killer 2100 gaming network card review

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Killer 2100 gaming network card review

Post by Yaznee! L4DS on Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:16 am

Verdict:
A very effective piece of gaming technology, if of significant use only to those with lag problems. 8/10

Tech Specs:
Components: 400MHz ARM processor, 128MB DDR2 RAM
Network: 10/100/1000 Ethernet NIC
Connectivity: RJ-45
Software Features: Application blocker, visual bandwith control, advanced game detect, online gaming PC monitor
OS Support: 32/64-bit Windows 7/Vista, 32-bit Windows XP

With gigabit Ethernet integrated onto most mainboards as standard, you can’t be blamed for asking why anyone would bother buying a dedicated network card today. One reason is that the volume of information delivered by the average network connection and motherboard means that a seperate solution can help reduce onboard signal noise, but that alone doesn’t justify spending the best part of £100 on Bigfoot Networks’ latest gaming network card. So the Killer 2100 couples hardware and software features that should improve your ping where it counts the most.

The idea is that using a trio combination of user-customised controls, game detection software and specialised drivers, the Killer 2100 can receive and deliver game data faster than any other network card. Advanced Game Detect identifies prioritised game traffic over everything else, Bigfoot’s Windows Network Stack Bypass delivers the data directly to the card and the Visual Bandwith Control allows you to tweak the final results, throttling applications on the fly: all of this is sub-processed by the Killer 2100’s 400MHz NPU. That’s the theory anyway, so how does it perform in practice?

Unlike the vanilla variety of stand-alone network cards you can buy today, the Killer 2100 use a PCI-Express x1 slot or failing that, any free PCI-E slot. Just as well that we were testing it on a triple-SLI motherboard then, because our graphics card overlapped the only PCI-E x1 and we had to use a spare PCI-E x16 slot to accomodate it. Once the card, drivers and software have all been installed, there’s a firmware update that takes anything up to a few minutes to complete and then it’s time for some fine tuning via the bespoke Killer Networks Management software.

Killer 2100

For a fairly sophisticated application it’s actually quite easy to use. There’s an overview of your system and bandwith usage, plus an application management tab that allows you to assign one of four tiers of prioritisation to any application that accesses the Internet, similar to what you’d find on a decent Firewall application. Having played with some of the advanced settings too, we jumped into a game of Lord Of The Rings Online and wandered into a populous low-level hub: frame rates averaged around five percent more than using the onboard Ethernet, but with Fraps registering 100 FPS spiking to 130 in places, lag just wasn’t an issue. Unreal Tournament 3 yielded more significant results with a ping that more than halved after installing the Killer 2100, while in file tranfer tests it was comparable with the integrated NIC.

Our results make the Killer 2100 sound like Bigfoot has created a component for a problem that doesn’t really exist – and indeed, we’ve didn’t have a problem with lag in any of our games in the first place, though there were noticeable gains from dumping processes onto the dedicated NPU. For online gamers with latency problems though, the Killer 2100 will make a much bigger difference, improving frame rates in online shooters and reducing rubber-banding in MMOs, as well as proving a far more cost effective solution than upgrading other components or risking heat-death by further overclocking your CPU.

KILLER2100 ANGLE B FINAL

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Yaznee! L4DS
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