EVGA Bigfoot Networks Killer Xeno Pro Review - HotHardware

EVGA Bigfoot Networks Killer Xeno Pro Review

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Bigfoot Networks generated quite a bit of buzz back in 2006 when the company launched the original Killer NIC M1. As many of you probably remember, the original Killer NIC was / is a PCI-based device that featured an on-board network processor, or NPU, that was supposedly able to lower in-game ping times and free up CPU resources, which in turn could increase framerates. The Killer NIC performed these duties by bypassing the Windows networking stack through the use of custom software and offloading network related tasks from the host CPU. And generally speaking, the Killer NIC delivered on all fronts to some degree.

The $250+ price tag of the original Killer NIC was tough to justify, however, and almost immediately there were calls for a PCI Express version of the card. Instead, a few months later the market was treated to the more affordable Killer NIC K1 which had less elaborate cooling and a lower clocked NPU.

Fast forward to today, and Bigfoot Networks is ready with a completely re-vamped PCI Express version of the Killer NIC, dubbed the Xeno Pro. We actually told you about the Xeno a few months back, but the product hit the market just a few weeks ago.  We should also note that a Killer Xeno Ultra which sports more memory and an LED readout is also planned, but that product hasn't arrived just yet. We've had a Killer Xeno Pro in the lab for a few weeks though, and have the full scoop laid out in the pages ahead. First up the specs, and then we'll dig into the juicy particulars...

Bigfoot Networks Killer NIC Specifications & Features
Casual Gamers Need Not Apply

Speeds

10/100/1000 Mbps

Electrical

 

Power Requirements

Max 10W, Typical 3W

Network Processing Unit

400MHz

Memory

128 MB DDR PC2100 266MHz

Connector

PCIe

Ports

RJ-45, USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio input and output

Physical

 

Individual Card

4" x 4.5" x .75"

Weight

4 oz.

Operating Systems

Microsoft Windows XP 32 bit

 

Microsoft Windows Vista 32 bit; Microsoft Windows Vista 64 bit

Certification/ Compliance

 

Microsoft Certification

WHQL - XP and Vista

IEEE Compliance

802.3, 802.3u, 802.3x, 802.3z

Regulatory

FCC Class B (CFR 47, Part 15, Subpart B)

 

CE

 

RoHS Compliant



As the specifications above show, the Killer Xeno Pro is essentially a gigabit ethernet card, equipped with a 400MHz network processor and 128MB of DDR2 RAM (the original Killer NICs had only 64MB). There is also a USB 2.0 interface and audio input and output jacks. We'll explain why this network card needs all of these additional components on the next page, but specifications alone should tell you that the Xeno is no standard NIC.

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Kinda puts my adhoc network to shame. I couldn't deal with the 10mbps transfer speeds though. I most likely just missed it, but what are the prices on these things?

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Right on the last page Bobo--$129.

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This is actually a great IDEA. The problem is it is basically unnecessary on a typical PC. I could see super hardware junkies "which I probably would qualify as" would want these. However; the investment makes it extremely relevant (mostly to free cash and brash purchasing habits) only to a very small group. I think looking at these reviews I would be more likely to purchase the realtek unit than the "Killer" unit.

The price difference as well as the relevance is just not a major concern. I personally tend to base a motherboard choice on four things. The first is the BIOS setup and component manageability as well as ease of these things. The second is benchmarked performance and component availability. Within the last must have on a MB is a dual gigabit Ethernet (which I usually run bridged) on board especially on a PCI express board (generally gigabit Ethernets onboard operate through PCI express). The fourth is placement of plug-in and amount etc relevant to my needs at the time of purchase.

The problem with the killer is therefore it is unneeded for me. Plus the fact that most new technology on the CPU basis is quad core which almost all except a very minor few applications, or games etc us fully. So why would I need a separate CPU unit on my NIC. I also use at a minimum 4 gigs of memory, and with a quad or even dual CPU processor the memory is unnecessary as well. So I truly see absolutely no point on this unit in a regular or even a mega performance home PC unit.

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Great review. I was considering this card to handle my torrent downloads while I'm doing other things on the computer to improve multitasking, as torrents can consume quite a bit of resources. I would like to hear if anyone has experience with intesive torrent downloads with this card and the affect it had on improving overall system responsiveness for multitasking or not. This article mentioned torrents in passing but didn't really explain this use case.

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I tried one of these out for a few days as I figured that was the best way to test the product (I hate taking work home with me!). With my on board NIC (Marvell Yukon Gigabit) I cannot game and torrent, with the Xeno in my system instead of getting 250+ ping I was getting ~60 on servers that I get 20-50 on with torrents switched off. So not perfect but much better.

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