Introducing the Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet Controller
While the Killer lineup has shifted hands a time or two, from Bigfoot Networks to Qualcomm before being spun back out to today's Rivet Networks, the product name has attracted a lot of attention. Killer products have been sought out by several large partners - Alienware, Razer, Dell, and Lenovo to name just a few.
Rivent's recent Killer E2500 announcement coincided with the release of motherboards from MSI and GIGABYTE, both of which prominently feature the new tech. GIGABYTE is dropping a board soon and MSI unleashed the Z170A GAMING M6, the latter of which we've just finished tested. Though, we had already seen the latest Killer network controller and its updated software in action, we wanted to put it to the test for ourselves.
Let's break down what the Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet Controller purports to offer. At the hardware level, the E2500 brings a few architectural tweaks from its predecessor, though it is still based on a Qualcomm device. That's not to say the E2500 isn't interesting as the E2400 was an excellent bit of tech. Instead, the big improvements come at the firmware and software levels.
ASD 2.0 doesn't stop there, however. Previously, ASD could only accelerate a browser tab if it was in the foreground. This means if you opened a second tab to fact check the Youtube video you were watching, that Youtube video would lose its priority until you returned to it -- opening potential for it to stutter. ASD 2.0 now digs deeper to work with all tabs, even in the background.
For Rivet Network's internal testing, they setup a test scenario with limited bandwidth and a number of applications competing for a slice. In this first example, they pitted High Definition Youtube streaming up against multiple BitTorrent downloads. On a typical system, the BitTorrent downloads are unrestricted which overwhelms Youtube, leading to freezes, stutter, buffering, etc. Realistically though, most users don't care if a torrent download takes a bit longer as long as their Youtube playback stays smooth, and the Killer E2500 recognizes this. It shapes traffic to give Youtube a priority on your system and dynamically adjusts bandwidth allocations to keep BitTorrent in check.
In a similar test, they swapped Skype for Youtube and compared metrics over a couple calls with an without the Killer E2500. Here, the E2500 was able to prioritize far more bandwidth to the call for drastically improved video resolution and decreased latencies.
Rivet Networks claims their prioritization can lead to a three-fold increase in data packets being transmitted round-trip for high priority applications. Naturally, this is going to be dependent on just how much total traffic is flowing over the network interface. The Netperf tool used in the test here sends out a packet, waits for a response, and then sends out the next packet. The gains seen here, in total packets delivered, stem from moving Netperf's packets to the front of the queue which cuts down on latencies. Substitute Netperf with your application or game of choice and you get the idea.
The Killer E2500 also has improved Doubleshot Pro up its sleeve. Doubleshot Pro enables you to use multiple Killer interfaces simultaneously for different types of traffic. This allows you to dedicate, say, your wired ethernet connection to gaming and video watching while you send less important traffic, such as BitTorrent and system updates, over your slower wireless link. The caveat of this feature is that it requires Killer for all interfaces involved.
Rivet Networks has incorporated a slew of excellent features in the Killer E2500, but it is not a panacea for an entire network. It's important to note that Killer interfaces won't help if another computer is hogging bandwidth. Similarly, once your traffic hits the open Internet, various routes can further take a toll on performance. Still, Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet Controllers should be an excellent option for gamers, streamers, and multi-taskers seeking a powerful and easy way to optimize their network traffic to the best effect.
Since we've had hardware in hand for a while now, and have put it through its paces on our own, we can offer some insight on the Killer E2500's actual benefits. Check it out...