Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: The Killer NIC generally offered better performance overall than an integrated nForce NIC. In three of the four games we tested, installing the Killer NIC resulted in higher framerates, and in two of the four games ping times decreased. Where the Killer did not offer better performance than the integrated NIC, however, performance deltas were quite small.
The Killer NIC does everything Bigfoot Networks claims it will do. The card's dedicated NPU offloads network processing from the host CPU, freeing it up to perform other duties. And with its advanced traffic shaping capabilities, prioritizing gaming packets and bypassing the built in Windows Network Stack, the Killer can reduce lag and ping times in many games. Both of these things amount to a better overall gaming experience. But despite the fact that the Killer seems to do just what it is designed to, justifying the $279 price tag will be difficult for all but the most hardcore on-line gamers. If you've got a high-end system and the funds, and a PCI slot available, installing a Killer will likely enhance your experience with many on-line games and it will do so right out of the box. If you can't justify the investment though, your integrated NIC will still do the same job just fine.
Depending on how the FNApp situation plays out, however, the Killer still has a lot more potential. If at some point in the future, new FNApps are released that give users the ability to run an IM client and VoIP application on the Killer, all the while downloading a Torrent and prioritizing game packets, without using any host CPU or system resources, we can see some users clambering over one of these cards just for those features alone. For now, we're going to give the Killer NIC an 8 on the Heat Meter for improving game performance and working as advertised without having to alter any games in any way. But the Killer could become infinitely more attractive if innovative FNApps are released that unlock hidden potential.