Bigfoot Networks has been touting their line of network cards for a while now but I didn’t have time to take a look at one until just recently. Talking with the Bigfoot folks at CES, I got a better sense as to how their cards might help a gamer achieve better gameplay. Given that most motherboards now have onboard NICs, it is a hard sell for Bigfoot to convince gamers that their Killer 2100 card can help in terms of lag. Bigfoot Networks was kind enough to supply one of their cards for testing so let’s see what I was able to come up with.
For starters, the Killer 2100 is a PCI-E 1X card that houses one connector and a few LED lights for status updates. Internally, it’s pretty much the same as their previous card, the Killer Xeno minus the audio jacks and hardware. A 400MHz NPU and 128MB of ram is onboard in order to run a very scaled down Linux OS that will help shape and control all the network traffic that flows through the card.
The NIC supports 10/100/1000Mbit speeds so if you have a gigabit LAN like I do, the card will take advantage of the that fast speed. I’ve been using a gigabit network in my house for a few years now and it’s such a great investment to be able to transfer large files without having to wait too long. The Killer 2100 is all set to go should you have a gigabit network at home.
Installation was pretty simple. I had two free PCI-E 1X slots on my motherboard so I just popped the Killer 2100 in and installed the drivers from the disc. After a few minutes, the card was rocking and ready to go to to server all my network traffic needs.
Probably the coolest thing about the Killer 2100 is the software that runs on your computer to give you plenty of controls and monitoring tools at your fingertips. The Killer Network Manager is able to show you each and every single process that is accessing the network in an easy to read UI. In real time, it will report how much bandwidth an application is taking up so you can see easily what might be hogging up all the traffic and perhaps, slowing down your game.
As you can see, the Killer Network Manager lets you limit bandwidth, prioritize traffic, even disable certain processes that access the network as well. I spent a lot of time in this area seeing what’s all that’s running and accessing the network making sure everything looked normal and optimizing my configuration.
While it’s pretty cool to be able to set certain limits on different applications, in reality you probably wouldn’t be doing anything other than playing a game as the only process on your computer using the network. Now, the software can make it absolutely sure the game’s getting the most of your network traffic but in all my years of playing, I rarely, if ever, ran something else in the background that was a bandwidth hog such as a big download. But, should you want to run, say a bitTorrent client while you are playing, you can adjust the settings so that you get minimal interruption with the game while still being able to download what you want. Services such as Steam nowadays pauses downloads should you playing one of their games so there’s really no need to use the Killer Network Manager to handle it.
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