Suffering lag issues ? Need that extra few milliseconds knocked off your ping ? Hardcore online gamers know the difference even 20ms can make when playing a fast, reflex based online shooter – Like the upcoming Quake Live for example.
A lot of readers might remember the release of the Killer NIC in 2006 from Bigfoot Networks. At a ludicrous price for a network card, it was big news. Bigfoot Networks pioneered the concept of a Network Processing Unit (NPU) for consumers when it launched its first generation of the Killer NIC. The whole idea behind the Killer NIC was to offer consumers a very high-end network interface card that would reduce lag/latency while playing online games.
It looks as though Dell remembers the whole craze about the Killer NICs as well – according to a Dell press release they now offer the Killer NIC K1 in its XPS 630 and XPS 730 gaming desktops. Dell tosses this into the mix along with Nvidia’s PhysX card under Dell’s “Gaming Essentials” section when customizing the said system models. Dell has it priced at $149 – which is what you can expect to pay for this specific model of Killer NIC at other online retailers currently.
The Killer NIC is however a client-side device on a network, so it is quite limited as to what it can actually do for the user in terms of improving actual performance over the wire. It does have tricks up its sleeves however. In all reality though, one could sacrifice the cool black PCB of the Killer NIC and big fancy heat-sink on its more expensive model and just purchase an Intel Server NIC for less than half the price and get the exact same features and performance. You’ll just be stuck with a non-attractive card – for those of you with windows on your side panels.
In the end though, the biggest factors will always be the path the packets are taking from your desktop to the server you are playing on. There is nothing you can do about what happens in between.