A Review of the Bigfoot Killer Wireless-N 1102 Network Card

We take a look at the new embedded Wireless Network Card from Bigfoot and see if it really increases speeds as much as it claims to.

In my job I tend to do a fair amount of traveling over the year. I live
on the East Coast and, as luck would have it, most MMOG developers are
situated on the West Coast. This means that in any given year I can
count on at least 100 or 200 hours that will be spent flying or in
airports and for roughly one month out of the year I'll be in a hotel
somewhere. Yup, I'm a traveling gamer and as such I spend a fair amount
of my work and game time from a laptop. I'm not a rare exception
nowadays, either. More and more the popularity of laptops grow every
year, being used heavily by professionals, students, and everything in

If you've ever experienced wi-fi connections in hotels or aiports
you'll know how much of a pain connections can be. So when Bigfoot
approached me about reviewing their newest creation, the Killer
Wireless-N 1102 embedded Network Card, I was very interested in seeing
how it would stand up. I currently run a href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/reviews/hardware/killer2100">Killer
2100 Gaming NIC in my desktop and have been quite pleased
with it. I was very anxious to see what kind of performance
the embedded wireless variation would offer.

Let me preclude by setting expectations. The embedded 1102 obviously
cannot magically fix a poor internet connection in say, a hotel. When
the network itself is slow obviously anything connected to it will be
slow. What it can do, however, is maximize performance for the
connection you do have, ensuring that wherever you're connected you're
going to see the best possible performance without worrying about your
own laptop causing the issues.

The Sweet Suite of Software

The included Killer Network Manager is a powerful application, even on
a desktop computer. It becomes even more desirable on a laptop when
you're on the go or don't necessarily have the ability to throttle or
otherwise manage traffic priorities through a router. And when you're
in a hotel, airport or college dorm, it's unlikely you have that kind
of control over the network. This is where the NIC really starts to

Consider this: you're a student in a dorm room and you're using your
laptop as a media center for movies, a gaming computer, and of course,
homework. You're connected to the dorm network and you've got a project
you need to finish by morning which has you bouncing around on the
Internet gathering information. However, you also want to download a
few TV shows from iTunes to watch after you're done, stream some music
to listen to while you work, and patch style="font-style: italic;">World of Warcraft
to play over the weekend. The dorm network only allows you a maximum of
1.5Mbps downstream so you really have to manage how you're going to do
all that.

With the Killer Network Manager, managing those concurrent
downloads is a snap. Simply open the Application Manager and drag the
bar to the desired bandwidth capacity. In addition, LAN traffic
(connecting to local computers without using the internet) can be
excepted to any of the rules you set.

The Network Manager also lists all applications that are taking
bandwidth. This is useful for obvious reasons, such as manual
throttling, but it can also serve as a sort of security system. If your
connections seem to be slow, no matter what you do, and you're sure
it's not the network you're connecting to, take a look at the running
apps. At a glance you'll immediately be able to tell which applications
are running and which are hogging your bandwidth.

Advanced Stream Detect

For a real hands-off no-muss-no-fuss solution the Killer NIC also
offers Advanced Stream Detect. These priorities will decide which
application gets priority traffic. This comes in particularly handy if
you've started a download, forgotten about it, and then went to boot up
an online game. Instead of experiencing horrible lag, the Advanced
Stream Detect will recognize that you're playing a game and
automatically give the game priority bandwidth, while throttling your
forgotten download. All priorities can be configured manually to set it
up the way you want but by default the scheme works like this:

Priority 4 (low) – The default priority for all new or
unidentified applications.

•       Torrent

•       File
sharing applications such as Dropbox

•       Update
applications such as Google Update, iTunes Update, Adobe Updater

•       Email
clients such as Outlook

Priority 3 (normal): User-interactive applications

•       Web
Browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera

•       User
Applications such as PowerPoint, Excel and Word

•       Killer
Network Manager

Priority 2 (high): Real-time communications applications

•       IM
clients such as  Yahoo, Google, AOL, MSN

•       VoIP
clients such as Ventrilo, TeamSpeak, Xfire

•       Video
clients such as OoVoo

Priority 1 (highest): Games, Video applications, performance

•       All games
and white-listed applications

•       Video
chat clients such as Skype, Sightspeed and Vidyo

Performance tests such as Netperf and GaNE

Straight out of the box (or straight into the box, since we're
discussing an embedded NIC) the Wireless-N 1102 will prioritize the
applications that are important to you and ensure that you can do what
you set out to do without interruption trying to manage bandwidth.
Whether you're watching Netflix or busting up baddies, the Advanced
Stream Detect makes it easy to manage.

Me Speed

alt="The Killer Wireless-N Network Card" width="250">

What about speed? Does the Bigfoot Wireless-N 1102 really provide five
times less latency than other wireless NICs like it claims to? It
certainly can, but again, be realistic with your expectations. By
taking some of the load off processing power and streamlining
connections the NIC does outperform other cards.

In a setup with two laptops connected wirelessly to a network, one with
the Wireless-N 1102 and one without, we ran some quick tests by pelting
a third computer, connected via Ethernet to the same network, with
simultaneous UDP Pings.  The results were conclusive. We found
the average ping time of the laptop with the Killer technology to have
an average of 0.804 milliseconds, whereas the laptop with another brand
of wireless NIC averaged 10.02 milliseconds. The "jitter" or worst 10%
packets showed similar results with the Killer's worst 10% coming in at
0.921 milliseconds and the Control laptop coming in at a whopping
78.322 milliseconds.

Finally we ran a simple throughput test from both laptops and this is
where the real magic took place. A throughput test is done by seeing
how much traffic can flow through to the laptop over a specific period
of time. These results were also impressive as the Killer NIC came in
at 152 megabits per second while the Control laptop was only able to
reach 108 megabits per second.

More importantly, when we ran the same test using UDP (which is the
protocol used by most online games) the Killer NIC again came out on
top at 159 Mbps compared to the 138 Mbps of the control laptop.


From our basic testing above, there's no denying that the Killer NIC is
indeed considerably faster than other embedded NICs. But
perspective is needed here.

Definitively, the best improvements are seen on local networks. You're
simply not going to be reaching the hundreds of megabits per second of
the throughput test on an internet connection. But what's a laptop for,
if not for LAN parties? Give yourself a huge advantage at your next TF2

Otherwise, for every day internet use the main advantage of the card
isn't necessarily its speed but rather its software. There's simply no
easier way to manage your connections and bandwidth on a laptop than
with the Killer Network Manager and Advanced Stream Detect. These two
components alone make the Bigfoot Killer Wireless-N 1102 a huge
contender in a world run by laptops and mobile devices.

So is it worth the price? Since the NIC in this review is embedded that
price will vary from vendor to vendor, but it's safe to say that given
the option a laptop with a Killer NIC certainly has more value than one
without. For a complete list of vendors check the bottom of the product
sheet found at href="http://www.bigfootnetworks.com/killer-wireless-n-1102/">http://www.bigfootnetworks.com/killer-wireless-n-1102/.

For my money, I'll keep an eye out for the NIC when I'm due for my next
laptop upgrade. Maybe I'll find one at a good price at LAX.

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