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Golden Arrow Killer Xeno Pro Gaming Network Card Review

Golden Arrow Killer Xeno Pro Gaming Network Card Review

Manufacturer: Golden Arrow
UK price (as reviewed): £76.61 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $94.99 (ex tax)

This update to the Killer NIC of a couple of years ago promises to lower your ping and keep your frame rate high, so you can headshot your way to the highest kill-to-death ratio ever seen.

While the original Killer NIC was made and branded by Bigfoot Networks, the company is licensing the design of the Xeno Pro to partners in the same way that Nvidia and ATI allow graphics card manufacturers to sell graphics cards.

Golden Arrow Killer Xeno Pro Gaming Network Card Review Introduction and Specifications Golden Arrow Killer Xeno Pro Gaming Network Card Review Introduction and Specifications
Click to enlarge

Whereas the first Killer NIC was a PCI card sporting 64MB of on-board memory, the Xeno Pro uses a 1x PCI-E interface and bumps up the memory to 128MB. The rest of the hardware remains unchanged, so the same 400MHz PowerPC processor is still present. The Xeno Pro is considerably smaller and more understated than the previous Killer NIC, and it’s also cheaper.

The Xeno Pro is essentially a computer on a card, with a core purpose of bypassing Microsoft’s built-in Windows TCP/IP stack, which Bigfoot claims isn’t well optimised for low-latency operation.

Golden Arrow Killer Xeno Pro Gaming Network Card Review Introduction and Specifications
Click to enlarge

Bigfoot’s other claim that the Xeno relieves the CPU of the need to process network traffic seems rather outdated in these days of fast multi-core CPUs. However, as the old Killer NIC did provide a lower ping and higher frame rate than when we used an on-board NIC, we were eager to find out whether the Xeno Pro could do the same.

First off, we should say that the audio jacks and the USB port on the back of the card are both redundant. The hardware-accelerated VoIP feature has been removed from the card to increase software support, while no FNApp (applications that run on the Xeno rather than the host OS) software has been released that uses the USB port.

Golden Arrow Killer Xeno Pro Gaming Network Card Review Introduction and Specifications Golden Arrow Killer Xeno Pro Gaming Network Card Review Introduction and Specifications
The Xeno Pro comes with software to confgiure your internet connection and its firewall. Click to enlarge

Installing the driver and software package is a simple process – you just download the latest driver from the Bigfoot Networks website. The bandwidth controls screen of the control suite allows traffic prioritisation and bandwidth throttling on a per-application basis, and it’s pretty intuitive to use.

The Killer Xeno Pro can also act as a firewall, but most routers already have respectable firewall capabilities.

Specifications

  • Connection 1x PCI-E
  • Data rates 10/100/1000 Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet
  • NPU Freescale Semiconductor MPC8343EVRAGD, 400MHz
  • Integrated memory 128MB 800MHz DDR2
  • IEEE Compatibility 802.3, 802.3u, 802.3x, 802.3z
  • Ports RJ-45, USB 2, mic in, audio out
  • Supported operating systems Windows XP, Vista (32-bit and 64-bit), 7 (32-bit and 64-bit)