The EVGA Killer Xeno Pro network adapter works just as specified by the manufacturer, offloading the computer’s CPU from processing network data and reducing the response time in online games as long as this parameter depends on the gamer’s computer. Alas, it depends even more on such parameters as connection type, how loaded the ISP’s and game’s servers are, etc. As we have found out, the Killer Xeno Pro can only improve an online game’s responsiveness by a few milliseconds, which is beyond the range of perception. This network adapter is good when you are playing a game while running some other network applications, for example downloading files from your LAN or with a torrent client. The Killer Xeno Pro shows its best in such situations and uses its advanced traffic prioritization tools to keep the ping time as low as without any additional network load. There are also some performance benefits in games in terms of speed in frames per second since the CPU does not have to process Windows’ network stack, but this improvement varies from 3 to 10% only. It is only in World of Warcraft that we really felt the gameplay became smoother with the EVGA card.
The hardware NPU has high potential but is not free from downsides. Its response time optimizations make the Killer Xeno Pro unable to work at data-transfer speeds typical of Gigabit Ethernet networks. When used on such a LAN to transfer a large file, it will only deliver a speed of Fast Ethernet. For some reason, Bigfoot Networks cannot implement both a low response time and a high peak data-transfer speed in the same network adapter and the gaming optimizations take precedence, of course. After all, they are unique to the Killer NIC series the Xeno Pro comes from whereas a high data-transfer speed can be achieved with any Gigabit Ethernet adapter.
There are also some compatibility issues. Although we used only three games in our review, one of them, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, did not run properly when uTorrent was running in the background. We wouldn’t be surprised to find that this problem occurs in other games. Hopefully, Bigfoot Networks’ programmers will solve it with driver updates. And finally, the declared support for FNA technology which allows running applications right on the NPU is still far from perfect while the voice communication support, although covers TeamSpeak and Mumble, is not compatible with some in-game communication tools which just do not see the audio codec on board the Killer Xeno Pro.
To sum everything up, the EVGA Killer Xeno Pro is a working solution but its effect is too negligible to be the decisive factor in an online game. The only exception is when you are playing a game and downloading files simultaneously. However, this is an unlikely scenario since most gamers turn every background application off before launching their game. The Killer Xeno Pro comes at $100, but we guess this money should be instead invested into a more advanced graphics card, e.g. using the EVGA Step-Up program. Perhaps this network adapter may attract some MMORPG players but we don’t expect it to become a truly mass product.
- Hardware NPU takes over complete network protocols processing;
- Slight performance boost in games;
- Low latencies during simultaneous gameplay and file download;
- Advanced prioritization and traffic shaping capabilities;
- Hardware support of voice communication;
- Declared support for FNA applications development and launch;
- USB port for external drives.
- Results do not justify the price;
- Issues with some games and uTorrent;
- Raw software;
- Low LAN data transfer rate;
- Limited compatibility of the integrated audio codec;
- Purely declarative FNA and USB support.