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Review: Killer Ethernet E2500

by Parm Mann on 22 September 2016, 09:00

Tags: Rivet Networks

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qac6z7

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Conclusion

Killer's combination of hardware and software is arguably the best example of network traffic management we've seen on a consumer device...

The Killer E2500 is a modern network controller designed with the belief that all Internet traffic should not be treated equal.

With the majority of programs now utilising network bandwidth in one way or another, it makes perfect sense for the controller to identify and prioritise data accordingly to ensure a smoother overall experience.

Understanding that both previous and new customers will need convincing, Rivet Networks has delivered stable software designed from the ground-up, and the firm's latest hardware is showcased in motherboards we anticipate will be price competitive with those featuring traditional NICs. Getting the product into people's hands is the best way to right past wrongs, and a couple of major design wins will no doubt help - in addition to the usual motherboard players, Killer products will feature in Lenovo desktops and Dell's popular line of XPS laptops.

Killer's combination of hardware and software is arguably the best example of network traffic management we've seen on a consumer device, yet while the technology answers some questions it raises plenty of others. As it stands, the benefits of the E2500 are negated if other devices on the same network are gobbling-up bandwidth, and with the modern home featuring multiple web-connected gadgets, it's surely only a matter of time until intelligent traffic management shifts from the PC to the router.

Advance Stream Detect is undoubtedly capable of delivering a better network experience, and given that many routers still struggle with basic Quality of Service (QoS), you have to wonder if Killer will soon license its technology for use in broader networking solutions.

The Good
 
The Bad
Traffic prioritisation has genuine benefit
Requires little user configuration
Stable software and drivers
Helps prevent in-game lag
 
Won't solve multi-device congestion



Killer Ethernet E2500

HEXUS.where2buy

The Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet Controller will be available on select motherboards from MSI and Gigabite, ahead of wider availability by the end of 2016.

HEXUS.right2reply

At HEXUS, we invite the companies whose products we test to comment on our articles. If any company representatives for the products reviewed choose to respond, we'll publish their commentary here verbatim.



HEXUS Forums :: 15 Comments

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I have a “killer” network chip in my motherboard..and tbh..I see no difference over any other NIC i've owned in the past 10 years.

If there is one part of my PC that always “just works” and never has any noticeable aspect on performance, its the (wired!) network card. It's different with wireless, but every wired NIC i've owned has just worked.

This smells to me like a company trying their hardest to solve a problem that really just doesn't exist. I could get it if you had gigabit fiber and the same tech at your router/switch/every point in the network - but when 99.9% of people are running a cable to a standard broadband router (Home Hub or whatever) which is then going over copper to their exchange..this sort of thing isn't going to make a jot of difference.

When it comes to localised traffic shaping - this really isn't an issue either. If you are interested in optimising your network for gaming, then you just don't download things at the same time as playing your game..throttling your download doesn't really help as your PC is still doing it and that will still have a negative impact - so you'd just stop it, right? Windows updates don't generally auto start downloading when you are using the PC anymore (at least if you are running windows 10) but even if they do, you can put a stop to it very easily.

Pointless bit of marketing bluff imo :)
Spud1
I have a “killer” network chip in my motherboard..and tbh..I see no difference over any other NIC i've owned in the past 10 years.

If there is one part of my PC that always “just works” and never has any noticeable aspect on performance, its the (wired!) network card. It's different with wireless, but every wired NIC i've owned has just worked.

This smells to me like a company trying their hardest to solve a problem that really just doesn't exist. I could get it if you had gigabit fiber and the same tech at your router/switch/every point in the network - but when 99.9% of people are running a cable to a standard broadband router (Home Hub or whatever) which is then going over copper to their exchange..this sort of thing isn't going to make a jot of difference.

When it comes to localised traffic shaping - this really isn't an issue either. If you are interested in optimising your network for gaming, then you just don't download things at the same time as playing your game..throttling your download doesn't really help as your PC is still doing it and that will still have a negative impact - so you'd just stop it, right? Windows updates don't generally auto start downloading when you are using the PC anymore (at least if you are running windows 10) but even if they do, you can put a stop to it very easily.

Pointless bit of marketing bluff imo :)

That's the same “why automate anything when you can kind of do the same thing manually” argument that's seen in any context where newfangled “intelligent” automation and optimization is launched.

The whole point of this is to not have to actively monitor and manage your network traffic. Forgot to pause your torrents? No problem. Something updating in the background? No problem. Running an online game, a VOIP service, and streaming at the same time? No problem. See? Sure, you could just set Steam (and GOG Galaxy, Origin and all the others) to not download while a game is running. But given that games never saturate a modern broadband connection (yet are highly sensitive to latency and thus react poorly when having to compete for bandwidth), you're effectively wasting bandwidth whenever you're playing. If your game needs 5-10mbps at minimum latency, yet your connection is 30+mbps, why not use at least some of the remainder for something useful? As long as the connection isn't maxed out and the driver does its job in prioritizing packets, the effect on game latency should be as close to zero as makes no difference.

This is what computers are best at - managing things with a level of systematization, degree of control and attention to detail that humans couldn't possibly come close to. Ignoring this is effectively saying no to a better computing experience. The problem is that creating systems like this that work as they should is hard. Machine learning is helping a lot, as well as other developments. Rivet Networks seems to be getting there with LAN.

But as the review says: this needs to happen at the router level as well. Otherwise, this is pointless in many cases.
Thanks Hexus for this review. I was just looking at this on another site & Youtube reviews. I like the new updated layout in the software so that you can prioritise applications is a list. Advance Stream Detect definitely is a smart tech. My questions is, is it really Value for money. What do you really gain from it. Its not like GSync that made a massive difference to peoples games its more minimal.
Yeah, if you're daft enough to be downloading a large file and watching a 4K video whilst trying to online game then you're daft enough to buy this novelty. If you're trying to online game whilst other people sharing your internets are watching Netflix then that's fairly normal. A Killer router makes sense, this doesn't.
Take a regular computer component, paint some go faster stripes or flames on it and brand it “gaming”. Mark up by 100% or more. Hope people fall for it.