Bigfoot Dashboard utility helps gamers identify bottlenecks


— 4:01 PM on December 8, 2009

For a while now, Bigfoot Networks has offered gamers a way to curb lag and maximize frame rates in online games through its Killer network cards. The firm is now providing a complementary solution to the same problem: Dashboard, a monitoring application that lets users keep track of frame rates, CPU utilization, network performance, and other stats, all in one location.

Bigfoot essentially bills Dashboard as a way to pinpoint the cause of lag or low frame rates in games. A Dashboard case study on the company's website provides one example: upon encountering abnormal frame rate fluctuations in some parts of Infinity Ward's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the Bigfoot guys whipped up Dashboard. The software reported no ping problems, and while it did show spikes in UDP offload data, the spikes didn't match valleys in the frames-per-second graph. In the end, the problem proved to be tied to graphical settings.

The application doesn't actually monitor in-game pings—Bigfoot's Sean McCann told us games measure ping in different ways to begin with, and a simple ICMP ping to the game server wouldn't tell the whole story, because it wouldn't account for the latency of UDP packets used by the actual game. (Killer cards also don't offload ICMP traffic.) Rather, Bigfoot has set up Dashboard to run a UDP ping to a server in the United States; the point being not to get the lowest number, but to identify variations. McCann wasn't willing to disclose Bigfoot's hosting provider, but it assured us that the host is a highly reliable one.

Although Dashboard doesn't actually require a Killer card to work, the tool lets Killer owners keep an eye on UDP packets and offloading statistics, as well. The app runs happily in the background and can export data for frame rates, ping, UDP offloading, CPU load, and "a few other variables" to comma-separated-variable (CSV) files. Users can then open and study those files in Excel or any other spreadsheet software.

You'll find the Dashboard software on this page. Bigfoot offers a setup guide in PDF format to help get you started.

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