When we interviewed Bigfoot Networks CEO Michael Howse in January, we learned that the company was readying a new version of its gaming network card for next quarter. Well, right on schedule, Bigfoot has now announced the Killer Xeno: a leaner, cheaper, and faster successor to the almost three-year-old Killer NIC.
Bigfoot is actually rolling out two distinct flavors of this new product: the $129.99 Killer Xeno Pro and the $179.99 Killer Xeno Ultra. The pricier model has twice as much memory (256MB), and it comes with a customizable "8-panel, 14-segment LED display" for folks with clear PC enclosures.
Otherwise, both cards share the same basic feature set: a 400MHz Freescale 8314 processor, an integrated stereo audio processor for voice-over-IP apps, 3.5-mm input and output connectors, an RJ-45 port, and one USB 2.0 port.
What makes these different from the original Killer NIC? For starters, the Xeno Pro's $130 asking price is about 20 bucks below that of the current Killer K1. Bigfoot has ditched field-programmable gate arrays in favor of a Freescale 8314 processor, too, and it's designed the Xeno with a native PCI Express x1 interface instead of plain 32-bit PCI. Bigfoot tells us the new processor should allow for "as good or better" performance in games—and much faster transfer speeds.
The new Killer NICs are still supposed to reduce pings in games, and they still let you run custom "FNApps," but Bigfoot has added a third core feature: voice chat offloading. The firm partnered up with TeamSpeak, and it will bundle TeamSpeak's VoIP software with Killer Xeno cards. Supposedly, offloading VoIP onto the Xeno can free up CPU cycles and improve network performance. There's no support for in-game voice chat in titles like Team Fortress 2 right now, though, even if Bigfoot didn't rule that out as a possible future addition.
The Killer Xeno Pro will ship next month, and the Xeno Ultra will follow in May. Both cards should be available in pre-built PCs from the likes of Alienware and Falcon Northwest, but this time, Bigfoot has also partnered up with EVGA for retail distribution. EVGA has already made a name for itself selling Nvidia graphics cards, and Bigfoot expects this partnership will greatly improve the Killer line's retail reach.