Head to Head: Bigfoot Killer Wireless-N 1102 vs. Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300

Michael Brown

Out-of-whack price/performance ratios snuffed our enthusiasm for earlier Bigfoot Networks Killer NIC products. Would that be the case with the company's first wireless NIC, too? To find out, we tested two otherwise-identical CyberPower X6-9300 gaming notebooks: one with Bigfoot's new Killer Wireless-N 1102, and the other with Intel's Centrino Ultimate-N 6300. The Intel part supports three 150Mb/s streams while the Atheros AR9382-based Bigfoot part supports two streams.

Round 1: TCP Throughput

Bigfoot tells us it has optimized the software for latency-intolerant applications: multiplayer games, VoIP, video streaming, and so on. The trade-off, a company spokesperson said, is slightly lower TCP performance, which is used for email, web browsing, and other apps where packets can be reassembled out of order.

But our Jperf tests didn't reveal a yawning performance gap: Intel's part was 11 to 19 percent faster on the 2.4GHz band, with the bigger difference occuring at a longer distance (with the client on our outdoor patio). Bigfoot's part, on the other had, delivered slightly faster performance when operating on the 5GHz frequency band, although the delta wasn't nearly as wide (just 5 percent). Intel's part was negligibly faster on the 5GHz band when the client was on the patio.

Winner: Centrino Ultimate-N 6300

Round 2: UDP Throughput

Applications that can't tolerate latency—online games, VoIP, audio and video streaming apps, and similar programs—utilize UDP (User Datagram Protocol). UDP operates on the assumption that it's better to drop packets than to wait for them, and that the application will handle any necessary error correction.

When we configured Netperf to send 1,024-byt packets using UDP, we saw only negligible differences in throughput: Intel was 1 percent faster on the 2.4GHz band, and Bigfoot was 5 percent faster on the 5GHz band. But when we increased packet sizes to 1,472 bytes (the maximum size that will fit within an Ethernet frame, assuming a 20-byte IP header and an eight-byte UDP header), Bigfoot's part delivered UDP throughput eight to 10 times faster than Intel's.

Winner: Bigfoot Killer Wireless-N

Round 3: Latency

We used the Bigfoot-developed GaNE (Gaming Network Efficiency) benchmark for this test. We're naturally suspicious of vendor-developed benchmakrs, but Bigfoot is opening its source code so we'll give it the benefit of the doubt here. GaNE measures the latency between two PCs on the same local network by sending a 100-byte packet over the network every 50 milliseconds (a scenario typical of online games).

The Killer Wireless-N 1102 absolutely crushed Intel's NIC on this benchmark, delivering average ping times of just 1.2ms on the 2.4GHz band, compared to 7.3ms for Intel's adapter. We saw similar results on the 5GHz band, with Bigfoot's card delivering average pings of 1.1ms compared to the Intel card's 10.9ms.

Winner: Bigfoot Killer Wireless-N

Round 4: Real-World File Transfer

For this test, we timed how long it took for each notebook to copy a 2GB file over the wireless network to a third computer hardwired to the router. We repeated the test three times on each notebook on each frequency and averaged the results. We expected these results to be relatively similar to the more synthetic Jperf test, but Bigfoot's card proved to be slightly faster than Intel's card on the 2.4GHz band—and it was significantly faster than Intel's card on the 5GHz band.

Winner: Bigfoot Killer Wireless-N

And the Winner Is…

It's actually a double win for Bigfoot's Killer Wireless-N 1102 . The adapater scored resounding wins in three of four categories, and it's significantly less expensive than Intel's part—at least in CyberPower's configurations. You can't buy the part at retail, and Bigfoot can't dictate how much OEMs charge their customers, but CyberPower charges $15 to upgrade to Bigfoot's part, versus $26 for an upgrade to Intel's Centrino Ultimate-N 6300.


Killer Wireless-N 1103
Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300
Killer Wireless-N 1103
Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300
JPerf TCP, Kitchen (Mb/s)
79.8 88.5 147.0 140.0
JPerf TCP, Patio (Mb/s)
49.6 59.0 44.4 44.9
NetPerf UDP (1,024-byte packets), Kitchen (Mb/s)


103.2 163.4 155.5
NetPerf UDP (1,472-byte packets), Kitchen (Mb/s) 29.0 3.3 36.3 3.4
2GB File Transfer (sec)
179.0 187.3 139.0 188.7

Best scores are bolded. We used a Linksys E4200 router for these benchmarks, which supports two spatial streams on its 2.4GHz radio, and three spatial streams on its 5GHz radio. In the Kitchen test, the router and client are 20 feet apart and separated by one interior wall. In the Patio test, the router and client are 38 feet apart and separated by one interior and one exterior wall.

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