Introducing Rivet Networks’ Killer Wireless-AC 1535
Rivet Networks introduced the Killer Wireless-AC 1535 network adapter this past summer and has been the centerpiece for the company’s larger plan to enhance the experience of those relying on wireless devices for their primary means of connectivity. The Killer Wireless-AC was designed to be an adapter that could offer up to 150Mbps more data throughput than competing products at distances of 25m or more. This will allow gamers and enthusiasts to enjoy their online experience from a far greater distance from the router or access point than before.
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Killer Wireless-AC 1535 Network Adapter[/caption]
The Killer Wireless-AC 1535 features two external amplifiers with full-MU-MIMO and Transmit Beamforming support to give users maximum throughput by better directing Wi-Fi signals to the Killer 1535. The external amps give the Killer 1535 better Wi-Fi signal at longer ranges. MU-MIMO is designed to dramatically increase network efficiency and throughput by allowing enabled routers to serve wireless clients simultaneously. Lastly, the Killer 1535 utilizes Lag and Latency Reduction Technology to make sure high-priority gaming and video packets to application travel up to twice as fast as competitor’s products during single application operation and up to ten times as fast when multitasking. In theory, you’ll have enough bandwidth to play your favorite game while streaming that latest movie from Netflix!
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MSI GT72 Dominator Gaming Notebook[/caption]
The Killer Wireless-AC 1535 is now available in select products like the MSI GT72 and GT80 Gaming Notebooks as well as the Dell Alienware 13/15/17, Gigabyte G1 Gaming motherboard, to name just a few systems to feature this new wireless technology.
Killer Wireless-AC 1535 Featured Specifications:
- Support for 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with two spatial streams
- Max wireless throughput of 867 Mbps
- Supports 20/40 MHz channel bandwidth at 2.4 GHz + 20/40/80 MHz at 5 GHz
- Integrated Bluetooth 4.1
- Killer ExtremeRange Technology (Tx BF, MU-MIMO, external amplifiers)
- Lag and Latency Reduction Technology for low-latency gaming/VoIP
- Advanced Stream Detect application detection
- Automatic app prioritization (default highest priority to games/video/voice)
- 4 customizable network priority levels
- Bandwidth monitor and user-defined bandwidth limits (by application)
- Real-time and historical performance monitoring
- Wi-Fi analyzer (dynamically measures AP signal strength, channel usage)
- Supports DoubleShot Pro Technology: Use Killer Ethernet and Killer Wi-Fi together for throughup up to 1.867 Mbps; prioritize traffic between Killer Ethernet/Wi-Fi; use multiple broadband connections simultaniously
The Killer Wireless-AC 1535 from Rivet Networks also supports Killer's DoubleShot Pro, which is a way for your Killer-equipped machine to take advantage of system resources and connect to your network by wireless and Ethernet simultaneously. The Killer DoubleShot Proz automatically routes high priority traffic to the fastest Killer interface.
The Killer Wireless-AC 1535 looks to be a huge step forward in networking and we wanted to spend some quality time and investigate if these huge steps are reflective in every-day computer use or just in gaming. On the next few pages you will see how we put the 1535 through a series of functional tests to determine overall performance.
For this review we are going to use MSI’s recently released GT72 6QD Dominator G Tobii laptop that features a 6th
generation Intel Core i7 processor as well as a NVIDIA GeForce GTX880M (Dominator) graphics. MSI outfits this powerful machine with a 17.3” G-SYNC ready screen and an upgraded Killer Gigabit LAN Controller with Killer’s 1535 802.11ac wireless network card.
There are plenty of other cool features and specs on the GT72, but the main reason we are highlighting this laptop is because of its ability to connect with MU-MIMO with the Killer 1535 network card.
The Killer Wireless-AC 1535
is designed to be a high-performance networking card that provides speed and extremely low latency (or lag) with its use of MU-MIMO (Multi-User-Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output) and Transmit Beamforming. The Killer 1535 adapter supports dual bands (2.4GHz and 5GHz) 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, and Bluetooth connectivity. The card will supply a connection speed of up to 867 Mbps.
The Killer Network’s ExtremeRange Technology that is contained on the Killer 1535 should dramatically increase network efficiency by working with a MU-MIMO enabled router or access point. MU-MIMO allows wireless network devices to support multiple transmissions at the same time unlike non-MU-MIMO infrastructure. All of this leads to faster download speed and better gaming and interaction.
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The Killer Network Manager App[/caption]
The Killer Wireless-AC 1535 card can be paired with the Killer Network Manager application to give you complete control over your network traffic on the device that is using the card. You can optimize if you want low latency (Game Mode) or maximum throughput (Max Throughput Mode) in the 'Killer Wireless' menu and then you can head on over to the 'Applications' menu to fine tune each host process if you like.
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Killer Network Manager Applications Page[/caption]
The applications menu allows you to adjust the priority settings for each of applications, thus giving you manual control over how your bandwidth it used. A simple drop down menu allows you to chance the priority with Priority 1 being the most important.
Let's run some benchmark on the Killer Wireless-AC 1535!
Real-World Testing of Killer Wireless-AC 1535
In order to understand this technology, we had to be very deliberate in choosing the way we evaluated the Killer 1535. Of course we compared ultimate throughput speeds as we normally do with any network device in the Legit Bunker, but this time, we were able to look and compare one of Intel’s latest wireless devices with the Rivet Killer 1535.
Our first test was a simple speed test that we used with Netgear’s latest flagship router, the R8500
. The Netgear Nighthawk X8 is the first router designed with active antenna technology that helps to improve overall WiFi performance by amplifying the signal through the antennas themselves. The X8 has 4 internal antennas for the 5GHz Band (Channel 148-161) and 4 external antennas for 2.4GHz and 5GHz Band (Channel 36-48). The R8500 is loaded with features, but for our purposes, we are interested in getting some the best throughput from a router to test the limits of our laptop wireless cards.
We took our Killer 1535-equipped MSI GT72 laptop and paired it with the Netgear R8500 and didn’t tell the client anything more than the SSID name and let it automatically choose the channel to connect to. For the fastest possible data throughput, the router was set to “Unsecure Mode” and with WMM turned ON. After connecting, we ran the application LAN Speed Test (LST)
to measure file transfer and network speeds. LST builds a file in memory and then transfers the packet without the effects of windows file caching. It then reports the time and calculates the network speed.
For this test, you will see three sets of devices reported, the Rivet Killer 1535, the Intel 7265, and Netgear R8500 used as a wireless network bridge. We feel that the Netgear wireless bridge will give us throughput speeds closest to our router’s theoretical maximum.
The Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 is one of the most popular wireless devices on the market today found in a multitude of laptops. Running on 802.11ac, it features; 2 x 2 Wi-Fi and an included Bluetooth adapter.
Our tests were conducted in the same room where our test laptop was 9.5 feet away from our router.
Benchmark Results: We can actually see quite a bit when we examine the test results shown above. First off, our Netgear R8500 Wireless Bridge excels in this test clocking in at average of 814 Mbps. This is one of the fastest results we have seen using LST…as well it should! Using the Netgear R8500 Bridge shows us what is probably the fastest the router can perform at this distance. The Killer 1535-equipped MSI GT72 show excellent Average Read and Write speeds (600/431Mbps), while the Intel 7265 equipped GT72 posts similar speeds in Average Read (597 Mbps), but falls off with Average Write speeds (334 Mbps). Overall, the Killer 1535 is a very fast device when used to move data packets of 1MB around.
Benchmark Results: We use 100MB data packet sizes to simulate what is happening on a network with high amounts of Multimedia or Streaming traffic. Our 100MB throughput tests show that all of our devices perform relatively the same when it comes to Average Read Speeds. Clocking in little over 600 Mbps, the Netgear R8500 bridge edges out the Intel-equipped MSI GT72 and the Killer 1535 MSI GT72 is only slightly behind them at just under 600 Mbps. Average Write Speeds were similar as well with the Killer 1535 leading the bunched up pack with throughput speeds of 390 Mbps while the Netgear Bridge clocks in at 310 Mbps and the MSI GT72/Intel 7265 splitting them with 352 Mbps. These test results should result in very smooth viewing of high definition content when sharing files on this network.
NETPERF Speed Test
Netperf is a lightweight benchmarking tool that can be used to measure the performance of a variety of different networking technology. Netperf includes tests that can evaluate unidirectional throughput between a client and server, and latency between endpoints. As such, it a useful tool for testing the performance of network controllers, like Killer Wireless or Killer Ethernet.
Netperf works by sending packing of data from its server module, to the client module, and measuring the throughput. The server and clients must be run from both endpoints, i.e. the client and server machines, to measure throughput in both directions. Measuring throughput in both directions is somewhat akin to measuring download and upload speeds.
Benchmark Results: UDP (User Datagram Protocol) is an alternative communications protocol used primarily for establishing low-latency and loss tolerating connections between applications on the Internet. Looking at our results, we see the Killer 1535 clearly has an advantage over the Intel 7265 wireless chipset in the amount of data being transmitted. Those who are interested in gaming should find this result very enlightening since this is a very good measure of how each chipset will do with gaming titles.
Benchmark Results: Netperf TCP_RR and UDP_RR (Request/Response) testing is a latency based test, which sends 1 byte packets in a round robin manner. To be more precise, a 1 byte packet is sent from one machine to another, and then a 1 byte packet is sent back. The number of transactions measured is an indication of Latency. Our benchmark results show the Intel 7265 chipset running ahead of the Killer 1535 in transmissions per second. Generally, the higher the number, the better as this test gives a very good indication how the network cards will work while gaming.
Benchmark Results: The Netperf TCP_RR test can be thought-of as a user-space to user-space
- TCP (Transmission Control Protocol): TCP is one of the main protocols in TCP/IP networks. Whereas the IP protocol deals only with packets, TCP enables two hosts to establish a connection and exchange streams of data. TCP guarantees delivery of data and also guarantees that packets will be delivered in the same order in which they were sent. TCP provides reliable, ordered, and error-checked delivery of a stream of octets between applications running on hosts communicating over an IP network. TCP is the protocol that major Internet applications such as the World Wide Web, email, remote administration and file transfer rely on. Applications that do not require reliable data stream service may use the User Datagram Protocol (UDP), which provides a connectionless datagram service that emphasizes reduced latency over reliability.
- UDP (User Datagram Protocol): UDP is a transport layer protocol defined for use with the IP network layer protocol. With UDP, computer applications can send messages, in this case referred to as datagrams, to other hosts on an Internet Protocol (IP) network without prior communications to set up special transmission channels or data paths. UDP is suitable for purposes where error checking and correction is either not necessary or is performed in the application, avoiding the overhead of such processing at the network interface level.
ping with no think time - it is by default a synchronous, one transaction at a time, request/response test. The Intel 7265 chip does better in this particular test than the Killer 1535, but it is interesting the speeds of transmission both of these devices produce which is well above some of the other chipsets that we tested in our Legit Bunker. The Killer 1535 is still a solid performer when looking at TCP traffic.
Taking a look at the overall Netperf results, we see that the first thing it does is validate our LAN Speed Test results in that the Killer 1535-equipped MSI GT72 is significantly faster than that of the Intel 7265-equipped GT72. It didn’t really matter what size packets or test suites we ran, the Rivet/Killer 1535 outperformed the Intel network card. The Killer 1535 does treat packets differently based on their WMM bit in the packet header. When the WMM is set to 'Expedited' (equaling Priority 1 applications as set in the Killer App), then the Killer 1535 module sends these particular packet out with higher priority, resulting in a lower latency. Killer automatically detects latency sensitive applications (ie VOIP, gaming, etc.) and sets the bits properly.
For the last speed test, we again ran the Netgear R8500 in wireless bridge mode and connected it to a Linksys EA8500 Max-Stream AC2600 MU-MIMO Smart Wi-Fi router. The Linksys EA8500 is a ds-generation Qualcomm Atheros-based (QCA) 4x4 router where MU-MIMO is actually functioning. MU-MIMO is a set of Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output technology part of the 802.11ac design standard where data from multiple users with one or more device antennas is separated using different spatial signatures giving users an input in throughput speeds all over their network. You need to have MU-MIMO enabled client as well as a router that is MU-MIMO ready.
We went back to our favorite network benchmark, LAN Speed Test (LST), and ran LST from a laptop connected to our Netgear R8500 wireless bridge in “Continuous” mode with 25 streams of 300MB-sized packets/files. We then paired our wireless bridge to the Linksys EA8500. This acted as our “network traffic.” We then took our MSI/Killer 1535 notebook and ran LST speed test measuring the transfer speeds of 1MB & 100MB packet/files.
Benchmark Results: Believe it or not, we are seeing some very interesting numbers here. When we bombard our network with traffic, the Killer1535-equipped MSI GT72 outperformed the Intel’s 7265 solution with ease. We actually had to check these results a couple of times since there were many times the MSI/Intel 7265 would not respond to our tests and got bogged down. While the Intel was having issues getting bogged down , the Killer 1535 slowed a bit, but still was useful at an Average Read speed of over 465 Mbps, and Average Write speeds of just under 200 Mbps.
Benchmark Results: With 100 MB test data, the Intel 7265 does a bit better with its Average Read and Write speeds, but the Killer 1535 shows its prowess with a very stout 302/216 Mbps and while it’s boarder line that you can keep a 720p video stream going, you should have no problem with any audio streaming and web surfing that you might want.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
This was our first experience working with a MU-MIMO wireless network adapter. When the folks at MSI chose to include the Killer 1535 in their GT-series notebooks, that move turned out to be a huge upgrade over the “normal” stock Intel-based wireless card.
Going into this review, we wanted to see if the Killer 1535 upgrade was worth the extra bit of money as well as confirm a real-world difference over ‘stock’ network cards. One of the most used cards in mobile computing is the Intel 7200-series and from using it the MSI GT72, as well as our Dell Latitude laptop, we have seen that it is an incredible useful and reliable card. In out speed tests, we saw that the Intel card was very fast when used in a ‘clean’ environment with little to no network traffic. Through our tests and every-day use, we see that Wi-Fi cards like the Intel 7265 are ideal if you live alone where you don’t have to worry about any network traffic or trying to multitask while gaming.
Things change dramatically when you want to multitask or do any sort of gaming on your network. Our test show that even if you have blazing speeds via a cable modem or running gigabit Ethernet, you should consider the Killer networking card if you are concerned about any drops or slowing down in the connection you have made.
We worked with the MSI GT72 for about a month side by side with a laptop that didn’t contain a Killer 1535 network card. Honestly, it was clear that using a Killer-equipped laptop was a total step up in performance. Many times we take for granted our technology – especially those that are related to our Wi-Fi –and are satisfied with just obtaining a signal. The folks that upgrade their machines to the Killer 1535 will be lucky to experience the dramatic change in experience.
A hardcore gamer will certainly feel the difference between a Killer 1535 and a normally-equipped gaming laptop. The many bells and whistles that Killer has included with the 1535 make this a no-brainer as you are configuring your new system.
Legit Bottom Line:
The Killer Wireless-AC 1535 network adapter is one of the best networking devices we have looked at. If you care about gaming in an environment with other network traffic, you seriously need to consider having a network device that will optimize your network throughput. Having a machine with the Killer Wireless-AC 1535 will do that.