Rivet Networks, the company behind the Killer brand, has been on a roll lately with the launch of a new Ethernet controller (E2500) back in September 2016. Killer's selling proposition is the fine-grained QoS settings that are automatically applied to certain types of traffic, resulting in better user experience for Internet usage scenarios like online gaming and video conferencing. Till now, their IP has been restricted to client devices with their NICs installed. However, that restricted the effectiveness of their prioritization algorithms to traffic originating from that machine only. In order to be effective in the multi-device usage scenarios of the modern home, the algorithms effectively need to be resident in the router.

This CES, they have partnered with Linksys for the launch of the first router with the 'Killer Prioritization Engine'. The Linksys WRT gaming edition router - the WRT32X - works closely with router clients that are Killer endpoints (various notebooks with Killer Wi-Fi and/or desktops with Killer wired NICs). Within the consumer's residence, there is an end-to-end optimization of certain types of traffic for latency minimization. This ensures lesser lag and smoother streaming / video conferencing. Other types of traffic such as bulk downloads are given a lower priority.

The hardware itself is a Tri-Band AC3200 (N600 + AC2600) solution using 3x3 radios (one 5 GHz and one 2.4 GHz). Note that the 3x3 5 GHz band is marketed with the 'Tri-Stream 160' tag - implying the use of a 160 MHz-wide channel that allows up to 867 Mbps per stream (and, a total of 2.6 Gbps for a 3x3 configuration). The radio belong to the Marvell Avastar 88W8964 family. Other platform details include:

  • 1.8 GHz Dual-Core ARM CPU [ Marvell ARMADA 38x, with a dual-core Cortex A9 host processor ]
  • MU-MIMO Technology for airtime efficiency
  • QoS engine powered by Killer Networking
  • Exclusive optimization for Killer Networking gaming clients in MSI, Alienware, Razer etc.
  • DFS certified for operation in the clear DFS channel airspace
  • 256MB Flash and 512MB of DDR3 Memory
  • 4 high-performance Antennas and high-powered PAs for better range
  • 5-port SOHO-grade Gigabit Ethernet switch with TCAM (1x WAN, 4x LAN)
  • eSATA, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 Ports for NAS-like network storage
  • Custom-built firmware specially tuned for online gaming traffic

The router is expected to become available in Spring 2017 for $300. We have long been wary of the effectiveness of the Killer solutions in a household with multiple clients simultaneously accessing the Internet. The move towards integrating the algorithms in the router addresses most of our concerns. It ensures that the consumer is able to fully realize the benefits of the Killer solution in their gaming notebooks and PCs.

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  • ChefJeff789 - Monday, January 9, 2017 - link

    This.^ "Killer" branded crap is a reason for me to avoid something, not to buy it. Stop putting them in systems, PLEASE.
  • IKeelU - Monday, January 9, 2017 - link

    One should check if their existing router has QOS settings before buying this. Or one can get a router with QOS settings and just set them (see Ubiquiti). Much cheaper than this monstrosity.
  • Murloc - Tuesday, January 10, 2017 - link

    having tried them, I can say that either my router isn't very good at it (it's not an ubiquiti) or I didn't set it properly, or it doesn't really stop a max bandwidth download on another computer from making your ping jump all over.
  • DanNeely - Monday, January 9, 2017 - link

    I find the 3 160MHz channel claim amusing since at present there are only at most 2 160MHz channels licensed in the 5ghz ISM band. The US is considering some spectrum reallocation's that would open two more (at the expense of a dedicated band for semi/autonomous car to car communications); but AFAIK it hasn't gone beyond the talking stage. And I haven't seen any rumbles about non-US regulators even thinking about doing the same.


  • fanofanand - Monday, January 9, 2017 - link

    But.....this is KILLER! You think KILLER cares about the availability of a 3rd 160 MHz channel? Brah you got pwned by KILLER!

    Sorry if the above teenspeak was inaccurate or incorrect. I never did learn the proper jargon.
  • ganeshts - Monday, January 9, 2017 - link

    Dan, Maybe my wording was not clear. Can you point out why you think there is a claim of '3 160MHz channels'? We are not talking about a tri-radio solution (like Broadcom's XStream which requires two 5 GHz channels and 1 2.4 GHz channel), but a single radio solution.

    In this particular case, the configuration is a 160 MHz channel with three spatial streams. When discussing N spatial streams, we have N data streams that are transmitted at the same time in the same channel, but, by different antenna. They are combined at the receiver end by MIMO processing. So, Marvell's solution will not face the limitations imposed by the number of available 160 MHz channels, as long as at least one is available.

    Please do provide more clarification on your interpretation so that we can ensure we are all on the same correct page.
  • DanNeely - Monday, January 9, 2017 - link

    I think we're good now, and I've been misunderstanding the feature since first reading about it years ago...
  • bcronce - Monday, January 9, 2017 - link

    The QoS problem has been virtually solved with fq_Codel and upcoming Cake. All you need to do is set the bandwidth, nothing else. Some people have unknown bandwidth because of massive over-subscription. In these cases, some have made scripts that monitor latency and reduce the assigned bandwidth when latency goes up.

    It's a hard problem, but it has been solved for well over 5 years now.
  • Zak - Monday, January 9, 2017 - link

    Considering that Killer NICs work better with vanilla Qualcomm drivers than the Killer Bloated Krap I wold not touch this router if it was free. I avoid motherboards now that have Killer NICs.
  • bcronce - Tuesday, January 10, 2017 - link

    My wife's Skylake mobo came with a Killer NIC. I had to iperf it just to see how "fast" it is. Turned out it used about 4x more CPU and was about 10% slower than the integrated Intel NIC in her 8 year old Nehalem mobo.

    Needless to say, I disabled the Killer NIC in the bios and installed an Intel i210

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