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How to Optimize Your Network for Gaming
When you’re gaming, an optimized network is key to making sure your experience is as smooth as possible. There’s only so far you can go with hardware if your signal connecting you to the outside world decides to act up. Because electronics can be finicky, there are a million ways something can interfere. Network care can get pretty technical, but here are some of the most common ways to make sure your network is optimized for gaming.
Upgrade Your Connection
Sometimes the only solution is to just throw more bandwidth at the problem. Online gaming takes very little bandwidth, but sometimes other devices or activities can interfere with the bandwidth going through, especially if you are on a lower plan and have multiple people sharing a single connection.
Upgrading to a higher plan gives everyone’s devices a little more breathing room and less likelihood that one will try to hog bandwidth over the other. Streaming or downloading video can be pretty bandwidth-intensive and you don’t want to get mad at your roommate for daring to watch movies while you’re gaming. It also makes it easier to deal with unexpected updates, whether it’s device updates or new game patches. Some games will play while the patch downloads and if you don’t want to wait or have your game turn into a lag-fest if you try to play it, you’ll want that download completed as soon as possible.
Upgrade Your Router
If your router is older and you’re running into issues, it may be time for an upgrade. Older routers were great at sending data to and receiving data from a device or two, but today mobile devices are much more prevalent and everyone has internet at their fingertips. Newer routers are able to handle sending and receiving data across longer distances than before, as well as accommodating multiple devices with ease.
One of the best router features is the ability to prioritize bandwidth according to what network traffic is the most important.
Go From Wireless To Wired
A wired connection is the most stable and reliable connection from your PC to the router. Wireless signals are prone to interference, causing packet loss, speed loss, and even a complete loss of connection at times. This may not happen all the time or it may even be rare, but when you’re gaming, milliseconds matter, and a dropped connection can make or break a match. A wired connection straight from the router to your PC offers the fastest signal and highest bandwidth.
The downside to a wired connection is that it’s not always feasible to drape a wire across the house. If you must go wireless, make sure your signal is on a 5GHz frequency. Most routers work off two “dual-band” frequencies, 2.4GHz and 5Ghz. The older 2.4GHz frequency is often used by wireless peripherals — Bluetooth signals, wireless keyboards and mice, cordless phones, and even microwaves at times can run off this band and interfere with your wireless internet signal. Since it’s such a common frequency, it’s likely that any neighbors are using it as well, causing even more congestion. The 5GHz band is often more open and a better option if you need wireless.
One way to minimize network latency is to find a better route to the game servers. When ISPs plan out routes between homes and servers, they’re thinking in terms of what’s most cost effective. Millions of connections are likely going through these lines and your ISP is doing what they can with the least amount of hassle to them. Unfortunately, that can mean it’s more of a hassle to you.
A service like Haste bypasses these default routes and tries to find a better path that will lower your lag. It does so intelligently, using custom infrastructure and real-time optimization to make sure your connection is using the fastest and most stable paths. The nice thing about this is that it can skip congested areas of your ISP’s lines by using private fiber optic links and it even adds several additional low latency routes by taking multiple paths at once.
Keep Drivers Up to Date
Drivers and firmware have a nasty habit of interfering in the worst ways and they’re such an easy thing to check. They’re unobtrusive though, which makes them also often forgotten about. Check periodically for updates so that you don’t get surprised when something suddenly stops working or if it starts causing lag by downloading an update out of the blue.
Network optimization can be tricky, and oftentimes it’s a process of trial error to figure out what works. We hope these network optimization tips help get you on your way to having a lag-free gaming experience.