If, like me, you’re an online gamer then gaining maximum performance from your network is critical. The following is a compilation of a number of articles I’ve written on the subject plus a number of new suggestions.
Give them a try – I’d suggest one at a time, try each out before committing to the next change. If you have any problems, you can simply undo the last change you made. Personally, all of these have worked for me and I’ve seen a big improvement in performance.
Make Sure You’re Wired
Are you connected via WiFi? What the HELL are you thinking? Get wired now. If you’re too far from your router then you should seriously consider using Homeplugs – these use your mains electricity to transmit your signal, far quicker and reliably than WiFi.
If you’re in the UK I’d recommend those available from Solwise.
Fix Your BT Socket
Okay, assuming you’re using a non-cable broadband connection in the UK (other than Hull), then improving the master socket in your home can improve your base speed. If you’re on a fibre connection then chances are this was sorted out when you had it installed, otherwise this article could help you out.
Change Your DNS Settings
The DNS is the look-up of URLs and, chances are, you can switch to faster servers. This article gives details on how to find your best DNS service and how to change this on your console.
Most would argue this would make little difference to a console as it won’t use DNS for its network connection. However, upon changing mine, I saw an immediate 35% increase in download speeds 1.
Change your MTU
Your network’s MTU (maximum transmission unit) defines the maximum size that batches of data can be transmitted at. If this it too large it can cause fragmentation and delays as data is re-transmitted.
To detect your optimal MTU, open up a Windows command prompt and do the following:
ping google.com -f -l xxxx
where xxxx is a number (try 1500 to start). You want the highest number that does not fragment – try different values until it does not report fragmentation. The image to the right (click on it for a large version) shows it being demonstrated.
Once you have this information you need to go into your console’s network settings and modify the MTU to your new figure. When I was with BT I found that this needed changing.
Put your Console in DMZ
Routers will automatically try and protect your network, restricting ports and limiting certain types of communication. The “demilitarized” zone option allows you to place a device in a non-protected state, allowing unrestricted network access.
This article gives details on how to do this with a BT Home Hub, but other routers should have a similar method.
Change your ISP
In recent years UK ISPs have moved towards less bandwidth restriction – in the past many “managed” the traffic at peak times, throttling certain services when the network got busy. The big ISPs, such as Talk Talk and BT, were well known for it. However, in recent years, with stiff competition from each other, they’ve relaxed these rules.
None-the-less, Virgin Media will still slow down your connection if you use excessive bandwidth and PlusNet does have a traffic management system still in place.
BT has no such management in place but having swapped from them to another ISP I’ve been pleasantly surprised just how quicker the same connection is. This is because there are more factors in play here – my now smaller ISP, with less subscribers, is less likely to be impacted by heavy users. And this is the thing – your connection is not your own but is shared. The more heavy users on your shared connection, the slower it will be for you at peak times. Indeed, this was the whole point of traffic management – to slow down the heavy users so they didn’t affect others. As a gamer you may be one of those heavy users, so the lack of management will be a benefit. However, other such users will equally then impact upon you.
I’ve moved to Zen Internet, who I can thoroughly recommend. They’re a bit more expensive than, say, BT but have superb customer service and, so far, my connection has been quicker and more stable than it ever was before.
Change Your Router
You know that free router your ISP gave you? Chances are that it’s “okay” at best. At worst, it’s rubbish. It may be time to put your hands in your pockets and splash out for a new router. The other added bonus is that these will probably work with whichever ISP you move to, unlike the ISP provided routers which are often “locked” to them.
I bought a TP-Link Archer V900 recently and the change was amazing. A really good, easy to use, administration system (I can even reboot it from my phone!), rock solid stability and the WiFi… the WiFi…. amazingly good. I managed to wave goodbye to my WiFi extender as the range was so much better (and quicker). How does this help the gaming? Because it’s quicker too even through a wired connection – ISP routers are made to a cost and won’t be using the fastest and best components.
There are even some routers specifically designed for gamers or, at least, “standard” routers that are recommended by gamers. It’s also recommended to not use an all-in-one router that combines the modem – buy a separate modem because buying the “right” modem can make a big difference too (in speed and your wallet from some of the prices I’ve seen – the best modems alone can be around £100). I won’t recommend any here, as I’ve not tried them, but a quick Google and you will find gaming forums discussing these very ideas. Expect to spend at least £300 on the best gaming modem and router though.
- although that’s according to the PS4’s own network performance tester, which is recognised as being pretty poor and inaccurate