You’re broadcasting a Fortnite session on Twitch and everything is going great: chat flowing in the sidebar; crystal-clear graphics on the stream.
But then your Internet acts wonky. Everything feels delayed, like a long-distance phone call. Before you know it, you’re looking at this:
It’s more than annoying, but what can you do? With Google’s Stadia just weeks away, and the next version of the Xbox planned as a streaming service no serious gamer wants to think their Internet setup will knock them out of the action.
And while bandwidth, latency, lag and other ISP related issues come into play your basic gamer’s network set up is hugely important as well. And that’s what we will look at here.
Important Features for Gaming Routers
Operating with a high-quality router makes the gaming experience much easier and helps prevent that dreaded Twitch screen of death. Or getting dropped offline right as you were about to make a big kill.
While there are gaming-specific routers on the market, any high-end router can provide the same quality of connections as long as you know what features to look for.
Here are the factors that matter for serious gaming:
Gigabit Ethernet Ports
Ethernet trumps wireless connections for fighting latency — but that doesn’t do you any good if your router’s ethernet ports can’t handle the bandwidth you’re paying for. Gigabit ethernet ports are ‘future-proof’ and ensure high performance when you wire in.
Qos / Network Prioritization
QoS and network prioritization don’t matter that much for the average Internet user, but for gamers it can make a serious difference in network lag.
Even if you’re the only person using your network, multiple devices can quickly bog down your bandwidth. Every smartphone, laptop, and streaming device has a footprint. Without QoS, routers don’t have a way to determine which device deserves priority and treat each equally.
QoS is delivered in two different ways: manual and automated. Automated is ideal and a common feature on high-end 802.11ac routers. Manual QoS usually has a less noticeable effect on network performance and involves tinkering with the settings for various devices on the network yourself.
Not all gaming consoles can be hooked up to Ethernet, we get that. If you game wirelessly then you should invest in a dual band router. These routers boost network speed for gaming devices with 802.11ac Wi-Fi capability by moving slower devices onto a separate channel to free up bandwidth.
Even if you plug in to an Ethernet connection, dual-band can take a load off your network and make your newer devices run faster. It also cuts interference in apartment buildings and dorms, where you’re likely competing for bandwidth with a dozen other Wi-Fi networks on the same channel.
Optimize your Router
You can improve home network performance for gaming by making small tweaks to your router whichever model you choose. Here are some universal tips to boost your router’s performance:
Always Wire When Possible
Wi-Fi connections are fickle and prone to interference. Ethernet cables are cheap and effective at maintaining stable low-latency connections. Even if you don’t have gigabit ethernet ports on your router, wiring in can solve problems like latency and signal loss that suck the fun out of your gaming experience.
If you’re a WiFi gamer , a quick fix for latency issues is to make sure you’re close enough to the router to get a strong signal. Also make sure there isn’t anything next to the router (walls, microwaves, etc.) that could interfere with the signal.
Routers work best when positioned in the center of a room — ideally near the center of the broadcast area, away from corners, closets, and thick walls.
If positioning your router properly isn’t an option, external directional antennas attached to the router can offset the problem.
Serious Gamers May Need Extra Help
If you are one of the growing number of people monetizing your Twitch streams, or gaming competitively on a higher level than most, then to stay in the game you may need extra help.
Data Installers can help. We can help you create a network that supports your increased gaming needs and will ‘future proof’ it for all the innovations that are coming in the next twelve months in the gaming world. Contact us to learn more.