Online Gaming and Internet Speed
If you're a gamer, you're probably all too familiar with the frustration of lag and connection problems. You know what it's like to line up that perfect headshot in a match of Call of Duty and pull the trigger, only to see your opponent walk away unharmed. That's because online gaming and internet speed go hand in hand. So how can you tell if a slow Internet connection is affecting your gaming or if you actually just suck? We mapped out a simple guide to determine what's ailing your gaming and what you might be able to do to get things working again.
Know Your Connection
Before you can decipher whether or not your connection is up to par, it's important to understand its parts. These elements work together to make sure your internet is of sound quality: Download/Upload Speed While faster is always better, download and upload speeds don't necessarily impact your gaming in a huge way. They will, however, affect how quickly you can play new games if you like to download digital copies of your games through Xbox Live Marketplace or the Playstation Store. The recommended minimum for online gaming is a download speed of at least 3 Mbps and an upload speed of at least 0.5 Mbps. Latency More commonly known as "ping," latency refers to the time it takes for one computer or console to send a message to another computer and to receive a response back. Ping is the most important factor in determining how smooth your connection will be for gaming. A ping of 15-20ms is ideal for most games. Dedicated Servers and Peer-to-Peer Connections In online gaming, you will generally encounter two different methods that games use to connect you with other players, these are:
- Dedicated servers: a separate computer server running its own instance of the game that is used as the authoritative source of events in a multiplayer match. They are most common in PC gaming, but games like the "Battlefield" series make use of them for its Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions.
- Peer-to-peer connections: uses no server, instead connecting players directly to other peers, making each console responsible for processing the raw data received from other consoles. Most commonly used in games such as the Halo and Call of Duty series, these connections can work well in games that don't require fast reaction times, like strategy games, but in faster paced action titles, any problem in the connection becomes much more noticeable.
How To Tell If You Have A Connection Problem
Occasionally, connection problems can be caused by glitches or hardware problems that occur randomly when the stream of data between servers and players' consoles is interrupted or slowed down, but most instances of lag or dropped connections are due to problems in the player's internet connection itself. These include:
- Ping Problems. A high ping issue is caused by joining servers or playing with opponents that are physically located far away, thus increasing the distance and time the game data must travel.
- Improperly Configured Router. Many routers, especially older models, block certain types of connections for security purposes, but this has the unintended consequences of keeping you from connecting to certain servers.
- Household Bandwidth Overuse. Sometimes connection problems are just the simple result of too many people trying to use your home internet connection at once, taking up all the bandwidth.
An example of a ping problem in play.
1. Test Your Connection The first step in solving your connection issues is to get an idea of just how fast your internet is performing. There are a few different resources for testing the speed of your connection, but one of the most popular is speedtest.net, a tool made by web analytics company Ookla. Speedtest.net lets you know your download and upload speeds, as well as your ping in relation to different servers around the world (click around on the map to select different servers). Once you know what your connection is capable of, you can determine if there are problems with the settings on your router, or whether your ISP is delivering speeds close to what they advertised.
2. Pick Your Connections Often, avoiding lag is as simple as picking the right servers. When browsing for games, pay attention to the quality of connection displayed for the servers or the other players, especially if you can view the actual numerical measurement for the ping (stick to servers with ping below 100ms as much as possible). If you can't find an indicator of ping, try to pick servers or matchmaking regions close to where you live a game hosted in another country will be slow, but one located in the next state over will give you a better experience.
3. Configure your router The most common solution to connection problems is to set up port forwarding in your router menu. You'll have to consult the manual on how to access that feature for your particular brand of router, but once you get into the menu, you can follow instructions from both Microsoft and Sony to configure your settings for each console. Sometimes lag and connection issues are unavoidable, due to problems with Xbox Live or Playstation Network, high traffic during peak hours, or just one of those mysterious glitches. Being persistent, especially when dealing with a fickle matchmaking system, can eventually lead you to that perfect game.