You pull the trigger for the match-winning shot, and — nothing happens because your network lag just led to a frustrating defeat. Even the fastest internet connection can’t save you when your router isn’t optimized for gaming. Fortunately, the best router settings for gaming are easy to implement, so you can get back to your game before your crew even knows what happened.
Is Faster Internet Better for Gaming?
Faster download speeds and upload speeds are important for gaming, but they aren’t enough. The limiting factor is often latency: the amount of time it takes for a signal to make it from your computer to the server and back. When you fire your virtual gun, latency determines how quickly you find out whether your shot hit its target. Optimizing your router for gaming requires focusing on latency as much as bandwidth.
Ethernet vs Wi-Fi for Gaming
Wired internet connections, especially gigabit ethernet, offer faster speeds and lower latency than Wi-Fi and none of the signal interference issues. The downside, though, is that you need to be near your router or willing to run a long cable.
The Best Router Settings for Gaming on Wi-Fi
When you can’t use ethernet, choosing the right router settings for Wi-Fi is critical to a smooth gaming experience. You can find all of these settings by logging into your router using your internet browser and the IP address printed on your router.
- Switch to a modern Wi-Fi standard: Most routers support multiple Wi-Fi standards. When possible, you should be using either 802.11ac or 802.11ax. If your router doesn’t support these newer standards, it might be time for an upgrade.
- Enable Quality of Service (QoS): QoS lets you prioritize your wi-fi for gaming or other time-sensitive traffic, essentially introducing an express lane on your Wi-Fi network.
- Use the 5 GHz Wi-Fi band: If your router is dual-band (5 GHz and 2.4 GHz), make sure you are on the 5 GHz band as it provides more bandwidth and is less likely to experience interference from other household devices. The 5 GHz band does, however, have a shorter range.
- Find an open wireless channel: Both Wi-Fi bands have multiple channels to choose from, and there are easy-to-use tools for finding a wi-fi channel that has minimal interference.
- Switch to MU-MIMO: Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) allows your router to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously. This decreases the amount of time your device has to wait for a signal, increasing the effective speed when your network is busy.
- Move your router to a central, open location: Okay, this one isn’t actually a setting, but you’ll get the best Wi-Fi experience if your router is in a location near your devices with a clear line of visibility to each of them.
Should I Enable UPnP for Gaming?
Online games can use a lot of ports, so setting up port forwarding can be time-consuming. Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) solves this problem by automatically forwarding ports as they are needed. However, in doing so it creates a potential internet security risk, allowing malware into your network. You may be better off setting up the ports yourself, recognizing that UPnP will always be there if your manual efforts just aren’t working.
Get Back in the Game
With your new router settings in place, it’s time to get back to the game that brought you here in the first place. Life’s too short to spend your whole day optimizing router Wi-Fi settings.
If you want a router that just works — for gaming and everything else — schedule a demo of SimpleWAN @Home today.