As any gamer will know, having the strongest connection and the highest interface speeds are paramount to the perfect gaming experience today. As the online gaming world has largely taken over the old-style disk and cartridge gaming, the world has widened but the demands placed on our network connections have increased exponentially. Lag while gaming seriously affects the outcome, so avoiding lag or high latency is key.
What is Latency?
Low Latency is not the same as Low Speed – they are opposites. The lower the latency, the more efficient your gaming experience will be.
Low Latency means that there is a strong and reliable network connection. This reduces the chances of a delay or interruption which could ruin the game – a short lag could lead directly to a headshot from another player.
Latency is measured in milliseconds and indicates the quality of your connection within your network. Anything at 100ms or less is considered acceptable for gaming. However, 20-40ms is optimal.
Myth – You must have the highest internet speed to be able to game effectively
This is not strictly speaking true. While the higher the internet speed that you have certainly impacts the interface with the game, it is the bandwidth that is the more important factor. If you are operating in the region of 15-20Mbps, this speed is generally enough for you to successfully game.
However, you must consider what else is occurring on the same network. If there is another device connected that is streaming large video, downloading files, or even chatting via video, this can use up the bandwidth far more than gaming.
Stopping other activities for the duration of the game can increase your interface speed significantly, all without having to resort to paying for faster internet speeds.
Myth – You must have a wired connection to be able to game effectively
There are examples where it is not feasible to rely entirely on an ethernet cable, though they are excellent at reducing latency in the network.
If the home is equipped with coaxial cabling, then MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) is the perfect solution. It creates a wired home network – without the wires.
There are two options – MoCA Network Adapters and MoCA Wi-Fi Extenders.
The adapters work by connecting one to your router and one to your gaming console, creating a wired experience.
The Wi-Fi Extender works best when your console is far from the router, simply creating a wider and stronger network in the home.
Myth – As long as the game is designed for the console you have, there will not be an issue
This is not true anymore, especially due to the increased size/details of the games that have been released. You need to check your game’s requirements against the availability on the hard drive of your device.
Increasing the amount of RAM that is available on your console is always a good option, as is updating your graphics card. This can be costly, but there are perfectly acceptable second-hand cards to be found online.
You must also ensure to keep all the drivers on your devices up to date, as remaining behind the other players in games can ensure that you quickly become the target!
In addition to this, ensure to defrag your hard drive as often as you can. When lots of files are stored on your memory banks, it can slow down your device to the point where you are constantly on the back foot when compared to other players in the game. This is an easy fix – aim to defrag once a week.
Myth – If I set my console to self-update, I will always remain ahead of the curve
This is one of the ideas that seems great in theory yet can lead to some embarrassing moments during a game.
This relates to the earlier point of bandwidth. If your network is busy with other tasks – updating your consoles drivers for example – while you are midgame, then the bandwidth that is available to you is significantly lessened. While you are playing, you should disable any automatic updates that you have set your system to do for you. This is something that should be done separately.
A good way to ensure that this is the case is to make having the most up to date drivers part of your sign-in check – fail to prepare and you can prepare to fail!
Myth – I have done all the above, now I am good forever!
Latency is something that you will have to bear in mind forever in gaming, as any one day can be different from the last. One game may operate as smoothly as if you were standing in the field yourself, while the next may feature your player walking as though waist-deep in sludge.
These delays can mean the difference between digital life and death, so it is crucial to continue to check for latency issues. Keeping the bandwidth freed up is one of the easier checks to do, while additional purchases should be one of the more infrequent fixes.
While it can be frustrating having to bear all of this in mind, it is also fair to say that other gamers on the network will have ensured that they are in the best position to engage before they meet you online. Don’t be left behind by something as simple as High Latency on your network – not when it’s your character’s life on the line!