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  • 5 Ways to Speed up Your Gameplay

    August 7th, 2018

    What’s worse than dying in a game? Dying because of something you have no control over. When a better – OK, luckier – player frags you, that’s one thing. When your connection hangs and your character stands in the line of fire like a zombie, that’s something else.

    Except, maybe you can control it. There are things you can do to accelerate your connection speed, eliminate sudden changes in speed and only die when the game, not the ISP, dictates.

    Some cost money, some are free, and they’re all pretty easy. Check ‘em out.

    1: Ditch Wi-Fi

    Wi-Fi is convenient. But it’s slower than a cabled connection, always. Wi-Fi is shared so individual connections are usually gated for speed.

    It’s also another set of protocols and handshakes to put in between you and the server you’re communicating with. Another layer of complexity, another thing to go wrong. Drop it and switch to ethernet instead for your gaming machine; leave wifi for less speed-sensitive devices.

    How much difference does it make?

    Max Wi-Fi speed with current technology: 150Mb/s. Max ethernet speed with current technology: 10Gb/s. Big difference, but how much difference it makes to you comes down to your upload, download and especially ping speeds, upstream from your connection from your router. Wire up and test: if it’s faster, you know what to do.

    2: Check your ping

    Upload and download speeds are self-explanatory; ping is the responsiveness of your network. Ping time is how long it took to get a response from another computer on your network: pretty vital if you’re playing something where milliseconds count.

    A lot of online games will show you your ping, but if you can’t see it or you want an independent checkup, head over to speedtest.net and do a test.

    A good ping is under 100ms. A great one, under 20ms. Anything over 150ms almost guarantees lag even if your PC has more fans than CoD and your connection is an inch-thick fiber cable.

    Ping fixes:

    • Turn off nonessential programs (check task manager, kill anything running in the background and sucking up bandwidth
    • Drop unnecessary connections – is your phone connected? iPad?
    • Plug in. Ethernet has way lower ping than wifi – test it for yourself.
    • Turn your router off and on again. IT 101 still works.
    • Consider a router upgrade: the ones you get with your connection package are OK – but you might need better than OK to stay in the game. Get a gaming-friendly high-speed router and watch ping fall and lag disappear.
    • New ISP? ISPs differ and the service you get from the same ISP can differ depending on where you live.

    How much difference does it make?

    Dropping your ping from 150ms to 100ms means the difference between ‘almost never lags’ and ‘lags at just the wrong time.’ If you care about gaming, that’s a major change.

    3: Monitor connectivity

    How’s your connection? Simple speed tests don’t tell you everything you need to know. But they’re a great place to start. Want to do a thorough job? Fire up speedtest.net and do about three tests using your main gaming rig, to get an average that accounts for momentary fluctuations. Test at the time you normally game, and then at a time when you guess your local connection has heavy traffic – say, 8PM, when Mom and Pop Public are deep into Netflix.

    What can you do about your connectivity?

    • Move the router connection point as close as possible to where the phone line enters the house.
    • Replace your cables, router and modem. Older ones can add noise and slow connections.
    • Get a microfilter on the line between your phone jack and your modem to cut down noise.
    • Keep an eye on your ADSL light on your modem. If it flashes a lot, that can indicate an unstable ADSL connection and you need to talk to your provider and get them to address it.

    How much difference can it make?

    Depends. If you have superfast internet – faster than 1 gig – then a Cat6 ethernet cable will make a difference; otherwise, it’s your connection that’s the bottleneck. Addressing poor ADLS connectivity with your provider or getting a modem that’s fast enough and modern enough to handle your plan will blow your speeds up, though.

    4: Get a VPN

    Huh? VPNs addto the amount of traffic you’re sending, so how can they speed up your connection?

    ISPs sometimes monitor the traffic you send, prioritise it and batch or queue it to ensure an even flow across their networks. But that’s their problem, not yours – except when your data gets slowed right down at the crucial moment, and Master Chief disappears in a puff of crazy-making lag.

    Getting any of the most popular VPNs will conceal the contents of your traffic and let it go unimpeded to the server. All you have to do is download, install and turn on. Most VPNs offer a trial, so try several out for free – you want one that keeps a constant, reliable connection and is nice and fast.

    How much difference does it make?

    That depends on how much of the glitchiness you’re experiencing is down to throttling and queueing. To find out, run a couple of speed tests with and without a couple of different VPNs on trial. If your speed falls slightly, your ISP is playing fair and your lag is coming from somewhere else. If it rises, you have a solution.

    5: Drop your chat app

    If you’re not using a dedicated gaming chat app, you’re probably missing out on a chance to speed up and cut lag. General consumer apps like Skype and Facebook are terrible for this, adding tons of unwanted stuff your computer has to send back and forth, load and run just to run their applications and handle basic calls and chats.

    Consider switching to something like Mumble, Overtone, or Discord to get the best out of ingame chat.

    How much difference does it make?

    Skype has a standard bandwidth allocation of 100kbps; Discord requires just 64kbps and it’s easier on your CPU too, as are other dedicated gaming chat apps.

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