Americans are gaming now more than ever, even as mask mandates have lifted and more employees have started returning to offices. The average gamer spends 16.5 hours weekly on gaming. That hugely stems from the fact that a lot more games, like online PC titles, allow people to play with their friends and family members regardless of location, according to research firm NPD Group. And this rise in gaming affects all age groups.
Some of the greatest frustrations for these connected gamers, whether they’re trying to compete with people in other places or whether they’re trying to spend time with them, are interruptions in connectivity and lags in games.
What causes lag in games?
Insufficient internet speed is one factor that causes lag and high latency in games. You know the feeling – when you try to take an action in your game and there’s a delay between your move and the action actually playing out on the screen.
If your internet connection is slow, it can't keep up with the amount of data that is being sent to and from your game console. This can cause game packets to be lost, which can lead to lag.
Another common cause of lag and high latency in games is a network that’s congested with a lot of devices using bandwidth.
Why deal with those interruptions when you could enjoy a seamless gaming experience? Here are seven ways to optimize your internet for gaming at home.
(1) Switch to a hardwired Wi-Fi connection
Try hooking ethernet cables to your gaming setup.
“Oftentimes we recommend gamers to use a hardwired connection vs. a Wi-Fi or wireless connection when available,” said Allan Pieroni, Marketing Senior Consultant at Kinetic by Windstream. “So that’s a powerful tip to make the most out of your existing speed.”
(2) Prioritize your network traffic
“Make sure you’re not competing with other devices and other sources for bandwidth on your local network,” Pieroni said. You can easily implement network prioritization, choosing which devices get to take up bandwidth, by simply closing tabs on your computer. Start with those that may be streaming music or video content.
(3) Use a Wi-Fi extender or move closer to your router
Wi-Fi extenders are devices that can help stretch a router's wireless range. This way, the signal may be able to reach other rooms of your house that are farther from your W-iFi router. “Place an extender near the wireless console,” Pieroni said.
If you don’t have access to an extender, you can simply try shifting your gaming setup closer to your wireless router.
(4) Make sure you’re using the right antenna on your gateway
A lot of gateways, which combine the modem and router in one device, have a 2.4 GHz and a 5 GHz channel. “Most gateways nowadays are smart enough to put you on the best one,” Pieroni said. But double-check to make sure you’re connected.
“Customers who subscribe to premium speeds often will have the best experience on the 5 GHz channel because it allows more speed to travel across that spectrum, but it is limited to a short reach,” Pieroni said. “So as a general rule of thumb, the 5 GHz band antenna if you have a dual-band gateway is going to give you the best speed and performance, but you have to be within range of it.”
(5) Switch to fiber internet to get the best internet setup for gaming
Chances are, your PC or other gaming setup isn’t the only set of devices taking up bandwidth in your house. With more devices and online-based activities in the home, fiber is the best internet setup for gaming and other activities. That’s compared to traditional methods of accessing residential broadband, like DSL and copper lines.
“People often tout fiber as being more reliable because it’s less susceptible to interference on its network,” Pieroni said. To deliver more reliable internet connections that can help ensure good latency, fiber works off of digital signals that travel over fiber-optic.
[Related: 5 Benefits of Fiber Internet vs. Other Residential Broadband Access Methods]
(6) Upgrade to a higher-speed product to improve internet speed for gaming
Go for the fastest speed product out there to improve internet speed for gaming and support good latency, or low latency. “Fiber has the greatest speed availability and one of the highest reliability ratings of any access method that can deliver public internet access,” Pieroni said.
Kinetic by Windstream now offers 2Gig fiber internet, which can provide up to 2000 Mbps of speed. “You can think of it simply as traveling at the speed of light over fiber-optic,” Pieroni said.
Gamers who match a high-speed product with the reliability of fiber-optic can anticipate ultimate performance across their connected devices.
(7) Get greater upload and download capacity to optimize internet for gaming
Insufficient download speed is another factor that causes lag and high latency in games. At the same time, sufficient upload speed is key for gamers who are streaming their content on interactive live streaming services, and for gamers who are playing video games on a live stream with other people. Good upload speed allows your stream to be consistently high-quality.
Yet again, fiber internet is an easy answer for how to optimize internet for gaming, since it ensures greater upload and download capacity.
“One thing that fiber is stronger than other access methods for is upload capacity,” Pieroni said. “And that’s one thing we really tout against our cable competitors. They might be able to offer Gig speed, but oftentimes their upload capacity is limited to 50 Mbps, whereas we can do symmetrical. And we can do a 1,000 Mbps download for data that you’re receiving in your home.”
How to get fiber internet
Done tinkering with your router placement and extenders? Get an upgrade. Kinetic by Windstream has everything you need to build out the best internet setup for gaming. It all starts with fiber. Learn more about Kinetic Fiber Internet plans here.