aqualizard

Best Connections for Online Play

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Part 1: Wifi Versus Wired

The Short Story

Plug In!  (And disable wifi)

The Long Story
No matter how great your wifi is, or you think your wifi is, you are always better off wired. Period.  The reason why boils down to interference and packet loss.  A wired connection has a shielded cable that all but eliminates any local radio interference.  A wifi connection, no matter how modern and how close you are to your router, will always be prone to interference.  If you live in a city, even your neighbor using their microwave oven could interfere with your wifi signal!  Nevermind all of the electronic gadgetry that we use all around us every day ourselves in our own homes.  If you have the option, and even if it means buying a 50' cable and running it up the stairs from your basement to plug in, do it!  (You don't want to be the guy that everyone dreads playing because you have a spotty connection.)

People sometimes convince themselves that wifi is "good enough" because they see their ping rate, and it looks good.  Heck, if you can stream Netflix in HD how the heck can't you play this ancient videogame.  Why not? Because it is not the same thing.  At all.  Among many difference, video streams like Netflix get buffered, so there is a lot of "wiggle room" to make sure  you get what appears to be a smooth feed.  In online games, there is no wiggle room.  You want your button presses to register NOW! This is all about ping and latency (which can be disrupted by radio interference), and has nothing to do with bandwidth.  When you do a ping test with wifi, you might see your connection is great, and it is:  At that very moment, with no interference.  But then, at seemingly random times, you will get lag spikes, even though things started off great.  These are not really random. They are the microwaves, baby monitors, various electronics and even other people's wifi, interfering and grinding your games to a halt. 


Ethernet Versus USB Versus WiFi
For our purposes, any wired connection -- whether Ethernet or USB (via an Ethernet to USB adapter) -- beats WiFi.  Again, because of the interference.  Nowadays there seems to be a trend to design laptops with fast USB ports but no Ethernet port.  If you are in this situation, do not be tempted to plug in a USB WiFi adapter.  Use a USB Ethernet adapter to get that shielded cable plugged directly from your router to your computer, staving off any possible radio interference.

 


 

Part 2: Overcoming Great Distances

The Short Story  

You can't overcome great distances.

The Long Story: 
If someone in North America plays someone in Europe, you will feel it.   There is simply no way to overcome the great distance.   While light travels in a vacuum superfast, electricity through (copper) wires is much slower.  It is slower in absolute terms, but it is also slower because wires zigzag, and repeaters, switches and routers all conspire to grind things down significantly, as well.  

Because you cannot defeat the physical reality that long distances will slow things down, you need to do everything within your power to help a tough situation.  Here is a thread worth reading: Overseas Games and Laggy Connections.

 


 

...More to come

- tips on how to have better connectivity
- minimum speed requirements (anything faster than dialup usually good enough)
- hamachi vs client server connection
- anything else any networking peeps can think of?


See:
http://royal.pingdom.com/2007/06/01/theoretical-vs-real-world-speed-limit-of-ping/
 

Edited by aqualizard
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If only I had FiOS, now my family switched to Spectrum and my internet drops every few minutes. I want them to get wired connections, but they won't.

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I don't even bother playing online anymore. Sucks, but nothing I can do. :(

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Fantastic post, it's really not about internet speed (the lowest speed will work) as the size of the information you are sending is small (button triggers).  Everything aqua wrote was perfect. 

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If your internet box/modem/router is in the basement or too far for wires, then you can do what I do and get a pair of "powerline adapters". These run wired internet through the electrical system of your house. It works great for me. And of course you can still use wireless for all your other computers/phones/etc.

Powerline adapters are little devices you plug into a power plug on the wall. Plug one in near your internet box, and run a short network cable between the adapter and internet box. Plug the other adapter in next to your computer, and run another short network cable between it and your computer. Press the sync buttons on the adapters, et voila, you now have a good wired connection.

You can get additional adapters if you want to hook up more things.

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/8-things-powerline-adapters-need-know-first/

homeplug-chart.png

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16 minutes ago, smozoma said:

If your internet box/modem/router is in the basement or too far for wires, then you can do what I do and get a pair of "powerline adapters". These run wired internet through the electrical system of your house. It works great for me. And of course you can still use wireless for all your other computers/phones/etc.

Powerline adapters are little devices you plug into a power plug on the wall. Plug one in near your internet box, and run a short network cable between the adapter and internet box. Plug the other adapter in next to your computer, and run another short network cable between it and your computer. Press the sync buttons on the adapters, et voila, you now have a good wired connection.

 

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/8-things-powerline-adapters-need-know-first/

homeplug-chart.png

I think I'll try this. Is there a particular brand/model you recommend?

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3 minutes ago, Bob Kudelski said:

I think I'll try this. Is there a particular brand/model you recommend?

I got mine almost 10 years ago and haven't looked at them since, so I don't know the current go-to brand/model. Mine are NetGear (had to grab a flashlight and go check!). 

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1 hour ago, kingraph said:

Fantastic post, it's really not about internet speed (the lowest speed will work) as the size of the information you are sending is small (button triggers).  Everything aqua wrote was perfect. 

@TomKabs93

See!

Unplug that PS4 when you want to play, and boom your back to online play, heck the wifi games we played were not that bad, if you wire up you will be good to go, and back in the GA!

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