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The Nerd Side Of Life

Gaming and Wi-Fi: How Bad is it?

Do you play highly competitive games over Wi-Fi connections? Competitive gamers and fighting game enthusiasts of all types have always asked a question since the dawn of time. The question is: when playing online games, does it matter whether you are using a Wi-Fi or a wired connection, as long as your internet is fast enough?

The truth is that even if speed tests reveal that your Wi-Fi router’s connection is super-fast, you should still take that result with a pinch of salt. The issue is that no matter how mega-fast your Wi-Fi connection is, it will never be as stable as wired connections.

Most people won’t notice the subtle instability that plague Wi-Fi connections when streaming video, browsing the internet, or playing those popular slow-paced online games you love. 

Keeping all the players of an online game in sync for split-second reactions and inputs is highly crucial. But a sporadic bout of instability can significantly throw everything into disarray. 

This is why veteran gamers posit that you will be best served with a moderately speedy and consistent connection than any so-called super-fast connection on Wi-Fi.

Having an Ethernet connection to a gaming PC that is directly wired to a router has several advantages. This is beyond just the rather satisfying click of plugging a CAT 5e cable into the Ethernet port. The benefits include an ultra-high level of security as well as the avoidance of wireless interference.

Any other method of connecting gaming rigs to routers becomes something of a compromise to the gaming universe.

But then, is gaming over Wi-Fi connections the end of the world? Bear in mind that PC gaming is an incredibly low bandwidth activity that takes a bit less than 1 Mbps of data transfer. This is on both upload and download. 

However, PC gaming depends heavily on the constant stream or flow of data as well as the duration between responses of that particular data. And interruptions to the stream can severely hurt gaming performance.

Video streaming counterpoints this simple fact, though it is mostly downloading. However, it consumes more bandwidth, up to 8 Mbps and even 15Mbps for 4k video. 

This is the primary reason why a router for gaming should have an incredibly robust QoS (Quality of Service) for prioritizing gaming traffic and not allow YouTube or Netflix to hamper gaming performance. These features make gaming routers much more than worth the investment in the long run.

Although it could be somewhat difficult to argue against the overall benefits of direct-wired connections, there are many reasons why Wi-Fi connection – or any other connections besides Ethernet – gets used. 

For instance, drilling holes in order to run cables may not be practical, even though it is rather tempting. And the truth is that many gamers don’t even know how to use a drill, not to mention how to pull a cable.

And for this particular reason, in most cases, gamers turn to alternative connection methods that are less stressful. These alternatives include wireless, which is highly susceptible to interference, especially in urban areas. 

The strength of Wi-Fi signals may also affect your gaming experience. But you can make use of NetSpot in order to check Wi-Fi signal strength in any part of your home. This will enable you to place the router in the best position for optimum Wi-Fi connection.

More recent and innovative 802.11ac routers offer less congested 5 GHz frequency, beamforming technology, and MU-MIMO technology, which has made it possible for routers to communicate effectively with multiple Wi-Fi devices at the same time, thereby speeding up the network’s throughput. The primary purpose of all these is to direct the data stream towards the gamer or client.

The advances in both Powerline and Wi-Fi networking have made many believe that online gaming over Wi-Fi connections is the best. Moreover, newer kits, along with Powerline networking technology, have promised speeds as high as 2000 Mbps, MIMO tech, and Gigabit ports.

Nevertheless, there is also the unwavering concern with interference on all the electrical wires in the house. Devices such as vacuums or microwave ovens, as well as potential issues with adapters that have to transmit across several circuit breakers, are all causes for concern.

The best gaming routers are expected to provide a highly dependable connection. And they must be able to efficiently prioritize network bandwidth for your gaming PC as well as control lags or any other intermittent issues. 

Every gamer wants rock-solid gaming performance during the most critical moments of gameplay experiences and throughout all extended gaming sessions. This is something most of the typical Wi-Fi routers today cannot do.

The truth is that having the latest or state-of-the-art internals is crucial for playing uninterrupted PC games. But you will not get very far if your router is not up to speed or capable of meeting the challenge. 

You need to pull out all the stops by getting the most out of your gaming rig with any of the latest gaming routers on the market today. This could mean purchasing a router that comes with an innovative set of features or equipping one with Wi-Fi 6.

Some of the best, tried-and-tested gaming routers out there includes:

  • Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500
  • Asus RT-AC86U
  • D-link DIR-885L/R
  • TP-Link Archer C5400X
  • Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600
  • Asus RT-AC5300
  • TP-Link Archer C5400 v2

Let’s take a quick but brief look at their features, pros, and cons.

  1. Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500

Features: QoS, MU-MIMO support, Geo-Filter

Pros

  • High performance
  • Amazing software

Cons

  • Lacks a broadband modem
  1. Asus RT-AC86U

Features: MU-MIMO, Adaptive QoS, WTFast Gamers Private Network

Pros

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  • Long-range
  • Mega-fast transfers

Cons

  • Feature overkill for most gamers
  • Expensive
  1. D-link DIR-885L/R

Features: SmartConnect, Advanced Wireless AC beamforming, MU-MIMO

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Great selection of features

Cons

  • Pricey
  1. TP-Link Archer C5400X

Features: Tri-band networking, MU-MIMO, VPN acceleration, Advanced Wireless AC beamforming.

Pros

  • Incredible range
  • Super-fast

Cons

  • Expensive.
  1. Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600

Features: MU-MIMO support, Zyxel One Touch app-based setup, StreamBoost, 512GB RAM, dual-core 1.7GHz processor.

Pros

  • Excellent MU-MIMO wireless speeds
  • Great traffic analysis software

Cons

  • Average USB port speeds
  • Few devices currently make use of quad-stream 802.11ac
  1. Asus RT-AC5300

Features: Link Aggregation, MU-MIMO support, WPS, 8 external antennae, Traffic analyzer, 512MB RAM.

Pros

  • Excellent Wi-Fi coverage
  • Powerful gaming features.

Cons

  • Too large 
  • Comes with a single USB 3.0 port.
  1. TP-Link Archer C5400 v2

Features: Alexa integration, MU-MIMO support, IFTTT

Pros

  • IFTTT and Alexa support
  • Super-fast

Cons

  • Expensive

In conclusion, it is highly essential to consider your connection to your network, especially when gaming, in order to maximize its performance. Using a wired connection makes a lot of sense when playing PC games, but new Wi-Fi routers are hitting the market these days. And this ensures a much more robust gaming experience, all things being equal.