Are You Paying Attention to Gaming writes Simon Swanepoel

When Microsoft and Sony released the new X-box Series X & S, and the PS5 respectively, there was a scarcity of the consoles in the market which led to many people not being able to get their hands on one. Regardless of whether you managed to secure one of the latest consoles, or maybe you’re a PC kind of person, we have a few seasoned gamers working here at RocketNet who have some great suggestions for the best gaming setup.

First, it is important to understand ping and latency

Ping

Ping is the signal sent out to a network of computers and servers that may or may not be within your geographical location. Your computer (including gaming consoles) send out signals (aka. pings) to other computers and servers which in return send signals back to your computer. The signal is measured in milliseconds and is a confirmation of the time it takes to send a ‘packet’ of data to another computer (or server) and back. The time it takes to travel from and back to your computer is known as latency.

Latency

Latency is the round trip of a ping. Latency refers to the quality of a connection and not the speed of the connection. Latency of between 50ms and 100ms is deemed to be very good to average while latency of 150ms and above is deemed to be poor. A good to average latency is also called ‘low ping and a poor latency is known as ‘high ping. High ping is when you get that frustrating, pull-out-your-hair phenomenon called ‘lag’. Lag is the delay in the latency (round trip) of a ping. In other words, the time it is taking for a ping to do a roundtrip is very slow, it is lagging.

What causes poor latency or high ping.

1.      Your fibre internet service provider:

The first cause for your frustrations at being kicked out of a game is the quality of your ISP (internet service provider). When choosing an internet service provider to implement your chosen fibre package, you need to consider speed, availability, reliability, latency, data, after sales support and if they practice things like shaping, capping and throttling. Shaping and throttling may have the biggest negative effect, so look for an ISP that offers no throttling or shaping. ISP’s will throttle or shape your line when they think you are using too much bandwidth, so they will essentially slow your speed down when the feel there is too much stress on the network.

2.      The fibre internet speed you have:

When gaming online, upload speeds are more important than download speeds. It is not to say that download speeds are not important but low latency depends primarily on upload speeds. Generally, an upload speed of 5mbps is sufficient but get as much speed as your budget will allow for the best experience possible. The higher the upload speed the lower your ping, and thus the lower your latency. Don’t let people tell you any different but there is a major difference in gaming when your enemies latency is 50ms and yours is 150ms.

3.      Fixed line internet versus wireless internet:

Wireless internet connections are susceptible to more interference than wired internet connections. A wired internet connection provides a consistent speed over your line and is therefore preferable for online gaming.

Tip: try using an Ethernet cable to connect your devices directly to your router if you are experiencing high-ping. Example, run a Ethernet cable straight from your router to your Xbox. You can find Ethernet cables at most electronic stores and they are relatively inexpensive

4.      Type of internet connection:

To get straight-to-the-point fibre internet is the preferred type of internet for online gaming. If fibre internet is not available in your area, then the next best option would be broadband or a DSL connection. If you are not sure whether or not you have fibre internet available in your area, then check our coverage map here.

5.      The equipment you are using:

The router and modem that you use are important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to an enjoyable gaming set-up. The quality of these items can affect your network speed considerably. Speak to your ISP about the best router and modem for online gaming or even join Facebook gaming groups and ask for advice. People on these groups love sharing advice and a lot of the people on these groups are experts in this field. One example of this type of group is ‘Gaming Buddies’.

6.      Equipment setup:

Also affecting the speed of your internet is the number of devices you have connected to your router at the same time. The more devices you have connected, the more bandwidth you need. 

7.      Data:

We’ll cut to the chase here. Unlimited or uncapped data is the best option for online gaming, especially when running updates.

8.      Speed:

The faster your internet connection the faster you can send those packets of data and the lower your ping – simple! Get the fastest internet speed your budget will allow. Fibre is surprisingly cheaper than most LTE connections.

A few extra tips you may like

  1. Get that gaming chair you’ve been eyeing out

Be comfortable! The more comfortable you are the better you will play. There are some great gaming chairs out there. It won’t make you a better player but you will surely enjoy playing more, and the more you play the better you get.

  1. Invest in better equipment.

The control or keyboard that you use to play Fifa with, that may have been thrown across the room multiple times or had a hole punched through it in a moment of rage may not be the best for FPS (first-person-shooter) games. There are custom controllers and keyboards out there that may be to your liking. There are even professional gaming controllers and keyboards you can buy and customise to your liking. So, save that extra money every month, you’ll thank yourself later.

GAMING HEADSET! The gaming industry is taking audio almost as importantly as the visual aspects of gaming nowadays. Having a quality headset can boost your performance dramatically when playing, especially when being snuck up on from behind.

  1. Look after your stuff. The better you take care of your setup, the longer it will last. Plus, should you want to upgrade at a later stage, you can sell your current setup for a decent deposit on your next rig.

Remember, server location can have an affect

Where your gaming company’s servers are located can have an effect on the ping. The further away the server is, the longer it will take for the to-and-fro signals to reach their destination and so the chances of experiencing lag are much higher.

*RocketNet, led by Simon Swanepoel, is one of South Africa’s fastest growing ISP’s who is passionate about providing customers with the best internet experience possible.

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