So you have done what every online gamer should ideally do and get on a wired ethernet connection, yet you still find yourself lagging for online multiplayer games? This is annoying as a wired connection to your router should normally allow you to enjoy lag free gaming online. What steps can we take if we still have problems even on a wired connection?
There are some simple steps we can take to try and pin down the source of the lag. There are some router settings we can change to manage home congestion and allow our console to connect as openly to the internet as possible.
We can also test out our router and cables to make sure they are working properly, and try a few other minor things. If we still cannot solve the lag problem then it may be the game servers or your ISP which is the problem. Let’s run through each troubleshooting step below.
Wired ethernet connections should normally allow you to game without lag but occassionally they may not which can be frustrating
If There Are A Lot Of People Using Your Internet Try Using Quality of Service Settings if Available on Your Router
One of the first things to check if a wired connection is still causing you to lag is that your home network is not too congested. If several other people are using the internet at the same time as you are trying to game online, especially for higher bandwidth things like streaming and downloading, then it can cause problems as the router struggles to process all the traffic demands at once.
Having a wired connection can go a long way towards alleviating this congestion in the first place, but depending on the quality of your router, the available bandwidth on your package and the bandwidth demands on your home network, your ping may increase even with a wired connection if there are a lot of people on the internet at the same time.
Thankfully there is a setting on some routers called Quality of Service which does allow you to prioritise traffic and manage congestion on a home network. It basically allows you to instruct your router to process traffic for your games console first before anything else on the home network, reducing the problem of congestion.
We have gone into how to configure Quality of Service settings in our full article on the subject. We will embed a video and quick summary of how to set QoS for your games console. Unfortunately QoS is not available on all routers; Netgear and DLink routers usually have the feature but coverage on other brands is patchy. It is always worth logging in to your router and checking though.
Quality of Service Settings in Action
When properly configured QoS will make it seem as though you are the only one on your home connection even if you aren’t
Configuring QoS – Quick Summary:
- Make a note of the IP and MAC address of your games console. They can easily be found in the Connection Status/Settings menus of your console.
- Login to the router using it’s IP address and password, IP commonly 192.168.0.1 (or .1.1). These can be found on the back of the router or online.
- Go to Quality of Service or QoS settings, often under “Advanced” settings or similar.
- You should see a list of devices on the home network. You should be able to identify yours by the MAC and IP address you noted down earlier. Your device might need to be on for the router to recognise it.
- Set your games console to “Highest” or “Maximum” priority and make sure any non latency essential devices are set to a lower priority. Streaming devices should still be given a high priority if not quite as high as gaming devices.
- Apply or save settings and exit the router. You should now have Quality of Service enabled for your games console!
When properly configured this will tell your router to process your game console’s (small) bandwidth demands first on busy home networks, reducing the likelihood of lag even when lots of people are online at home. This will not affect other user’s experience; it is just telling your router to juggle all the traffic demands on your home network in a specific order to keep everyone happy.
Make Sure Your Console is Fully Opened Up to the Internet
Another step to take if even a wired connection is causing you to lag is to make sure your games console has the best and most open connection to the internet possible. Depending on the make and model and ISP some routers and router settings can impair connectivity and make for a sub-optimal connection to other gamers online which can cause lag even on an ethernet connection.
More specifically we mean that sometimes the NAT type your console is on can cause connection difficulties with other gamers. Sometimes implementing port forwarding on your games console can also improve connectivity and reduce lag. There are several different ways to do this; see our article on the subject for more information.
A single settings change that can address a lot of these issues is the DMZ settings on your router. The DMZ is a zone on your router into which you can place your games console which removes all firewall filtering and fully opens it up to the internet for the easiest quickest connection to other gamers online. This automatically applies port forwarding and open NAT type to your console and removes the connectivity problems that can result from certain NAT types and other router functions.
There is a lot of talk that placing your console in the DMZ is dangerous and could leave your console exposed, but these warnings are way overblown as games consoles do not have the same security vulnerabilities as other devices do. Put simply games consoles cannot catch viruses so you do not need to worry about placing them in the DMZ; see our article on the subject for more detail.
Placing Your Console in the DMZ – Quick Summary
- Prep – Log into your router using it’s IP address (often 192.168.0.1 or 1.1 for last two) plus password found on the back or online. Find DMZ settings and check whether it asks for an IP address or MAC address to configure. MAC address is easier option. If it requires IP address then follow the steps in the video to set a static IP address.
- Find and note down your console’s IP and/or MAC address in the Connection Status/Settings menu depending on what the router needs entering. These settings are easy to find within the menus of all games consoles.
- If required make the current IP address fixed or static by reconfiguring your connection manually with the IP address as described in this video. We also have an article on how to do it here. If the router only requires a MAC address entering in DMZ then you don’t need to do this step.
- Log into your router using it’s IP address and password, found on the back or on Google. 192.168.0.1 or 1.1 is most common for the IP address. Type this into your browser’s address bar and enter the router password.
- Go to DMZ settings, usually under “Security” or “Advanced” or similar.
- Enter in your console’s static IP address you just configured if needed, or MAC address depending on what it asks for. If it asks for just the MAC address the whole process is easy; some routers ask for an IP address which requires we configure a static IP as detailed above.
- Save settings and exit router. You have now placed your console in the DMZ for fully open ports and Open NAT type.
Using DMZ for your games console will give it the best connection possible to the wider internet and therefore other gamers without any router filtering getting in the way. Hopefully this should reduce the likelihood of lagging. We should emphasise it is safe to do this for games consoles but not other devices; see our linked article on DMZ for a full explanation on why this is the case.
Test Your Hardware – Your Router, Console and Ethernet Cables
Another thing to do to try and find the source of lag is to test your devices and equipment out. Sometimes routers can simply get slower or overheated if they are left on too long and they can also get clogged up with data over long periods of time as they tend to store all browsing data until they are reset.
For this reason it is a good idea to periodically unplug the router for a few minutes and you can also do a full factory reset if you want by pressing the reset button in with a pin. This will wipe all data and settings and restore the router to it’s “out the box” state. Obviously you will lose any settings you have configured on the router up to that point but a full reset may improve it’s performance.
Your console may also get overheated with prolonged use so it will do no harm to reset that as well and see if that solves any lag problems. Ethernet cables can also lose performance over time as the copper inside them becomes worn and twisted so it is worth trying a spare ethernet cable if you have one to see if that improves online performance. Cheap replacements are also available from loads of retailers these days.
On the console side it is also worth running internet connection tests through a few times before actually gaming as this has sometimes been known to reduce lag. If you configure a new wired internet connection and then go straight into a lobby without testing it can cause a poor connection for some reason so it is worth running a few connection tests through to solidify the connection in this writer’s experience.
Make sure you are not too far way from the people you are playing against online as too much distance will increase latency even on a perfect internet connection
It May Be Your ISP
Trying these different methods will help you narrow down where the actual problem with the lag lies. It could be a hardware fault with your router, console or cables, or it could just be that your ISP is the problem and their service is suffering from some kind of disruption which is causing the lag. It can sometimes be difficult to pin down what is the problem but you can often find out what is not the problem.
In this situation it is also a good idea to test out other games online to see if they also suffer from lag problems even with a wired connection. This will give you a good idea as to where the problem lies. If you are getting lag on multiple games then it is a pretty good indication that it is your ISP or hardware that is the problem you should report the problem to them.
If you seem to be getting this problem on one specific game then it is more an indication that it is the online servers for that particular game that are the problem. If a specific game has problems with their servers you will quickly hear about it online from other gamers so it is worth checking social media for anyone who has had similar problems with that game.
As a side issue we should also mention that you should not be too far away from your competitors geographically if you want to play smoothly online. If you are too far away from the people you are playing with then you will inevitably lag no matter how good your internet is so it is best to play against gamers in the same country or continent at least depending on distance.
If you are on a wired connection and have made all the settings changes we suggested then there is definitely no reason you should be lagging so we would recommend raising the issue with your ISP and asking them for further steps. They may carry out some tests on your line to see if anything is wrong. You may also have a replacement router sent to you to see if that works.
If Your ISP Can’t Sort It Then Look at Other Providers
If you run through all these steps and raise the issue with your ISP and you are still getting nowhere resolving the lag, then it is worth considering another provider as there is no reason why a wired ethernet connection should not allow you to game online without lag as long as you are following the steps we set out above.
We have embedded table below for our US readers showing the different options available if you would like to change your ISP. Obviously availability varies by area but there is at often least one alternative fibre optic provider in many areas now. Our UK readers should check out our article on who has the best internet for gaming in the UK.
US Faster Fibre Packages
|Provider||Package 1 Download Speed (mbps)||Package 2 Download Speed (mbps)||Package 3 Download Speed (mbps)||Population Covered (Millions) 2018|
|Comcast Xfinity||100||150||250||100 million*|
|Verizon Fios||100||300||940||34 million*|
|AT&T Fibre||100||300||1000||15 million*|
|Century Link||40||100||1000||11 million*|