Something else that is often suggested to gamers to help with their online experience is to set up a static IP address and then customize port forwarding options on their router for their console. To non techies these can sound like complex terms, so what does they mean and how are they meant to help with online gaming?
Setting a static IP address for your games console effectively fixes or “locks down” it’s IP address permanently, which then allows you to port forward to that fixed IP address. Port forwarding is effectively a method of prioritizing certain traffic to your games console, so that all data from certain ports automatically gets sent the games console by the router.
This can potentially reduce latency by removing any barriers data has to pass through first before it gets to your console.
Let’s look in more detail how to do this, firstly for the PS4 games console specifically. We will cover the Xbox One console in a separate post.
What is a (Static) IP Address?
IP address stands for Internet Protocol address and is basically a digital address for a device or website. It usually consists of four numbers separated by dots (an example at random is 126.96.36.199) and is the digital equivalent of a physical address for a house. It is a unique identifier that tells other people and devices who and where you are on the internet.
All websites as well as devices have their own IP address, which are then mapped to the actual website names using DNS servers, which we have covered in another article. The way IP addresses are administered also means that they can reveal the approximate geographical location of a device.
IP addresses can actually be grouped into internal and external ones, external ones issued by an ISP across the entire internet and internal ones issued by a router to devices within a house or other local network.
We do not need to go any further into this here, only to state that IP addresses issued by a router to devices are by default not normally fixed or permanent; they are prone to change from time to time.
IP addresses can be fixed though by customizing certain settings within a router or device. This sets a permanent or fixed IP address for a device such as a games console, which means that console will always have that particular IP address, unless it is moved to another house or you change the router settings again.
In itself this is not really much use, but it does allow you to do the next step of fort forwarding, which can help you to reduce lag in online gaming.
There are actually a couple of different ways of setting a static IP for the PS4 – one easier and one more difficult but precise. The first method involves assigning a static IP through the PS4 console itself; the second more difficult method involves assigning a static IP through your router, which is the more correct way of doing it.
However, we will cover both methods for users who are not confident messing around with router settings. Let’s look at each method in turn.
Method #1 – Setting a Static IP on The PS4 Itself (Easier Method)
Let’s start off with the easier shortcut method of setting a static IP on the PS4. You can do this entirely on the PS4 itself if you want, though it is technically speaking not the correct way to do it. We’ll explain this more when we detail the second method further below.
Here are the very quick steps for setting a static IP on the PS4 itself:
- Go to Settings…Network….Set Up Internet Connection
- Select WiFi or LAN depending on your connection
- Select Custom setup for LAN
- For IP Address, switch to Manual and input the following values:
- IP Address – 192.168.0.x, where x is any number between 100 and 254 (you choose)
- Subnet Mask – 255.255.255.0
- Default Gateway – 192.168.0.1
- Primary DNS – 188.8.131.52
- Secondary DNS – 184.108.40.206
- Run through the rest of the settings as they are, without changing them.
- Save and test your internet connection to see if you can get back online.
- Alternatively, you can go to Settings.…Connection Status before you start, and note down all the above settings with a pen and paper, and then go and reconfigure the connection, entering the details as you noted them, but just changing the last digit of the IP address. Sometimes IP addresses, Subnet Masks and Default Gateways do change depending on where you are in the world.
- See the video below for a demonstration of how to do this.
In the video, they do this step in a little more detail, actually testing out valid IP address on a PC/laptop. You can choose to do or skip this step, it isn’t strictly necessary.
The reason this method is not strictly technically correct is because routers already assign IP addresses to devices on a home network, and so by setting one yourself as we noted above, you could technically be choosing an IP address that is already in use on your home network by another device, causing IP address conflicts.
However, in reality this is not likely to happen as long as you choose a high number – which is why we suggested picking a number between 100 and 254 – for the simple reason that there tends only to be a maximum of 20 devices on a home network, while there is space for 254 separate devices (the last digit of the IP can be from 1-254).
So as long as you have a normal number of devices on your home network, there isn’t really much likelihood that you router is going to go above 100 in assigning IP address to specific devices.
Sure, IP addresses tend to be “leased” for a specific time by a router, after which they expire, and the router issues a new one, but even accounting for this, IP addresses are still recycled and re-used once a “lease” expires and the assigned number rarely surpasses 100 on most home networks with a normal number of devices. So picking a high number above 100 should be fine most of the time.
However, for PS4 gamers who want to do the Static IP thing more correctly, let’s go through the long winded method below.
Method #2 – Assigning a Static IP For Your PS4 Through Your Router (Technically Correct Method)
For those more confident with using routers, there is a more complete and correct way of assigning a static IP for your PS4. It is slightly more long winded but in reality is not actually that difficult to do. It usually just requires logging into your router and customizing a few settings.
It is impossible to provide a definite guide as the menus and settings on every router are different, but we have a generic list of the steps required to do this below. The specific menus may have slightly different names depending on your router make and model, but here are the general steps:
- Make a note of the current IP address and MAC address of your console. In the PS4, these are in the “Internet Connection Status” page of the Internet Settings which is under the “Network” menu
- Log in to your router. This usually means typing in a specific IP address into a browser address bar; it is often 192.168.0.1, 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.1.254 or may be something different. If you don’t know it, it will be on the back of your router somewhere along with the login password.
- Enter the admin/password – check the back of the router if don’t know them.
- Once logged in, go to “Advanced Settings” or something similar.
- Select “LAN Setup/Settings” or something similar.
- Select “Address Reservation”, “DHCP Reservation/Server” or similar. Click “Add” to add a new static IP address.
- Input an IP address you want the console to have. The field is usually filled out as 192.168.1.x with x being the custom number you put in to uniquely identify your console. This can be anything from 1 to 254; it is usually best to pick something in the middle like 100. You can put in the IP your console currently has if you noted it down.
- Add the MAC address also as noted down.
- Give the device a name (eg. Mike’s PS4).
- Add the IP address, save settings and reboot the router.
- Reconfigure the internet connection on your PS4 using the Easy/Automatic settings to ensure ALL settings are set to default or automatic as the router is now handling IP addresses. Don’t set anything manually using this method, as your router is handling all that now. Just pick Easy/Auto Setup.
- See the video below for a demonstration of this longer winded method; plus another demo video here.
The menu system is a little different for each router brand, but the general process is the same: Find IP/DHCP Reservation settings, enter your device’s MAC address, plus the fixed IP address you want to reserve for it, into your router’s DHCP settings and click Add/Save.
That’s it! You have now assigned a static IP address to your games console. As long as you live in that house, your console will always have that IP address as that is what you have manually assigned it through the router. If you were to move house you would obviously have to repeat the process on the router in the new house.
You can now move onto the next step of Port Forwarding to the games console.
How to Port Forward on the PS4
Now that you have set a static or fixed IP for your PS4, you can port forward or prioritize all traffic to your games console, which has the potential to reduce lag in online gaming. It basically removes any digital barriers for any data going to and from a games console, minimizing the delay in any data transmission and hopefully reducing latency in the process.
As with setting a static IP address, there are too many different router makes and models to make a definitive list here, but the process is usually similar.
The definitive resource for this is portforward.com, which has specific customized directions on how to port forward for almost every router brand and model that exists.
Port forwarding can reduce latency on your games console
For convenience here are some links to the pages for the most common ISPs in the UK and US: BT, Virgin Media, Comcast Xfinity, AT&T and Verizon Fios. From these pages you can then pick your specific router model and follow the directions from there on how to forward your games console for that router.
The general process to port forward tends to be as follows, though each router has its own menus and settings:
- Log in to your router as described above, using the 192.168.x.x IP format and the login password on the back of the router.
- Go to “Advanced Settings” or similar.
- Go to “Port Forwarding”.
- Add all ports separately as directed in the guide for your router on portforward.com. There is usually an “Add” button that you click an just add the port value to the relevant boxes for each port you need to forward. Ports for specific games can also sometimes be specified.
- Save settings and reset the router.
Once again this is the more long winded, but technically correct and precise way of port forwarding. Quicker, easier ways of forwarding ports do exist.
See our article on the three main ways of port forwarding for games consoles. Using DMZ settings is our preferred method, as it doesn’t require any messing about entering specific port values one by one. You just place your PS4 or other games console into the DMZ section of your router and you are good to go.
You have now port forwarded your PS4 through your router! Because you have set a static IP address, the ports you have forwarded will always go straight to that IP address you have set for your games console, hopefully reducing any barriers and delays of data being send to and from your console and thus reducing lag for better online gaming.
Unfortunately Port Forwarding is not available on all routers so you will have to check the portforward.com resource to see if your router is listed. If not, then you will have to resort to other ways of achieving basically the same outcome of port forwarding or other ways of reducing lag on your console.
Alternatively, a gaming router may be another option for you, as they are often designed to optimize connectivity for gaming and can sometimes automatically handle issues like port forwarding and quality of service for you. See our article on gaming routers for more on this.