One advanced method of reducing lag on games consoles (or buffering for video streaming) that is sometimes mentioned in articles and videos is to adjust Quality of Service settings on your router. It is a common complaint amongst online gamers that they tend to lag when other people in the house are using the internet at the same time. Can adjusting Quality of Service settings on a router help with this?
Altering Quality of Service settings is an excellent proven way to reduce lag in online gaming, especially in households with multiple internet users at the same time. QoS settings can be configured to prioritise certain devices over others, such as games consoles, to ensure their traffic demands are handled first by the router.
Given that latency is more important than bandwidth for gaming, this is a crucial first step for gamers to reduce lag in houses where multiple people are using the internet at the same time.
Here are the very quick steps for setting QoS:
- Find the MAC address of your PS4 in Connection Settings/Status
- Log into your router (type 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 into any browser, plus the router password)
- Find QoS Settings if they are available
- Select your PS4 using the MAC address you found earlier.
- Set the priority to Highest or Maximum.
- QoS is not available on all routers.
Let’s look in more detail at what QoS is and how to configure Quality of Service settings in more detail.
What is Quality of Service (QoS)?
Quality of service is a mechanism available in most routers that allows traffic to certain devices or applications to be prioritised over others on a home network. In many houses you have multiple people and devices competing for bandwidth at the same time, especially during evenings and weekends when everyone tends to be home from work.
Different devices and applications place different demands on network resources, so it is sometimes useful to sort them into some kind of order.
Online gaming for example, depends far more on latency than bandwidth to run smoothly. In other words, it doesn’t tend to use much data in terms of the actual amount, but what data it does use needs to be sent as quickly as possible to minimise any delays which can cause latency or lag. In other words, it is a latency intensive activity.
Video streaming on the other hand, is the opposite, depending far more on bandwidth than latency to run smoothly. Streaming movies on Netflix for example does tend to use a large amount of bandwidth, but that data does not need to be sent with the same priority as online gaming traffic in order to function effectively.
A slight delay in the transmission can be tolerated as long as the bandwidth resources are there. In other words, it is a bandwidth intensive activity.
Then you have things that are somewhere in the middle like email and general website browsing, which don’t have particularly high bandwidth or latency demands.
It is of course nice if websites and email loads a little faster, but a little delay does not usually negatively impact the experience as it can with online gaming. If your browsing includes watching videos such as on YouTube then obviously the bandwidth demands will start to creep up.
So let’s look at how we can adjust Quality of Service settings on our router to prioritise certain traffic and devices over others. In this article we will focus on how to do it for PS4 console, as the PS4 online gamers are known to suffer frequently with lag due to its peer to peer networking structure for online gaming. However, you can use the methods we describe to prioritise ANY device you wish to on a home network.
Setting Up QoS For The PS4 on Your Router
Adjusting Quality of Service settings is usually not too difficult and requires just a few easy steps. Also QoS settings are available on most modern routers but a small number may not have allow you to adjust QoS. You will need to have handy your router login and password and the IP and MAC address of the device you want to prioritise.
In the case of the PS4 this will allow you to prioritise the PS4 in relation to any other devices using the internet at the same time. The router will deal with any traffic to and from the PS4 before anything else.
This should keep lag to a minimum even if other people are using the internet at the same time. Here is an excellent demonstration of the subject below, showing how competing bandwidth use can affect latency and how using QoS settings can solve the problem.
Here are the more detailed steps to set up QoS below; the specifics will obviously vary with with your router make and model.
- Make a note of the IP and MAC address of your device. For the PS4 these are located in the “View Connection Status” page of the Internet Connection settings section of the Network settings.
- Log in to your router using the 192.168.x.x format in your address bar. 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 are most common, you will find the exact IP to use on the back of your router.
- Enter the username and password of the router; again they will be on the back of the router somewhere.
- Find Quality of Service settings within the router, usually 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 PS4 or other device to “Highest” or “Maximum” priority and make sure any non latency essential devices are set to lower priority.
- Apply or save settings and exit the router. You should now have Quality of Service enabled for your PS4 or other device!
Configuring QoS allows you to prioritize your PS4 or other device on the home network
As the video shows, if Quality of Service settings are correctly implemented for the PS4, the reduction in latency or lag is noticeable. Even with competing bandwidth devices simulated the ping is reduced back to the same level as without competing devices once the PS4 is prioritized.
It is as though you are the only one using the internet even if you are not.
This a great tool for reducing lag in multiple user households. The other devices and services user will also not be affected; by adjusting Quality of Service settings you are simply instructing the router to handle traffic to all devices in an order that is most efficient in reducing latency.
So one person can stream Netflix downstairs while another games upstairs and there should be no interruptions to either because the PS4’s (small) amount of bandwidth use is processed first so there is minimal delay.
Summary on QoS For Gaming
Implementing Quality of Service settings is an excellent way to reduce lag for online gaming in high internet use households. Changing a few simple router settings can make gamers play online smoothly even when other people are using the internet at the same time in the house. It is a simple way of instructing the router to process the game console’s traffic first before anything else.
QoS settings are not limited to games consoles and can be used on any device using a service that is prone to be interrupted when multiple people are using the internet simultaneously.
Also if you have multiple games consoles in a house using the internet for online gaming, they can all be prioritized above other devices to ensure lag is kept to a minimum for them all. This can be useful in student houses and wherever siblings or friends play online together in the same house.
With the large bandwidth broadband packages that tend to be available nowadays, the total amount of bandwidth isn’t usually the problem. It is more ensuring the efficient allocation of this bandwidth so that latency sensitive devices and applications get their traffic dealt with first. Adjusting Quality of Service settings for games consoles is great way to do this and keep everyone happy!
What If My Router Does Not Have QoS?
We recognize that not all routers have QoS available to prioritize gaming traffic, so what options are available in these cases?
We can think of a few other solutions to this problem:
Solution #1 – Wired Connections – The first priority for any online gamer should be to get off Wi-Fi and onto a wired ethernet connection instead. Ethernet connections are much better than Wi-Fi for gaming, since they are a dedicated, un-congested communication channel to the router, whereas devices on Wi-Fi have to share the space with other wireless devices, leading to congestion and lag issues.
If you can get onto a wired connection, then your lag problems should automatically reduce, even on busy home networks.
Click here to view some long ethernet cables on Amazon.
Solution #2 – Powerline Adapters – If you cannot get easily get onto a direct wired ethernet connection because you are too far away from the router, then a Powerline Adapter is a next best solution for gamers, which effectively still gets you on a wired connection, but by a different method.
Powerline adapters consist of a pair of adapter plugs which can transmit data through the existing house wiring, effectively delivering a wired ethernet connection, without the need to run long cables through the house.
You can find links to the TP Link Nano Powerline adapter, plus more advanced models, on our Powerline Adapters page.
Solution #3 – Gaming Routers – If you cannot get onto a wired connnection at all and have to stay on Wi-Fi, then a specialized gaming router may be a good option, since they always have QoS built in as standard to manage gaming traffic.
Click here for our detailed post on whether gaming routers are worth it, plus some recommendations of different routers at different price levels.