Does ISP internet connection really affect online gameplay?

Discussion in 'Networking Issues' started by SAPo57, Aug 22, 2006.

  1. SAPo57

    SAPo57 Network Guru Member

    I just want to get something straight. People have been telling me that your Internet connection really affects online gameplay, such as on an XBOX when gamers lag on HALO.

    Others tell me that it's false, that the gaming console (PS2,PSP or XBOX) only uses as much as 20-100kbps when connected to a server and playing a game.

    Am I really just wasting my time upgrading my routers and internet connection for nothing or does it really affect online gaming throughput?
  2. jb_008

    jb_008 Network Guru Member

    The biggest problem is ping times... the lower the ping time the better... cable on average is about 30-60ms... wireless is at about 60 and up... sat is about 700ms on avg... True that bandwidth helps in getting the data threw... but you can have all the bandwidth you want if you ping times are bad like 700ms... your games are going to suck... but some is true in reverse... you can have good ping times on dial up but you just don't have to room to put large amounts of data threw...
  3. Tenoq

    Tenoq LI Guru Member

    The key for gaming is latency - high latency is bad, low latency is good.

    Generally speaking, the closer a server is to you (both physically and in terms of routing) the lower the latency. For this reason, it's best to always try to play games on local servers, so you have less lag. For example, I'm in Australia, so I always play my online games on Australian servers, and if I can, in my nearest city. This way I can keep latency to between 40 and 80ms. If I try to play on a US server, my latency is up to around 300-600ms, depending on the server. This is the main reason I don't play WoW. :p

    Now your ISP does affect your latency as their peering arrangements affect the number of 'hops' between your computer and a particular gaming server. Some ISPs use inefficient hosts, which means instead of using 8 hops to your gaming server (ie, 8 routers it has to go through), they use say, 15 hops but go through cheaper servers. Now if each router adds 5ms to your latency (ping) then obviously 8 hops is much better than 15!

    I'm not sure if this applies in your home country, but some countries have ISPs that optimise gaming traffic, and guarantee low pings or low latency. It's worth looking into services such as these.

    Note I've said nothing about bandwidth: generally even a basic DSL connection will support any online game. Bandwidth only becomes a problem if you saturate it - so don't download files or run file-sharing programs while gaming! ;)
  4. Jeffrccar

    Jeffrccar Network Guru Member

    If you are using XBOX live you can't pick the servers close to you. :(
    but if you are using Kai (XBOX tunneling software) you can pick your servers.
    however, i find that Kai gives more ping spikes.

    These following questions will determine the bad ping times:
    1. Is it DSL or Cable or whatever?
    2. What speed is your internet connection?
    3. What router is it and what firmware is it running?
  5. SAPo57

    SAPo57 Network Guru Member

    Well, I'm going to answere those three questions and you tell me if my connection is bad or good.

    1. I have both ADSL (ISP= BellSouth) and CABLE (ISP= Comcast)

    2. ADSL speed is 2.9Mbps download and 300Kbps, but the actual DSL sync rate I supposed to recieve is 3.5 megs down and 384Kbps up. Cable speed is from 5-7 megs download and 700Kbps, but actual sync rate is much higher for download like 8.5Mbps.

    3. I have both modems bridged that are hooked up to a switch and from there my WRT54GS v.4 (DD-WRT V23-SP1) uses the Cable connection, while my BEFSR41 V.4 uses the ADSL connection.

    4. If you want to know the DSL router it's a Westell 6100: the model # is C90-610030-06 and firmware version is 03.06.02
    The cable router is an SBG900 (wireless router), but I do not have the specifications right now.
  6. YeOldeStonecat

    YeOldeStonecat Network Guru Member

    Yes...gameplay can be affected by the ISP...actually there are many factors in this..and it can vary from person to person. Do not believe the person who says "Well..I say cable is best for me..therefore it's best for everyone"

    Many factors here to consider.

    First of all...ISPs can vary in quality.'s true. Going back to the dial up days...some ISPs are better than others. You'll often find that smaller specialized regional ISPs cater more towards performance. Yes they can cost more. I remember back in the early dial up days, I got hooked on online gaming..and spend about a year trying various dial up ISPs...learning about the differences in how ISPs provided service, and eventually found one that catered to gaming. Yes they cost more...but I had my ping in Quake 1 around 140ms...not bad for dial up.

    Fast forward to broadband....

    In general, by design, DSL is better for gaming...less latency, you have a straight dedicated shot to your ISPs gateway.

    With begin to share the bandwidth early straight dedicated shot is very short..going only to your local node..then you're sharing the highway with lots of other traffic from then onto your ISPs gateway..and onto the internet.

    Most people judge DSL performance because they tried DSL with the local phone company. Now..back in the dial up days..the local phone company was generally not that good. What makes people think they'll be any better with DSL? Prior to my current connection...I had a pure bridged DSL connection with a really good quality small ISP...I ran circles around local telco DSL as far as latency, and my buddies with cable. Yeah it costed twice as much..but hey, like everything else in the world.."you get what you pay for". If I couldn't use that small DSL ISP..I'd have used cable back then...rather than the local phone company DSL though.

    Cable...usually much higher download speeds than OK..better when that big game patch for Battlefield comes out...but performance can vary with cable. Where I live...I'm in a fairly rural local cable nodes are relatively sparse. Online gaming isn't as buttery smooth as my bridged DSL was...but it's pretty good.

    Other factors...

    *the line quality on your street/in your neighborhood. I've seen different people..using the same might have constant issues and hate it..the other might love it..never have a problem. There's just "luck of the draw"..that the lines on your street have issues now and then.

    *line quality in your house. For many years...every place I lived in, I always had brand-new-lines installed... because internet was important to me. Back in the dial up days..brand new line from the my apartment...right to my office. When I build this house I'm in now..brand new CAT3 from the my house, for the DSL. CAT6 from the NID to my office. Also brand new cable..which I happen to be using now.

    *router, or other internet sharing means...difference in quality in routers. For a single player, older game with lighter bandwidht...the quality of the router doesn't matter as much. But for heavier games, or if you have several users at home online at the same time..yes, a more powerful router can handle concurrent connections better.

    *health of your of adware/spyware/malware? All windows updates? Low impact antivirus? If you're using a software firewall..a low impact one?
  7. ifican

    ifican Network Guru Member

    I have to agree however only partially with yeoldstonecat, we wont get into the dynamics of networks anymore then we have, but they are today much different in performance then they were just a few years ago.

    Sapo57 am i right to read that you have to different connections bridged together? If so that in itself could be all of your problem, depending on which traffic is going which way, you could simple be suffering from the latency that being induced by traffic loadbalancing indescriminately across two connections. If that is not the case, it is as other have said, your gaming is really high dependent on devices outside of your control and alot of times outside of your ISP's control. Simply run a trace to your gamming sever from home and view where the highest latency is. It is this network / device that is causing your games grief. If you give me an ip of one of the servers in question i can show you from here (3 seperate network connections) how times can vary and not solely based on the speed of the link. I have access to an oc-12, T-1 and Cable connection from where i am sitting now.
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