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Managing Network connections

by Bladactania / March 12, 2012 7:48 AM PDT

I play an online game (World of Tanks to be specific). On occasion I am subject to crippling lag. While this is to be expected in MMOs from time to time, I always seem to be victim to it when no one else on the server is experiencing the problem. After some investigation, I noticed it's when I'm in a part of my house where the wireless signal isn't perfect. However how can this cause a problem? My cable internet has a max speed of 12Mbs per second and even at the lowest connection speed, I'm connected to the wireless network at 72Mbs per second. And when I look at my network utilization, I'm at a meager 10%. Is there a setting somewhere for individual applications that limits the portion of network bandwidth the application can use? Can there be another explanation?

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All Answers

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Isn't this the same old lesson about WiFi and games?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 13, 2012 1:15 AM PDT

WiFi is nice but many gamers seem to repeat this lesson. Get wired and see if it fixes it. I don't expect any "network utilization" to be the cause or cure when the WiFi is is in use.

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Tried that
by Bladactania / March 13, 2012 3:22 PM PDT

When I'm at my desk, I usually am wired directly to the router and, yes, I never have this issue. I also don't have this issue when I'm at my desk and running wirelessly, unless there is other network utilization going on (like someone loading something on Netflix downstairs and someone streaming music in the family room).

But I don't always want to be at my desk. Sometimes, I want to plug my laptop into the big screen TV, which is downstairs, away from the router. I don't understand how halving my network connection speed should cause in-game lag when I'm still 3 or 4 times the speed of my broadband connection. One would think that if I had hit the wall my network utilization would be maxed. Also, I recently upgraded my router. I'm now, at a 'Good' network connection running at 90Mbps where before, even when wired, was only connected at 60Mbps. So where does the lag come from?

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signal strength vs signal quality
by bill012 / March 13, 2012 10:24 PM PDT
In reply to: Tried that

They key reason wireless has issues is not the strength of the signal but the quality. In general the lower strength of the signal the poorer the quality is but it is not as simple as that. You can have poor quality at high signal strength if the interference from another device is also at high signal strength. Put the right cordless phone or baby monitor on top of your router an I promise you you will have 100% signal strength but a totally unusable wireless connection.

Now when you look at the so called speed reported by a router that is assuming that the data packet actually gets there. What they don't say is how many times the packet had to be retransmitted because it was damaged by interference. There is all kinds of overhead in retransmitting packets.

The key reason games see more issues is they send a large number of small data packets at a consistent rate. They are very dependent on the rate being consistent but retransmission of packets make the rate vary. In the voice over ip world this is called jitter but unlike a voice call where a person can tolerate a little noise many games are greatly effected by jitter.

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Makes sense.
by Bladactania / March 13, 2012 11:40 PM PDT

Ah! I had not considered signal quality. Quite dumb of me. Thanks for the info.

Is there a way to monitor stats like quality, packet loss, retransmission, etc so I can assess the quality of my wireless connections?

A related question... I recently bought a dual band router. I know that the 5GHz connections is less likely to be interfered with by cordless phones etc that generally operate at the more common 2.4GHz. I always assumed that the connection would automatically switch between the two bands as necessary. I see a setting on my computer where I can specify to only connect at the higher band, but when I make that selection, I cannot connect to the router. Is it likely that the router needs to be setup to operate at this frequency? I can't see anywhere in the router manual that mentions this, but I mainly just skimmed it.

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dual band
by bill012 / March 14, 2012 4:01 AM PDT
In reply to: Makes sense.

Some cards have a signal quality display depends on the chipset. Some other have error count. A lot of this is done at a very low level. Even when you run a card as a wireless sniffer it will not show the packets that are damaged, seems to be discarded before you even get a chance to capture it.

All depends on your router how you set up the 5g. Most by default pretty much allow everything.

The way I like to do it if the router supports it is to set a different SSID for the 5G band and the 2.4G You can then select network by SSID rather than digging through the all the setting in the nic cards.

The issue with 5g is that is blocked much more easily by walls which is part of the reason you get less interference from your neighbors. It is a trade off since your internal wall also reduce the signal. This is one of those try it and see if its better things no way to predict.

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