How to Optimize Gaming on a Router

By Shea Laverty

Improving your online game's performance usually means making some key changes to how your computer and router communicate, namely through port forwarding.

Optimizing your online gaming experience usually includes changing how you connect to your router, as well as forwarding ports for your game. In addition, choosing a time to play when others won't be using the network and changing your graphics settings can help with your online gaming experience.

Switch to Wired Ethernet

Wired connections offer a consistent, reliable data transfer rate without incurring radio frequency cross-talk, which occurs when several devices on the same Wi-Fi channel try to perform tasks at the same time. Depending on your router, Ethernet may also offer a higher speed than using wireless networking.

Configure Port Forwarding

Setting a Static IP

Most computers on a network are assigned a new IP address every time they start up. Port forwarding requires that the computer has the same IP address every time, to properly route data. By setting your computer to have a static IP, the IP address never changes and the data continues to follow the path specified during the port forwarding process.

Step 1

Press Windows-X and select Command Prompt.

On Windows 7 computers, click Start and type command in the search window, then click Command Prompt from the search results.

Step 2

Enter the ipconfig /all command.

Type ipconfig /all and press Enter.

Step 3

Make notes of the IPv4 Address, Subnet Mask, Default Gateway and DNS servers.

Look for the following information under Wireless LAN Adapter Wi-Fi if you're using Wi-Fi or Ethernet Adapter Ethernet if you're using a wired connection:

  • IPv4 Address
  • Subnet Mask
  • Default Gateway
  • DNS Servers

Make a note of the numbers listed, as you need them later. Close the Command Prompt.

Step 4

Select Control Panel from the Power User menu.

Press Windows-X again and select Control Panel.

On Windows 7, click Start and select Control Panel.

Step 5

Select View Network Status and Tasks.

Click View Network Status and Tasks from the Network and Internet group.

Step 6

Click Change Adapter Settings from the sidebar.

Click Change adapter settings.

Step 7

Select Properties from your connection's context menu.

Right-click Wi-Fi for wireless connections or Ethernet for wired connections and select Properties.

Step 8

Select Internet Protocol Version 4 and click Properties.

Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and click Properties.

Step 9

Select the Use the Following IP Address and Use the Following DNS Server Addresses radio buttons and enter the values.

Click the Use the following IP address and Use the following DNS server addresses radio buttons.

Enter each value in the appropriate field in the appropriate field as you noted earlier, except for IP address. In this field, select a number similar to the IPv4 address, but with a different final digit.

For example, if the IPv4 address was 192.168.0.4, choose 192.168.0.51. The final number can be anything from 1 to 254, but should be different from the default gateway address.

Tip

Before entering the new values, copy down any information you see on this screen. Having this information on hand makes reverting to the original settings in case of an error much easier.

Step 10

Click OK.

Click OK when finished.

Tip

For instructions about setting up a static IP with your gaming console, review the following guides:

Forwarding Ports

The exact process of forwarding or mapping ports varies a bit from one router to the next, as each manufacturer uses its own proprietary router administration interface. These instructions and screenshots use a Motorola Surfboard modem/router device for illustrative purposes; your admin panel may not be exactly the same. For detailed information regarding your device, check out Port Foward's router list.

Tip

While gaming consoles usually use the same ports regardless of game, PC games may use different ports for different games. To find the appropriate port numbers for your game, check Port Forward's game list.

Step 1

Log into the administrator panel.

Open a Web browser and enter your router's default gateway into the address bar to access the administrator panel. Enter the administrator username and password in the prompts and click login to gain access.

Step 2

Select Port Forwarding from the Advanced menu.

Select the Advanced menu, followed by the Port Forwarding Option.

Step 3

Enter the static IP in the Local IP Address field.

Enter the static IP you created into the Local IP Address field.

Tip

Leave the External IP Address & Start/End Port field blank.

Step 4

Enter the port numbers in the Start and End port fields.

Enter the ports suggested for your game in the Start and End port fields. Each game may require more than one port setting. For example, "World of Warcraft" uses both port 1119 and port 3274.

If there's a description field, add a name so you can easily identify what that port does.

Step 5

Enable the port then click Apply.

Set the Enabled option to On, then click Apply to finish. Repeat the process for each port your game requires.

Port forwarding specifies a path for specific data to travel along through your router and your computer. By setting up port forwarding, you can improve your connection's speed and reduce network lag during gaming. Port forwarding is a two-step process: First you configure your computer or game console to have a static IP address, then assign the ports for your game.

Avoid Bandwidth Congestion

Several users sharing a network connection can cause reduced network performance during online gaming. This network congestion is mostly because your connection is only rated to offer a certain amount of bandwidth, as determined by your Internet service provider. The more people using the network at the same time, the less bandwidth you have available to use yourself. Avoid gaming when others are using the network if possible, especially for bandwidth intensive tasks like streaming high-definition video or downloading large files.

Lower Graphics Settings

While not directly related to the connection itself, lowering your game's graphics settings can substantially improve performance during online gaming sessions. The more detailed or complex the visuals your computer has to render, the more lag you're likely to notice during an online gaming session -- especially with a lot of players in a busy environment. Make some tweaks to your graphics from the in-game menu and lower the settings to the lowest acceptable minimum.