Does My Router Matter For Gaming? Things You SHOULD Know (2023)

Over the past 35 years, Masakari and I have played over many different connections. We started with network connections connected in chains (BNC), LAN parties with thousands of players in a network, and ending with today’s online MMOs.  

So the question, if your router influences your game, we can answer short and to the point:

The router can significantly influence the connection between the game client and the game server. Firewall, NAT, QoS, as well as WiFi and the frequency bands used with it, influence the quality and speed of the transport of data packets. Gaming routers focus on the optimal configuration for the best possible connection between client and server.

If you play online today, then on a PC or console, or even at home with your mobile phone, the first thing you do is connect to the internet via your router. 

Lags, disconnections, or lousy ping values can strongly influence your router.

Come on, let’s dig into the topic a little bit.

Note: This article was written in English. Translations into other languages may not provide the same linguistic quality. We apologize for grammatical and semantic errors.

Why Are Gaming Routers Important?

Ordinary equipment is not a viable option to handle the considerable needs of such games and the huge extent of data transmission required for the purpose.

This is why a typical router is not enough to handle the requirements, and this is when a specialized gaming router steps in to offer advanced-level benefits due to its high-level components.

What Are the Main Advantages Of Gaming Routers?

Gaming routers are designed to offer a higher range than ordinary ones. This means that by using these gaming routers, players don’t have to sit close to the router and can enjoy their games even from a distance.

Gaming routers often have stronger (or multiple) antennas. 

So if you need to play with WiFi, just compare a regular router with a gaming router. You will often get a more stable connection with a gaming router.

All this elevates the gaming experience to an entirely different level, proving that having the correct router is key to a great gaming experience. 

At the same time, we must say that improvement depends completely on your situation. For example, a gaming router won’t bring you any advantage if your connection to the service provider is generally poor.

What Router Settings Reduce Latency For Gaming?

An effective way of reducing the lag or latency in multiplayer online sessions is by using the geo-filter feature.

Settings - Netgear Nighthawk XR500 Gaming Router Optimization - TechWeLike

How Does Geo-Filter Work?

This unique feature enables players to specify the maximum distance between them and the serves or other players that they play against. NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XRM570 WiFi Router and Mesh WiFi  System with 6 Ethernet Ports and Wireless speeds up to 2.6 Gbps, AC2600,  Optimized for Low ping : Electronics

As latency during online gaming is mainly due to high ping, the geo-filter feature provides excellent results by reducing the ping value.

Geo-Fencing Offers More Control 

The geo-fencing setting enables players to customize the game servers on which they play their titles. This allows users to precisely set the area where they would like the gamer servers to be located.  

Allocation Of Bandwidth

Another router setting that reduces the latency for gaming is the allocation of bandwidth to games. 

Rather this is one of the most effective ways to reduce the latency as by allocating the bandwidth, the gaming setup gets priority over other internet-consuming gadgets.

Thus, a major chunk of the connection speed is provided to the gaming setup. This automatically reduces the latency during gaming.

Setting Uploading & Downloading Bandwidths

Another effective setting for reducing gaming latency is setting the maximum uploading and downloading bandwidth per device. This reduces the sudden surges in latency levels during online gaming.

8 Essential Router Tips for Optimal Gaming Performance

Traffic Control

The Traffic Control feature, available on many gaming routers, allows users to block the traffic based on the connected devices.

How do I configure QoS (Quality of Service)/ Traffic Control settings on my  router? | D-Link UK

QoS Also Comes In Handy

The Quality of Service (QoS) feature allows gamers to reduce the latency by prioritizing the internet traffic to the devices of their choice.

How Do I Prioritize My Traffic for Gaming?

As mentioned above, gaming is a resource-hungry process, especially when playing against advanced-level players. 

So, in such cases, each second counts, and thus you need a reliable and fast connection because this can mean the difference between taking the title home or losing it entirely.

Quality of service, also referred to as QoS, allows users to manage connections effectively. This handy process enables users to make the most out of the available resources by minimizing disruptions.

What QoS does is that it identifies the choke points in the internet connections and then enables users to resolve them. This feature is really useful as minimizing errors in the internet connections increases the overall performance of data gulping tasks.

Using QoS, users can easily prioritize the traffic by playing around with a few inputs such as IP address and network selection.

Traffic Prioritization - DumaOS on NETGEAR Nighthawk Support - Netduma Forum

How Does Traffic Prioritization Work?

The internet works on several bands, and the traffic on each band determines what speed an individual will get. This is why choosing different bands for different devices is an effective method of prioritizing traffic.

By doing so, users can make sure that not all devices use the same internet band because if they do, the results will be far from the desired outcomes.

Users can set the devices to perform less intensive functions at a different band, such as the 2.4 GHz, and then choose the 5GHz band for their gaming purposes, enabling them to make the most use of their internet connection.

Although many devices these days come with a factory-installed smart band technology that automatically chooses the best available band in the vicinity, the option of going for the best band manually always exists, and it is an effective mechanism for prioritizing your traffic for gaming.

As a result, fewer interruptions are experienced per gaming session, which means you can do more of what you love, i.e., gaming.

Should I Disable Router Firewall For Gaming?

While firewalls are set up for the benefit of the users by beefing up the security of their devices, they also have a few disadvantages.

Firewalls Limit Possibilities

The biggest difficulty faced by the gaming community is that the NAT3 (Network Address Translation) is not compatible with most online games. Thus, players joining these sessions find a lot of difficulties in getting through.

So, as a result, the sweet and straightforward answer to the question mentioned above is. Yes, it would help if you disabled the router firewall for gaming.

What Are the Benefits Of Disabling Router Firewall?

Disabling the router firewall has the following benefits:

Ease of Connectivity

First, by disabling the router firewall, you will be able to join all online gaming sessions with ease seamlessly. 

Infrequent Disconnections

Router firewalls are often the primary cause of disconnections. For example, gamers often complain about their repeated logouts from the PlayStation Network (PSN) while connected through a firewall.

Decrease In Latency

According to many experts, although there are mixed responses and no experiment backs this argument, disabling the router firewall reduces latency.

This is mainly because a firewall inspects each packet and then forwards it, requiring additional time. 

However, as the machines have become more advanced over the years, the speed at which the overall process is carried out is extremely fast.

Testing your gaming setup with and without the router firewall turned off can determine if any difference in latency is observed.

Will Turning Router Firewall Off Put You At Risk?

It is pertinent to mention that most casual gamers don’t share much of their personal information while enjoying multiplayer sessions.

They are thus at not much risk of falling prey to data breaches even by turning off the router firewalls. 

However, on the contrary, the added benefits are manifold, which makes turning off the router firewall attractive for most gamers.

Final Thoughts on Gaming Routers

If you get a reasonably good router from your service provider or buy one yourself, connect your PC or console via network cable. You probably won’t get any benefit from a gaming router.

However, if you have to share this router with other family members or roommates in a student dorm, then a gaming router may be useful to ensure you more connection quality.

If you play via WiFi, then a gaming router is almost mandatory. 

Of course, there are big differences in the quality of the gaming routers on the market. Still, the top devices could be beneficial for gaming and streaming due to better latencies and a more stable connection.

When playing online, bandwidth is not what matters. Latency and stability are. 

We played Counter-Strike 1.5/1.6 with 14ms ping in 1999. That was over 20 years ago. Since then, the data rate for FPS games has not increased because, ultimately, only the location and action data need to be exchanged between client and server. All visual elements are calculated locally on the client (PC/console/smartphone).

The decisive factor, however, was always the latency. 

With a fluctuating ping of 100ms, you simply have a massive disadvantage compared to a stable connection with a similar or even higher ping. Even with a fluctuating ping below 100ms, you can be at a disadvantage due to micro-stutters caused by lags in crucial situations. 

Especially in competitive games, this is more than annoying when the network connection decides about victory and defeat.

Our recommendation is to always connect to the router with a wired connection. If this is not possible, then the router should, of course, be set up optimally for a WiFi connection. If that’s also not possible, mesh extenders like the Linksys WHW0101P redistribute the WiFi with a slight loss of speed. 

A gaming router can bring a big improvement. 

Can we recommend a good gaming router? 

Unfortunately no. We haven’t bought one recently, and the technologies have evolved over the last two years. Maybe start your search directly here on Amazon and check out the products with lots of reviews.

It is best to try it out and if the gaming router does not work, send the device back. Reason: It doesn’t do what it promises 😉

If replacing your router is not an option and your data connection to the router seems reasonable enough, then you can try services like ExitLag for further improvements. These services try to shorten the distance between the router and the game server via their server network, similar to VPN connections, thus saving a few milliseconds.

We will review these services in a separate post soon. Stay tuned.

If you have a question about the post or pro gaming in general, write us:

GL & HF! Flashback out.

Michael "Flashback" Mamerow has been playing video games for over 35 years and has built and led two Esports organizations. As an IT architect and casual gamer, he is dedicated to technical topics.

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