It can be a challenge to optimize a PC for gaming, even more so when it comes to online gaming. This is due to the extra variables like connection speed, latency, lag and other factors that affect your online gaming performance, on top of the actual performance of your PC. In our post on ‘How to Host Dedicated Ark Server for Private Use’, Nicky Johnson touched on how running your own online server requires enough resources to ensure smooth operation. With that in mind, getting your PC optimized for online gaming might require upgrading some hardware components, improving connection speeds and optimizing your operating system.
Internet and Connectivity
Whereas with the hardware you have control over how fast your PC will run when it comes to connectivity not everything is in your hands when it comes to how fast your internet connection will be or how much lag or latency you’ll experience. There are, however, a few ways to mitigate this. Tech and AV expert Timothy J. Seppala recommends that all your network gear should be wired whenever possible, preferably with CAT5e or CAT6 type cables. This not only ensures a more reliable connection but is also the best option for low latency online gaming. The wired everything rule also applies to your mouse and keyboard, as all those milliseconds of lag can add up in the end.
Next, your router is a crucial piece of the puzzle, and you don’t need to shell out hundreds of dollars for one, but don’t spend less than $50 on one either. We’d recommend something like the Netgear Nighthawk R6700, as it is reliable, and offers great range and speeds. If a wired connection is out of the question, as we described above, then the R6700’s fast Wi-Fi connection will help mitigate the inevitable lag as much as possible. Another way to get a boost of speed is by using Google’s domain name server (DNS) settings in your router. This will mean some setting changes and will involve using Google’s DNS rather than your internet service provider’s. There’s a huge performance boost to be gained which can mean up to a twofold increase in your connection and download speeds.
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Review Your PC’s Hardware
When it comes to hardware, your graphics card, or GPU, is the core of your gaming experience and will be the greatest determining factor as to which online games you’ll be able to play and at what graphic settings. Make Use Of explains that if you’re still gaming on an integrated graphics chip you should consider upgrading to a dedicated GPU. Integrated graphics are very limited and their lack of dedicated memory means that your performance will suffer. An article by HP on the ‘Ultimate Custom Gaming PC Builder Guide’ advises investing in a gamer-geared GPU that has its own dedicated memory, which will allow you to play the latest games on their ideal graphics settings. With this in mind, a card with at least 4GB GDDR is ideal for most online games like Ark, Fortnite or PUBG.
Other critical hardware components that will improve your online gaming are more RAM and installing your OS and games on a solid-state drive (SSD). RAM is a cheap way to boost your performance and if you’re currently running under 8GB then it’s time to upgrade (let’s face it, Windows is a memory hog). In a Windows 10 environment, 16GB is ideal, as it will provide the OS enough leeway for its own processes as well as your online games. Just make sure to buy two sticks of RAM, i.e. if you’re upgrading to 16GB, buy two 8GB sticks to take advantage of dual-channel memory speeds.
Installing an SSD will also help give you that extra read boost for loading and running games and will optimize your Windows OS to run smoother. You’ll be surprised how much faster your Windows system boots up (generally 6-9 seconds) compared to running from a regular hard disk drive (HDD). Your games will also load a lot faster and read/write speeds while playing will be much higher as well ensuring a smoother online gaming experience.
One final aspect, that is often overlooked, is how the monitor or TV you’re using can have an impact on your online gaming performance. Ideally, you want a monitor that has under 30 milliseconds of lag and if what you are currently using has a “game mode” make sure to enable that as it will disable extra processing in the monitor or TV’s hardware, which will make your movies look brilliant, but will dramatically increase your input lag for online gaming.