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If you are in the market for a new router, you may have seen dual-band as part of the specs of many regular and gaming routers. Routers keep improving constantly so keeping up with all the features can be a challenge.
So what is dual-band, and why would you pay more for a router that offers dual-band capability? Why should you get a single band router if a dual-band router sounds like it is the better option?
In this piece we will cover the benefits of a dual-band router for gaming, what it does exactly, and if it is worth your money. We will let you know if you really need it and in what situations dual band is the right choice.
What is dual-band?
Dual-band is a standard feature on most of the newest gaming routers available. It has also become a feature of most regular routers, so you won’t necessarily have to buy a gaming router to get this functionality. Dual-band has the option of a 2.5GhZ connection while at the same time you can offer 5GhZ.
This means that your new shiny gaming laptop can happily connect to its preferred band at 5GhZ but the old pc you have for general browsing or when you quickly need to print something over the network printer will still be able to connect on its preferred band of 2.5Ghz.
This means you can game without issues and someone can connect on a different band with an older device without slowing you down.
Why do you need dual-band?
Dual-band is linked to how you use your network. Your hardware has some role, but the most important thing is what exactly your needs are in terms of your network. Just because you spend many hours sitting in your gaming chair being immersed in virtual worlds does not necessarily mean you need a dual-band router.
On the one hand, dual-band is very useful if you have many devices that need to connect to the network at the same time, especially new and old devices.
If, on the other hand, you have one gaming device and you don’t have roommates or kids sharing the network and downloading and streaming while you game, dual-band won’t make much of a difference to you.
You can get a fast single-band router that is compatible with a band of 5Ghz and a range that is suited to your needs.
How to set up dual-band
Ok, so you have decided that you need dual-band. Your roommate’s video streaming keeps interfering with your gaming and if you can use a separate band it will solve the slow speeds. But now you need to be sure that this actually works.
There is no use in getting a new router and not seeing a change in your gaming experience. Luckily, setting up dual-band is not a problem and it does not require that you know the intimacies of network dynamics.
In a new dual-band Wi-Fi router, the signals will be transmitted at the same time. Each of these signals will be identifiable by a unique service set identifier or SSID.
Usually the standard SSID will clearly indicate which band is which with either a 5 or 2.5 in the identifying title. This means that you will know which band is the 5 GHz signal. You can then connect your gaming devices to the 5 GHz band and your older devices to the 2.5 Ghz band.
How to Configure Your Router for Gaming
If you are looking for that little something extra so you can have the edge the next time you are online. Or perhaps, you need to show your friends who really has the best skills, then the setup of your router might just be that edge you need. You might have the best gaming platform but your network and router are letting you down.
First Things First
Your gaming network functions will rely on your general network stability. What is the key to a good network you ask? Well as any gamer knows, bandwidth is really important.
It is what determines how much data can be sent via your cables or radio frequencies of your Wi-Fi. A router is the dispatcher and manages all these data packets, so it is a key part of your network.
Have you tried turning it off and on again?
This might seem a bit silly, but it is actually a good place to start before you make any new configurations. So first, reboot your cable modem and router. Next check that you have the latest firmware for your router so everything is optimized and any bugs are resolved.
Go to the source
Go to your router manufactures’ website and check if you have the latest firmware. The software that your router has built-in will not always be the most reliable way of checking this.
I have a need for speed
After you have checked the firmware and rebooted your router, connect your pc directly to the modem. Use an Ethernet cable and do a quick speed test to get an idea what speeds your internet service provider (ISP) is giving you.
This will help you ensure that if there are issues with speed what the source is, and you don’t spend time trying to fix something your ISP should be dealing with.
So what is the difference with gaming?
Online gaming does not always use that much data. The largest use of bandwidth is actually downloading the game, new patches or maps before you enter the game itself.
Gaming itself does not use all that much data and uses much less than streaming HD videos. So a faster internet connection does not make that much of a difference. What does matter is dedicated bandwidth?
Less is more
When you game online, unlike with streaming videos, the data for gaming comes is mall packets in the download, but also upload directions. So when you stream videos you download larger packets of data. The important thing is that these small packets of data are essential to smooth gameplay and avoiding dreaded lag.
The right router with the right hardware will make all of this go smoother anyway and for the best most stable connection wired is better.
If you already have a good router (with Quality of Service) and you are happy with your connection, speed and so on, we can move on to some finer configurations.
Quality of Service settings
Now you can go into the settings of your router. Any router worth its processor should have QoS. But there are two ways this can function, either by prioritizing a device or by prioritizing an application. Go into your router settings and check what has priority.
Each router will be different so check the manual or the manufacturer website on how to do this for your router. Using the manual settings for Quality of Service can change the results and you will have to do some tests to see how well this works for you.
Traffic at the device
You have another option, and that is to shape what happens to the traffic at the devices’ level. NAC hardware can help with this.
Some motherboards by certain manufactures’ will already have this with software that will prioritize traffic within a hierarchy. This is QoS for your laptop or PC and can work with your router for a good connection.
So take a look at your router and pc and do a few tests, hopefully, these tips will help to keep your gaming experience a good one.
We have covered what a dual-band router is, and that your network needs are the key thing to keep in mind when you buy a router. You won’t always need a dual-band router.
If you don’t have the newest devices and you don’t share your network with many users, dual-band won’t make much difference to you. But if you want to see a change in your gaming experience, and you have a couple of other users that need access to the network, dual-band is the best choice you can make.