Faster downloads, better streaming: Why a gamer’s New Year’s resolution should be a network upgrade

The urge to upgrade is constant for gamers. The desire to upgrade from Nintendo Switch to Nintendo Switch OLED is strong, the need to squeeze a 2TB SSD into the PS5 is almost overwhelming, and the thirst to upgrade from a standard Xbox pad to an Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller deep, abundant and prodigious.

The problem is that we don’t always make the upgrades that offer the best value. And while flashy hardware launches often grab our attention, little thought is given to the gadgets that supports our gambling addiction.

Xbox Game Pass for PC

(Image credit: Miguel Lagoa)

Specifically, I’m talking about our network equipment. Never before has the quality of our internet connections been so important to our gaming sessions. At a basic level, games are bigger than they’ve ever been, regularly reaching over 100 GB. So even to play a game at any time requires an internet connection of a magnitude exceeding largely what was required during the last generation.

And that’s before you consider many modern gaming conveniences that rely on a strong network connection, like game streaming, remote gaming, live streaming, and competitive online gaming. Plus, a good network will improve other aspects of your digital life, from TV streaming to video call quality to smoother work-from-home connectivity. This is an upgrade that will impact not only your gameplay, but also your daily online experience.

And that’s why my 2022 New Year’s resolution is to give my house a full grid makeover. If surfing the highway was still a phrase that didn’t conjure up the “hello kids” meme, next year I’ll be the Big Kahuna in the Hawaiian shorts carving out the A-Frame of fast downloads and smooth streams.

Or something.

Anyway, here’s what I need to do it.

Full fiber BT

(Image credit: BT)

What I’m updating: Broadband to BT Full Fiber 900

Start at the source – improve your broadband speed. Here in the UK you have a few comprehensive fiber to premises provider options, from Hyperoptic to Amvia. But for extended coverage, customer service and package options including TV, I opt for BT Full Fiber 900. Running the fiber optic cabling directly from the local BT exchange to your home will allow you to achieve speeds up to 25 times faster. than standard fiber broadband connections.

What it benefits: All! With a full fiber connection, you drastically reduce the time it takes to download a game, which can make you think twice about investing in expensive additional storage solutions. Why store your library on hard drives if you can so easily swap and download titles as you please. Likewise, high broadband speeds will ensure you have smooth, stable, high-resolution streaming connections without buffering or dropouts – handy for everything from Xbox Game Pass Streaming to Google Stadia and Netflix to Disney Plus.

Devolo Mesh WiFi 2

(Image credit: Devolo)

What I’m updating: Powerline kit for Devolo Mesh Wi-Fi 2 Whole Home Kit

If you want rock-solid connectivity around your home and can’t always run a cable straight from your router to your devices, the PowerLine network (which feeds your broadband signal through your home’s electrical wiring) is the solution. The Devolo Mesh Wi-Fi 2 Whole Home Wi-Fi Kit goes one better than that. It acts not only as a wired link to a hard-to-reach router, but (as the name suggests) also as a mesh network that covers your home in the quality of wireless connectivity, amplifying and repeating the signal of a CPL socket to a CPL socket. Theoretical speeds of 1,200 Mbps are possible with Mesh Wi-Fi 2 products. Each unit also benefits from two Gigabit Ethernet ports, dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi on both 2.4 GHz and 5 bands, 0 GHz and a power outlet so you don’t lose access to a wall outlet.

What it benefits: While this is especially good for larger homes where Wi-Fi coverage from a remote router can be spotty, I’m going to be using the Devolo kit for a very specific purpose: to get the most out of the Nvidia Gamestream and Moonlight apps. With my gaming PC and Nvidia Shield TV Pro set-top box hooked up to Devolo’s powerline gear, I’ll be able to make the most of Nvidia’s GameStream feature and the standalone Moonlight app, which lets you stream locally stored games. from the PC to a compatible device. In this case, it will allow me to play PC games on my local network on the big screen in my living room without moving my PC. Devolo’s network gear will ensure that I don’t drop frames or see any unwanted lag. It’s especially useful for older games that haven’t yet made the jump to streaming services.

D-Link EXO Wi-Fi 6 AX1500 Router

(Image credit: D-Link)

What I’m updating: Router to… an undecided Wi-Fi 6 choice!

According to to our very own Steve McCaskill“Wi-Fi 6 is a generational shift in wireless communications and is considered a complementary technology to 5G, increasing speeds, improving capacity and reducing latency. This ensures a higher degree of performance and reliability. , especially in networks where multiple devices are competing for bandwidth.” So it’s a no-brainer to upgrade, isn’t it? While I’d usually only choose one from our Guide to the best Wi-Fi 6 routers, they are not compatible with the BT TV Box Pro that comes with the BT Full Fiber 900 package that I use. Rumor has it that the next BT Smart Hub router will be Wi-Fi 6 compatible, so it might be the one I should wait for.

What it benefits: For me, personally, this one comes down to wireless VR gaming. I want to be able to use the Oculus Link feature of my Oculus Quest 2 headset (or should it be Meta Quest these days?) to play high-end PC VR games streamed directly to the headset without the need for cables the two. Wi-Fi 6 will ensure that the process is smooth and stable and will also minimize the lag that might otherwise turn your stomach in a VR situation.

AX1800 USB Wi-Fi 6 Adapter

(Image credit: D-Link)

What I’m updating: Wi-Fi key for D-Link AX1800 WiFi 6 USB Adapter

What good is a Wi-Fi 6 router if your computer does not support the standard? Rather than tearing up the innards of your PC, this external adapter from D-Link adds W-Fi 6 functionality to your computer without having to do open-heart surgery on it. It is plug-and-play with preloaded drivers and offers connection speeds of 574 Mbps (2.4 GHz) / 1200 Mbps (5 GHz).

What it benefits: Again, for me, this comes down to the Oculus Link scenario. Since my gaming PC doesn’t have its own Wi-Fi card (weird, huh?), this external USB solution will allow me to take advantage of the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 and make the most of the virtual reality features wirelessly. that I mentioned above. .

GeForce now supports Far Cry 6

(Image credit: Nvidia)

What I’m updating: Nvidia GeForce Now for… a better version of Nvidia GeForce Now with 4K ray tracing support

Although it has rivals including Google Stadia, Xbox Game Pass Streaming and Amazon Luna, my favorite game streaming service is still Nvidia GeForce Now. It allows you to stream games over the internet without downloading them first, similar to how you access a Netflix stream. You can use it on pretty much any device, from the iPad to Android phone to (my favorite) Nvidia Shield TV, and it has an ever-growing library of games. Even better, by connecting it to your Steam, Epic Games, and Ubisoft accounts, your subscription to the service grants you access to games you’ve already purchased elsewhere, something Stadia doesn’t offer. GeForce Now is split into tiers, and I’ll be using the RTX 3080 membership tier, which offers up to 1440p/120fps gameplay via PC and Mac, and high-res 4K HDR/60fps when streamed on this Nvidia Shield TV.

What it benefits: The enhanced tier boosts resolutions from a standard 1080p to as high as 4K UHD, with HDR and higher frame rates. But it’s the power of the virtual machines offered by this level that interests me. The RTX 3080 level actually runs on an Ampere GA102 chip on a server with an eight-core AMD Threadripper processor, 28GB of DDR4 memory, and a Gen4 SSD. . Nvidia says it’s good for around 35 teraflops of GPU performance, putting it more in line with the even more powerful RTX 3090 than the 3080 the tier gets its name from. With the hardware upgrades above, I’ll be able to make GeForce Now sing, even at its highest resolutions and frame rates, in a way that will make me forget I’m streaming these demanding games from the cloud.

This article is part of TechRadar Technical resolutions series, a blast of motivational encouragement showing you how to supercharge your new year with technology. From Sunday, December 26 through Sunday, January 2, our series will also reveal how we aim to improve our gadget lives in 2022. So whether you’re looking to become a power Chromebook user, beat your take-out obsession with a new air fryer, or use a smartwatch to propel you to new heights of fitness, we’ll show you how to start your new year with a flyer. And when things inevitably go wrong, you can always blame the gadgets.

Sam D. Gomez