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Optimising network ping & bandwidth, LAN or ADSL broadband settings

Optimising network settings

Did you know you can customise your network settings to get the best performance out of your connection to the Internet for online game play? Although writing this from the point of view of a 56k'er it equally applies to broadband connections (LAN included). I've been trying to figure this thing out for some time now, testing it to make sure it works the way it's supposed to. It does..!

There are 3 components to this; your Frames Per Second (maxFPS), your data 'rate' (maxRate) and your snaps (snaps) - still not sure what this does.

Important Note: This article was originally written a good number of years ago when 56k dial-up modems connected to standard BT voice line were the norm. It was initially tested on a generic 56k 'Conexant' chipset based external modem using none branded specific drivers. As such it means the findings may now not be necessarily representative of increasingly more common Broadband connection types, ADSL in particular in the UK.

/com_maxfps XX

FPS seems to be the most important to reduce, you have to do this to decrease the demand the system's putting on your connection for the data required to render at such high (off-line) fps rates. If you don't do this then your connection will keep locking up and choking as it can't get enough data from the server to render the relative position of everything going on in a online game - which is why players sometimes seem to 'jump/stutter' across your screen (it's like trying to suckthe last drops of a cola through a straw, most of the time you hit air - packet loss - and occasionally you hit cola - data). See the table below about the best rates/connection speeds.

Note : to display your FPS type this into the game console (hit the '~' key or the one directly under the 'Esc.' key on your keyboard).

/cg_drawfps 1

To 'lockout' your FPS type (where 'XX' is a number).

/com_maxfps XX

/set maxRate XXXX

The data rate you set is related to the speed at which you're currently connected to the net, if you're connected at 36kbs on one occasion and 44kbs on another you'd need slightly different rates to be set for each.

As you might have guessed this sets the 'rate' or 'data throughput' of your connection (in Kbs) to the net/Q3 server. What your actually doing here is trying to even out the data flow; how much Q3 wants Vs how much it gets, you can see how this is related to fps above - if you have a high fps Q3 needs a lot of data and the more it needs the more it wants, if Q3 can't get it, it locks up or at least gives you bad pings.

Ideally you should be setting your 'rate' to a similar value as your connection; as an example, connecting at 46kbs you'd set your rate to 5000 - anywhere between 4400-5200, you can reduce or increase the values until you feel your getting a decent datarate, but it's best not to go to high - the same for higher or lower settings (+/-2000 or so).

Note: to change your maxRate settings type this into the Q3 game console (see table below for rates/values).

/set maxRate XXXX

/set snaps XX

'Snaps' is something to do with the server and the number of times it 'updates' itself (and subsequently sends that data onto you). I'm still not entirely sure what this does (the results aren't often as visible as the other tweaks mentioned above) but it does seem to do something if you play around with the values.

Note : to change snaps settings type this into the Q3 game console (see table below for correct values).

/set snaps XX

So what's this all supposed to do?

So far as I can tell, and this is born out by the experiments I've been doing, what all this does is even out the amount of data your PC is sending and receiving over your connection, the net result, in theory, is a smoother connection; you may still get a high ping but the quality will improve - this is what I've been finding, my ping will sometimes be 400+ but I'll get a really smooth 'ride' with a ping similar to half that.

I must point out another finding. All of this does depend on the server you're connect to being set-up 'properly', server's need to follow the same 'rules', if it isn't or doesn't then all this messing about is meaningless.

  • LAN **

    • seta cl_maxpackets "100"
    • seta cl_packetdup "0"
    • * seta snaps "40"
    • seta rate "25000"
  • ADSL / Cable / Wireless **

    • seta cl_maxpackets "60"
    • seta cl_packetdup "1"
    • * seta snaps "40"
    • seta rate "25000"
  • ISDN Bonded **

    • seta cl_maxpackets "60"
    • seta cl_packetdup "1"
    • * seta snaps "40"
    • seta rate "(See Table Below)"
    • 128000 BPS: seta rate "14000"
    • 112000 BPS: seta rate "12250"
  • ISDN Single **

    • seta cl_maxpackets "60"
    • seta cl_packetdup "1"
    • * seta snaps "40"
    • seta rate "(See Table Below)"
    • 64000 BPS: seta rate "7000"
    • 56000 BPS: seta rate "6200"
  • 56K Modem

    • seta cl_maxpackets "30"
    • seta cl_packetdup "1"
    • * seta snaps "20"
    • seta rate "(See Table Below)"
    • 50000 BPS: seta rate "5500"
    • 48000 BPS: seta rate "5200"
    • 46000 BPS: seta rate "5000"
    • 44000 BPS: seta rate "4800"
    • 42000 BPS: seta rate "4500"
    • 40000 BPS: seta rate "4300"
    • 38000 BPS: seta rate "4100"
    • 36000 BPS: seta rate "4000"
  • V34 Modem

    • seta cl_maxpackets "25"
    • seta cl_packetdup "1"
    • * seta snaps "20"
    • seta rate "(See Table Below)"
    • 33600 BPS: seta rate "3500"
    • 31200 BPS: seta rate "3300"
    • 28000 BPS: seta rate "3000"
  • 28.8 Modem

    • seta cl_maxpackets "25"
    • seta cl_packetdup "1"
    • * seta snaps "10"
    • seta rate "(See Table Below)"
    • 28000 BPS: seta rate "3000"
    • 26400 BPS: seta rate "2800"
  • Minimum Bandwidth Settings - Testing purposes or temporary settings while lag settles.

    • seta cl_maxpackets "15"
    • seta cl_packetdup "0"
    • seta snaps "10"
    • seta rate "(See Table Below)"
    • 64000 BPS: seta rate "6000"
    • 56000 BPS: seta rate "5000"
    • 50000 BPS: seta rate "4600"
    • 48000 BPS: seta rate "4400"
    • 46000 BPS: seta rate "4000"
    • 44000 BPS: seta rate "3800"
    • 42000 BPS: seta rate "3600"
    • 40000 BPS: seta rate "3500"
    • 38000 BPS: seta rate "3200"
    • 36000 BPS: seta rate "3000"
    • 34000 BPS: seta rate "3000"
    • 33600 BPS: seta rate "3000"
    • 31200 BPS: seta rate "2800"
    • 28000 BPS: seta rate "2600"
    • 26400 BPS: seta rate "2400"

The FPS figures below are a summery of the article linked to below; 'Why your framerate affects jumping', the conclusion was that the values listed below seemed to be the most effective in relation to other custom network settings.

note : Keep in mind that the higher your FPS is set the more information your system is going to need from your connection to process that FPS rate = greater demand on your connections bandwidth.

  • 200
  • 166
  • 142
  • 125
  • 111
  • 100
  • 90
  • 83
  • 76
  • 71
  • 66
  • 62
  • 58
  • 55
  • 52
  • 50
  • 47
  • 45
  • 43
  • 40-41
  • 37-38
  • 20-35

Useful links on tweaking your connection settings

Have a really good read through the information in the above links, it's very useful to know even if you're not too worried by altering your connection settings (these links are quite old now [but still relevant] and may have been cleared and or deleted from their original source).

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