Networking for Video Games

Woman playing video games
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The age of the Internet has brought through some of the most important innovations in terms of convenience of accessing information, transferring information around the world, and more importantly, being able to 'headshot' someone from the other side of the globe (in games of course). It has created entirely new genres of games, programs, and services. The speeds we access this information has also skyrocketed.

From the age of the hardware modems of 56kbps to the new era of broadband offering speeds of over 3 Mbps (and more) at affordable costs that make it available to the home user (1 Mbps is approx. 1000 kilobytes per second). But people have still, and for the most part, been wired down by their internet connections. This is where the wireless revolution is has come into play.

Recently, we purchased a home wireless router using the new IEEE 802.11g standard in an attempt to try and find a solution to have the flexibility of moving our networked electronics around our home. Of course, we jumped at the chance to try out a Wireless Broadband Adapter for the Xbox, and we have been using one for over a year now. So how does wireless stack up against a wired setup? Here are the pros and cons of each set-up.

The Wired Network Approach

Alright, we know there are quite a number of readers who have this kind of setup at home. We used to be on of them. This is the traditional setup for any network that exists and all networks contain at least in some part a wired portion contained within. But is this really a practical solution for a home user? Let’s see some of the Pros and Cons of this type of setup.

The Pros to a Wired Network

  • Cost
    • Although it can be somewhat expensive wiring the entire house, it is still the most inexpensive solution in terms of networking, which makes it very appealing.
  • Reliability
    • If everything is connected correctly in terms of wiring, you should hardly ever run into a problem on the cabling end.
  • Speed
    • Although wireless has made a great improvement from the 802.11b standard to 802.11g, it still cannot match the speeds that are now being introduced by new advancements in cabling technology. With speeds now hitting around 10 gigabits per second with category 6 cabling, wireless cannot keep up at the moment.

The Cons to a Wired Network

  • Setup
    • Let’s face it, not everyone is a network professional and if you try to setup up a network at home and have no clue at what you're doing, you're going to run into problems.
  • Lack of mobility/flexibility
    • By far one of the biggest cons of the wired setup. The need to have a cable to access the internet everywhere in the house can cause problems and wiring nightmares.
  • Wiring messes
    • We don’t know about most people but we already have enough wires running behind our computer and our entertainment system and anyway we could reduce it would be welcomed. And if you want to connect something without a nearby network jack, running a long cable to your Xbox or PC is not the most appealing thing for guests to see.

Now that you've seen the pros and cons of a wired network, we'll detail a wireless network on the next page.

The Wireless Network Approach

Wireless has been around for a considerable amount of time in comparison to how long the Internet’s been around. However, it has only been a valid option for home users in the past several years. The wireless movement in North America has just begun and promises a great deal, but is it truly the best options for us? Maybe some of these Pros and Cons might shed some light on the subject.

The Pros to a "Wireless" Network

  • Mobility
    • By far the biggest advantage. Being able to access the internet from any location inside and outside the home is a huge advantage.
  • Setup
    • Even those without a great deal of networking experience can set a wireless network. Just plug the wireless router or base station into the modem and wireless PC or console can connect to the internet with little or no effort.
  • Lack of mess
    • Without any wires, it provides the tidiest solution of all the networking possibilities.

The Cons to a "Wireless" Network

  • Speed
    • It still cannot compare to the speeds that are available to the wired networks, but it is getting closer every day.
  • Reliability
    • Wireless networks are still more susceptible to inference than their wired counterparts. While we have been fortunate in having a good strong connection, we have still experienced the odd disconnect from time to time. However, it is important to note that in our experience, your router selection and configuration plays a big part in this.
  • Cost
    • The biggest drawback of the wireless solution. It is still fairly expensive to go wireless but costs have been gradually decreasing.

For the average home user, the wired network is the favored network set-up, simple and cost-effective. But more and more home users need to be able to move their laptops around to places where network cables cannot run. While this is ideal for a business network, the home environment is completely different and needs to be less restricted.

The wireless solution offers mobility but at a cost of reliability and expense. So which of the two is the better choice? That’s for you to decide.