I have 6 computers to play FPS games; what bandwidth do I need to connect all to the internet at good game-playing speeds?
February 12, 2005 6:45 AM   Subscribe

I have a room with six computers, each with a copy of a few new FPS games. I want to play deathmatches, etc. (using all 6 computers) with people outside the room. What is the minimum recommended bandwidth to connect this room to the internets in order to maintain a high quality gaming experience? Does it matter how many people outside the room are playing or is the amount of data being passed in and out of the room fairly consistent regardless of whether there are, say 6 or 18 people playing outside the room?

Super bonus points for estimated monthly bandwidth costs at a commercial location in the DC metro area.
posted by i love cheese to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
are people playing on all the computers inside the room too (i'm confused by the question)?
posted by andrew cooke at 7:10 AM on February 12, 2005

Response by poster: Sorry for the confusion. Yes, there are six people in the room playing the game along with a number of people outside the room. Within the room, the computers are all connected to each other on a LAN. My question is how much bandwidth I'd need to allow this group to play with others outside the room as well.

I hope this makes sense.
posted by i love cheese at 7:19 AM on February 12, 2005

Best answer: It depends a lot on the game, but generally you're safe calculating 10kbyte/s per player. If the game server is being run on one of the computers inside the room, you'll need 10 * number of players outside the room kB/s bandwidth. If the game is being hosted outside of the room, you'll need 6 * 10 kB/s = 60 kB/s bandwidth.

The bandwidth usage is not as symmetrical as the above rough estimate would suggest though. Generally, the server sends more data to the clients than the other way around. So you could probably get away with having a 30-40 kB/s upload with 6 people. But as said, it depends heavily on the game.
posted by fvw at 7:26 AM on February 12, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks fvw, that's exactly what I was looking for.
posted by i love cheese at 8:41 AM on February 12, 2005

Just so it's explicit, note that fvw is talking about kilobytes, while bandwidth is usually sold by the kilobit. If you have 384 kilobits upstream, you have 48 kilobytes upstream (some of which would be used for protocol overhead, etc.). I just wanted to make sure that gets archived in here in case someone comes along thinking that their DSL would support 38 people.
posted by revgeorge at 9:32 AM on February 12, 2005

Some of this is going to be dependent on the game itself - what game(s) are you planning on running? Netcode bandwidth varies. For example, you're going to use less bandwidth on games like Q3 than some of the Battlefield series games (Battlefield Vietnam, in particular, seems to be particularly sensitive.)

You didn't specify if this was going to be a pay-to-play type environment, but often you can buy bandwidth in bulk and save a bit of money, and have a more pleasurable gaming experience.

You might consider lowering graphics settings and beefing up RAM on the games, too. That seems to help in some cases of lower bw.

We've tried running 7-8 machines on a cablemodem connection which was 3MB down and 768 upstream and it was a bit laggy, swamping the connection.

Your mileage may vary.
posted by TeamBilly at 10:30 AM on February 12, 2005

Response by poster: We're going to be using a lot of different games, ranging from Q3 and America's Army through the Battlefield games. When we contacted the phone company and told them what we wanted to do, they came back with a proposal for something like $3200/month to provide a T1 for each computer. That's obviously overkill, and I wanted to figure out what we could get away with.

Reducing video quality is not an option in this case, neither is a laggy connection. So, we'll probably end up getting fatter pipes than we'll anticipate needing, in order to ensure a good playing experience.
posted by i love cheese at 7:53 PM on February 12, 2005

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