Beating Buffer Bloat

The unseen traffic jam in your network causing lag in online gaming. Discover ways to beat it!

Ricki S.

Lag, the scourge of online gamers everywhere. New routers, faster internet packages, and downloaded tools all promise to squeeze every bit of performance from your network. Yet the problem remains, internet gaming can be frustrating and inconsistent. One important aspect of lag you can address in your network is "Buffer Bloat".

When an excessive amount of data buffering occurs in network devices (like your router or a network switch), this is referred to as Buffer Bloat. Busy network hardware sometimes has more throughput than it can handle in real time. A buffer is necessary to prevent packet data from being lost, but this comes at the cost of your network traffic being temporarily held up from reaching its destination.

Buffer Bloat is like crawling through a traffic jam on the freeway during rush hour. Imagine all the cars (data packets) trying to reach their destinations (servers on the internet) at the same time. The highway (your network + the internet) is clogged with too many vehicles. Traffic lights (buffering in network devices) cause delays and make you late (increased latency) for your appointment.

For example, your router may be processing packets for a big file transfer while you are playing a game. By default, the packets will be processed in the order they are received, and if they can't all be sent in real time your gaming packets may get shuffled into a memory buffer. This causes higher latency. Low latency is optimal because it keeps your game session in sync with the gaming server.

When latency becomes inconsistent, "Jitter" may also be introduced. Jitter can cause you to miss skill shots and mis-time your abilities.

Packet Loss can also occur with Buffer Bloat which leads to phenomena such as rubber banding (when your game seemingly rewinds to a previous state or it feels like you are "teleporting" around the map).

There are a few steps that can be taken to reduce Buffer Bloat in your home network.

  1. Newer gaming focused router that comes equipped with "SQM" (Smart Queue Management). This will prioritize your gaming traffic packets, and help move them to the "front of the line".

  2. Cut down on network congestion. Streaming video and downloading/uploading large files can significantly affect Buffer Bloat. Try to keep load to a minimum during online gaming sessions.

  3. Using wired connections over Wifi can help lower latency and Buffer bloat in many cases.

Your home network is just one of the many places Buffer Bloat can occur. The internet is a labyrinth of routers, networks, & servers. All of these devices are also just as susceptible to Buffer Bloat as your network devices are. was built to optimize the network traffic between your home network, and the gaming server. When one internet path is suffering from Buffer Bloat, Arrive can reroute your packets to a path that is less congested. This helps to lower latency, reduce jitter, and minimize packet loss.
Currently Arrive is in pre-Alpha and supports League of Legends. Many more games will be added soon. Try Arrive Today!