LAN Party Networking

Envie

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Nov 26, 2008
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Hello all!

I am planning on setting up a small LAN party (12-15 people) sometime over the Christmas holidays. This is something a group of us do around twice a year, but every time we have network stability and performance issues. These issued are only noticeable on newer games, such as CoD5 or Quake Wars.

The current network setup is 2 wireless routers connected by a hub, with 4 cables going from each router to a computer, and everyone else on wifi. The internet's modem is connected to the hub.
The planned set-up is everyone on a separate LAN network, connected via switch(es), with us split into 2 separate rooms. (the rooms are side by side) A separate computer will be on the hub with the internet in case it's use is required.

We have decided to purchase a network switch, or multiple switches, for us to use to solve the stability issues, however, we are uncertain what our best option is. As we are all starving college/university students, price is a major issue. It is noted that two 8-port switches cost less then a 16 port switch; which would save us money in cabling but would that be recommended?

From what I have read, it appears if we attempted to connect the two switches, then the traffic of one room would be directed into a single port on the switch in the other room, slowing it down. Would this speed decrease be noticeable?

Ideas on a networking solution would be greatly appreciated, as well as links to informative sites.
Thank you for your time and help.
 
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Dangman

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I'm a bit of a network novice so just a FYI in case my info is wrong:

First question: How much are you willing to spend for the network upgrades?

The hub and the wifi are most like the cause of your performance and stability issues. Some consumer wireless routers are not capable of handling 4 to 6 wireless connections + 4 additional wired connections.

So what wireless routers do you have? Also ditch the hub altogether. Replace that hub with a switch for added performance and throughput.

I'm guessing that both of the wireless routers are just being used as WAPs correct? They're not doing DHCP or DNS like that? By "internet router" do you mean modem? Or an actual router that's connected to a modem? or a modem/router combo thing? There are some routers out there that cannot handle 12 to 15 actively connected PCs at once. So that might necessitate an upgrade.

Smallnetbuilder is a very good site to hit up for network knowledge
 

JaYp146

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Do what my friends and I did; have everyone chip in $5 for a nice 16 port switch.
 

Envie

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Nov 26, 2008
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Uhm, Not sure. Im guessing we would want around 90 dollars.
Yep, that's why we are moving to switches. Just wanted to let you know what stuff we already had incase you had any ideas.
Both the routers are being used only as WAPs.
The wifi is two LINKSYS WRT54GL Wireless-G Broadband Routers, I think...
Yeah, modem, sorry. Not enough coffee. (its fixed in OP)

Ty for the netbuilder site, it's just what I needed.
 
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Auzner

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Jul 18, 2009
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413
Buy the two 8 ports and connect them together you get 14 ports. 13 if you want a router in there for internet and DHCP. It's costing you what, $30? It's not a big deal and will suit gaming. I don't think you want too many people gaming on wifi because in my experience the latency will start to suck.
 

Envie

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lol, sounds like a headache.
We dont need internet on the gaming netwok, but it would be nice to have.
 

jeremyshaw

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SirViro

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Never had any issues with Netgear in the past. Still running a 16port 10/100 switch that's probably 8 years old.

I would lay it out like this for your network though.

Grab a 4-port switch, then a couple 8 port switches. have your 8 ports plug into the 4 port and then to the modem from that 4-port.

So router -> 4 port switch -> 8 port switches
 

Xipher

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don't know if a 4 port is going to be much cheaper then the 8, so probably 3 8 ports with the same layout, also gives room to grow.
 

Archaea

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Always only use switches - we used a 16 port and an 8 port and a couple of five ports at many a LAN party over the last 8 years with about 25-30 people and suffered NO issues with latency...Everybody gets about 15ms or less regardless of which switch they plugged into. The 16 and 8 port were linksys switches, and the 5 ports were whatever (as they are really common and we only used them as needed) - It really doesn't matter and you won't notice any noticable latency with any modern switch for LAN gaming. Two eights works just fine.

The 16 port we used was this or at least an earlier brother if not exactly.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833124006

The 8 port looked identical - but smaller

MAN I miss those LAN party days!
 

Veeb0rg

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If u were local I have a few switches you could borrow.

I used to help run a few Large lans, We had a 24 port GIG-e switch and 4 24+2 switches, All the 24+2's were spread around the room and then linked to the 24port gig-e, all the servers were also connected to the gig-e. We used a smoothwall router to provide dhcp/internet.

When I first started hanging out with the group they had 3 16 port switches daisychained and a linksys router for internet services. they kept wondering why the network would die/lag and then the internet/dhcp would die.

I miss running that lan.
 

jeremyshaw

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[....]

The 16 port we used was this or at least an earlier brother if not exactly.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833124006


MAN I miss those LAN party days!
Heh... I miss LAN parties, too!:cool: Classes != LANfest

The 16 port I linked to has a 25USD MIR.

The one I linked to, however, is supposed to be deployed in a server envoirment (it's the later version of what I have at work), so that may affect the price + EoL. I don't know if it may affect gaming performance in any way.
 

keenan

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Buy a nice 24-port switch from eBay, the FS/T forum or Craigslist. A good 100mbit switch is more than good enough for gaming and Internet access, and a high-quality one can be had very cheap on the used market. You should be able to get something like an HP Procurve 2524 or Cisco 2924 shipped for around $50. You can even pick up some slightly older 48-port Ciscos for around the same price (3548). Similar cost to getting a junky switch new, the HP will include a lifetime next-day replacement warranty, and way more capabilities (QoS etc.) if you ever decide you want them. Pick up an assortment of patch cables at Monoprice. Since you've got a small setup keep everything on one switch and nobody will be able to cause problems for other users with file transfers and what not (ignoring Internet congestion). If you shop around you might be able to get a 24+2 switch instead for similar money that will serve you better if you later need to cascade several switches to get enough ports as your LAN expands.

If you're averse to using used gear the basic idea would just be to get everyone on the same switch. The type of switch isn't all that important, I just see the enterprise stuff as much better value since the cost is similar to a cheap 24-port unmanaged switch new that's not up to nearly the same standard of quality or features. Either should serve fine though, as long as it's not a horribly broken piece of garbage.

Also if you guys are gaming online at all, you're going to want to set up an old PC running pfSense or m0n0wall to handle routing duties. Most consumer routers don't do a very good job when you've got a bunch of users pumping out minimum size packets at a high rate (gaming), even if your connection speed is up to the task, plus you again get a lot more features that might be helpful like QoS, and finding an old box and a couple spare NICs should be basically free.

You can leave a wireless AP up and running, but tell anyone that complains about its performance to STFU and patch into the switch.
 
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vectravl400

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Buy a nice 24-port switch from eBay, the FS/T forum or Craigslist. A good 100mbit switch is more than good enough for gaming and Internet access, and a high-quality one can be had very cheap on the used market.

I've seen the old HP Procurve Switch 4000Ms with 80 ports on eBay for about $40 bucks. They're only 100mb and loud enough to drown everything else in the room, but they'd do the job.
 

valve1138

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subflava

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LOL, you've got lots of choices here. Your problem is definitely with the wireless connections. You have way too many people to be using wireless for FPS gaming which requires low latency.

I think you should definitely *NOT* bother with the old ProCurve/Cisco/ switches. Those things are too big and loud for your purposes. The 4000M is the size of an old boombox and weighs quite a bit...I don't think you'll want to have that thing hanging around your apartment and have to lug it around.

You should really just go with either two simple 8-port switches or a single 16-port as some have already suggested. Personally I'd go with the 8-ports because they'll be much more likely to be useful later on and the cables you'll need will be shorter. If you're short a couple ports, just have the extra people plug into the router itself and chain everything together.

Here's a list on Newegg...just pick up any two of these. Some of them are pretty cheap after rebate:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...Value=1501:10238&PropertyCodeValue=1502:10242
 

IStorm

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Sep 17, 2009
Messages
22
Ditch the hub. Hubs repeat all traffic on each port when it comes in from a port. This is probably a huge part of your performance issue. Thats quite a load for 2 wireless routers, not to mention that if you have both of them on the same channel then they are interfering with each other. If you have that many people on one wireless router then its expected to see a performance decrease.

12-15 people... don't bother with a 8 port. Once you hookup the cable back to the router your only gonna have 7 ports left. Even 2 of those leaves you cutting it close for 14 ports available. A new 8 port router costs around $35 or more so you'll end up spending $70 or more for an only ok solution.

Do set it up something like this
1 Router > 1 Switch

Check out those ebay deals the other guys are recomending.

Those are solid. Also, the old school 3Com Superstack rackmount switches are built like tanks and can be had for cheap.

for example: http://cgi.ebay.com/3COM-SUPERSTACK...ViewItemQQptZCOMP_EN_Hubs?hash=item4ceb947656

This guy is a great deal that won't run you up really expensive. Did I mention its 24 Ports. That means room for expansion. Invite a few friend's friends too next time. Your network will have no issue handleing it.

As for the loudness of a switch like that... It really isn't that bad. Its likely that someone has a computer with a fan thats louder. Your gaming after all. Your not gonna try to study or focus on peace and quite.

Do your gaming a favor. Get a solid 24 port switch and wire everyone to it.
 

Electrofreak

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Yeah, a hub connected to 2 wireless access points everyone is connected to is just plain bad...

You're fine going with daisy-chained small switches provided nobody on the network starts sharing large files when people are trying to game and eat up all the bandwidth. (Really, this applies regardless of how many switches are used, but when people on different switches start sharing files, it really smothers the rest of the network in between).

But really, 1 large switch is the best solution if possible.
 
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Envie

n00b
Joined
Nov 26, 2008
Messages
54
Thanks all for the input, its greatly appreciated.
After reading you suggestions and a bit more on the topic, I have decided its probally best to get a used 24 port switch. This will keep cost down while allowing for expansion in the future.
Unfourtunantly, I cant post in the WTS/WTT thread as I dont have enough posts yet.
Ah well, time to get posting.

Thanks again for your help;
Envie
 

D-EJ915

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Messages
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Saw one in the network pics thread so thought I'd mention it here but you can get HP 4000m switches on ebay for practically nothing ($40-80) and they support 80 10/100 ports and are a lot quieter than those 3com switches. You can also stick gigabit copper or fibre modules in them too.
 

centurion

Limp Gawd
Joined
Feb 15, 2003
Messages
162
Buy a nice 24-port switch from eBay, the FS/T forum or Craigslist. A good 100mbit switch is more than good enough for gaming and Internet access, and a high-quality one can be had very cheap on the used market. You should be able to get something like an HP Procurve 2524 or Cisco 2924 shipped for around $50. You can even pick up some slightly older 48-port Ciscos for around the same price (3548). Similar cost to getting a junky switch new, the HP will include a lifetime next-day replacement warranty, and way more capabilities (QoS etc.) if you ever decide you want them. Pick up an assortment of patch cables at Monoprice. Since you've got a small setup keep everything on one switch and nobody will be able to cause problems for other users with file transfers and what not (ignoring Internet congestion). If you shop around you might be able to get a 24+2 switch instead for similar money that will serve you better if you later need to cascade several switches to get enough ports as your LAN expands.

If you're averse to using used gear the basic idea would just be to get everyone on the same switch. The type of switch isn't all that important, I just see the enterprise stuff as much better value since the cost is similar to a cheap 24-port unmanaged switch new that's not up to nearly the same standard of quality or features. Either should serve fine though, as long as it's not a horribly broken piece of garbage.

Also if you guys are gaming online at all, you're going to want to set up an old PC running pfSense or m0n0wall to handle routing duties. Most consumer routers don't do a very good job when you've got a bunch of users pumping out minimum size packets at a high rate (gaming), even if your connection speed is up to the task, plus you again get a lot more features that might be helpful like QoS, and finding an old box and a couple spare NICs should be basically free.

You can leave a wireless AP up and running, but tell anyone that complains about its performance to STFU and patch into the switch.


keenan's totally right on all counts. I picked up two 24-port Netgear gigabit switches (GS724T) for $50 a piece on Ebay last year. You can always find some sort of sweet deal on there and it's well worth the money spent for a LAN. I've used these at a small LAN recently (50-60 people) and they worked exceptionally well.

you should also hop on craigslist and look there as well. I picked up a few thousand feet of CAT6 for $70 from a guy who was trying to get rid of misc boxes of cable from his dad's old business. I see stuff on there all the time from businesses close, getting rid of excess gear, etc... Always good deals to be had there.

The investment is well worth it in order to save yourself the headaches.

keenan, seems like you've hosted a few LAN's in your day :)
 
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