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Best DNS servers for gaming

Many people often look towards changing their DNS settings in order to improve their gaming experience on consoles like PS4, PS5, Xbox or PC. This is quite often due to a misunderstanding of what DNS is, how it works, and the factors that contribute to having a good online gaming experience.

tldr; just tell me what to use

Primary DNS: 1.1.1.1

Secondary DNS: 1.1.0.0

What is DNS and how does it affect gaming?

DNS is short for Domain Name System, and for the most part it actually does not affect your gaming experience at all.

When you visit a website, watch online videos, or connect to gaming servers your computer will behind the scenes automatically convert domain names like www.example.com into an IP address like 192.168.2.1. This is a process known as a DNS lookup. These IP addresses are what computers and network devices use to communicate with each other while providing an easy to remember name for humans to use.

Once an IP address has been resolved, your device will store a cached copy of this address and continue to use it all future communication without needing to perform the DNS lookup again. The DNS lookup itself will typically take around 10 milliseconds to a properly configured DNS server on most standard home internet connections.

Your gaming experience after this initial process is complete no longer relies on DNS and has no impact on your active gaming session.

If DNS does not affect gaming then what does?

Download speeds: Most online games do not require fast download speeds while actually playing as the information coming in about the game world is typically very small and only contains information such as coordinates and state of other players. Download speeds are mostly important when initially downloading the games or installing updates.

Latency (ping): This is the most common issue and is commonly known as "lag". Having a high latency in games is often the result of connecting to servers which are physically located outside of your local area or region, or otherwise impacted by poor network routing making the path from you to the gaming server longer than desired.

It is important when choosing a gaming server to pick one located as close to you physically as possible. Information only having to travel through cables within your local city is going to be much faster than it having to travel through underwater cables on the other side of the world.

Bad Wi-Fi: Having a poor Wi-Fi signal or a connection with lots of interference is a very common cause of a bad gaming experience. If possible, use an Ethernet cable from your router directly to your gaming device for the best change at eliminating local network issues.

Network congestion: While fast download speeds themselves are typically not required for most online games, you do need to ensure that there is enough available capacity on your network as the closer you get to saturating your connection the more the network packets need to compete with each other for priority. While you may be able to control network congestion on your local network, it can also happen on networks higher up like your ISP may under-provision capacity particularly during peak times.

VPN: Many people use VPN services for privacy reasons or to appear as if you are connecting from another country or region. Remember that if you are routing your network traffic overseas then even if you are connecting to a local gaming server then your traffic may be leaving the country just to come back in again which can cause significant issues.

What are the best DNS servers to use?

In the majority of cases, sticking to the tried and tested DNS servers of the world's biggest network providers like Google or Cloudflare is typically going to provide the best results not only for gaming but for your general internet experience.

These network providers control massive parts of the underlying infrastructure of the internet and have many thousands of servers all around the world which provide the best performance, reliability and security for DNS.

Google Public DNS

https://developers.google.com/speed/public-dns

Primary DNS: 8.8.8.8

Secondary DNS: 8.8.4.4

Cloudflare 1.1.1.1

https://1.1.1.1/dns/

Primary DNS: 1.1.1.1

Secondary DNS: 1.1.0.0