Your guide to gaming serversOnline gaming is booming – from Minecraft and CS:GO to countless other titles, gamers are playing together in unprecedented numbers. We’ve put together the main points to consider if you want to take online multiplayer to the next level with your own dedicated server.
How game servers work
What does a gaming server actually do? While single-player games run entirely on the user’s own computer, online multiplayer relies on a server to maintain a consistent game state for all players.
The game server constantly sends and receives data to and from each player to ensure everyone experiences the same accurate, fair and responsive version of the game world.
Your server, your rules
Only want to play with friends? Can’t find a server for your favourite title? Want to play a version or mode that isn’t commonly supported?
With your own server, you get access to a huge range of options to customise and tweak every aspect of the game. Run your preferred Minecraft add-ons, or play your favourite Counter-Strike map as many times as you want. You decide who gets in and who gets banned, and your game server is always available for you and your friends.
Rent a server or DIY?
It’s possible to turn your PC into a game server, but not without drawbacks. You’ll be limited by your internet connection – most home connections don’t have the upload speed required for serious gaming – and you’ll need to keep the machine powered up and running 24 hours a day.
Renting a dedicated server from a hosting provider gives you much higher bandwidth, meaning faster, more responsive gameplay for all players. You also won’t need to buy any new hardware or worry about electricity costs, with your server maintained for you in the optimal data centre environment.
Put your server on the map
The location of your game server matters due to latency, or how long player input takes to reach the host. High latency results in noticeable lag, while low latency provides a smoother experience all round. In a fast-paced FPS where split-second decisions make all the difference, a low-latency server is critical.
Servers in UK data centres can provide a real performance benefit, because latency depends on the distance between the user’s PC and the host. It’s not always obvious where a server is physically housed, so it’s worth digging for details if you want ultra-low response times.
As any PC gamer knows, system specs are key to performance, and juggling data from multiple players demands a decent level of server grunt.
With your own server, you’re free to choose a setup that can deliver a silky-smooth experience. Web hosts offer a range of options, from entry-level servers with a few GB of RAM, up to Intel Xeon powerhouses with SSD storage. The performance you’ll need depends on the game and the number of players.
You’re free to make your server an exclusive clubhouse, or open it to the public. The maximum number of players can also be easily defined on a gaming server, with the only limit being the max players supported by your chosen game.
The right performance varies by title, but a rule of thumb for a Minecraft server is around 50–100MB RAM per player. In practice you’ll need significantly more for a smooth experience as the game world grows larger – at least 1GB RAM overall.
CS:GO, on the other hand, is much heavier on the CPU. If you need your Counter-Strike server to perform effortlessly for up to 32 players, a dual-core processor should be a priority.
Remember you’re not limited to gaming. It’s your own server, so you’re in the driving seat to use it any way you want. There’s nothing stopping you from hosting your gaming sessions and your website on the same server, for example. On a server powerful enough for gaming, setting aside the capacity shouldn’t be a problem.
So why not use your server to build a community, both inside and outside the game? You could host your FPS clan site, your discussion forums, or anything else, game-related or otherwise. You can even use your server to communicate more effectively during gameplay by hosting VoIP software like Ventrilo or TeamSpeak.
Game over. Continue?
Running your own game server should be all about enjoyment, and most of the time it is. But with any computer system, you’ll occasionally run across a technical issue that proves tricky to resolve. This makes reliable customer support a must-have.
Choose a provider with 24/7 technical support that’s fast and easy to access by your method of choice, whether that’s phone, email or online support ticket. It’s also worth finding out whether they provide specialist support for server customers. This way, you know that if you encounter any problems, your gaming server can be back up and running as soon as possible.
Your own private machine
Find the ideal gaming server from Fasthosts
A Fasthosts Dedicated Server gives you everything you need to create a high-performance, fully customised gaming experience.Find out more
UK data centres guarantee low latency for smooth and responsive gameplay
1Gb/s bandwidth prevents bottlenecks to unleash the power of your server
24/7 support from server experts in the UK – so fast and effective help is always on hand