Recently at PAX Melbourne, I had a chance to talk to Vince LaDuca from Linksys.
He’s the mastermind behind the new Linksys gaming router. It’s a product I was rather curious about, considering my previous experiences with other so-called gaming routers.
It’s probably obvious I’ve had average experiences. Thankfully Vince is super passionate about the product. This gave me hope as the conversation started getting down to the nitty-gritty.
I started with what drove the idea to try a gaming router and was met with a very consumer-focused response.
“We saw what was going on in the online gaming space especially because of eSports and the competitive nature of the online gameplay. I’d say, ‘Well I’ve got an amazing router, I’m gonna go do some homework and try to figure out what do I need to do to make this router solve problems for those online gamers.'”
It makes perfect sense when you think about it. A large portion of the gaming world is focused on online features. There is a market for this kind of product already and Lynksys seemed intent on capitalising on it.
What is this? A router for gamers?!
I’ll admit I was pretty hooked after Vince explained the depth of research before even a single piece of hardware or line of code was produced. He was confident he had experienced some of the issues we’ve all shared. Vince confirmed it with a great example.
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“The problem is when the wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, roommate or family member jumps on the internet and starts streaming. Cause now everybody’s has got a phone, everybody’s streaming. Everybody wants to consume the network for entertainment. And that immediately makes your ping spike like crazy.”
Now I was convinced, we’ve all had that issue, especially in Australia. Still, I wanted to start probing more about the router itself. What really makes different from the other self-proclaimed gaming routers?
“I started looking around at all the top PC manufacturers out there; Alienware, GIGABYTE, MSI, Lenovo, Razer. The common thread I found in those products was this thing called killer networking.”
What is Killer Networking?
Vince must have picked up on the blank look on my face, so he elaborated.
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“They were using this stuff from these guys in Austin, Texas. The company’s named Rivet. They make the killer networking stuff. They make the hardware and they made their own networking stack in the PC so they wouldn’t use the Windows stack.”
This is where it started to get interesting. If you’re somewhat tech savvy you’ll know the Windows stack is not that great for gaming. The fact the guys at Rivet created its own networking stack specific to gaming explains why Alienware, GIGABYTE, MSI, Lenovo and Razer are on board.
So what happened next?
“I knew I had to go and contact these guys. Both to find out what’s going on and see if we could maybe do something together because I’m always looking for angles.”
Linksys & Rivet – Together at last
So a partnership was formed. With the hardware prowess of Lynksys combined with Rivet’s expertise in coding, it seems rather promising. But what does it all really mean for the average gamer? Well, those previously mentioned hardware brands using killer networking, communicate with the router directly.
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This means that the coding has been designed to prioritise the gaming connection automatically. With an end result being when other users are on your network they aren’t interfering with your gaming experience.
Hearing what the router was capable of with PC and laptop hardware and software I was intrigued to see where consoles were at. Although I’m aware most console issues are mostly addressed by the developers now, Vince explained they have done a lot of work.
Linksys has worked with the GUI for anything gaming that’s not using the killer networking. Making an easy to use interface that allows simple port forwarding and prioritisation. Users can drag and drop certain devices they want to be prioritised for faster packet rates. Vince explained further as to the functions.
No More Lag
“You can just drag it up into high priority and again, it’s manual but you can still move it up and then it actually will be treated as if it was killer enabled. We’re working on technologies with our partners over at Killer Networking to handle non-killer devices. So stay tuned, more to come because we have auto firmware update capabilities. ”
So, with the information Vince had provided regarding the product, I was almost convinced they were really onto something here. If you tend to suffer from high ping due to those other pesky users this is definitely something to look into. Not only that but this really is a top of the line router in itself and shows a lot of prospect for any gamer.
The guys from Lynksys were even nice enough to provide me with a review unit. Look for a full review of the Linksys WRT 32x gaming router soon.
On behalf of PowerUp! I’d like to thank The Linksys for the opportunity to pick Vince’s brain. I look forward to hearing what they get up to in the future.