LAN Setup

There's nothing better than staying up all night playing videogames with your friends. Everyone craming into a small basement, ten or more gaming PCs pumping out heat, and more cold cathodes lighting up the place than you can shake a stick at. If this sounds like a fun evening to you, but you don't know where to start, let me help you out.

To setup a basic lan, you will need:

  • Two or more computers (with network cards)
  • Network Cables
  • An ethernet hub, switch, or router
  • Adequet Power

Computers

Obviously, everyone who plans on participating in a LAN party will need their own computer. To make things easier, it would be nice if all the computers were running the same OS. Not essential, but it's a good idea.

I would also suggest trying to have everyone install all the games & updates BEFORE arriving. That way, you won't spend hours waiting for everyone to get up-to-speed.

Also, I hear that cold cathodes, LED fans, and racing stripes help with performance. lolz.

 

Network Cards

 

 

As far as a reliable network card goes, almost all motherboards have an integrated gigabit controller that will work just fine. If not, go pick up one for $10 - $20. I have purchased a few basic TrendNet Gigabit ethernet cards that work great.

 

 

Or you could be a man and buy this one.

 

Network Cables

This is another obvious one. Every computer will have to be connected to the network, prefferably using a physical network cable. I would try to avoid wireless if possible.

There are a few types of network cables available. There is Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6 (technically there are more, but these three are the norm). There are also shielded and un-shielded versions of these cables. I would go with either Cat6 or Cat5e. Cat6 is technically rated for gigabit speeds, but Cat5e can work too. If you want to pay extra for the shielded version of the cable, that's great, but unless you are having a lan party inside of microwave, you probably won't see any difference. I suppose the lifespan of the cable may increase, but that's about it.

 

Hub, Switch, or Router

You will need at least one of these devices. Well, technically if it's only two people playing, you could use a crossover cable, but that's not much of a "LAN Party" now is it?

I personally prefer switches. They are fast and you don't have to worry about configuring it like you do a router. It won't do DHCP, but you can easily overcome that by using static IP addresses.

 

 

I prefer to use a good network switch, and highly recommend the D-Link DGS-2208. It is very affordable, and offers 8 ports of 10/100/1000 speeds!

 

Power

Having adequet power for a lan party is essential. You don't need a dozen PCs suddenly shutting off because you blew a fuse. I personally recommend putting no more than 3 computers on a single 15amp fuse. Just spread it over as many fuses as possible. I don't have actual eletrical readings, but with today's power supplies easily being rated at at least 550w, it's better to be safe than sorry.

If you don't have enough outlets on separate fuses in the area you plan on having your lan, go buy some cheap 50ft extension cords. Also, use surge protectors not just power strips!! Power strips offer no protection!! Most people should only have two things they absolutely need to plug in: the computer, and the monitor. If they bring speakers, tell them to use headphones.

 

Connections

Once you have all your computers, network adapters, cables, and switches together, they need to be connected.

  • Make sure each computer has a network card installed with the proper drivers
  • Plug a network cable into each computer
  • Plug the other ends of those network cables into an available port on your switch/hub/router.
  • Remember, don't plug a computer into an uplink port!
  • Don't use crossover cables to connect a computer to a switch/hub/router!
  • If you need more than one switch, simply connect them together with a network cable. If this is an older switch, you may need to connect it using the uplink port. So one end of a cable goes into the uplink port, and the other connects to a regular (non-uplink) port.

 

Static IPs

If you are using a hub or a switch, this is a requirement. If you are using just a router, you can probably skip this part. To setup a static IP, simply follow the short video below.

I know the video is a little hard to see, but basically:

  • Right-click on your network adapter you are going to use and go to properties
  • Right Click on Internet Protocol TCP/IP and push the 'properties' button
  • Change the radio-button from 'Obtain an IP address automatically' to 'Use the following IP address'
  • Enter the IP you want this computer to have
  • The subnet mask will fill itself in. You can leave it at 255.255.255.0
  • You can leave the Default Gateway and Preferred & Alternate DNS server fields blank if you don't have a router.
  • If you have a router, set the gateway and preferred dns server to the router's IP address. Leave the alternate dns server field blank.
  • Push OK twice

 

Disable Unused Adapters

On most modern computers, you may find two or more network adapters. This poses a problem for some games, and it is highly recommened that all unused LAN adapters are disabled, whether it be a physical plug, wireless, or even virtual (like hamachi or some other vpn software). The ideal scenario is to have ONE and only ONE adapter in use. This way the game can't somehow get confused as to which adapter it is trying to send/recieve information from.

The video below in the 'Network Stack Order' section demonstrates how to disable an adapter.

 

Network Stack Order

Setting the network stack order determines the order of your network adapters that programs will try to access the network with. So if you have a connection "Local Area Connection" set on the top, but your physical plug is plugged into a different adapter, your program will first try to access the network via "Local Area Connection". Make sure you set the adapter you are using on the top, even if all the other adapters are disabled.

This video shows how to disable un-used adpaters, and set the stack order correctly. If you don't know how to get into "Network Connections" to begin with, go to start > control panel > network connections.

 

Windows Workgroup

Joining the same Windows workgroup shouldn't matter when it comes to playing games on a LAN. However, from past experience, it does seem to help for whatever reason. So regardless of the reason WHY it would help, just do yourself a favor and have everyone join the same workgroup. It's good preventative maintenance, and also helps when it comes to file sharing anyway.

This video shows how to change your computer's name, and join a new workgroup.

 

Verify Connectivity

To test connectivity, simply go to Windows start button, go to run, type in 'cmd' with no quotes and push enter, then in the DOS screen that appears, type in 'ping IPADDRESS'. Obviously, don't include the quotes, and dont actually type in IPADDRESS. Instead, type in another computer's IP address.

Assuming no one is running any firewalls, antivirus, or anti spyware programs, you should be able to ping one another with no problem.

A successful ping request will say 'Reply from (IPADDRESS): bytes=32 time....' 4 times total, and then give a short summary of the ping request.

An unsuccessful ping request will say 'Request timed out.' 4 times total, then give a short summary of the failed ping request.