Backtrack 15 years. I was young, stupid, still living at home, start college, with way too much time on my hands. Dota (computer game) took up way too much time. I did it all from a Gateway P7805 gaming laptop that I bought off someone from Kijiji:
Best $600 (they were normally twice that new at he time) I ever spent. That thing was GIANT but it had 1 GB video RAM (that was a lot back then, especially for a laptop), 17″ screen and everything else needed to play the best and latest games (ironically though, Dota was not a hardware intensive game). I also had a heavy duty laptop fan to keep the baby nice and cool.
However, as nice as the hardware and setup was, there was one MAJOR bottleneck: the latency. This was key for being effective online. One lag spike would make the difference between winning and dying. I did not understand networking very well back then so I had to resort to playing at certain times of the day to minimize delay. Very frustrating.
After I got married (fast forward to 2011), I decided to retire the laptop and spend some decent money on a gaming desktop. $1200 later, I had a decent machine with the coolest case I have yet to see, the Overseer:
But I digress. The new machine was AWESOME but despite everything, I had the same bottleneck. It was even more frustrating because we had great Internet (~100 Mbps down) but there were still times during the day where latency just went through the roof. I was using a decent USB Wifi adapter but I could not maximize to a strong, stable Internet connection. Even though I always had 3 bars.
I tested out a few things. I tried running network tests and working with the ISP, and I found that if I whitelisted the device and ran some QoS on the router it definitely helped. For a while, I thought it was bufferbloat but fixes for that did nothing. Still the issue was there and one day when it happened right in the middle of a game that I was owning at, I decided I was going to figure out a better solution. Wifi was just not reliable enough. I needed a hard connection.
How though? My desktop was in my bedroom, upstairs and about 50 feet at least from the router. I thought about a way to run a cable directly through, but it was not going to work without drilling holes through the house and my wife would definitely not go for that.
I researched alternatives and stumbled across this:
I had never heard about this technology before. None of my friends were using it. And it did not make much sense that it was that easy to simply transmit Ethernet traffic through an electrical circuit effectively to another part of the house. But after reading a bunch of testimonials, I decided to give it a try. Worst case, Amazon has a great return policy. I went for pretty much a black version of this
Setup was easy and seamless. I needed a bunch more network cables but once I plugged it in and reset it a few times, it was working like a charm. I took a look at the network traffic and my speeds were almost about 80% of what my father-in-law’s machine was getting, and he was plugged directly into the router/switch.
Over the new few months, it was pretty solid. I had to reset it a few times, but generally had no issues. I even installed a system for my brother and it worked great. It is a bit of a gamble, because it is based on the electrical circuit in your house, which is difficult to know for sure, but I have tested it on a few different houses and it has been solid each time.
My wife was not happy, as that meant that I would be playing more online games, but that soon changed after we had our first child. I don’t need it anymore, but the stability and fast connection has been great over the years I can say I am a proud advocate of this technology now. And also surprised that more people don’t know about it.