How to optimize Windows 10 for multiplayer network gaming

Gain a few milliseconds of latency performance improvement and change your game experience by disabling Nagle's algorithm in the Windows 10 Registry File.

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Image: iStock/Oleksandr Pupko

When it comes to your Windows 10 PC, optimizing performance for productivity's sake is not always the same as optimizing performance for gaming's sake. A prime example of this optimization difference is TCP/IP networking interfaces and the default use of Nagle's algorithm in Microsoft Windows 10.

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In the simplest of terms, Nagle's algorithm attempts to increase overall network efficiency by holding small bits of data until there is enough to create and transmit a full packet. (It's more complicated than that, but that is the gist.) When gaming online, any delay in transmitting data increases latency and for many multiplayer games, latency equals "game over, you lose."

This how-to tutorial shows you how to disable Nagle's algorithm and optimize multiplayer network games in Windows 10 by editing the Windows Registry file.

How to optimize Windows 10 for multiplayer network gaming

Disclaimer: Editing the Windows Registry file is a serious undertaking. A corrupted Windows Registry file could render your computer inoperable, requiring a reinstallation of the Windows 10 operating system and potential loss of data. Back up the Windows 10 Registry file and create a valid restore point before you proceed.

Before we begin editing the Windows Registry file, we first must confirm the current IP address of our network interface. Right-click the Start Menu button on the Windows 10 desktop and select the Windows command prompt (or PowerShell, if enabled) from the context menu. As shown in Figure A, type the command "ipconfig" and press enter.

Figure A

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Note the IPv4 address, we will need it later. Close the command prompt window.

Now, type "regedit" into the Windows 10 search box on your desktop and select the registry editor application. Using the left-hand navigation window of regedit, navigate to this key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\Interfaces

As you can see in Figure B, depending on how you use your PC, there could be many network interfaces listed under this key.

Figure B

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You will have to check each interface listed to find the one with the correct current DhcpIPAdress. In my case, it was the tenth interface in the list (highlighted).

Once you find the correct interface entry, you will need to create two new DWORD (32-bit) Value words. Right-click the network interface entry you found in the left-hand navigation window and select New | DWORD (32-bit) Value and give the first new key the name:

TcpAckFrequency

Repeat the selection procedure and give the second new key the name:

TCPNoDelay

As shown in Figure C, your two new keys should be displayed at the bottom of the right-hand window.

Figure C

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Now, double-click each of your new keys and change the Data value to 1 and click OK, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

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When both keys are set to Data value 1, exit out of the Registry Editor and Nagle's algorithm is disabled.

To reenable Nagle's algorithm, change the Data value for each of those newly created keys back to the default of 0 (zero).

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Your performance may vary

It is important to note that disabling Nagle's algorithm could help your latency issues for some games, but it will not necessarily help latency issues for all your games. When it comes to networking performance and latency issues, there are dozens of potential causes, many of which are beyond the scope of Windows 10 and your personal hardware.

However, when disabling Nagle's algorithm is successful, a few milliseconds of latency performance improvement could change your game experience from the one getting fragged to the one doing the fragging.

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