Game server hosting providers have a unique set of requirements for the hardware that hosts game servers for their customers. Perhaps the most important is low latency: gamers demand impeccable network and disk performance. But other factors also contribute to building and optimizing a dedicated server suitable for hosting multiple concurrent game servers.
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In this article, we’re going to look at what makes a server suitable for hosting a large number of game servers and what you, as a game server hosting provider, should look for when choosing a server. We’ll show you how to select a server that provides the best possible experience to your game server hosting clients and to gamers.
Determining Server Specifications For Game Servers
It is not possible to give universal advice about the best specifications for a game server host. Which dedicated server is right for you depends on the number of game servers the host will support, the games on offer, the mods used with those games, and the number of players connected to the server at the same time.
Review Recommended Server Requirements
Before choosing a dedicated server’s specifications, look at the requirements of the game you are looking to host for users. This will not only help you choose a dedicated server, but also determine which plans to offer users and how much server resources to include in each plan. Reviewing what your competitors are offering as well as a google search for “game system requirements” will give you a good ballpark.
Did you know? The ServerMania Knowledge Base contains dozens of articles on what we recommend for various game server environments.
The type of game also has an impact on the resources a game server host requires needs. A relatively light game such as Counterstrike requires significantly fewer resources than expansive open-world games, which demand much more memory, processing power, and storage. If you book a server consultation, our game server hosting experts can offer guidance on optimal specifications for your use case.
General Game Server Recommendations
At ServerMania, we have provided dedicated gaming server hosting for game server hosts for nearly two decades. We’re always happy to advise our clients about the appropriate specifications for their server, and to build custom dedicated servers with the exact specifications game hosting providers need.
As a rough guide:
- When it comes to dedicated servers for Game Server Providers, the more RAM the better. It is common to see 128GB to 256GB of RAM on a game hosting node.
- Many games still only leverage the power of a single CPU core, so a server with fewer CPU cores at a higher clock speed is common.
- Many GSPs host a large number of servers with smaller processors such as the E3-1270v6 rather than fewer servers with a larger processor. This helps to spread out performance and increase redundancy.
- Solid State Drives (SSDs) read and write data more quickly than traditional hard drives. For games with large numbers of assets, faster SSD or NVMe drives can substantially enhance game load times and performance.
Determine Bandwidth Requirements
The bandwidth available to your dedicated server also impacts performance. If the hosted game servers exceed the capacity of the network interface, gameplay may be negatively affected.
As with all specifications, bandwidth requirements depend on the games you intend to host and the number of players. For example, Steam recommends at least 1140 kbps for a Half-Life Dedicated Server instance with 32 players. For more modern games, the requirements may be higher. Minecraft recommends at least 15 Mbps for a game server with more than nine players.
ServerMania dedicated servers are equipped with a 1Gbps network interface, so they are capable of supporting many such instances. We also have 10Gbps connections available in some locations.
To achieve optimal performance for all gamers, it is wise to use a game server’s configuration variables to limit the number of players in each game, and to use your game server control panel to ensure that your server’s resources are not excessively oversubscribed.
Achieving Low Network Latency
The ServerMania Data Centers are located in 8 global locations to provide low-latency throughout the world.
Three primary factors contribute to network latency between gamers and the host running the game server they are connected to.
- Physical distance. There is no way to overcome the limitations of physics. It takes time for data to travel across the network. The longer the distance between the gamer and the server, the larger the latency.
- Network distance. Network distance can be thought of as the number of hops a packet of data takes to get where it’s going. Each hop adds a little latency. Network distance is related to physical distance, but they aren’t the same. A poorly optimized network route can involve a great number of hops, even if the physical distance is short. A well-optimized route that uses major bandwidth carriers may have a lower network distance even though the physical distance is larger.
- Bandwidth capacity. Overloaded network interfaces will drop packets and slow to a crawl. If a server hosting provider tries to cram too much data through an inadequate network interface, it results in a poor experience for the gamer.
When choosing a dedicated server host, a game hosting provider should look for redundant connections to major bandwidth providers, data centers in proximity to the largest clusters of gamers, and network interfaces capable of supporting the network traffic generated by game servers with potentially thousands of players. ServerMania offers servers in 8 data centers to meet the needs of GSPs.
Many Game Server Providers optimize server performance by setting up dedicated servers in locations throughout the world. When users checkout, they can select the location closest to their group of players and achieve the highest level of performance.
Optimizing Game Server Operating Systems
In addition to selecting the optimal server location and specifications, game server hosting providers can optimize their server at the operating system level. Default OS settings are intended for general server workloads, and game server hosts can improve performance by adjusting some network and storage options.
This is a complex topic, and there are many possible tweaks a game host might make, depending on their server operating system. Let’s look at two recommended network tweaks for game servers that run on Linux.
- Increase the UDP receive buffer size. Game servers typically communicate with UDP, and the standard configuration for UDP packet buffers may result in lost packets. The buffer size is configured via the rmem_default parameters in the /etc/sysctl.conf.
- Busy polling. Busy polling can reduce latency by cutting delays in packet processing, but at the cost of increasing processor utilization. This setting is off by default in most distributions but can be turned on by adding a value to the busy_read and busy_poll parameters in /etc/sysctl.conf. 50 is a safe default value.
Because there are so many factors that impact performance, these parameters should be tested to ensure that they result in an improved gaming experience.
ServerMania dedicated servers are specialized for game-server hosting with Intel Xeon processors, ultrafast SSD storage, 20 TB of included bandwidth, and a 100 percent Network Uptime Guarantee. Contact us today for a free game server consultation.