Categories
DNS Servers

Which DNS is Better for Gaming, 1.1.1.1 or 8.8.8.8?

Both Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 and Google’s 8.8.8.8 are popular and high quality public DNS servers, but which one is better for gaming as always, depends.

What Matters for Gaming with DNS

Speed (Latency): The time it takes for DNS queries to resolve is pretty much the most important thing. Lower latency means faster and less laggy game connections.

Reliability: Consistent DNS availability is the second most important thing. You don’t want a server going down while you’re gaming.

Security: While a secondary concern because DNS hacks are fairly rare for the average user, some DNS providers offer malware and phishing protection.

1.1.1.1 vs. 8.8.8.8

Speed: Cloudflare (1.1.1.1) usually has a slight latency advantage because of its large and slightly better optimized network. Google always tries to be the better blanket option by being the most compatible DNS network but this means that in specific cases Google marginally loses in speed tests. Purely in terms of speed, Clouflare is better for gaming.

Reliability: Both Google and Cloudflare have great uptime. At the end of the day these are large and well-established companies that operate both DNS Servers, so either Google’s or Cloudflare’s reputations are on the line. There’s no clear winner here.

Security: Cloudflare (1.1.1.1) offers slightly more security features like malware filtering and privacy-focused browsing with its WARP service. Cloudflare has a slight advantage here.

Availability: Both 1.1.1.1 and 8.8.8.8 have global coverage but depending on your specific location one might have data centers physically closer to you which will give you a lower latency. This you’ll have to check using a DNS server map or keep reading the next paragraph.

So Which Is Better?

Benchmark: Use a tool like namebench to test response times for your specific connection to both 1.1.1.1 and 8.8.8.8 in your geographical location.

Real-World Testing: If that’s too complicated for you, just set each DNS server as your primary for a day or two, play multiple online games during this period and see if there are any differences in responsiveness and connection stability. Keep the DNS server that gave you the best results as your default one.

If you just want a simple answer, Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 is generally the better option for gaming.

Other Factors

ISP: Some Internet Service Providers deliberately throttle or interfere with third-party DNS servers. If your ISP’s default DNS performs well it might be your best (and only) bet even if it’s not technically the fastest.

Security: If malware protection or privacy is a bigger issue for you, Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 is probably the better choice.

The Verdict

Both 1.1.1.1 and 8.8.8.8 are great options for gaming. The performance gap between them is very small and your location is usually the deciding factor. But if I were to hand the winning trophy to one of them it would probably be Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1.

Beyond Speed and Reliability

While speed and uptime are important issues, there are some other discussed aspects of DNS servers that will partially change your gaming experience:

Caching: DNS servers store resolved website lookups for a certain period of time. Good caching means popular game servers resolve the connections faster in between gaming sessions and among multiple players in the same geographical area. Cloudflare seems to have slightly better caching for particular games like Fortnite.

Routing Efficiency: Some DNS servers have more intelligent global routing. This means your DNS requests take efficient paths through the complex network of the internet by minimizing connection times. Both Cloudflare and Google have some of the most efficient DNS Servers out there.

Protection against DDoS: Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks can flood servers (including DNS) with traffic. While unlikely to be a major concern for the average gamer, both Google and Cloudflare DNS servers have multiple ways of mitigating this, preventing you from having your connection killed. Cloudflare however has slightly better and less statistically penetrated CAPTCHA challenges and purely empirically I’ve seen them do better at mitigating DDoS attacks. I’ve also seen Google’s invisible and visible CAPTCHA challenges being abused and passed by bots in limited instances so I think Cloudflare has the upper hand here. If not technologically, at least in terms of popularity since Google’s CAPTCHAs are more used around the internet, there are always hackers finding sneaky ways to bypass them. Since Cloudflare is less popular that in and of itself is a security advantage.

QoS Features: A few less common DNS providers offer Quality of Service (QoS) features by prioritizing gaming traffic even on a congested network. This can be helpful if you share your internet with others.

Regional Differences

Smaller DNS Providers: Sometimes, less-common public DNS providers have an advantage within specific regions due to partnerships and closer proximity to network infrastructure. It might be worth investigating alternatives for potential surprises. This doesn’t always translate to a better multiplayer experience if you’re playing with people from other country though.

Alternative Public DNS Options

OpenDNS (Cisco): Known for fantastic reliability and optional content filtering features (parental controls, etc).

Quad9: A security focused DNS provider with malware and phishing blocking.

DNS Watch: It uses a no-log approach for better privacy though this may come with a slight performance cost.

Tools for Nerds

GRC’s DNS Benchmark: A more advanced tool than namebench, that comes with deeper analysis and the ability to compare multiple DNS servers at the same time: https://www.grc.com/dns/benchmark.htm

“ping” and “traceroute”: Basic command-line tools show raw networking performance to specific IP addresses (including the IP addresses of DNS servers themselves). This can help you with troubleshooting if you thing there are network bottlenecks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *