Question Why am I getting strange lag spikes only on WiFi?

jdog149

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Good morning everyone! I've been experiencing odd freezes in live applications like discord & geforce now. They happen every 5-10 minutes and last for 1-3 seconds. This only occurs when I'm on wifi, I've hardwired the same 2 laptops and it solves my issue. So I went into my router settings and changed the channels for both my 2.4/5, but it still happens. Using the terminal I let a ping test run for a bit and this is what made it seem so strange to me:

64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=98 ttl=114 time=22.682 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=99 ttl=114 time=29.693 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=100 ttl=114 time=71.681 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=101 ttl=114 time=117.145 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=102 ttl=114 time=22.639 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=103 ttl=114 time=22.303 ms

--- 8.8.8.8 ping statistics ---
213 packets transmitted, 213 packets received, 0.0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 21.830/24.426/117.145/7.271 ms

RSSI: -40 dbm
Noise: -93 dbm

Tested on: MacBook M1 & ASUS Zephyrus G15
Router: Linksys - AC1900 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 5 Router

The spikes are only up to 117 ms, this doesn't seem like it should cause everything to grind to a halt. But as soon as I saw those two numbers in the terminal, sure enough my video call was frozen. My internet speeds are 300Mbps down and 40Mbps up, nothing was utilizing large amounts of bandwidth at the time either. I have tried to include as much information as possible but if any additional info would help I would be happy to provide it. Thank you everyone!
 
This is extremely common with wifi. Mostly it is game programs that are affected but live video and audio sources like teleconference can also be affected. video conference tries to solve this issue by inserting small buffers which causes delay in the communication. These buffers allow for small variations in packet latency at the cost of communication that has fixed delays. Some people turn this feature off which then causes the small delays to cause what appears to be distortion.

Not sure what to recommend. Even those spikes should not have much impact on a video conference. A online game they have much more impact. It could be the bit rates you are using make this problem worse. When there is a lot of traffic it tend to causes even more latency spikes. I would look for setting in the software to see if any help.

There is very little you can do with the wifi. The problem is primarily caused by your neighbors use of wifi. Changing channels used to be the recommendation but that does not work well any more. Many routers attempt to use all the available channels and if you neighbor put in one of those mesh systems they put out even more radio signals that can interfere.

Your only real option is to not use wifi for those application that do no tolerate it well. Maybe when wifi6e comes out more we may see some relief but even that I suspect will only be a couple years before we get new routers that attempt to be hogs and use all the radio bandwidth for a single user.
 

jdog149

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Many routers attempt to use all the available channels and if you neighbor put in one of those mesh systems they put out even more radio signals that can interfere.
Not sure if all extenders are considered mesh systems, but they do have extenders I can pickup on wifi, would you say this is the likely culprit?
 
It really doesn't matter what you call the devices. It can be all kinds of stuff from baby monitors to things like drones and other toys that use the same radio frequencies. The radio bands are unlicensed to many things other than wifi use them and all this radio energy causes interference with anything else using the same radio bands. Without expensive equipment like spectrum analyzers you can not see most of it. For example you the tool you are likely using can only see the beacon messages being sent. This is not related to how much bandwidth is actually being used and you can not see any of the end devices. Things that use the same radio channels but are not actually wifi your devices will not even detect even if the signal is extremely strong.

It all doesn't matter unless you wrap your house in aluminum foil you can't do anything about signals coming in from outside.
 

jdog149

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It really doesn't matter what you call the devices. It can be all kinds of stuff from baby monitors to things like drones and other toys that use the same radio frequencies. The radio bands are unlicensed to many things other than wifi use them and all this radio energy causes interference with anything else using the same radio bands. Without expensive equipment like spectrum analyzers you can not see most of it. For example you the tool you are likely using can only see the beacon messages being sent. This is not related to how much bandwidth is actually being used and you can not see any of the end devices. Things that use the same radio channels but are not actually wifi your devices will not even detect even if the signal is extremely strong.

It all doesn't matter unless you wrap your house in aluminum foil you can't do anything about signals coming in from outside.
But it is happening on a consistent loop 5-10 minutes every day all day and lasting for 1-3 seconds, so can we rule out it being an issue with my router? I would think if it is outside interference, it wouldn't be so consistent. It happens in the middle of the night even.
 

OrlyP

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Have you tried forcing the laptops to use 5GHz? This band is typically less crowded and has better bandwidth overall... granted, your laptops are still within range for 5GHz.

2.4GHz is relatively more crowded and having that much variance in latency (jitter), is quite the norm. This lower band is best relegated for low-bandwidth devices and IoT stuff.

Check your router if it has some sort of band-steering feature, where it can force 5GHz-capable devices on 5GHz. If not, try setting a different SSID for 5GHz and connect your primary devices to it.
 

jdog149

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Have you tried forcing the laptops to use 5GHz? This band is typically less crowded and has better bandwidth overall... granted, your laptops are still within range for 5GHz.

2.4GHz is relatively more crowded and having that much variance in latency (jitter), is quite the norm. This lower band is best relegated for low-bandwidth devices and IoT stuff.

Check your router if it has some sort of band-steering feature, where it can force 5GHz-capable devices on 5GHz. If not, try setting a different SSID for 5GHz and connect your primary devices to it.
My router is set to have two logins, one for 2.4 and one for 5. My laptops are on 5, since they are in the same room as the router.
 

Wacabletech06

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Good morning everyone! I've been experiencing odd freezes in live applications like discord & geforce now. They happen every 5-10 minutes and last for 1-3 seconds. This only occurs when I'm on wifi, I've hardwired the same 2 laptops and it solves my issue. So I went into my router settings and changed the channels for both my 2.4/5, but it still happens. Using the terminal I let a ping test run for a bit and this is what made it seem so strange to me:

64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=98 ttl=114 time=22.682 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=99 ttl=114 time=29.693 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=100 ttl=114 time=71.681 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=101 ttl=114 time=117.145 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=102 ttl=114 time=22.639 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=103 ttl=114 time=22.303 ms

--- 8.8.8.8 ping statistics ---
213 packets transmitted, 213 packets received, 0.0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 21.830/24.426/117.145/7.271 ms

RSSI: -40 dbm
Noise: -93 dbm

Tested on: MacBook M1 & ASUS Zephyrus G15
Router: Linksys - AC1900 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 5 Router

The spikes are only up to 117 ms, this doesn't seem like it should cause everything to grind to a halt. But as soon as I saw those two numbers in the terminal, sure enough my video call was frozen. My internet speeds are 300Mbps down and 40Mbps up, nothing was utilizing large amounts of bandwidth at the time either. I have tried to include as much information as possible but if any additional info would help I would be happy to provide it. Thank you everyone!

Noise is not consistent in any environment and you'd need to get that level when the ping spike was happening.

Consider a conversation, it is based on 2 way communication of waves (sound) and the devices that transmit (mouth) and receive them (ears). Ears accept all sound waves, and the brain processes them as best it can. This is very similar to the way wifi works, the antennas represent mouth and ears and computers represents he brain. If you have ever tried to have a meeting with someone [date interview, business meeting, family, whatever] in a sports bar at the wrong day and time you have nothing wrong with your ears, mouth, or brain, but the extra sound waves from the tvs, cheering fans, busy equiptmnt and workers, makes it hard to have a conversation. Sometimes you will use your eyes and brain to help decode the missed syllables your partner is saying this is known as error correction in the telecommuncations world and involves checksums and encoding decoding of said checksums. But it takes time to do that correction both in the real world and the telecomm world. Latency goes up becasue it takes longer to get to the point where you will respond. The more corrections the more latency goes up. This is usually caused by interferance [other sound or RF or light waves in the same transmission system. In some cases you can do something about it, talk louder, get a stronger wifi device,, move to another area, and in some you cannot.

That said some other common causes of intermittent weird behavior, people get power supplies confused. I see it almost daily. Customer bought netgear modem, netgear router, and both psu says netgear so they assume they are the same but one is 12V and 1 amp [which the modem requires] , and the other is 12V and 2.5 Amps [which the router requires]. These are not the same and while you can use the router psu on the modem with no problem as it will ony draw the amps it needs as long as voltage is correct. However, the router is not getting enough power to do its job and things will suffer, sometimes its close enough that just the LEDs don't work right but other times wifi cuts in and out, or other randome effects. It is an easy thing to check and verify so I would certainly check that. They print the input requirements on the devices and the output on the psu bricks. They should honestly match but again same voltage and more amps is ok as long as all devices have the mininum or more on the amps.
 
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jdog149

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Noise is not consistence in any environment and you'd need to get that level when the ping spike was happening.

Consider a conversation, its based on 2 way communication of waves (sound) and the devices that transmit (mouth) and receive them (ears). Ears accept all sound waves, and the brain processes them as best it can. This is very similar to the way wifi works, the antenna and computers represent the mouth, ears, and brain. If you have ever tried to have a meeting with someone [date interview, business meeting, family whatever] in a sports bar st the wrong day and time you have nothing wrong with your ears, mouths, or brains, but the extra sound waves from the tvs, cheering fans, busy equiptmnt and workers, makes it hard to have a conversation. Sometimes you will use your eyes and brain to help decode the missed syllables your partner is saying this is known as error correction in the telecommuncations world and involves checksums and encoding decoding of said checksums. But it takes time to do that correction both in the real world and the telecomm world. Latency goes up becasue it takes longer to get to the point where you will respond. The more corrections the more latency goes up. This is usually caused by interferance [other sound or RF or light waves in the same transmission system. In some cases you can do something about it, talk louder, get a stronger wifi device,, move to another area, and in some you cannot.

That said some other common causes of intermittent weird behavior, people get power supplies confused. i see it almost daily. Cusotmer bougt netgear modem, netgear router, both psu says netgear so they assume they are the same but one is 12V and 1 amp [which the modem requires] , and the other is 12V and 2.5 Amps [which the router requires]. These are not the same while you can use the router psu onthe modem with no problem as it will ony draw the ampos it needs as long as voltage is correct. But the router is not getting anough power to do its job and things will suffer, sometimes its close enough that just the led's don't work right other times wifi cuts in and out, or other randome effects. Its an easy thing to check and verify so I would certainly check that. They print the input requirements on the devices and the output on the psu bricks. They should honestly match but again same voltage and more amps is ok as long as all devices have that.
The change in latency happens so quick, I don't think the program I use would be able to refresh in time as I have to hit the refresh button and then it shows the data a few seconds later. Do you know of a real time noise monitoring program? As for the wrong psu I am using the one the router shipped with and the numbers do match. I do appreciate your analogy of the conversation, it was spot on.
 

jdog149

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In some cases you can do something about it, talk louder, get a stronger wifi device,, move to another area, and in some you cannot.
This part gave me an idea, I am unsure if it will work though. Would a mesh system of my own rectify my issue? I am in the same room as the router, but I'm wondering if more of a signal would over shadow what is interfering? Thanks again for your time.
 

Wacabletech06

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This part gave me an idea, I am unsure if it will work though. Would a mesh system of my own rectify my issue? I am in the same room as the router, but I'm wondering if more of a signal would over shadow what is interfering? Thanks again for your time.



No, if you are in the same room as the router, this will do nothing for you. unless your router really sucks and your room is really large.

Have you checked for bios/firmware updates or anything yet? Sometimes it's software issues that do get fixed. Whoever makes your computer, or computer motherboard if you built it, should have a website with updates for chipset level software, I would start there, then check driver updates NOT from MS, but from the manufacturer of the wireless equipment. ESPECIALLY intel, they have some horrid policies with shipping broken hardware these days and patching it later.

As to software for wifi noise, I used to use a product called inSSIDer free from major geeks when I lived in an apartment, but my goal was to avoid other wifi routers, and that did not include cordless phones, etc that can use the same open spectrum. These days you probably really need a spectrum analyzer [expensive] but i imagine the average phone could be turned into one for the 2.4 to 5.8 Ghz Spectrum anyway.

I have heard about netspot but never used it myself. There is a free edition not sure how crippled it is, but you can google it and see what it does for you.
 

jdog149

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No, if you are in the same room as the router, this will do nothing for you. unless your router really sucks and your room is really large.

Have you checked for bios/firmware updates or anything yet? Sometimes it's software issues that do get fixed. Whoever makes your computer, or computer motherboard if you built it, should have a website with updates for chipset level software, I would start there, then check driver updates NOT from MS, but from the manufacturer of the wireless equipment. ESPECIALLY intel, they have some horrid policies with shipping broken hardware these days and patching it later.

As to software for wifi noise, I used to use a product called inSSIDer free from major geeks when I lived in an apartment, but my goal was to avoid other wifi routers, and that did not include cordless phones, etc that can use the same open spectrum. These days you probably really need a spectrum analyzer [expensive] but i imagine the average phone could be turned into one for the 2.4 to 5.8 Ghz Spectrum anyway.

I have heard about netspot but never used it myself. There is a free edition not sure how crippled it is, but you can google it and see what it does for you.
Thanks for the advice, I did have an update for my asus laptop, but no change. So I decided to buy a wifi 6 router to see if that changes anything. Will update tomorrow when it arrives.

New router: ASUS AX5700 (RT-AX86U)
 

Wacabletech06

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Careful with 802.11AX its still new and a lot of incompatibilities with older wifi standards are being discovered and patched. If you have wifi6 on your eq its great but if you have older standards, you may have to reduce the standard on the router. Fastest I have seen it go so far is 798 Mbps, but it peaked at over 800 on that test, so its definately impressive, but most poeple are not running Wifi6 devices and some hiccups have shows with it, I often have to log in and convert to 802.11AC to make mesh systems, extenders, and printers work. Sometimes smart lights and smart locks too. Just a warning, its impressive if you can upgrade what your connecting to it as well. Especially 2.4 Ghz only wifi eq.
 

jdog149

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Careful with 802.11AX its still new and a lot of incompatibilities with older wifi standards are being discovered and patched. If you have wifi6 on your eq its great but if you have older standards, you may have to reduce the standard on the router. Fastest I have seen it go so far is 798 Mbps, but it peaked at over 800 on that test, so its definately impressive, but most poeple are not running Wifi6 devices and some hiccups have shows with it, I often have to log in and convert to 802.11AC to make mesh systems, extenders, and printers work. Sometimes smart lights and smart locks too. Just a warning, its impressive if you can upgrade what your connecting to it as well. Especially 2.4 Ghz only wifi eq.
Sorry it took me a bit but I got the new router hooked up. I do have wifi 6 compatible devices but the issue is still there. I am stumped 100%. I pinged the router and no spikes there. I am at a loss on what to do now. This shouldn't be an issue. Ethernet, no ping spikes. Wifi, ping spikes every 60 seconds. It is happening on my M1 MacBook as well as my asus laptop. What in the world is causing this?
 
Since it happens on the mac also it means it is not one of the many nasty bugs/features microsoft has like the autotune garbage.

This problem is actually more common with wifi6 because some routers attempt to use the radio bands used by weather radar. So as the beam sweeps though your house the router detects it and must stop using that range...or it just causes interference.

To test I would set the router to only use 20mhz bands. This will greatly reduce the speed you can run but it is mostly to let you do a more systematic test for interference. In most countries there are 9 different 20mhz channels you can set on the 5g band. I would try them one by one and see if you see this issue on all of them. When you use 802.11ac it is using 80mhz which uses blocks of 4 of these channels so you greatly increase you issue. 802.11ax uses 160mhz......some routers only use 80mhz.... and this makes this issue even worse.
 

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