Are there any good how-to or technical guides for setting up a LAN and/or any other sundry issues surrounding putting together a LAN party? The greener the intended audience the better. (I am fairly competent around hardware, but my LAN parties have been plagued with all kinds of network errors and technical issues anyway.)

Or is this the kind of thing that has to be done on a game-specific basis?

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    If you haven't put in 2 hours of frustrating network support, you haven't earned the right to start your LAN party. Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 22:26
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    Beware how you plug everything in! At a ~25 person LAN party, we had a sizeable proportion of the hardware (the network switches and several user machines) connected via a single wall socket (because of users unintentionally chaining extension leads when setting up). This was fine until someone tripped over the cable running to the wall and disconnected everything...
    – DMA57361
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 9:09
  • @DMA57361 - I've also had times where the extension cords have become very hot, and then a circuit breaker trips. Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 15:54

4 Answers 4


Borrowing liberally from the other answers, here are my suggestions:

  1. Keep It Simple. This applies to everything at the LAN. The simplest solution is almost always the best one.

  2. Networking - Hardware Side. (This is assuming you're going to have 24 or fewer users. If you're going to have more than that, you're probably going to need more than one switch.) Get yourself one large switch that can accomodate everyone, or buy several small switches. Allow for one router between everyone and the link to the outside world. If someone wants to jack in their own router and try to use it as a switch, shut them down on that pronto. Dealing with double-NAT'ed machines is the bane of network setups and goes against rule 1 above. Avoid Wireless like the plague.

  3. Networking - Software Side. If you're following the above suggestion then it will be no problem having everyone set their machines to DHCP and let the router handle passing out the IP addresses. Windows Firewall can play havoc with some games, so be sure you know how to configure it for any games you may be playing at the LAN. Make sure everyone has had their machine scanned for viruses and spyware before they hook up to the network - no one wants to be dealing with the latest round of infections instead of playing their games.

  4. Power Considerations. I can't stress this one enough - DON'T DAISY CHAIN POWER STRIPS TOGETHER. Inevitably you end up with the guy whose power strip is in the middle of the chain wanting to leave before anyone else. Have designated power strips that everyone will plug their strip into. Also make sure that the power feeds in the LAN area can handle the juice all the computers and hardware will be drawing.

  5. Sound Considerations. Make sure everyone knows that they need to bring a set of headphones. Sure, you could just have everyone set up their speakers, but that level of cacaphony is going to get annoying really fast.

  6. Game Considerations. Make sure everyone knows what games are going to be played at the LAN and that they already have them installed and are on the same patch level before you get rolling - it will samve time. Also, if there are going to be a large number of players, consider setting up a dedicated server for whatever Game Du Jour you're going to be playing (if the game allows it). Also, have alternate games ready in the event that someone doesn't want to play CODBLOPS or whatever everyone else is playing. Having an Xbox or Wii set up off in a corner is a good idea.

  7. Food & Bathroom considerations. If you're holding this at someone's house, make sure everyone knows what you're doing for food and plan appropriately. One medium pizza per gamer is usually a good rule of thumb if you're ordering in, and don't forget to tip the delivery guy. If you're not ordering in, make sure everyone brings something or is willing to fork over some cash for the eats that will be provided. Also, make sure everyone knows where the restrooms are and who to notify if there are any problems with them.

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    This is a really good checklist. +1! Still hoping to get more of a technical how-to guide though.
    – qoonpooka
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 11:30
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    If you're looking for a guide and don't mind dealing with a dead-tree edition, I'd suggest checking out the book "LAN Party: Hosting the Ultimate Frag Fest". It's a bit old (in Internet terms - circa 2004), but can be had from Amazon for around a buck+shipping and is full of good advice that still holds true today. Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 13:15
  • Oh, nice! I will check this out.
    – qoonpooka
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 16:23

It would help if you specified a platform... I found that on PC's the windows firewall is the worst culprit of annoying issues during our LAN party's. Recently I started using an old 24 port Dell power connect switch and using all static IP's. This works well for games with true LAN support but not so good for games that require DRM that talks back to an outside server. Good rule of thumb for networking is to keep it as simple as possible... If you can get them all on one switch that is your best bet. A couple things I suggest against:

  • Wireless: if you can at all help it keep them off of wireless. There are just too many variables with it... A 2.4/5.0 ghz cordless phone on the same channel can cause random connection drops. Interference with other access points (even your own if you have more than one) can cause random outages or issues with only one person sitting in the wrong place. Not to mention in my experience most consumer grade (netgear, linksys, d-link etc..) aren't the highest quality and may not be able to handle the traffic of a large LAN party. They can also be just generally unreliable. If you do decide you need to go wireless get a Ubiquity Nanosation or anything from Ruckus wireless, don't just get a cheap access point.

  • Double NATing: I see this on Super User fairly regularly. People try and use consumer routers that operate at layer 3 and 2 as pure layer 2 switches. These devices need to be told not to distribute IP addresses or NAT. So after daisy chaining them together you end up with 3-4 different subnets with 4 friends on, 5 friends on and everyone else on Now all this data has to be routed between subnets causing an extra level of complexity. Also your computers won't have info on the other computers on the network in their ARP cache since they are on different subnets. So when computer A on want's to talk with computer B on they need to go through 2 or even 3 different routers.

Overall the most important part out of the above is to keep it as simple as possible....

  • Solid advice! +1 for that. How-to instructions for setup and hardware needs would be helpful as well if you can add them or link to them. (Basically looking for something I can show to folks who are helping me set up, tear down, or folks arriving after the fun starts.)
    – qoonpooka
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 18:20

Electricity is the real tricky bit with a LAN party. Get extension cords and tap into to as many different circuits as you can. Normal outlets are rated at 15 amps, which will probably handle 3 gaming computer setups under full load barring any Crossfire or SLI behemoth, and maybe 10-12 gaming laptops. Consider renting generators depending on the scale of your party.

Another issue is HEAT. You're going to need solid environment cooling for a lot of systems. Again, depending on the number of systems, you will want fans and perhaps portable AC units. Oh hey, and those things are going to take more electricity, awesome!

I'm not sure of the scale of your party, but the above tips should hopefully keep electrical fires and flipped breakers to a minimum.

  • This is really good advice... Blowing a circuit during a critical point in game or after 10 solid hours of civ can seriously ruin a LAN party. Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 15:06

Kyle has almost said it all with KISS.

My additional advice would be to take one cable from the router to the lan-switch (to which all PCs are connected). Depending on the router's config, that will provide everyone with an IP address and internet connectivity.

If you don't know about your router's config, chances are it will have it's default settings and it'll 'just work'. If you do know about it, chances are you'll know how to go from there ;-)

Good luck and happy LAN-ing!

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