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How to Prioritize Devices on Your Wi-Fi Network (and Why You Should)

Is your home Wi-Fi network slowing to a crawl these days? With the average household now connecting over 10 devices to their Wi-Fi – from phones and laptops to smart TVs, gaming consoles, and IoT gadgets – it‘s no wonder home networks are getting congested. All this competition for bandwidth can cause lag, buffering and choppy video calls.

Before you call your ISP to upgrade your internet speed, try optimizing your existing Wi-Fi network first. The key is to prioritize important devices and applications using a technique called Quality of Service (QoS). Let‘s look at what QoS is, why prioritizing devices helps, and how to configure it on popular routers.

What is QoS and Why Should You Use It?

QoS or Quality of Service is an advanced router feature that allows you to prioritize network bandwidth for certain devices and applications.

For example, you can ensure that your work laptop gets top priority access to bandwidth for video conferencing. At the same time, you can reduce the bandwidth allocated to a security camera that is just uploading background footage.

Here are some of the main benefits of setting QoS device priorities on your Wi-Fi:

  • Smoother Netflix, gaming and Zoom calls by reducing lag, stutter and buffering
  • Critical devices like work or school laptops get the consistent bandwidth they need
  • Limit bandwidth hogging by certain heavy users or devices like security cameras
  • Improve overall network performance without paying for speed upgrades

According to a Consumer Reports survey, the average US household contains over 10 connected devices. QoS allows you to manage this bandwidth demand effectively.

How Routers Use QoS for Traffic Shaping

QoS works by looking at the types of traffic on your network and prioritizing latency sensitive applications like video streaming and calls.

It does this by a technique called traffic shaping or packet prioritization. Your router gives priority packets more bandwidth while delaying or slowing down less critical packets.

Traffic Type Priority
Video Streaming High
Gaming High
Video Calls High
Web Browsing Medium
File Downloads Low
File Uploads Low

Some key QoS features available on modern routers:

  • Application Prioritization – Prioritize traffic based on service like YouTube, Netflix, etc.
  • Device Prioritization – Prioritize by MAC address or connected port
  • Bandwidth Limits – Cap max bandwidth for certain devices
  • WMM/WME Support – WiFi Multimedia extensions for traffic shaping

Accessing Your Router‘s Admin Interface

The first step in configuring QoS is accessing your router‘s admin interface. This is typically done by entering your router‘s IP address in a web browser:

  • Linksys:
  • Netgear:
  • TP-Link:

You will need to enter the admin username and password. If you haven‘t changed them, the default credentials are usually:

  • Username: admin
  • Password: admin or password

Refer to your router documentation for the exact default credentials. Here‘s an example of a typical router login screen:

[[Router admin login screenshot]]

Setting Up QoS on Popular Routers

The steps to configure QoS vary by router brand and model. Here are guides for some popular routers:

TP-Link QoS Setup

  1. Login to the TP-Link router admin console.
  2. Go to Advanced > QoS > Device Priority or Application Priority.
  3. Click "Edit" next to Total Bandwidth to set your speeds.
  4. Select priority by device or application – Gaming, Streaming etc.
  5. Click Save.
[[TP-Link QoS screenshots]]

Netgear QoS Setup

  1. Login to your Netgear router admin page.
  2. Go to Advanced > Setup > QoS Setup.
  3. Under Priority Category, select Apps, MAC Address or Ethernet Port.
  4. Pick device/app to prioritize and choose High, Medium, or Low priority.
  5. Click Apply.
[[Netgear QoS screenshots]]

Google Nest Wifi QoS

  1. Open the Google Home app and go to WiFi > Devices.
  2. Tap the device you want to prioritize.
  3. Tap "Prioritize this device" and set time duration.
  4. Tap Save.
[[Google Nest QoS screenshots]]

Asus Router QoS Configuration

  1. Access your Asus router admin console.
  2. Go to QoS > General.
  3. Enable QoS and enter your internet speeds.
  4. Go to the Bandwidth Monitor tab.
  5. Set priority by device or application.
  6. Click Apply.
[[Asus QoS screenshots]]

Pro Gamer Tips for Optimizing QoS

To take your QoS optimizations to the next level, here are some pro tips from gamers:

  • Set your gaming device or traffic to "Highest" priority to minimize lag.
  • Enable UPnP for automatic port forwarding.
  • Use 5GHz WiFi band for gaming devices to reduce interference.
  • Connect your gaming PC directly to the router via Ethernet.
  • Place router centrally to maximize WiFi signal strength.
  • Update router firmware and disable extra features like traffic monitoring.
  • Combine QoS priority with a gaming VPN to avoid ISP throttling.

Prioritizing traffic is just one part of optimizing for gaming and streaming. You may also need to configure port forwarding, use Ethernet backhaul if you have mesh WiFi, and optimize your broadband modem.

Troubleshooting QoS Issues

If you‘ve enabled QoS but still face laggy gaming/video, here are some things to check:

  • Incorrect bandwidth settings – double check your internet speeds are set right.
  • Outdated router firmware – upgrade to latest firmware.
  • Faulty QoS algorithm – some routers have bugs in their implementation.
  • Legacy QoS vs Dynamic QoS – verify if your router uses new Dynamic QoS.
  • WiFi interference or congestion – use 5GHz band or Ethernet backhaul if possible.

Also confirm that your network infrastructure like modem, cables and switches can handle your total internet speeds.

Combining QoS with a VPN Router

After setting up QoS device priorities, consider adding an extra layer of optimization and security by installing a VPN on your router.

A VPN or virtual private network encrypts all the traffic leaving your router. This prevents your ISP from throttling speeds based on traffic type, leading to faster streaming and downloads.

VPN routers also hide your IP address and browsing data from your ISP, advertisers and hackers. Some top router-compatible VPNs include:

VPN Starting Price Rating
NordVPN $3.29/month ??????????????? 4.5/5
ExpressVPN $8.32/month ??????????????? 4.6/5
Surfshark $2.49/month ??????????????? 4.5/5

Check out our guide on how to install a VPN on your router for setup instructions.

Closing Thoughts

Optimizing your home WiFi by prioritizing devices doesn‘t have to be complicated. With some simple QoS tweaks on your router, you can enjoy lag-free video streaming and calls without paying more for higher internet speeds. Combine smart QoS settings with a fast VPN router for the ultimate speed and privacy boost.

Hope this guide helped you learn how to prioritize bandwidth for devices on your network. Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions!


Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.