Friday, May 02, 2008

PS3 Controller Interferes With WLAN

Just to make a change from senseless ramblings about those money sucking parasites of society I thought I'd post something remotely useful.

One of the other Manx Lads and I recently bought PS3s to complete are gaming setups. I wasn't that fussed as having it as a gaming machine (the XBOX 360 is far superior in all things gaming) all I wanted it for was Blue-Ray play back and media streaming from my house server. It is black and shiny so it goes well with my TV.

To be honest I'm not impressed with the PS3 on the whole but what annoyed me more than anything about it was the flakiness of the media streaming from my wireless network. It just constantly drops out the wireless signal. Music is just about possible but movies are a no go. I wanted a media centre playback device but the PS3 isn't delivering for me. So I've been running tests for a couple of weeks now, hopefully some of this might help out other people having problems with their WLAN and the PS3.

For a start I seriously recommend hand entering all your network details into the PS3. SSID, IP etc etc Doing this and keeping to WEP security seemed to stop any intermittent 15-20 second drop outs. However there was still a serious problem with what appeared to be interference drop outs. Less regular but even more annoying. I've got a lot of wireless stuff in the house, cordless phones, 3 Bluetooth enabled mobile phones, wireless TV signal senders etc All this plus another 5 wireless networks in range. It was a real pain in the ass to narrow down what the problem was.

After some serious investigation I came to the conclusion that the wireless signal strength on every WLAN device in the house was dropping whenever the PS3 was on. The internet was almost impossible to use much to the wife and daughters annoyance. It was then that I had the idea of testing the PS3 controller (it is Bluetooth wireless and apparently plays nice with 802.11b/g/n networks). The tests were conclusive, the PS3 wireless controller seriously interferes with the wireless network in my house. Part of my final testing involved playing back a DVD with the controller turned of (could use the internet fine from any PC in the house) and finally streaming a movie from PC to PS3. With the controller left on play back would crash out after less than a minute. With the controller turned off I managed to watch several movies without any problems.

It should have been obvious really, when I first got the PS3 I had to do a system update, it took 6 hours with my 2Mb internet connection. I just performed another system update this time turning the controller off. It took less than 40 minutes.

What I've now discovered is that if I alter the wireless channel to 11 or greater that the Bluetooth PS3 controller doesn't interfere as much. Unfortunately with the number of wireless networks around where I live this isn't possible because I get such a weak signal anyway that it renders every PC more than 3 metres away unable to connect. So I'm left with the choice of using a low wireless channel (1,2,3) and having great wireless whenever the PS3 controller is turned off or using the high channels (11+) and having a generally poor signal but one the PS3 controller doesn't interfere with (as much).

For now I just live with the low channels and turn the PS3 controller off whenever it's not needed. Of course this means that the PS3 Shop and PS3 web browser are dog shit slow to the point where I can't use them. Luckily I don't use my PS3 for online gaming because if I did it would have gone back by now. My next move is going to be to buy the remote control for DVD/BR playback and give that a go, I'm sure that's also Bluetooth so I'm not hopeful of any great improvement.

From my own experience it's clear to me that the PS3 Wireless Controllers Bluetooth signal is shitting all over the lower channels of a 802.11b/g/n network.

So after messing around with new no fewer than 4 different wireless routers (and numerous settings) to try and solve this I finally found one that worked. It's the Linksys Wireless-N (available for less than 50 quid from Amazon). This routers range extension works amazingly well at the higher more crowded channels. The end result is a router that gives great range/speed and does not get interfered with from the PS3 controller all. Movie streaming here we come! So if you're having the same problems with your Netgear/PS3 controller I suggest you try switching over to that Linksys. I've considered billing Sony for mine but I don't think I'll get much joy out of them?


Anonymous said...

I have had the same problem with my PS3 and wireless network and I have found that if you plug in the USB lead to the controller, it is still usable without the bluetooth interference.
Not really ideal though!

PaulB said...

I do this from time to time as well, it's just a shame the supplied cable is so short.

Anonymous said...

"The Xbox360 is superior in all things gaming" Yea that explains why Metal Gear Solid IV isn't possible on the 360 without more than one disk...

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry anonymous, but apparently don't know the technology behind the PS3 and 360. The PS3 uses a different type of disc. I'm sure your familiar with Blu-ray, correct? Blu-ray holds much more data than a normal dual-layer DVD (which the 360 uses). It is not that the 360 can not handle the game as well, it is that the storage is different. In fact, it is fairly well known that games on the PS3 are much more buggy than on the Xbox 360. After the Orange Box, popular game maker Valve has refused to worked with the PS3 again. This was because it is near impossible to work with PS3's software unless you are from Sony. Fallout 3 had glitches where characters had disappeared, leaving nothing but floating eye balls. It also had periods where they sky would freak out.
Needless to say, that one example does not mean that PS3 is better than the Xbox 360.

By the way, I think the PS3 is an absolutely AMAZING machine. Universities have replaced super computers with just a few PS3s. It just sucks at gaming compared to Xbox.

Nick Hughes said...


I am having similar issues with my PS3 "Slim" model. At first, I thought it was the wireless adapter in the PS3, but like you, I have root caused the problem to the "PS3 Bluetooth Controller". Anytime the PS3 controller is turned on, my WLAN performance is awful! Other people mentioned it was my 2.4 GHz channel selection and/or requirement of disabled uPNP setting on PS3. These had nothing to do with the problem. The problem is Bluetooth vs 802.11 WIFI radio interference from what I can tell.

I have an Apple Airport Extreme Wireless router 2.4 / 5 GHz about 3 feet from the PS3. I see severe performance degradation (WLAN is very slot) whenever a PS3 Bluetooth Controller is turned on. I think this has something to do with Bluetooth interfering with the 2.4 GHz 802.11 protocol.

I wonder if XBox 360 has similar issues? I'm not sure of the radio technology or portion of the spectrum used in those controllers.

Hope this helps others.

Nick Hughes said...

I also wanted to add that additionally I live in a tight apartment complex. I have had many 2.4 GHz performance issues here because everyone has a router in these one bedroom units.

I suspect this may also be contributing to the issues between Bluetooth controllers and 2.4 GHz wireless network when PS3 is on.

PaulB said...

Nick, I run a number of 360's around the house and the wireless controllers don't interfere at all with LAN activity. The problem seems to be something very specific to the PS3 controllers (I can turn the problem on and off by plugging and unplugging my PS3 controllers). Using higher channels does seem to be the only real solution. Ever going from 2-3 up to 7 can make some positive difference, I realise this is hard if you're living somewhere where there are loads of wireless networks crapping all over each others channels. Home plugs are nice! :)