Voice chat is now standard fare in video gaming communities. Gone are the days when you had to share a couch to socialize The 7 Best Couch Co-Op Games on the PC The 7 Best Couch Co-Op Games on the PC Today, we're going to run down some of the best local co-op games available on the PC, as well as advice on how to get the most out of them. Read More while playing. Why bother when you can stay at home and chat over the internet all the same? The technology exists!
But with so many options available, you may be confused as to which one is right for you and your circle of friends. We’ll show you the five best voice chat solutions for gaming and each of their pros and cons.
Discord is a free app that runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and as a web app (not as feature-rich as the desktop versions as far as voice configuration). If you’ve ever used Slack or IRC, then you’ll feel right at home on Discord. In addition to voice chat, Discord supports text chat and video chat (for up to 10 people).
Anyone can create a “Discord server” for free. Users can join as many servers as they want, and each server is essentially its own independent community. Servers can have text channels and voice channels, and the server owner can tweak pretty much everything about it. Discord hosts the servers itself.
In other words, you and your friends can get set up and running within minutes. Servers are private and people can only join them through invite links (a “public” server is one with a permanent public invite link that anyone can use). Discord has many social features Discord: The Best Free Voice Chat for Gamers Yet Discord: The Best Free Voice Chat for Gamers Yet Are you a gamer struggling to find a reliable voice chat app to talk to your friends? Struggle no more! Here are all the reasons Discord is the best chat client out there for gamers. Read More beyond just the voice chat client, making it one of the best social networks for gamers 3 Awesome Social Networks Just for Gamers 3 Awesome Social Networks Just for Gamers Are you looking for a social network where you can meet other like-minded gamers? Here are the best sites to check out if you need a bit more gaming chatter in your life. Read More .
Since all servers are hosted through Discord, an outage means all Discord servers go down and you can’t do anything about it except wait.
Furthermore, Discord servers are only hosted in the following locations: U.S. East, U.S. Central, U.S. West, U.S. South, Europe West, Europe Central, Russia, Brazil, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia. If you’re outside those regions, then latency may cause intolerable delays in voice chat.
Discord may actually be a bit overkill if you only want voice chat. It’s best to use if you’re already participating in a few other Discord servers, in which case you’ll already be running the Discord app and have nothing to lose.
Mumble is a free and open-source app that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. On mobile, you can use a third-party app: Plumble for Android and Mumblefy for iOS. It’s mainly used for voice chat, though it also supports primitive text chat.
Mumble specializes in low-latency communication What Is A Ping, And Is Zero Ping Possible? What Is A Ping, And Is Zero Ping Possible? Ping is a command used to measure the latency between two devices on a network. When your internet feels fast, you're experiencing a low ping. But why does your ping change, and how can you... Read More , which makes it great for high-octane games with lots of fast action, especially ones that involve teamplay. It can also do positional audio based where you are in the game world, but this is only supported on some games (such as most Source Engine games and Guild Wars 2 ).
Everything is in your control. If you want to host a server, you just download the server version of Mumble and run it on your computer. Then everyone else downloads the client version of Mumble to connect to your IP address. You can create channels to keep everything organized.
If you want 24/7 uptime without leaving your computer on all the time, you can buy Mumble server hosting. Expect to pay about $2.50 per month per five slots, although the price-per-slot drops drastically as slots increase. And you can get hefty discounts by paying for multiple months at once instead of going monthly.
You can only connect to one Mumble server at a time.
The clunky interface is probably its worst aspect, followed by the learning curve. While Mumble is extremely easy to use once you get familiarized, that initial experience can be pretty frustrating, especially when you’re trying to set up the server software on your computer and can’t figure out why your friends can’t connect. (Hint: You needport forwarding What Is Port Forwarding & How Can It Help Me? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is Port Forwarding & How Can It Help Me? [MakeUseOf Explains] Do you cry a little inside when someone tells you there’s a port forwarding problem and that’s why your shiny new app won’t work? Your Xbox won’t let you play games, your torrent downloads refuse... Read More !)
TeamSpeak is a free app that runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS (the mobile apps are client apps only). TeamSpeak is very similar to Mumble in design and operation, but offers some unique features while also falling short in certain aspects.
TeamSpeak has an easy-to-use interface withhigh-quality audio How Audio Compression Works, and Can You Really Tell the Difference? How Audio Compression Works, and Can You Really Tell the Difference? In this article, we'll take a look at how music compression works, and whether it has any real effect on how your music actually sounds. Read More , though with slightly more latency than Mumble. However, the difference is negligible in most cases.
TeamSpeak also has a flexible and powerful permissions system that allows different users to have control over different areas of the server based on their “power level.” The permissions also divide into groups, so you can grant control over a channel to one user and grant control over the server to another. This makes community management much easier.
Like Mumble, you can self-host TeamSpeak or you can pay for hosting.
You can only connect to one TeamSpeak server at a time.
Self-hosted TeamSpeak servers have a maximum capacity of 32 simultaneous users. If you request and acquire a non-commercial non-profit license, you can raise that limit to 512. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay an annual fee based on maximum capacity. Not a big deal for private groups of friends, but a possible deal-breaker for public communities.
The options above are the Big Three, and almost every gamer develops a preference for one of them. If you don’t like any of them for whatever reason, there are two other voice chat solutions you can use. But be warned: they have some glaring flaws.
Hangouts lets you make free voice calls to other Hangouts users, plus video conferences with up to 10 total participants. It’s fine for lounging around with fellow gaming friends, but not the best for actual gaming because the quality isn’t optimized for it, you don’t have options for push-to-talk, and there’s no persistence between calls.
Skype is more fit for gaming because you can have persistent group chats between voice chats, but the Skype software itself leaves much to be desired. It’s buggy and prone to errors 6 Things You Should Check First When Skype Does Not Work 6 Things You Should Check First When Skype Does Not Work Got issues with Skype? These six troubleshooting steps will solve most common Skype problems. Sometimes, however, the problems aren't on your end. Read More , plus the voice quality is generally bad and has a distinct Skype “tinnyness” to it. But if you decide to use it anyway, here are some tips for more efficient Skype usage 10 Tips To Make You a More Efficient Skype User 10 Tips To Make You a More Efficient Skype User Skype can do more than you think. With this article, you'll learn all about its best hidden and advanced features. It's the Skype productivity manual. Read More .
I personally use Discord and haven’t looked back since. Once you’ve picked a voice chat client, you’ll want to make this quick router tweak to eliminate lag How to Fix Gaming & Video Lag With an Easy Router Tweak How to Fix Gaming & Video Lag With an Easy Router Tweak Tired of network lag when other people are watching videos and downloading torrents? Here's how to reclaim your network performance without any third-party tools. Read More , and you don’t even need a gaming router for it What Do Gaming Routers Do And Does It Really Matter What Do Gaming Routers Do And Does It Really Matter Hardware companies target gamers with all kinds of special gaming hardware. There are gaming mice, keyboards, headsets, sound cards, and more. There are now even "gaming routers" -- routers specially marketed towards gamers offering an... Read More . Lastly, to truly maximum performance, you should tweak your PC for gaming 5 Solid Tweaks to Optimize Your Computer For Gaming 5 Solid Tweaks to Optimize Your Computer For Gaming If your computer doesn't handle games like it used to, it might just need some quick maintenance. Here are five ways any PC gamer can improve their machine's performance. Read More and tweak Windows 10 for gaming 7 Methods to Optimize Windows 10 For Gaming 7 Methods to Optimize Windows 10 For Gaming A growing number of gamers are using Windows 10. With these simple tweaks, you will be able to enjoy the best gaming experience Windows 10 has to offer! Read More .
Are you leaning towards Discord, Mumble, or TeamSpeak? Or do Hangouts and Skype seem more appealing? Did we miss any alternatives? Share with us down in the comments!