nat types

Explained: NAT Types for PS, Xbox & PC

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GamingExplained: NAT Types for PS, Xbox & PC

As a gamer, you’re somewhat accustomed to ‘NAT Type‘ and very well know how annoying it can be when trying to play a game online. Whether it’s on a gaming console or a gaming PC, the issue of a wrong NAT Type haunts on any gaming device.

This in-depth guide will explain the NAT Types on each gaming console (PlayStation 5, PS4, PS3, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and a PC) and what it means to have each NAT Type. The purpose is to make you aware of each NAT Type so that you know what it means to have a particular NAT Type.

Since this will be a comprehensive analysis, you can save your time with the summary of the article:

  • When you’re playing on a PlayStation console, the goal is to have NAT Type 2.
  • When you’re playing on an Xbox console, the goal is to have NAT Type Open.
  • The best way to change NAT Type is by port forwarding blocked ports in your router.

Learn about Port Forwarding

What is NAT?

Network Address Translation, better known as NAT, is a process where a network device, usually a firewall, assigns a public address to a computer inside a private network. For most things, NAT works excellent, but sometimes it breaks the Internet. Especially in gaming.

It looks like a simple process, but you may encounter a lot of complex issues while changing NAT. It happens because there are some limitations of NAT by the manufacturers, and you have to take care of them by yourself.

Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox are two major gaming consoles that are preferred by gamers around the world. Unfortunately, these gaming consoles suffer in a closed NAT environment.

Learn about NAT Filtering

What is NAT Type?

Though there is no industry-wide standard classification for the different NAT types users often see on their devices, these usually describe how strict your NAT configuration is within a certain context. NAT configuration depends on the device, so make sure to check them before making any changes.

How to Change NAT Type

Here’s how you can change NAT type on the following devices:

On PlayStation Devices (PS5, PS4 & PS3)

Sony came up with their variation for NAT Types with a number ranging from 1 to 3. According to Sony’s version, NAT Type 1 is the best, and NAT Type 3 is the worst. Here’s more on Sony’s NAT Types:

  • NAT Type 1 – Open: The system is connected directly to the Internet.
  • NAT Type 2 – Moderate: The system is connected to the Internet with a router.
  • NAT Type 3 – Strict: The system is connected to the Internet with a router.

While NAT Type 2 and NAT Type 3 may appear to be alike, they are, in fact, dissimilar.

NAT Type 1 – Open

As the name suggests, this is the open Type NAT that allows all the devices connected through the network to send and receive data. All the shared data is unrestricted, and there are no firewall configurations in place.

While this will help you get a better experience, it does attract a lot of risks. Any hacker can quickly get into your local area network as your ports are open. You can configure NAT type 1 on your router via the bridged mode.

The issue with bridging your router is that your PlayStation console will be the only device that can communicate with your network. In short, other devices won’t be able to connect to the network. Recommendation: don’t bridge your router.

NAT Type 2

NAT Type 2 is ideal when setting up your PlayStation for online gaming. To get NAT Type 2 on your PlayStation console, you’ll need to do one of the following:

  • Forward Sony Network’s ports on your router, or
  • Setup a DMZ in your router pointing at your PlayStation, or
  • Have a standalone UPnP compliant network, meaning a separate network with UPnP enabled.

By following any of the above methods, you should get NAT Type 2 on your PlayStation. Keep in mind that UPnP is a risky protocol to have enabled on your network. This is because it allows unknown software to infiltrate your router, putting your online privacy, security, and the devices connected to the network at risk.

NAT Type 2 means the following:

  • Your PlayStation console is connected behind a router.
  • Your router is forwarding the ports of your PlayStation and receiving incoming packets on the console.
  • You get requests from other players on your PlayStation console without any hindrances.
  • You can host multiplayer lobbies without any limitations on chat, video, etc.

If you have NAT Type 2, you are good to go. You don’t need to make any changes to your router.

NAT Type 3

NAT Type 3 is your worst enemy. If you’ve got NAT type 3, you know other players can’t connect to your PlayStation network while you can connect to theirs, meaning you can’t host a multiplayer game.

Being the host in a multiplayer game can drastically improve your chances of an optimal online gaming experience, as it has been known to reduce lag.

NAT Type 3 means the following:

  • Your router is unable to forward incoming connection requests to the PlayStation.
  • You are unable to host any multiplayer lobbies.
  • You can’t communicate via chat or video.

Having NAT Type 3 on your PlayStation means you won’t enjoy an excellent online gaming experience.

What is a Double NAT?

On Xbox Devices (Xbox Series X, Xbox One & Xbox 360)

Xbox is manufactured by Microsoft, who decided to name NAT Types as Open, Moderate, and Strict. Unlike Sony, where they have NAT type 1, 2 & 3, Microsoft’s version of the three different NAT Types are:

  • Open NAT: If you have Open NAT, it means you’re able to communicate with other people, easily join and host multiplayer games with anyone regardless of their NAT type.
  • Moderate NAT: A Moderate NAT type means you’re able to communicate and join multiplayer games with a few people. However, you won’t be able to hear or play with some players.
  • Strict NAT: A Strict NAT type means you’re only able to communicate and play multiplayer games with those online players who have an Open NAT type.

Think of NAT type 1 as Open NAT, NAT type 2 as Moderate NAT, and NAT type 3 as Strict NAT. Let’s get into the details of each NAT type:

NAT Type – Open

Just like how NAT type 1 is an ideal NAT to have for your PlayStation device, NAT type Open is the goal when playing an online game on Xbox. To get NAT Type Open on your Xbox console (Xbox One & Xbox 360), you need to do one of the following:

  • Forward Xbox Live ports on your router, or
  • Setup a DMZ in your router pointing at your PlayStation, or
  • Have a dedicated UPnP-supported network, meaning a separate internet network with UPnP enabled.

By following any of the methods mentioned above, you should easily get NAT Type Open on your Xbox. However, port forwarding is the best method to configure NAT Type Open.

Keep in mind that if you opt for UPnP, it could compromise your online privacy and security. It’s recommended that you have UPnP turned off on our routers for optimal online privacy and security.

NAT Type Open means the following:

  • Your router is aware that ports are being forwarded, and it forwards incoming packets. The port number is 3074.
  • Your Xbox will receive game requests from other players.
  • You can now host multiplayer lobbies without any limitations on chat or video.

If you have NAT Type Open on your Xbox, you don’t need to make any changes.

NAT Type Moderate

This NAT type is better than having strict NAT. However, it can’t be said that it’s as good as an Open NAT. This is because sometimes things are not going to work smoothly, while there will be times where they won’t work at all for a few days.

Moderate NAT means you might experience more significant lags due to higher pings and difficulty joining game lobbies and communicating with other online players. Not to mention that you will be unable to be a host.

NAT Type Moderate means the following:

  • Your router is forwarding ports to your Xbox console.
  • UPnP might work at times and might not work sometimes.
  • Some ports on your router might be forwarded, while others might not.
  • At the same time, your router might be blocking ports, which will cause severe interruptions.

If you’re getting NAT Type Moderate, you’ll eventually have to forward ports in your router to your Xbox. This way, you’ll get NAT Type Open.

NAT Type Strict

Having NAT Type Strict on your Xbox is the worst. A Strict NAT Type means you do not have your ports forwarded correctly. A strict NAT type can also occur when you configure more than one router on your main network provided by your ISP.

NAT Type Strict means the following:

  • Your Xbox is connected to a router that’s behind at least one router.
  • Your router is not forwarding incoming connection requests to the Xbox.
  • You won’t be able to host any multiplayer lobbies, communicate with other online players, or have a video conference.

If you have NAT Type Strict, you’ll have to forward ports in your router to your Xbox. By forwarding ports, you’ll get NAT Type Open.

Learn how to change NAT Type on Xbox devices

PC NAT Types

NAT types are the same when it comes to consoles and PC devices. Since most PC gaming takes place on Microsoft systems, you’ll likely get NAT Type Open, NAT Type Moderate, and NAT Type Strict during your online games.

When you’re gaming on a PC, you’ll get your NAT Type displayed within the game. However, when you’re gaming on a console, to locate your NAT Type, you’ll have to head over to the dashboard of the console.

If you’re getting NAT Type Strict or NAT Type Moderate while you’re gaming on a PC, refer to the above Xbox section to configure NAT Type Open on your PC.

Learn how to change NAT Type on a PC

A Comparison of NAT Types

If you don’t want to read through the in-depth details, here’s a visual representation of NAT Types:

Platform Great Not Good Bad
PlayStation 5, PS4, PS3 NAT Type 1 or 2 None NAT Type 3
Xbox Series X, Xbox One, 360 NAT Type Open NAT Type Moderate NAT Type Strict
PC NAT Type Open NAT Type Moderate NAT Type Strict

By looking at this chart, it’s fair to assume that NAT Type Open is the one you should have on your PC, PlayStation, and Xbox devices.

If you think you’re good with NAT Type Moderate, it won’t be for long, so better to have NAT Type Open configured on your router for the optimal online gaming experience.

NAT Type Open vs NAT Type 1

NAT Type Open and NAT Type 1 are not just different in terms of labels but also in functionality. Sony clearly mentions that you need to connect the device directly to the internet to get a NAT Type 1 connection. But in Microsoft’s case, you do not get any such instructions. On the contrary, Microsoft’s NAT Type Open can work in both states: with and without a router.

Another distinction is that you can get your Xbox Series X to report a NAT Type Open connection through forwarding ports, setting up DMZ, and making sure that your router is UPnP compliant. But you cannot do the same with your PlayStation 5 because Sony often tends to keep you on NAT Type 2 instead of NAT Type 1 even if you forward ports or set up DMZ.

Learn more about How to Open Ports on Your Router

NAT Type Strict vs NAT Type 3

Both the NAT Type Strict and NAT Type 3 are bad or undesirable connections, and you would not want to use either option because both connection types mean that your device cannot accept incoming connections. In other words, you can connect to others, and chat or play with other players, but you cannot host.

To be able to host games and play smoothly with other players, you ought to have a NAT Type 2 or NAT Type Open connection, which you can get by setting up port forwarding.

Ather Owais Ather Owais is a tech and cybersecurity enthusiast. He is a strong advocate for online privacy and security, following technological trends and their impact on today's digital era.

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