DTIM Interval (Period) Best Setting

DTIM Interval goes hand in hand with the Beacon interval setting. Without going into the technical details, we will explain what DTIM interval does, and when and how to use the best setting for the DTIM interval option.

Please note that this is a “layman’s” guide where we will explain the settings and reasoning as simple as possible. We will try not to into heavy technical details, but instead give you clear examples on how to make the best of the DTIM period settings with your personal home or even office setup.

What does DTIM interval mean?
DTIM stands for Delivery traffic indication map or message. It is basically an additional message added after the normal beacon broadcast by your router or access point.

Depending on the timing set for your router, the router “buffers” broadcast and multicast data and let your mobile devices or clients know when to “wake up” to receive those data.

The more often that DTIM is transmitted, the more often that your mobile devices wake up, and the more battery that it uses (due to the lack of “sleep”). By setting a low value of DTIM and beacon interval, you can effectively keep your devices awake indefinitely so they never go into sleep mode when idling. In some cases the “no sleep” setup can use up to 10~20% additional power consumption.

The following is a tool-tip message when you check for DTIM setting for Asus branded routers: DTIM (Delivery Traffic Indication Message) is included in Beacon packet. The DTIM interval (1-255) means the peroid of time to wake up wireless clients from Sleep Mode. The default value is 3.

Router settings typically let you setup the “DTIM Interval” where you can calculate the DTIM period. However, some routers may also let you setup the period directly but that is rare.

DTIM interval explained and how to calculate DTIM period
The DTIM count is the frequency of data transmissions per each beacon broadcast. For example, a value of 1 will have DTIM broadcast every beacon, and a value of 100 will have DTIM broadcast every 100 beacon.

Now, depending on your beacon interval, you can calculate the frequency of DTIM broadcast in terms of time period. If you have a beacon interval of 100 ms and a DTIM value of 1, the DTIM is transmitted every 100 ms which equates to 10 times per second. If you have a beacon interval of 1000 ms and a DTIM value of 2, the DTIM is transmitted once every two second.

How is DTIM period activated?
DTIM period or interval is activated whenever one of the device within your network uses power save mode. When one devices enable power save mode, the AP will use DTIM for all the devices connected to that particular SSID and buffer the data messages. Otherwise, the router or access point sends out the messages right away if no clients in your network has enabled power save mode.

So if you do not want to use DTIM, make sure that all the devices connected do not use power save mode. However, most of the mobile devices such as Android or Iphone now generally automatically implements DTIM features so the chances are pretty high that your home network or access point will take advantage of the power save mode.

How to Fine Tune DTIM setting high or low
In most home use cases such as gaming or general internet use, the default value set by your router manufacturer is sufficient (it usually range from 1 to 3 as default). The highest value is usually 255 for most brands of routers. The setting can be typically found under the professional or advanced setting of your router’s wireless setup section.

However, if your goal is to really optimize it for battery life purpose, you could start by setting the DTIM interval value to as high as allowed. You may also enjoy some fringe and minor performance benefit by keeping your other inactive devices “asleep” while doing your main task such as online gaming.

It should be noted that the battery life saving feature is automatically enabled when your wireless adapter goes “idle”, it makes no effect while you are actively using your client such as mobile devices, laptop, or desktop while performing your everyday tasks.

When you setup the DTIM interval to the highest allowed value, the main benefit is that you will be able to enjoy the full effect of the battery saving feature. However, you should always monitor your router’s and device’s wireless performance for any problems. Some weaker routers may not be able to buffer a long holding period, which can potentially crash the router or causing data to be lost. You may also want to lower the value if you notice frequent drop in signal connection. Some devices drop the signal when they do not receive transmission from the beacon or miss several data transmission.

If you notice certain applications that you run in your household start acting funky, lower the DTIM interval value. The application that usually have trouble with high DTIM rates include VoIP, mirroring, airplay, and certain multicast / broadcast specific applications. In addition, certain applications may straight out specify the value of DTIM timing on their best value recommendation.

The default setting appears to be the most stable in most cases. If you have time sensitive or time critical applications, you are generally required to keep the DTIM broadcast rate at roughly 5~10 times per second to ensure smoothness of the software application. This means a beacon period of 100 ms / DTIM value of 1 or 2.

For office or work use, if you are using broadcast or multicast messages / data, you want to start fine tuning with a low value of DTIM period value and gradually add to that value. It is really a fine tuning process for you to determine the best balance between the application’s actual multicast / broadcast utility needs versus the power consumption of your end user’s client devices.

In a time sensitive environment, many applications usually cannot handle a long time between each broadcast and multicast messages, it can result in time lag and poor performance, which can be dangerous in highly time critical situations that usually correspond with a work environment such as medical uses.

Relevant Search Information
DTIM interval Asus.
DTIM interval Aruba.
DTIM Beacon Interval
DTIM period Uverse.
DTIM interval Linksys.
DTIM interval D-Link.
DTIM interval Cisco.
DTIM interval Netgear.


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