Lag. The eternal nightmare of gamers. While we tend to blame lag on merely having a bad network connection, it is likely the result of high ping. Typical red flags are if the visuals start getting jumpy. When you notice other players popping in and out of your screen, or you’re darting around yourself, it’s probably a ping issue.
Slow gameplay is a pain that no gamer should ever have to experience. We are continually looking for ways to increase our speed. I don’t know about you, but I’ll admit I’ve moved closer to my router, moved it to higher shelves and turned it off and on again many times. Understanding ping and why it’s so high is essential to fixing the issue.
There isn’t one sure-fire way to lower your ping. Many factors will contribute to high ping and equally as many tactics that can be used to reduce it. In this article, we will dive into what exactly ping is, how to measure your ping and the steps you can take to lower it. Especially if you’re an online gamer, this guide will help you keep that ping low, and your games running smoothly.
Having a low ping is super crucial for all online gamers. It will reduce latency and help you achieve better overall gameplay.
What Is Ping?
Having a speedy internet connection comes down to a few different factors. The most common that people tend to look at is the download and upload speeds. While these are naturally important, the ping is equally as important. Never heard of ping? You wouldn’t be the only one. The ping is your computer’s response time. It is the time that it will take for your computer to react to information received from other networks. It determines the time in exact milliseconds needed for data to make a full loop from the host device to yours and back again.
For this reason, you want to lowest ping time you can get. That means that it takes the least amount of time to respond to any requests delivered. In the online gaming world, you can usually see your ping time in-game. It will also show the ping time of the other players and available game servers.
It’s not only gamers who will notice the impact of high ping time. As high ping affects the rate at which your computer sends and receives information, it can cause delays when dealing with any media. It’s just more of a concern for the gaming community. In games like first-person shooters or racing games, your position and speed of reaction impact the entire game. For example, if you shoot someone who has a lower ping than you, they will probably have moved before your bullet even hits them. On the flip side, if a player shoots you, you won’t see it coming until it’s too late. Being on the higher end of the ping spectrum can lead to a ton of frustration during gameplay.
In short-form, ping is a network utility program that calculates latency.
What Is Latency?
The term ping describes the signal that travels from one device to another. Latency refers to the time, in milliseconds, in which the ping takes to return to your device. It refers to the full trip, from your device to the other and back. Latency does not define the entire speed of your connection, just the ping.
Though they are quite similar, ping and latency refer to slightly different aspects of data exchange. Latency is frequently used interchangeably with ping, so you may see it pop up on occasion. For example, you might hear people say low or high latency. What they are likely talking about is ping.
Two factors define the speed of your network connection. Latency is one piece of the puzzle, but the other part is the bandwidth. Bandwidth refers to how much information transmits during a certain amount of time. Both of these aspects combined are what defines your overall network connection.
What Speeds Dictate High and Low Ping?
Most standard connections will sit around 100 ms or less. As long as you have under 100 ms, then you should experience decent speed and seamless gameplay.
If your ping is 20 ms or less than you have an exceptionally low ping. For gamers, this is the most desirable level to have. 50 ms is very fast, and 100 ms is about average. If you’ve got a ping of 150 ms or above, you’ve got a very high ping. You’ll want to read on if your ping is that high as you most likely have experienced lag as a result.
With a ping over 150 ms, you’ll experience a lag in your games. Sometimes, players are even booted from the game if their ping is this high. Especially in fps games, a high ping may imbalance the game, as you’ll likely be getting hit left, right, and center.
Can Your High Ping Affect Others In-game?
As stated above, your high ping may imbalance some online games. In shooter games, the inequality comes as you are likely to become an easy target to players with lower pings. It won’t affect other players per se, as their experience won’t change. Just because your ping is high doesn’t mean it will slow anything down for them. It just means you will be easier to spot, as it will be lagging on your end.
The same goes for racing games. You’ll likely lose control over your vehicle quickly with the lag that accompanies your high ping. Again, other players will not feel the impact of your slower speeds or delays. You will just be easier to beat.
What is Lag?
Lag and ping are not the same things. Lag is the delay experienced on account of high ping. It is incredibly frustrating to experience a delay in the middle of gameplay as you will lose control of your player. In games that require quick reflexes, this can dramatically influence the outcome of the game. You’ll experience frozen screens, glitches, and even end up disconnected from the server.
Having a high ping isn’t the only reason you may experience a lag in a game. It can also be due to the device you’re using. If one or more of the components in your computer aren’t performing correctly, it can lead to lag. Low memory is a prime suspect for this, and also an inadequate CPU or graphics card.
Measuring Your Ping
You can check the speed of your ping by doing an online speed test. Even if you have the best gaming equipment on the market, a high ping will give you a huge disadvantage.
There are many free speed tests online that you can use to check your upload, download and ping speed quickly. For an accurate speed reading, you should do a few tests. It’s best to do them at different times of the day to give you the average speed of your connection. You want to get a good general idea of your ping when your network is more congested, whichever time that is for you. Maybe you have more people using the connection in the evening, so make sure you check it at its peak. You’ll also want to check the ping at low peak times and when no one else is using the connection for download or upload. It will give you a better sense of what you’re working with all around.
It’s also a good idea to check the ping on multiple devices that you have linked to your network. For example, run a test on a laptop that’s connected wirelessly. Then, perform a test on one that is plugged directly into the modem. Sometimes, running these tests can shed some light on what the issue is in the first place. In the above scenario, it may identify that your router is the issue and not the connection itself.
If you want to check the ping to a site or server, in particular, you can do that too. It requires a bit of technical know-how, but we can walk you through it. Just open up your Command Prompt and type “ping” then a space and then paste in the URL of the website you want to check. If it’s a server, paste in the IP address instead of the URL.
There are tons of speed test options online, all about equal in terms of accuracy. Regardless of which you choose, make sure you restart your device before running the test. Start by testing with your device plugged into the router with an Ethernet cable. Once you’ve done, run a few un-wired tests. Try from a few different points in your home, starting with near the router and then again father away.
Inevitably, when you’re plugged directly into your router, your ping will be slightly lower. The overall speed of your connection will always be faster when plugged into your router. Understandably, it’s not always possible when using your device.
Why Is Your Ping So High?
Many factors can contribute to your high ping, but not all of them are your fault. Let’s take a look at a few things that could be causing your high ping.
The Game Server
If you’re experiencing lag and high ping while gaming, it could be the game’s fault. We recommend checking the game’s ping to a third party. You can do this online. Find one with a location that is the closest to where you are for the most accurate results. Then you can check your ping to the game and compare the two. If you have a high ping, while the third party has a low ping, then it’s likely that you’re the one at fault. Not the game. If the third party is also experiencing a high ping, then it’s probably the game that is at fault.
Bandwidth can also play a role in your unusually high ping. If you’ve not got much bandwidth, it can lead to glitching and latency problems. It will go up and down, depending on how congested your network is with others. So, especially during on-peak times in your household, you’ll likely end up with high ping.
If you’re playing any cloud-based games, then you’ll need a good chunk of bandwidth. Cloud games are server-based and not run directly from your computer. Because of this, your computer and the game are continually exchanging information for it to keep running. With a low bandwidth, you could run into some issues.
If you do have low bandwidth, then you can try playing your games at low peak times, when others aren’t hogging it. Another quick fix could be to lower the graphics quality of the game. Lower graphics qualities are more manageable for your computer to process.
How to Reduce Ping
So, you know you’ve got a high ping and some of the issues that may be causing it. But not all is lost. There are many different steps you can take to lower your ping. There isn’t one solution that will work for everyone, so you may have to test many, to all of these suggestions to see which works for you.
We recommend going through this list and making the suggested changes and alterations. That way, you will find the source of the problem quickly and be able to get back to seamless gaming.
1. Close All Other Programs
You should always get in the habit of closing any programs you have running on your computer. Otherwise, you’re just asking for lag. You may not even realize there are things still running. The best way to ensure everything is shut down is to do so through your task manager. If you open it up, you’ll be able to see everything that’s operating, even programs that are in the background. Closing them down will allow your computer to focus all its juice into running the game.
Your network connection could be excellent, but if your computer has multiple programs running in the background, your bandwidth will get overloaded.
It’s also important to note that if you use a torrent, make sure to turn it off. Torrents will suck the most bandwidth out of anything. There should be no downloads active when you’re trying to run a game.
2. Optimize Your Signal Strength
Ensuring that you’re receiving the best possible signal from your router is also an excellent way to lower your ping. You want your router to perform to the best of its capabilities, and there are a few things you can do to help that.
Firstly, make sure that you’ve placed your router in an open area in your home. The less structural obstructions, the better. Believe it or not, but physical barriers can slow down your signal. So, find somewhere to put it where it’s got lots of space. You’ll also want it to be as high off the ground as possible. The signal coming from the router tends to project downwards. So, if you can get it higher, you’ll get a more direct signal.
Routers also have internal and external antennas. While you can’t control the interior, you can control the outer. Try to point all the antennas away from each other by about 45 degrees or so. You’ll want them pointing different ways so that your router receives as much signal as possible. If you’ve only got one antenna, play around with it a bit between speed checks to see if one way is better than the other.
3. Ensure Others Aren’t Hogging the Bandwidth
If you live with others or share your Wi-Fi, it’s a possibility they are hogging all your bandwidth. Especially if they are downloading huge files or constantly streaming in 4K. It’s worth chatting to others in your household to see what their internet habits are. That way, you can either try to avoid gaming at certain times when you know your ping will be high. The more people that are using the network, the higher your ping is going to be.
4. Keep Your PC Virus Free
Much like when we are sick, when your computer has a virus, it doesn’t run at its top potential. Malware and Trojan viruses will eat up the bandwidth, and your computer won’t be able to handle it. You should make sure to have a good anti-virus in place, so your computer is protected from infection. It doesn’t hurt to run a malware removal tool every once in a while, as well.
Not only will this be beneficial when you’re gaming, but it will also keep your personal details protected as well.
5. Select the Nearest Servers
If you’re playing an online game that has multiple servers, always try to pick the one that is closest to your location. If the game server is physically closer to you than it will be easier for your computer to communicate with it. Thus, resulting in a lower ping.
Some games will not give you the option to select a server and auto-select one for you. In those cases, there’s not a lot you can do with this step. But many do give you the option to choose between servers.
6. Use a Wired Connection
The high ping you are experiencing could also be a result of your wireless connection. Do a speed check both with your computer wired to your router and wireless. If the ping is significantly lower when you’re connected than it’s most likely the wireless that’s an issue.
The obvious way to solve this is to keep your device connected directly to the router via an ethernet cable. Or at least link to it when you are planning on gaming. That way, you will have the lowest possible ping you can get on your network. Using a wired connection is always ideal, so set try to set up your router in the room you use for gaming. It isn’t always possible when you’ve got many people in the house who all want a good connection. But if you can manage it, then plugging into the router will give you a reliable and speedy connection.
It’s a good idea to check that our router is correctly plugged into your modem as well. It’s easy for the connectors to loosen as time goes on, so your ping could be down to the wires coming loose. We recommend having a look at this first before assuming you’ll have to stay plugged into your router forever.
7. Reset Your Router
The most straightforward suggestion, as silly as it sounds, is simply to turn your router off and on again. Restarting your router gives it a chance to reset and release any overload or congestion. Unplug the router and leave it for a couple of minutes. Then, turn it back on, and it should resume functioning as usual. Hopefully, your ping will be lower.
You can also try restarting your router through the router admin panel. Here, you can clear out the cache, which helps to reduce your ping.
8. Turn Your Updates Off
For your computer to function at its peak, it needs to update continuously. With the introduction of system tweaks, your computer will auto-update its software to the newest version. While, of course, you want all the latest features for your computer, you need to prioritize.
Updates can be a considerable bandwidth sucker. Some programs, like anti-virus, will update every day. So, if you want to lower your ping, turn those updates off. Make sure that whenever you jump on the computer to begin gaming, you have all your updates turned off. They can be turned on or set to update at a more convenient time, like when you’re asleep.
9. Clean Up Your Computer
We don’t just mean emptying your recycling bin. Although clearing space on your computer is always a good idea. Physically cleaning your computer of dirt and dust can also affect your ping. Dust will accumulate on your computer and its components over time. It can lead to overheating as your components will not be getting the ventilation that they need. Overheating will slow down the computer as a whole since everything will be running in overdrive.
Give everything a good wipe down a couple of times a month to make sure everything continues to run smoothly.
10. Get a Dedicated Gaming Server
If you are still struggling with high ping, you may want to look into getting a dedicated gaming server. They will allow you to connect to your game through an exclusive route. The only person that will have access to the path is you. That means they cannot get congested or be affected by others eating up the bandwidth.
While you will have to pay for this service, it could be worth it if none of the above suggestions have worked to lower your ping. If you’re serious about your gaming, then we’d recommend it.
11. Get A New Router
It could very well be your router that is the problem. If you’ve gone through everything and are still struggling, it may be time to cut your losses and buy a new one. Many times, the stock one you receive from your provider cannot keep up with the needs of gamers. There are so many fantastic routers on the market that have been created specifically for gaming purposes. Each one has unique features that will offer perks that will benefit you.
Having a dedicated gaming computer, with quality components will help, but if your ping is high, you’ll still have lag. Gaming routers can route your signal onto the quickest pathway to the gaming server. They can also give precedence to gaming traffic, meaning that you’ll receive more of the bandwidth than others using your network. For example, if your brother is downloading movies, it won’t impact your ping or speed in general. It is called Quality of Service, and if you do decide to buy a gaming router, make sure it has this feature.
The gaming routers don’t come cheap. Ideally, you’ll follow the other steps first to see if you can lower your ping. But if you’ve got the budget, a gaming router is a sure-fire way to ensure you always have the lowest ping and fastest connection.
12. Change Providers
If you’ve gone through all of our suggestions and nothing is lowering your ping, it might be time to contact your ISP (internet service provider). Let them know about the issues you are having, and hopefully, they can identify what the issue is. Ideally, they can fix the problem and improve your speed remotely. If they can’t detect any problems, then you might want to look into another provider.
If your current ISP can’t deliver the connection, you need than the last option is to swap to one that can. Some providers have bandwidth limiting functions that inhibit your bandwidth during peak usage times. Try to find a provider that puts no restrictions on your bandwidth, regardless of time. If you’re on a contract, then let’s hope you’re near the end.
Another option is to upgrade to a better connection from your current provider. If you’re on broadband, check if your provider offers fiber. Though it’s more expensive, prices are slowly coming down as providers compete for clients.
With all the above steps in your arsenal, you can defeat pesky high ping. Everyone is subject to different factors that influence ping and latency, but there is always a fix for it. Get your gaming back on track and get that ping lowered!