A fast internet connection is practically a necessity in the modern age, but it’s an especially important consideration for gamers. If you like to get involved in online gaming, a little bit of latency can actually mean the difference between a win and a loss. But many people don’t understand how to test the quality of their connection. It largely comes down to the ping.
But what is ping? In short, it’s the measure of how fast your computer can send packets out to other servers over the internet connection and receive it back. In other words, it’s shorthand for exactly how fast your internet is running. You’ll want to lower your ping if you experience game lag or download lag. But there’s no one singular way to improve your ping rate and network connection. We’ll cover the steps you can take in the most appropriate order. If the first step doesn’t help you lower your ping, one of the steps that follow surely will.
Compare Local and Wireless Connections
If you’re trying to lower ping for a better gaming experience, the first thing to do is to diagnose what the source of the problem is. The best way to accomplish that is via a speed test, but as with any appropriate experiment, you’ll need both control and experimental variables. For that reason, you’ll want to connect a laptop directly to your modem with an ethernet cable, run a speed test, and compare it to a test from whatever device you’re having trouble with.
If there isn’t a significant distinction between the speed of your wired and wireless device, the problem with latency in your games may have to do with an outdated or failing modem. If there is a difference, then the issue comes from somewhere else. You can follow the steps below to diagnose exactly what that intermediary internet network problem is.
Find Closer Servers
If you’re having trouble with lag, game settings may be able to handle it without you having to do any sort of network configuration. By shortening the connection between your computer and the game servers, you can lower ping dramatically. Most online game platforms let you pick your game server manually, and picking one that’s as local as possible can increase your gaming experience in a very big way. Finding a game server in your country is a good start, but finding one in the same time zone or even the same state is even better.
But finding a local game server isn’t the only consideration you want to make sure to pay attention to. When you choose your server in-game, there will often be indicators of how good the ping is over the internet network as well as how crowded it is. Less crowded games servers will almost always provide you with less latency and a lower ping rate.
Reposition Your Device
Your internet connection may broadcast over thin air, but that doesn’t mean that distance can’t affect it. The further your gaming console or computer is from your router, the less powerful a signal it’s going to have. And walls and other obstructions can similarly have a major impact on the quality of the wireless connection. If it’s not too difficult to do so, we suggest moving your device closer to your router or your router closer to your device.
If you really want the best network ping for when you play games, your best option is to do away with the wireless signal entirely. By connecting your game console or computer directly to your modem with an ethernet cable instead of over a Wi-Fi connection, you’ll get a significantly lower ping, and your game experience will benefit greatly when it has a direct, wired connection to your network.
Force Close Background Software
One of the major causes for a reduced ping rate during gaming is that your game has to share the network connection with other software or apps. By closing this background software, you can free up your available bandwidth, lower your ping, and have a better overall gaming experience. You can manually close background software using the task manager, and the task manager can also give you some insight into how much bandwidth various different pieces of software are hogging.
Updates are important for the overall safety of your computer, but pausing updates can provide you with a short term solution. It won’t provide you with the lower ping rate you need to play games at the speed you want all the time, but updates can definitely hog some bandwidth. You may want to automatically schedule updates to happen at times when you aren’t using your computer.
Reduce the Connected Devices
Individual software programs can quickly eat up bandwidth, but multiple connected devices can choke out your bandwidth even more. For that reason, you may want to check what devices are connected to the internet. More advanced routers allow you to prioritize different devices or even programs when in comes to the ping rates for internet, and that’s great for when you play games. You can also disconnect mobile devices from your internet or put them in airplane mode when you play games.
Reset Your Modem and Router
If your modem and router have been running non-stop for months or years at a time, they can start to experience reduced effectiveness. The first step you can take is simply unplugging both the router and modem for 30 seconds and then plugging them back in, but if that doesn’t produce any results, you may want to hard reset them.
Replace Your Router
If nothing else works, it’s about time to get a new router. Not all routers are built of the same quality, and there are some high-quality models that are designed specifically for people who play games. You can check out our guide to the top 10 gaming routers if you do need to replace your router.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Fix a High Ping?
A bad ping rate can have a lot of causes. Our guide above can help you understand all the steps you can follow so you can diagnose the problem appropriately.
What is a Good Ping for Gaming?
If you’re playing a seriously competitive game, the lower the ping, the better. For a first-person shooter game or fighting game, you’ll want a ping of 40 to 60 milliseconds or lower.
What is Considered a Good Ping?
If you aren’t a gamer, you should be just fine with a ping of 100 milliseconds or so, but if you want to play a game over your internet connection, you’ll want a ping of about half that.
If your internet isn’t working as well as it should, don’t go out right away and buy a new router. Our guide above can guide you through the process. But if you do need to replace some equipment, be sure to look at our guide to the best gaming routers or our guide to the best gaming modems in 2022.