Why do video games have delays

Online games: how to lower the ping

Birgit Götz, Lewis Painter

If you keep struggling with lags while playing online games, then you need to check your ping. We explain how to shorten ping times, reduce latency and improve online gaming.

EnlargeIf quick reactions are required, the online game should run smoothly

If you play online and keep getting game lag, the ping may be too high. We explain exactly what a ping is and how to lower it to reduce delays in online games.

What is ping

Many people assume that a fast internet connection with fast response times only depends on good download and upload speeds, but there is more to it than that. There is also ping, in principle the specification for a response time (latency). For example, if you pinged 98 ms (milliseconds), this value is the time it took your computer to respond to a request from another computer.

Online gamers obviously want a ping as low as possible. In many online games, you can also see your ping along with the ping of other players or servers. If your ping is around 150 (or more) then you are sure to have problems gaming due to lag.

Ping doesn't directly affect games, but a long ping time does make itself felt when timing is critical. This is why low pinging is so important in games, especially where your position and reaction time (think first-person shooters or racing games) matter.

How to measure ping speed

You can test the latency of your internet connection using Speedmeter.de, a popular online speed test. Anything under a 20ms ping is considered great, while anything over 150ms could result in a noticeable delay.

You may have the fastest gaming PC, but with a slow ping, your actions will take much longer than those of your fellow online players, which will put you at a disadvantage in the online arena.

How to reduce the ping

There is no one way to reduce your ping, there are a number of possible solutions - it is a trial and error process. The first and easiest solution is to close all other programs and windows on your computer and make sure there are no active downloads running in the background that could interfere with the ping.

Another problem can be that someone else in your house is using a bandwidth-intensive service, such as streaming Netflix in 4K or downloading large files. The more devices connected and actively using the internet connection, the higher the ping.

If your ping is still very high, try moving your laptop closer to your router, or better yet, connect your computer directly to your router using an ethernet cable like the Ugreen CAT7 ethernet cable or Powerline adapters, of which we recommend the TP-Link AV2000 2-Port Gigabit Passthrough Powerline. This will fix possible problems with Wi-Fi and poor signal strength that can affect the latency of your internet connection.

It is also worth checking the cables between your router and the wall box and making sure they are all fully plugged in - our experience has shown that cable connections will loosen over time.

If that doesn't work either, a simple trick might help: turn your router off and on again. In particular, pull the power plug out of the router and wait about a minute before plugging it in again. If your setup consists of a separate router and modem, make sure to turn off both of them, not just the router.

The next step would be to buy a new router. If you only use the standard device provided by your Internet provider, you will not necessarily be able to get the most out of your connection. Upgrading to a better router like the Asus RT-AC88U or Linksys WRT32X or Fritzbox 7590 (around 200 euros) can help increase connection speed and possibly improve your Wi-Fi coverage as well.

If you've followed all of the above and still get a bad ping, the only thing left to do is call your internet provider. Your ISP will usually be able to remotely detect and fix potential problems and improve speed.

If no errors can be found with your connection, you should perhaps consider switching providers. Or just move ...

This post was first published by our English colleagues on techadvisor.co.uk

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