How to get low ping and improve speeds for online gaming

Downward facing arrow with numbers above to indicate ping.

You’ve set up in your favorite camping position, your sniper rifle is locked and loaded, and you’re waiting for the enemy to appear. It’s the perfect vantage point; you know this Call of Duty map inside out and the minute you see the enemy arrive, you’ll pick them off one by one with precision headshots.

But just as you’re about to pull the trigger, your screen freezes for a millisecond and your enemy dodges the bullet. To make things worse, you’ve revealed your position and a swarm of opponents are in fast pursuit.

Both casual players and serious gamers have experienced the all-too-familiar pain of high ping, latency, and lag. It’s frustrating because a higher ping rate can mean the difference between victory and defeat, and losing out on bragging rights.

In this post, we’ll talk about how to get low ping, improve internet speeds, and get a better gaming experience overall.

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What is ping?

Ping is measured in milliseconds and refers to the amount of time it takes for signals to be sent from and received back by your computer or console. When you’re connected to an online gaming server, it has to recognize certain actions such as movement, reloading, and pulling the trigger. The longer it takes for you to relay these signals back to the server, the slower and more frustrating the gaming experience.

Die-hard gamers get around high ping rates by purchasing the latest and greatest hardware, often investing thousands of dollars in the process. But playing a game doesn’t have to be such an expensive affair.

How to get lower ping for gaming

When we experience lag and delays in online gaming, it’s easy to assume that the wireless connection is to blame. However, the problem may actually be at the host server’s end and not yours.

To check the ping on common game servers, check Game Server Ping. If you know your game server’s IP address, you could also check its status via a third-party. These tools will let you know if it’s the server that’s causing the problem; in that case, you just have to wait until they fix it or you could try restarting your device. There’s nothing wrong at your end.

But when you’ve determined that the fault lies on your end, here are a few things you can do to troubleshoot the problem.

Choose servers close to your region

Online games usually offer a choice of servers sprinkled across the world. Whenever possible, choose one in your country or geographical region. You can also achieve this by using a VPN. If you’re trying to play Fortnite in North America, for example, connect to a local VPN server opposed to one hosted in Europe or Asia. This reduces the physical distance between your device and the game server, and should improve ping.

Close applications and programs running in the background

Even if you’re not actively using any apps, they may still run in the background and eat up precious bandwidth. Common culprits are antivirus apps, Chrome, Zoom, Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. When you force close them, you’re reducing the number of apps vying for your connection, thereby helping your device direct all its resources towards the gaming server.

Use an Ethernet wired connection

If you must use Wi-Fi for gaming, always ensure that you’re connected to a 5 GHz network for gaming and not the slower 2.4 GHz. However, Wi-Fi routers are also known to contribute to data packet loss and even the physical distance between your device and the router can affect your connection speed. A wired connection using an ethernet cable solves these problems, providing a direct link from your router to your machine, giving you a much more stable connection overall and lowering your ping for gaming.

Reduce the number of connected devices

Given the proliferation of smart devices, we often overlook how many are connected to the same network. A typical household may have several laptops, phones, streaming media players, wireless printers, smart assistants, and more connected to a solitary Wi-Fi router. And while they might not all be in use at the same time, the fact that they’re connected means they’re eating up internet bandwidth, leaving less for your gaming PC or console. Turn off those that aren’t needed and watch how your ping time plummets.

Tweak your gaming settings

If you’ve invested in the latest gaming PC, it’s normal to want your graphics card and processor to deliver on their maximum performance capabilities. However, cranking up your settings to the max drains resources very quickly and may cause lag. Most games have an auto-adjust setting where the AI can optimize for a lag-free experience. If you’re experiencing performance issues, try tweaking your settings to make the game operate faster.

Upgrade your router

We’ve mentioned how the distance of your Wi-Fi router from your device is a factor in connection speed, but an often overlooked cause is the quality of your equipment. Routers, much like other devices, deteriorate over time. And not all routers are created equal. If you’re using the same one that your internet service provider gave you out of the box, it’s likely that it isn’t optimized for intensive gaming needs. Gaming routers send strong signals across your network and can make a major difference in lowering your ping for gaming.

Upgrade your internet connection

If the above steps don’t work, it might be time to boost your internet connection speeds. Fiber optic connections work best and we recommend a speed of at least 5 Mbps if you’re trying to play any of the latest first person shooters.

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I like to think about the impact that the internet has on humanity. In my free time, I'm wolfing down pasta.