How to lower ping and improve gaming speeds

Downward facing arrow with numbers above to indicate ping.

Online gamers know all too well the pain of lag and blurry graphics due to high ping rates. A higher ping can mean the difference between victory and defeat in a first-person shooter game like Call of Duty. Not only might you miss your target, but you can also lose out on bragging rights.

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

What is ping? What is latency? 

Often used interchangeably, ping and latency are subtly different things. 

Latency refers to the reaction speed of your internet connection and the time (measured in milliseconds) it takes for data to travel from your device to a server. 

Ping, on the other hand, is the unit used to measure latency. 

In short, latency is like a powerful car, and ping is the unit in which the car’s speed is measured.

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.

What is a good ping?

Efficient ping rates can vary from game to game, but here’s a general guideline on what different ping rates could mean:

  
Under 20msExceptional. Pings under 20ms usually mean clean, crisp visuals and quick reaction times. Gamers should not be experiencing lag.
20ms-50msVery good. The most common range for gamers looking for smooth and responsive gameplay on local or regional servers.
50ms-100msFair. Gamers connecting to international servers are often in this range. Expect occasional lag and some dip in performance.
100ms-300msPoor. While not unplayable, pings in this range can be extremely annoying. Expect lags during gameplay and pixelation in graphics.
More than 300msBad. To some gamers, pings in this range are absolutely unplayable. Gamers will notice lag, delays in response times, and stuttering in graphics.

 

To check the ping on common servers for games like Minecraft, Valorant, and Roblox, 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 can try restarting your device or just wait until they fix it.

Why is my ping so high?

If you have a good internet connection and your ping is still high, there may be several reasons—and most of them are outside of your control:  

1. Your ISP is throttling you

Throttling is when your internet service provider intentionally slows down your connection depending on what you’re doing online. 

ISPs throttle internet connections of users requesting high bandwidth so that they can manage network speeds for other users. 

Besides throttling, it’s important to note the difference between download and upload speeds. 

When ISPs market their speeds in ads, they tend to refer to download speeds. However, in gaming, upload speeds often have a larger impact on response time and game performance. Download speeds refer to how fast data is pushed from a server, while upload speeds are how quickly you’re able to send data to others. 

2. Your router or PC could be outdated

The quality of both your PC and your router can impact the speed at which your internet connection runs—even if your connection is itself very good. 

Several types of gaming-specific PCs, laptops, and routers are built to handle and process large packets of data and are powerful enough to withstand the amount of load online gaming could produce.

3. Firewall issues

Firewalls usually check data packets sent and received by your computer. While firewalls are there to protect you, the checking process can take a long time, especially when you’re gaming. To solve this, make an exception for your game within the firewall settings. Keep in mind that disabling firewalls might make you vulnerable to malicious data packets. 

 7 ways to lower ping and latency for gaming

When we experience lag and delays in online gaming, it’s easy to assume that Wi-Fi is to blame. However, the problem may actually be with the host server and not with your connection.

But if after checking a resource like Game Server Ping you’ve determined that the fault does lie on your end, here are a few things you can do to troubleshoot: 

1. Play on a local server

Online games usually offer a choice of servers sprinkled across the world. Whenever possible, choose one in your country or geographical region. Using a VPN could help spoof your geolocation, reduce ping, and lower latency. If you’re trying to play Fortnite in North America, for example, connect to a local VPN server as opposed to one hosted in Europe or Asia.

2. Quit apps 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 toward the gaming server.

3. Ditch Wi-Fi and use Ethernet

If you must use Wi-Fi for gaming, always ensure that you’re connected to a 5 GHz network and not the slower 2.4 GHz. 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 provides a direct link from your router to your machine, giving you a much more stable connection overall and lowering your ping for gaming.

4. Disconnect devices from your network

We often overlook how many smart devices are connected to the same network. A typical household may have 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, being 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.

5. 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.

6. Restart or 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.

Not purchasing a new router? Optimize your router settings instead by using the 5 GHz Wi-Fi band, and positioning your router closer to your gaming device. You can also look up your router model or modem online and find the most ideal setting for gaming.

7. 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 GHz if you’re trying to play any of the latest first-person shooters on your Xbox or PS5.  

FAQ: About reducing ping 

How to measure ping speed
How to lower ping without Ethernet
How to lower ping with Wi-Fi
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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.