Most first-time online gamers think all they need is an internet connection until they experience blurry graphics and lag. Needless to say, lags cause delays, making any online gaming very frustrating. For instance, defeats, poor rankings and eliminations are possible in multiplayer games due to high ping. In search instances, learning how to improve ping can significantly improve your online gaming experience.

Accordingly, here is a guide on what causes high ping rates and how to make it better for efficient gaming. Ideally, lag cannot be completely absent, but you can reduce it to favorable levels. However, before learning how to reduce in-game lag while increasing your winning chances, let's first understand the concept of ping.

What is Ping?

In essence, ping is a measure of the reaction speed of an internet connection. So, ping is used to measure latency, but what is latency? It is the reaction speed of an internet connection, and the milliseconds it takes data to be relayed between a device and a server. Therefore, ping is a utility used to measure latency in a network.

To better understand, the internet is used as a carrier of data packages back and forth from servers while streaming, playing a game online or using an app. Ideally, the Mbps internet measurement is a simple description of how much data can be conveyed at a given time. So, ping refers to the time taken for the data to be relayed. Therefore, in the gaming context, ping is the time taken by a video game to recognize and respond to your gameplay.  

Ping is often measured in terms of milliseconds. As such, the more milliseconds it takes to relay data, the higher the ping, which translates to a gaming experience with delays and lags. Ideally, high latency rates cause your gameplay to take more milliseconds to be recognized. Subsequently, we recommend combining high internet speeds and low latency for smooth gaming.

Therefore, a higher ping translates to delayed responses. Accordingly, you should aim to reduce ping so that it takes fewer milliseconds to relay data between your device and servers. However, even as we advocate for a lower ping to reduce lag, one might wonder which is the optimal level.

What is a Good Ping for Gaming?

Ping efficiency varies from one online game to another. Nonetheless, there is a general guide on what too high ping means and the recommended low ping. Here is a brief breakdown:

  • Under 20 milliseconds: Exceptionally efficient with crisp, clear images and quick reaction time. Ideally, you won't experience lag at this level.

  • 20 to 50 milliseconds: Responsive gameplay and smooth visuals. Therefore, it's also very good when accessing regional or local servers.

  • 50 to 100 milliseconds: This level is fairly good for online gamers using international servers. However, this range occasionally experiences performance dips and lags.

  • 100 to 300 milliseconds: Now this is a poor ping rate which can be very frustrating. Within this range expect some lags and pixelation of your graphics.

  • Above 300 milliseconds: This level is just bad on everything since, in most games, it's completely unplayable. Besides delayed responses and lags, you will also experience stuttering graphics.

How to Measure Ping Speed

Fortunately, while using a cheap or expensive gaming PC, you can run a ping test to know where you stand. Also, you can find a speed test that provides the ping speed alongside the normal internet speeds. Even better, you can choose a measurement tool that measures the ping of various gaming servers.

Reasons for a High Ping

1. Throttling by ISP

This involves intentional slowing down of internet connections to balance efficiency across all users. Throttling often happens to users with high bandwidth. Besides this intentional step-down, ISPs also emphasize download speeds as their major selling point, but upload speeds are very important, especially in gaming.

It is the upload function that relays gameplay responses to your screen. Therefore, a speed test should balance out the indicated ISP's bandwidth between download and upload. Moreover, now you know that a good internet connection can't always be translated to a good speed. Nonetheless, the faster a connection is, the faster data is transmitted, thus reducing latency and vice versa.

2. Outdated PC and Router

Sometimes even good connections don't work due to poor quality routers and computers. Ideally, you should match the minimum requirements of your connection with the specs of your PC and router. So, having an outdated router or PC might affect the quality of your ping since you're not able to optimize the provided internet connection speed.

3. Firewall Issues

Indeed, firewalls are necessary for every other PC, but they often increase your Ping. In essence, a firewall has to check through data packets relayed in and out of your computer. As such, the longer the queue, the longer it might take to allow online game packets through. Delays caused by a firewall occur in milliseconds, but this might worsen your ping significantly due to excessive latency.

4. Inadequate Bandwidth

Going back to your ISP, you might receive inadequate internet bandwidth, which subsequently affects ping. Such incidences mean that your data relay channel will be inadequate, causing excessive latency. In addition, other users and connected devices might end up eating a significant part of the provided bandwidth, thus causing lagging. For instance, downloading large files and streaming might make your bandwidth inadequate.

Solutions for Improving Your Ping

1. Using a Local Server

Die-hard gamers might resonate with this solution on choosing a game server. Most big online games provide a choice of gamer servers you can connect to. Consequently, you should always choose a server in your region or one closest to your region to reduce latency. Unfortunately, not all games provide this choice, meaning the exceptions use Peer-to-Peer hosting, which doesn't require a central server.

Lowering ping while talking about servers can be done through a VPN server to spoof your geolocation and lower latency. As a result, the shorter the distance data travels to a server, the faster it is relayed back and forth, helping reduce ping. Nonetheless, it helps to avoid VPNs while gaming since the signal is first relayed through VPN servers before it gets to a game server. Therefore, a VPN might not lower your ping or reduce lag when the VPN server is far from your locale.

2. Using Ethernet Rather than Wi-Fi

Primarily, internet speed via ethernet cable is faster than a wireless (Wi-Fi) connection. This fact can be justified because an ethernet cable directly links your gaming PC to your router, thus eliminating the possibility of lost data packets. Subsequently, ethernet cable offers a more stable connection and a reliable internet connection speed that causes a low ping.

On the contrary, Wi-Fi is the preferred connection these days. However, a wireless signal is prone to high latency due to data packet losses, obstruction by physical objects like walls and uptake by other devices in the vicinity. Fortunately, most if not all modern motherboards come with both connection options. As a result, the choice of ethernet cable over Wi-Fi doesn't need buying new hardware; you can choose from your computer or console network settings.

Therefore, switch to the wired connection to benefit the full speeds and lower ping, especially when playing online games. Moreover, the type of ethernet cables doesn't significantly affect your ping. Even so, always go for the best cables that support higher connection speed for reduced interferences.

3. Improving Your WiFi Connection

Also, we acknowledge that you might only have the option of wireless connection to game online. In such cases, ensure your WiFi signal is connected using the 5 GHz mode for reduced latency. From your router or internet source, change from 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz under the internet settings. Changing the connection type is often possible while tethering with a mobile device.

Regarding modems and routers, we recommend going for a 5G band since it operates on the higher frequency mode of 5 GHz, which offers faster speeds. As such, there will be reduced interferences from the 2.5 GHz frequencies. Also, the 5 GHz frequencies can penetrate obstacles easily, but now, it's only efficient in shorter signal ranges. Other tricks of improving your wireless connection include:

  • Moving your gaming PC nearer to the router or buying a gaming Wi-Fi extender to improve the coverage.

  • Reducing the obstacles that might block your Wi-Fi frequencies.

  • Reducing the connected devices to free up internet bandwidth. The fewer the devices connected, the faster the internet speed due to reduced internet traffic.

4. Restarting or Upgrading Your Router

Still looking into how to improve ping? Occasionally, restart your router to reset the DNS cache and clear up irrelevant data. Accumulated cache reduces the reception quality of your router, thus deteriorating the connection speed and ping. The DNS cache might not be the problem at times, meaning your router might be out of date.

Alternatively, you can reach out to your Internet service provider to get a new router. In such cases, 5G gaming routers are the best for speeds that favor online gaming. Also, you can upgrade the router yourself but ensure you get a compatible router model with your ISP and gaming device. If you are lucky, your ISP will allow you to have a router that will prioritize gaming traffic.

5. Close Apps in the Background

Background apps also lower your ping except for a quality gaming router. But, again, this occurrence is common with gaming PCs. For instance, antivirus apps, streaming apps like Netflix and browsers reduce your ping rate whether on cable or Wi-Fi.

Therefore, this works similarly to reducing the connected gadgets and helps focus your bandwidth on gaming performance. When it comes to antivirus apps, ensure you switch them back on after gaming and frequently scan your computer after gaming. Also, you can close any running software and apps on other devices connected to the same network.

Turn Off Background Updates

Moreover, you can preserve your precious bandwidth and avoid a high ping by temporarily turning off any background updates. Updates could affect your connection speeds and latency since they also vie for a share of the same network. To avoid frequent manual turning on and off, ensure the downloads box 'Allow downloads during gameplay' under settings is unchecked.

Furthermore, if you use torrent apps on your PC, it would be great to ensure that all their activities are paused or deleted for efficient gaming. Please note that this solution might be required even when using the best gaming server to avoid a divided bandwidth. Still, on updates, the performance of your CPU might be divided, probably causing lags to reduced processing power.

5. Tweak your Gaming Settings

If your gaming devices are okay, you can choose to alter your game's settings before playing games. Fortunately, any modern PC gaming setup allows for customization of game settings. As such, customization helps your processor and graphics card work at their best without straining.

Notably, straining your computer's hardware may cause overheating, which might cause the network adapters to be slow in internet reception. Not to worry, the tweaking is automated in most games, meaning the AI helps you reduce the lag. Even more, reduced gaming demands might create compatibility with your network's ping. To help you optimize your gaming PC, you can follow TimTheTatman's 2022 Complete setup for gaming.

6. Contact Your ISP

After running a few speed tests, you have probably realized you don't get what you pay for. In such cases, reach out to your ISP for clarity and feedback. In such cases, the ping problem is not on your end but the ISP's end. Also, feedback to your ISP will help them serve you better with a better connection.

Sometimes, your Internet Service Provider might provide an upgraded router that will help lower ping while gaming. Therefore, use free online speed tests to avoid being short-changed by your ISP. Even more, a company's reputation should guide you on if they're capable of providing the best internet package. If it goes to the extreme of changing your ISP, go for the one that offers cable or fiber-optic connection.

How to Improve Ping in Consoles

1. How to Improve Ping on PS4

Besides the PC solutions, you can enhance ping on your consoles too. Even so, solutions touching on routers might also significantly reduce lags on gaming consoles. But don't you want better? Here is a quick guide on the same:

  • Access settings from the home menu

  • Selected the Network menu and proceed to Setup Internet Connection

  • You'll have the option of LAN (Ethernet) and Wi-Fi

  • Under either connection, choose the manual connection option to change network details such as the frequency mode.

  • Ideally, choose the 5 GHz frequency range and adjust the DNS server

  • Under IP settings, choose automatic, DNCP Host Name: Do not specify and DNS Settings: Manual

  • Under DNS settings, use server parameters that match your location or those of a region closest to you.

  • Finish by saving your settings and proceeding to your game.

We recommend using your ethernet connection with your PS4. Cable connections significantly lower your ping, especially when Wi-Fi is preoccupied with other devices in the same room. In case you don't have any network cables, go for a powerline adapter to improve your wireless connection.

Ethernet Connection on PS4

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2. How to Improve Ping on Xbox

You can also lower ping in your Xbox by adjusting your network settings. Altering the network settings is easy. Nonetheless, for first-time Xbox owners, here are the steps to follow:

  • Access Network Settings on your Xbox

  • Under the opened menu, select to Go offline

  • Wait until your console is completely offline

  • Then wait an extra 30 seconds before selecting Go online again

  • This solution will probably lower your ping once it's back online.

Frequently Asked Questions on Improving Ping

1. Can I use a ping enhancer?

Indeed, you can use ping enhancers on your gaming PC. Ideally, a ping enhancer optimizes your internet on gaming. To do this, it redirects a connection to a server closest to the gaming server. In the end, you will have reduced ping.

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About the Author Jack

Anton is the founder of 25pc. He is a huge gaming tech nerd and loves helping people save money. To find out more about him read his about me page.