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How to improve latency when gaming

If you’re experiencing lag during gameplay, here are some tried and true methods of improving it. We’ve collected everything you need to know about improving lag and latency when gaming.

Poor gaming latency can lead to game over

What are lag and latency?

In first person shooter (FPS) or battle royal games, a delayed move could result in rubberbanding and response delays. What causes this critical delay? Lag. Lag is the result of high latency. Latency is affected by how strong your network connection is, available bandwidth, server processing power and packet loss. In general, latency is how long it takes for one device to respond to another in milliseconds (ms). The lower the latency, the better the connection is. What is a good latency for gaming? Good latency for gaming is generally considered around 50ms. However, under 50ms is ideal, especially for real-time gaming. 

Do you have high or low latency?

Unsure if you’re experiencing latency issues? One of the most obvious signs is lag or sluggish response. This is a delay between user action and in-game response. In other words, the amount of time it takes between you pressing a button on your keyboard and the action happening in game. Other signs of high latency include stuttering, lower frame rates and an unexplained decrease in performance or resolution.

Speed meter for testing gaming latency

How to fix lag and improve latency

Wondering how to lower latency issues that are affecting gameplay? Try these proven methods for lowering latency and in-game responsiveness:


  1. Run a ping test: Before making changes to your system, you should run a ping test to determine a baseline for your latency. This can help you determine whether the solutions below will help improve speed. In fact, it can be beneficial to regularly run this test to ensure an optimal gaming environment.

  2. Use an Ethernet cable: While wifi is convenient, for gaming, it can increase latency. On a wireless connection, data sent from your system (or received from the gaming server) is prioritized based on how your router regards its importance. This is often referred to as Quality of Service. Unfortunately, there’s no way to dictate the importance of gaming information unless you’re connected to an Ethernet cable. Therefore, data transmission may be slower, causing a higher latency. Not to mention, latency can vary on a wifi connection based on a number of factors. This is often referred to as “jitter” since speeds can fluctuate and become unreliable. With a direct connection to your router, an Ethernet cable can help increase the speed with which your gaming device communicates with your network. Be sure to check that all cables are firmly plugged into both your computer and the router.

  3. Close out of other programs: Is your computer your primary gaming system? If so, you should close out of any other applications that may be soaking up bandwidth. For example, streaming music takes up around .5 Mbps (megabits per second) whereas streaming videos uses 5 Mbps. In comparison, many online games also require 4 to 5 Mbps. If running multiple programs, you could be slowing down the speed with which information is funneled through your router and delivered to your gaming platform. This holds true to other people and devices in your household as well. Even their online activities can hinder your gaming speeds.

  4. Change your update settings: All systems need updates. But, updates during gameplay can cause lag as they require a great deal of bandwidth. Instead, opt for manual updates. Be sure to check back regularly as neglecting updates can also cause high latency.

Always be sure that your local settings and network devices are up to speed for optimal gaming performance.

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