You’re in the middle of an intense raid. You and your teammates have been at it for hours. The boss is right around the corner. Everyone is counting on you. The stakes could not be higher! Then all of a sudden, your ping shoots through the roof and the servers boot you from the game. Sound familiar? If you’d only known how to lower ping…
Ping is a big deal in the gaming world, as it’s highly correlated with latency and lag. Just ask any competitive player and they’ll tell you what a nightmare it can be. It’s a total gamebreaker!
That’s why we’ve created this guide on how to lower ping on PC for an optimal gaming experience. We’ll also cover how to lower ping on Playstation and how to lower ping on Xbox to give you a well-rounded look at maximizing your gaming performance no matter which platform you use. Let’s get started.
What is Ping?
Ping measures the amount of time it takes for data to transmit from a host server to a destination computer, and back again. In other words, it measures latency, which is the time interval between stimulus and response. It does this via an internet control message protocol, or ICMP, request packet. The objective? To gauge the speed and strength of a connection.
You could say that ping is akin to sonar and echolocation. Except in our world, it’s most often used to measure latency for gaming.
So what is ping in gaming, specifically? Well, in the gaming world ping is a moniker for the network latency itself, as measured in milliseconds. A high ping indicates longer load times and significantly more lag. Thus, the lower the ping, the lower the lag.
That’s why it’s very important, especially for competitive gamers, to maintain a low ping. This ensures a strong connection to the game’s servers.
What is a Good Ping?
Generally speaking, a good ping is anything under 100. That said, nailing down a ping under 50 is considered excellent, and you’ll find the best in-game performance the lower you go.
So is low ping good? Yes – there’s no such thing as a ping that’s too low.
But that’s certainly not the case on the other end of the spectrum. Gamers with a ping over 150 will notice significant lag and seriously impaired gameplay. That’s why it’s critical to learn how to reduce latency and maintain a low ping.
How to Measure Ping
Many popular online titles feature a ping setting that can be toggled on/off. When on, the ping setting typically provides a continuous readout of the current latency measured in milliseconds. You can see a variant of this in the Fortnite screenshot below.
This measurement changes based on a number of factors. And though ping often hovers around the same area, the nature of latency means that there’s never any consistent number. But you can get an accurate read on your ping by using an internet speed test.
TestMy.net. An independent third party speed test that looks after the consumer. Check. No 3rd party applications and speed score inflation. Check. Random data with test servers configured for speed tests. Check.
Another great option is the Speed Test by Google. It’s designed to output your current download and upload speeds, as well as your ping when connected to Google’s server centers. If your ping is high on this test, it’s a good indicator that something is wrong on your end.
Why is My Ping so High?
Your ping may be high for any number of reasons. This includes local issues (problems stemming from your end) such as bandwidth limits, traffic congestion, and faulty or outdated hardware.
It may also be due to your distance from the host server, technical issues, or software imperfections from the game’s end.
That said, it’s usually a combination of issues from your end and the server’s side. Unfortunately, players don’t have any control over the game’s servers. But they do have a lot of control over their own setups.
With us so far? Excellent! Now let’s take a look at how to get better ping.
How to Lower Ping
If you’re wondering how to reduce ping, there are many options available to you. From simply connecting to nearer servers, to picking up a new gaming router, we’ve written a complete guide on how to get lower ping and boost your in-game performance.
We’ll start with the easiest solution and go down the list based on difficulty level. Our goal is to get you up and running in no time.
Connect to Local Servers
Often, it’s the distance from the server itself that’s causing the issue of high ping. That’s because the farther the connection has to travel, the longer it takes to do so.
If this seems like a no-brainer, you may be surprised to find that it’s one of the most common reasons for high ping. Fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest to remedy.
Many games allow players to choose their server centers. These server centers are typically divided by region or continent, and it’s simply a matter of choosing the closest center to you. Simply head to the settings panel and find the server locations tab. Swap your preferred server to the region nearest you, and you’re ready to roll.
As an example, we’ve included a screenshot of the server settings in Fortnite. You’ll find that it’s conveniently located on the main menu.
Were you already connected to the right server? If so, let’s move on to the next major culprit.
Limit Background Applications
Every background application or piece of software you leave running significantly slows down your PC. This is especially true when those applications require an internet connection, as is the case with web browsers and apps like the Steam Launcher.
Fortunately, disabling them is a simple matter. Here’s how to turn off background apps on Windows 10:
- Go to Start and click on the Settings Panel
- Navigate to the Privacy Tab
- Click on Background Apps
- Here you’ll find a list of apps that are allowed to run in the background. Scroll down the list and toggle off any apps that aren’t critical while gaming. You can always turn them back on in the future.
Lighten the Load
If your ping is still too high, you may not be getting enough bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of data allocated to a specific computer or household in a certain period of time. It’s a common practice for internet service providers, or ISPs, to limit or throttle the bandwidth of heavy consumers during times of congestion.
It’s also important to note that every device on the network, e.g. phones, laptops, and desktops, contributes to the overall consumption level. So if you’re in a large household and everyone’s watching Netflix or playing video games at the same time, you’re sure to experience high ping.
If this is the case, you may want to play your critical matches after hours, or consider signing up for your own plan. You can also ask your friends or family to use their mobile hotspots, but this will almost certainly be met with varying levels of success.
Another option is to try a dedicated gaming router.
Choose a Gaming Router
If you haven’t updated your router in awhile, or If you’re renting a cheap one from your ISP, upgrading to a dedicated gaming router will make all the difference. Not only that, but it’s an investment that will save you money in the long run (if you’re renting).
Choosing a powerful new model built exclusively for gaming is almost certain to lower your ping. Our recommendation? Check out this list of the best gaming routers to improve your internet connection and lower your latency. You’ll be kicking ass in no time.
Still not convinced? Time to plug in.
Game on a Wired Connection
For the most part, gaming on a wired connection is always superior to gaming on a wireless one. That’s because plugging directly into the Ethernet port on your router provides direct access to the network itself. This results in secure and optimized data transmissions, as well as lightning-fast speeds.
Contrast this with the time it takes for data to travel over WiFi airwaves, and it’s easy to see how to improve ping with a wired connection.
For this to work, you’ll need to be near your router. Take your ethernet cable (this one’s our favorite) and plug it into the back of the router. Then bring the other end over to your laptop or desktop and plug it into the I/O panel.
Voila! Now run another Speed Test and see if you’re getting the MBps you pay for. If not, you’ll need to consult with your ISP.
Upgrade your Service
If you’re not getting the speeds you pay for, it’s up to the ISP to fix that. But if you are, and the connection just isn’t fast enough, you may want to upgrade your service.
There are a few different ways to do this. One is to switch to a different package from the same provider. This is usually the easiest solution and doesn’t require much hassle.
However, you may want to upgrade to a new ISP altogether. This is especially true if you’re using an outdated provider that relies on the phone line or a satellite dish to provide your service (unless that’s your only option). In most cases, you can find affordable packages for internet speeds over 100 MBps pretty easily.
If you’ve been on a slower connection, this is all but guaranteed to lower your ping substantially.
If you’re still having trouble after trying the fixes above, it’s time to have a serious talk with your ISP. Chances are you’ll need someone from HQ to come out and take a look at your setup. An inspection by a trained professional is sure to teach you how to make your ping better and get faster service.
Recommended Further Reading: checkout our gaming routers and gaming modems roundups.
In the meantime, the folks at HGG wish you the best of luck with your setup. Happy gaming!