When it comes to staying competitive in online gaming, many gamers go to the most extreme lengths. They buy the latest controllers, buy monitors with the highest refresh rates or buy the beefiest consoles and PCs that money can buy. However, one often overlooked component that has the biggest affect on performance is ping.
A bad ping (high ping) means that you have a poor connection to a server. All of your quick trigger inputs, no matter how fast, are not going to help you win. This is the problem with having a high ping.
But have no fear…
Making some simple adjustments to your networking hardware or tweaking your settings can drastically improve your network performance, lowering your ping. In fact, you can improve your connection and quickly lower your ping just by changing a few simple network settings.
We will show you all the best tips to lower your ping and fix connectivity issues. And hopefully lowering your ping will help you to stay on top of the leaderboards of your favorite online multiplayer games. If you lower your ping and you’re still not on top, well, we cannot fix that. But on to lowering your ping…
For those in a hurry jump to: 11 Tips to Quickly and Effectively Lower Your Ping.
Tips for Lowering Your Ping and Increasing Your Gaming Speed
What Is Ping?
Before jumping into the topic too quickly, it is important to know exactly what ping is. Ping is a measure of latency or how quickly the signal leaving your PC or console is getting sent and received.
For instance, every time you take a shot in an online combat game, you are sending a signal to the game’s server where that shot is being recorded. After the server has taken the information that you fired a shot at the opponent, it then has to send back the confirmation to you and indicate whether or not the opponent has been shot. This is where ping comes into play. It is the amount of time of that back and forth between you and the server.
With a low ping gameplay works at its best. In an ideal world, your input would be sent immediately to the server and the sever’s response would be sent back immediately too. This is what you are trying to accomplish with a low ping, getting that response time as close as possible to the ideal state.
However, with a slower ping, games can be unresponsive and sometimes even feel unplayable as anything you try to do seems to have no affect on others. For instance, you may be firing a hailstorm of bullets without any damage occurring to your opponent whatsoever. This is because while it may seem to you as though you are directly aiming at them, they could have moved behind cover without that information being sent to you fast enough. This is why lowering ping is crucial. It truly has a profound affect on your ability to play a game and can make or break your gaming experience.
Why Is My Ping So High?
If your ping is high, there are many reasons why this might be the case. Helpful, right? Well, do not rush to judgment so fast. Ping is complicated because networks are complicated. It is hard to single out what is the actual cause of the problem when it comes to high ping and gaming lag. Let’s look at some common causes of high ping and see if we can’t isolate why your ping is high.
Your Game Server’s Ping
First some good news and then some bad news… The good news is that your high ping might not be your fault. You game server might be to blame. An excellent way to check the ping on some common game servers is the website Game Server Ping.
If you know your game server’s IP address, you can plug it in and test it through a third party. Keep in mind that many of these servers are fast so make sure you look at the servers with the highest results. Also, look for a location near where you live. Compare the time from the third party to your ping from your computer. If you do not know how to ping out, please see this article.
If your ping is high and the third party’s ping is low, odds are you are the problem, not the server. For example, I did a test to see my ping to the Mobile Legends game server and got 32.0 ms. The third party’s highest ping was 25.8 ms.
So, given that these are roughly the same, I can determine there is no ping problem originating on the game server. Now if the third party’s ping came back high and so did mine, then I would know the game server is to blame. However, if the third party had a low ping to the game server and my ping was high, then I would know the ping issue was on my end.
Bandwidth can also pose a problem when it comes to ping. If bandwidth is scarce then jitter, packet loss, and latency issues can occur. Bandwidth may fluctuate throughout the day depending on how many people are on your network. During peak hours of usage, bandwidth may be reduced resulting in high ping.
One thing to keep in mind is that cloud-based games require a lot of bandwidth. This is especially true when it comes to downloading data. One way this can be potentially offset is if you are able to adjust your frame rate. Try lowering your graphics and just test it to see what happens, sometimes you will be surprised.
Keep an eye out for how your network responds throughout the day. Note when traffic appears to be suffering from bandwidth issues. Try to avoid playing multiplayer games during this time or lower just your graphics temporarily.
This next part only applies to PC gamers.
Your computer in many ways is not optimized for gaming. Sometimes there are delays for no good apparent reason. Luckily, there are actually some easy registry hacks which can help you lower your ping. While it might not solve all your ping problems, it certainly does not hurt to try. This fix was found over at TechCrises but I have it available here for offline viewing just in case.
The Faster the Connection the Better?
In general, gaming does not require a super high speed internet connection. In fact, it has been shown that around 3 Mbps is sufficient to send and receive the information that games require to play online multiplayer. If you are constantly downloading new games though you may want to spring for a faster connection as that could drastically improve download times. However, for all intents and purposes 3 Mbps should be good enough.
We do recommend that gamers opt for a little bit higher than 3 Mbps though. Sometimes reported speeds by an ISP are inaccurate or speeds may decrease during times of high use. Also, you might just want to have that added margin of safety just in case. Most recommendations we have seen range somewhere between 6-12 Mbps. With the average internet speed in America being close to 19 Mbps this should not be a problem for those reading this from the United States. For those outside the United States, the average speed globally is around 9 Mbps so this may or may not pose a problem for you.
Test Your Internet Speed and Ping
If you need to test your internet speed, ping, or both, there are plenty of sites that come up in Google. We recommend Speedtest as we have found this to be the most accurate. Also, with Speedtest you can choose a server close to the gaming server you might be using. Connecting to server closer to your own location will show a lower ping when compared to a server that may be farther away as the signals from your PC or console would take longer to reach the location and send the information back. You can even compare your result with other users so you have an idea of what other gamers might be experiencing in terms of their connection speeds when gaming.
What is the Best Ping for Gaming?
Ping is measured in milliseconds. That may not sound like a lot of time but when you are gaming milliseconds really do matter. If you are a gamer who is serious about gaming you want to have a ping around 20 ms or lower. However, most sites indicate that anything below 100 ms is considered “playable” for most gamers.
We recommend anything around 50 ms as a good ping for the average gamer. The problem is that trying to hit 20 ms is often times not possible. If the server is far away you will notice you will almost never consistently get a ping of 20 ms. Also, use a bit of common sense when it comes to ping. If you cannot get your ping below 100 ms but you notice it does not affect your gameplay, do not fret over it.
Is Wired (Ethernet) or Wireless (WiFi) Better for Online Gaming?
While a wifi signal from your router to your console is much cleaner (clutter-free and requires no additional wires), the signal integrity and speed of your network connection can suffer as wireless signals can degrade for many reasons. Wireless signals are also not consistent and can fluctuate from time to time. Even the walls from your house can affect wifi signals and interference from other wireless signals or electronic devices can prove to be detrimental as well.
An ethernet connection moves signals faster and more consistently than wifi. Also, an ethernet connection will be virtually unaffected by interference. WiFi users also experience a lot more jitter. In general, you will also get a lower ping running through an ethernet connection. Although the ping difference can be small, usually around 3 ms for wireless and 0.3 ms for wired connections, every little bit helps. The only downside here is the unsightliness of the wires if you do not run them through the wall.
While we do recommenced an ethernet connection for serious gamers most average gamers will not notice much of a difference between a wired or wireless connection for gaming. However, if you are looking for ways to lower your ping a simple and easy first step is to connect to a wired connection and run a ping test. Compare that result with your ping from the wireless connection. Also, try gaming on wired versus wireless and compare.
If you already are using a wired connection and suspect you may have interference, try using a gold plated, high quality network cable instead of the traditional ethernet cable you might already be using.
11 Tips to Quickly and Effectively Lower Your Ping
So you have decided on an appropriate internet speed and whether or not you want a wireless connection but you are still wondering how to lower your ping, right? Well, here are some of the most effective ways to lower your ping:
- Restart your modem or router. Over time the cache on your router or modem gets full and the device gets bogged down. Resetting the router will clear out the cache and get your device back to square one. Also, try flushing your DNS cache.
- Update the firmware on your router. Sometimes there are crucial updates which are causing your latency to increase.
- Buy a new router or modem if yours is outdated. This will improve the latency and lower your ping because newer routers and modems usually have faster connection speeds as well as other new technologies which help improve speed. Also, if you are using a wireless connection, many of the newer wireless routers and modems have improved range that could lower signal degradation that wireless signals are prone to.
- Avoid using a VPN or proxy while gaming online. VPNs add an extra node to connect to and thus more latency. There are, however, some rare exceptions for why you might consider a VPN for gaming.
- Select a server. If the game you are playing allows you to select one of their servers to play on, always select a location close to where you are playing. As noted above, the closer the physical distance between you and the server the better the ping.
- Remove devices from your network. If your connection is slow, do not use any extra devices that introduce more information. For example, you might use a microphone to communicate with teammates but this just reduces the overall bandwidth and slows your connection further.
- Use a 5GHz network. If you are playing over WiFi, make sure you are connected to the 5 GHz connection if it is available. 2.4 GHz may provide a larger range but 5 GHz is much faster. If using 5 GHz, make sure your wireless router or modem is close to your console.
- Close background applications. Closing any background applications that might be running (for PC gamers) will help take some of the load of your device.
- Change your DNS. For the techies out there, try changing your DNS. Google’s DNS sever is one of the fastest DNS servers available. Use Google’s DNS by typing in 220.127.116.11 as your preferred DNS server and 18.104.22.168 as your alternate DNS server.
- Remove the bandwidth hogs. Before you start gaming, make sure to stop using any services that eat up bandwidth such as streaming 4K movies or downloading exceptionally large files.
- Set the ideal router settings. Google your router model (or modem) and look for its ideal settings. A lot of really smart tech geeks have probably already gone ahead and found some of the best settings available for your router or modem. Take advantage of this and plug the best settings in to your router or modem and watch as your ping gets lower.
These tips should help to lower your ping in some way. The result may not be dramatic for each individual tip, but combined you should notice at least some noticeable improvement in your ping.
If you continue to experience noticeable lag or latency while gaming, contact your ISP to make sure that there is not a problem on their end. They might even have some tips to help reduce your latency and improve your ping. You may also want to consider changing your router or upgrading to a new router.
Here is a list of links to other sites with various lag fixes:
- Fix for lag on your PC by updating your network and TCP settings
- Another latency fix for the PC
- Fix lag for gaming on your Mac
- A way to fix lag on Android devices
- 3 simple lag fixes for the iPhone
Best Products for Lowering Ping
There are many products on the market that will help you lower your ping, here are some of the best products available.
A good gaming router is essential for keeping your ping low. Gaming routers help to prioritize your network traffic so that your bandwidth is dedicated to gaming. Some routers even claim being able to route traffic to the fastest possible servers you are gaming on. While a good gaming router alone won’t ensure a low ping, it will certainly help you to rule out any other problems you might be having.
Powerline adapters use your already installed power lines to transmit network signals across your home. Plug one in at the source (near your router) and plus the other in at the destination (your PC or gaming console). Now, you have lighting fast speeds without having to run cable or do anything complicated.
According to CNET:
A good set of powerline adapters can deliver speeds and latency that are close to what you’d expect from a direct, wired connection with your router.–CNET
Although the benefits might only be minimal, making sure you have a decent network cable is a must. Be sure to get a cable that has gold plating so you ensure you’re getting the best possible connection to your device. Also find a cable that is designed to minimize electrical interference.
A Cat 8 cable is designed for speeds up to 40 GBPS and 2000 MHz. It can also bend at extreme angles without being damaged. It’s a great cable just to have in general, even if it doesn’t improve your ping too much.
Best VPN for Lowering Your Ping for PC Gaming
Many Virtual Private Networking (VPN) providers will slow down your gaming due to the addition of an extra node. However, this doesn’t mean that VPNs should be overlooked altogether. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons for using a VPN for gaming and when using a VPN might be beneficial.
The pros are the least obvious. The first pro is having unrestricted access to region-locked servers. A VPN allows you to play any game from any part of the world. A VPN even allows you to play games that don’t come out yet in your region.
Extra security is also a huge pro. Some gamers use methods such as DDoS attacks to try to get a leg up on their opponents. A VPN will protect you from these types of attacks. A VPN will also protect your privacy when gaming so other gamers won’t know your location.
Bandwidth throttling is another large concern for gamers and a VPN solves this. A VPN will hide you from your ISP so you aren’t targeted to be throttled. This is a huge plus if you do a lot of gaming.
The only major con to using a VPN is potentially increasing latency. However, this can be overcome by choosing a server on the VPN with the lowest ping. In some cases, you’ll find a ping to a server that’s really, really low. Then, this server’s ping to the gaming server might be lower than yours to the game’s server directly. In this case, you will actually have improved your overall ping to the gaming server.
The trick to lowering your ping with a VPN is to find the right VPN. In order to do so, look at the server distribution of the VPN (or server map). Find out where your favorite gaming servers are located. Find a VPN that has servers distributed near the servers of your favorite game or games.
Also, opt for a VPN that has a lot of servers to begin with. For instance, Nord VPN has 5450+ servers whereas Express VPN has only 3000+ servers, making Nord VPN a better choice. A VPN with more servers means you’ll have a better chance of it having servers near servers of your favorite games.
Last, but not least, look at server distribution by country. Make sure the VPN you decide on serves the countries you game in the most as well. If the games you play the most have their servers mostly distributed in a particular country, go with a VPN that has the most servers in that country.
PCMag rated Nord VPN one of the best VPNs for gaming and also the “best for general users.” They ranked Nord VPN highly when looking for “best VPNs for gaming… [that] can protect your privacy without leaving your internet connection laggy.”
You’ll also want to consider getting a router that’s compatible with whatever VPN you choose. The router we recommend for fast gaming with a VPN is the ASUS AC1900. This router is especially good for use with Express VPN.
Best VPN for Fast Console Gaming
If you play Xbox, Nintendo Switch or Playstation, you’ll want to use Express VPN instead. Express VPN is optimized for gaming on consoles and is easy to set up. Express VPN is the largest VPN network and one of the most trusted names in the VPN industry.
The first thing to know about Express VPN is that it is the world’s largest VPN service. It has over 3000 servers and the servers are scattered over a large range of countries, over 94 countries in total. Their VPN also allows for five simultaneous connections which means that you can have five of your gaming devices on the same VPN. Or you can connect your Xbox, PS4 and Switch and then have you phone and computer connected to it for additional privacy and security.
For Express VPN to work best with gaming you’ll want to get a good VPN router. Express VPN sets up easily with routers compatible with their system. We recommend the ASUS AC1900 because it’s super-compatible with Express VPN and Express VPN recommends it. It also sets up easily, performs well with the VPN and even performs incredibly well on its own without VPN.
The benefit of having a VPN router is that you can easily encrypt all of your traffic that’s going through the router. You can also change your IP address as well as eliminate ISP throttling, which is often a problem for gamers. Also, since all your traffic is going through your router, all of your devices are protected. In this case, you aren’t limited to the five device cap of the VPN too.
You can also select between TCP or UDP with Express VPN. Most people have better results with UDP for gaming. And because they have 24/7 technical support you can easily have them walk you through any problems or issues during setup.
Express VPN is definitely the best VPN for console gaming. It was even rated #1 by Techradar for 2020 as being the “Best all-round VPN for gaming.”
Best Routers for a Low Ping and Fast Connection
2020 List of the 5 Best Gaming Routers for Lowering Your Ping:
NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 WiFi Router – The premier go-to choice for online gamers. Will lower your ping and maximize performance. However, it is costly.
TP-Link AC1900 Smart Wireless Router – An overlooked choice for gamers looking to lower their ping. Not too pricey and solid performance.
Medialink AC1200 Wireless Gigabit Router – For the budget-conscious gamer who also is looking to increase performance. Comes with a VPN as an added bonus.
NETGEAR Nighthawk AX4 WiFi 6 Next-Gen Router – Another router by NETGEAR with performance nearly as good as the XR500 without as hefty of a price tag.
How-To: Flushing the DNS Cache on Your Router
The DNS cache is used to store all the IP addresses of all the websites you have ever visited. While this allows for faster access to all the sites you normally visit, it also stores all the other addresses you don’t visit anymore, or visit occasionally, and stores them unnecessarily.
Clearing your DNS cache will clear this storage. There also may be some faulty connections that need to be cleared out and flushing your DNS cache will help with this as well. Flushing the DNS cache also has the added benefit of increased security.
Flushing the DNS cache on your router manually is very simple. Here’s how to clear the DNS cache on a Windows and a Mac system:
Clearing DNS Cache for Windows:
- Open command prompt
- Type “ipconfig /flushdns” (without quotes)
- Press ‘Enter’ key
Clearing DNS Cache for Mac:
- Open Mac Terminal
- Type “sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder” (without quotes)
- Press ‘return’ key
That’s it. Pretty simple, right? Now, some may disagree with the whole idea of clearing DNS cache to improve ping. That’s fine, but it won’t hurt anything to do it anyways and see if it helps with your particular ping issues.
Strict / Moderate / Open NAT Types
With lower ping, you can be sure that when you pull off a satisfying combo on your controller, your opponent does not have the advantage of a better connection to defend against it. That said, you are not in the clear yet. There are still some issues that might affect your gaming that some gamers will need to keep in mind.
NAT or Network Address Translation converts a private IP into a public IP and vice versa. For the purposes of gaming, just think of it as a way to secure your internet connection. The problem with NAT is that it can be too secure and not allow you to connect to other gamers. There are some additional things about NAT that might create some problems as well. It is important to know some information about NAT to be able to discern whether or not you are experiencing gaming problems related to NAT.
There are three types of NAT connections with which you should be familiar:
- Type 1 is completely open and not behind a firewall, also know as an “open NAT.” While this may offer the best opportunity to connect with other players, it is also the least secure and can leave your PC or console vulnerable.
- Type 2 is also know as a “moderate NAT.” As its name suggests, this NAT Type offers moderate protection. This should work to connect you to other players in most situations. This will be explained more in a second.
- Type 3, or a “strict NAT,” is the most secure but this level of security will often prevent you from doing even very simple tasks.
A strict NAT types is not recommended when trying to play against others online as it will prevent you from completing a connection to the servers or host consoles. For all intents and purposes it is best to stick to a type 2 NAT, however, if you experiencing difficult connecting to some network or host, you can switch to an open NAT type. Just remember that if you do this you will be making your network more vulnerable.
For those who would like to understand NAT in a bit more detail please watch the video below (all others can skip ahead):
How to Open a NAT Type
If you experience issues connecting to online matchmaking services, go into the settings on your console. This will help you determine what NAT type your device has. Although ultimately you will be fixing the issue on your router, figuring out whether your NAT type is either open, moderate, or strict will help you know what you need to do.
NAT issues usually affect games where connections happen peer-to-peer (P2P) so it is not usually a PC issue, but it can affect your PS4, Xbox One, Switch, or similar console.
In order to open your NAT type you will need to:
- Log into your router settings by inputting your router’s IP address into your web browser’s address bar.
- After inputting your login credentials enable UPnP on the router and then select the forwarding tab.
- Find the setting for DMZ and then enable it. This should allow all connections to be allowed from other people trying to connect with you on PSN, Xbox Live, or Nintendo Switch Online.
Enabling DMZ will allow you to bypass your network’s firewall. By bypassing your firewall you will open yourself up to security risks. Those who are concerned about security risks may be more interested in port forwarding, also known as port mapping. However, it is a bit more complicated to use port forwarding and even if port forwarding is enabled it may not completely solve your gaming issue(s).
For those who are interested in forwarding a port a great resource is PortForward.com.
Here’s an example of how to set up port-forwarding using an Xbox One and PortForward.com:
Nintendo Switch: Connectivity Issues
One notable example of poor connection through WiFi comes from Nintendo, where users have continually complained of poor internet connectivity while using wireless networking. Most of the complaints so far have centered around dropped connections and slow speeds. Since many Switch users do not use an ethernet cable they are much more prone to having connectivity issues.
An early response from Nintendo asked users experiencing issues to disconnect the Switch from its docking station and move the console within 10-15 feet of their wireless router for improved reception. However, users were not satisfied with the rudimentary work-around that the company suggested. This required Nintendo to release a more in-depth solution to those still seeking to improve their online gaming experience.
Fix for the Nintendo Switch: Quick Tips to Get Back Online
After the backlash from fans about how poor the internet connectivity of the Switch was, Nintendo released a few quick tips on what Switch owners could do to improve their wireless signal.
Nintendo recommends the following for users experiencing connectivity issues:
- Turn the Switch on and off again
- Reset networking devices
- Remove metal objects from the area that may cause interference
- Move the Switch closer to therouter
In addition to Nintendo’s provided tips, you can try connecting the Switch to your WiFi’s 5 GHz frequency instead of the 2.4 GHz, which will result in faster speeds at the expense of a more limited signal range. If you are gaming close to your wireless router, always stick to the 5 GHz frequency. If you are playing farther away, connect to the slower but longer ranged 2.4 GHz frequency.
A Low Ping Gives You an Advantage
When gaming on a PC or console, it will always give you a competitive advantage to ensure your network connection is optimized. Whether this means lowering your ping and reducing latency, or configuring your router settings to ensure you have no connectivity issues, there are many way to achieve an optimized connection.
As a gamer, you know it is never fun to shoot first only to die first. Finding the best configuration for your network is just as important as picking out the best loadouts to use in battle. Do not be a casualty to connectivity issues. Lower your ping today.