Every millisecond is precious in the world of competitive online gaming where reflexes are as quick as humanly possible. Ping can be the difference between a triumphant victory and a frustrating defeat for pro gamers. Generally referred to as latency, ping is the time it takes for traffic to travel to the server and make it back to your device. A lower ping means your actions are received by the server earlier, making the game more responsive.
In this guide, we’ll give some tips to bring your ping down to the minimum. Many factors can affect the ping, but the lowest possible latency is ultimately determined by your internet connection. If you have Grande Internet or some other reliable wired connection, you can use the tips shared here to bring your ping lower than most other players and dominate the arena. We’ll conclude with suggestions for how to choose a better ISP for lower ping.
Without further ado, here are 10 ways to improve your gaming ping.
Choose a Nearby Server
Where every millisecond counts, choosing a game server close to your physical location can be a game-changer. Connecting to a nearby server decreases the distance data packets need to travel, resulting in lower latency. However, this won’t give you any advantage over other players in your region that may be close to the server.
The good news is that the distance only accounts for a portion of the real-world latency (called idle latency). Most of the ping you experience is due to data queues: Traffic waiting for the channels to be available so it can be transmitted. This is where some of the tips to follow will help.
Use a Wired Connection
Despite the convenience WiFi offers, a wired Ethernet connection reigns supreme in terms of stability and consistency. Wireless networks have to battle interference with radio signals from other nearby routers and devices. This can increase data packet loss and queue building, ultimately lowering your gaming ping.
Most gamers prefer an Ethernet connection directly to the PC or console for optimal gaming ping. A wired link establishes a stable bridge to your router, minimizing disruptions and allowing for a more fluid gaming experience.
This rules out 5G home internet as a viable type of internet service for gaming. Choose cable or fiber internet if it’s a low ping you’re after.
Optimize Network Settings
Fine-tuning your router’s Quality of Service (QoS) settings to prioritize gaming traffic can work wonders. QoS management can ensure that your gaming data packets are prioritized over other network activities—downloading and streaming traffic waits while gaming traffic is transmitted first.
Quality of Service (QoS) settings are a useful—albeit intimidating—tool for managing network traffic for gaming. By configuring your router to grant precedence to gaming data packets, you can allocate a higher share of bandwidth and resources to online games. This keeps other devices or apps on your network from monopolizing resources and triggering latency spikes while you enjoy flawless victories.
Close Background Apps
Background processes such as updates and downloads can eat up your bandwidth, potentially increasing your ping. Closing these apps before gaming will ensure nothing interferes with the gaming traffic.
The game modes on Windows and MacOS automatically prioritize games over other processes. Still, if you have startup apps that connect to the internet, close them before launching the game. You can also disable startup programs that you don’t think need to start running every time you turn on the PC.
Use a Gaming VPN
In certain instances, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) tailored for gaming could lower your ping. The catch, however, lies in choosing the right VPN—not all are created equal in terms of gaming compatibility.
The principle behind gaming VPN is optimizing the trajectory of your data packets to reach the gaming server quicker. This is achieved by redirecting your connection through servers purposefully built to lower latency. However, a VPN can just as well increase the length of the path your gaming traffic takes. Experiment with different VPNs designed for gaming and see if they work for you.
Upgrade Your Internet Service
If your gaming ping stays high no matter what you do, it may be time to upgrade your internet service. If you’re using cable internet, consider upgrading to a fiber internet plan. It may not be as costly as you think. For instance, CenturyLink fiber internet only costs $70 per month with no annual contract. CenturyLink customer service can tell you more about the service.
If fiber isn’t an option, high-bandwidth cable internet is the next best thing. An internet plan with a high max speed will ensure there’s always room for your gaming traffic in the network and the latency stays low. ISPs with faster plans also have more capacity in their networks, which limits network congestion and ensures a more consistent ping.
Check for Network Interference
If you have to connect via WiFi, pay attention to network interference. Unwanted electronic signals from devices like microwaves, phones, and nearby networks can interfere with your WiFi signals, increasing packet loss rate and spiking the ping.
The best way to lower interference with other devices is to place the router at a distance from other RF devices and close to the device you’re gaming on. If you have a WiFi 6E router, try connecting via a 6GHz band. The 6GHz band has a high bandwidth but limited range. If your gaming device is close to the router, signals from other devices in this frequency range can’t reach you.
Update Drivers and Devices
Outdated network drivers are like rusty armor in the gaming arena. Keep your gear polished by regularly updating them for prime performance. Imagine going into battle with damaged gear—it’s not a pretty sight. Your network drivers might not be as obvious as a knight’s armor, but they’re just as important.
Network devices such as the modem and the router also have an impact on latency. For instance, the latest modems are based on DOCSIS 3.1 which employs active queue management to lower round-trip latency. Xfinity is also bringing Low Latency DOCSIS (LLD) to the market soon which only DOCSIS 3.1 modems will be able to benefit from.
LLD will work by allocating a separate lane for traffic that needs low latency (such as gaming traffic) to improve queuing delay. As for the router, that’s our next tip.
Use a Gaming Router
When you’re leveling up to be a pro gamer, just any old router won’t cut it—you need a router that’s designed for gaming. Gaming routers aren’t just a marketing gimmick; they employ the latest technologies to improve wireless connectivity for gamers.
Modern gaming routers are based on WiFi 6 technology, which can lower the latency by up to 75% compared to WiFi 5. Gaming routers also have Quality of Service prioritization and traffic management for games to keep the ping low.
You may have seen how some gaming routers have up to 10 antennae on them—they aren’t just for show. Gaming routers use these antennae to employ a technique called beamforming, which directs the signal strength in the direction of your device. This means you don’t have to be in the same room as the router to get low latency.
A wired connection is still better for latency. But if you can’t sacrifice convenience, a gaming router is the way to go. But, your internet connection isn’t the only wireless weak link possibly impeding your ping.
Use a Wired Gaming Controller
We know, this one is going to ruffle some features—but trust us, it’ll pay off. Picture this: you’re in the heat of battle, and split-second decisions can make or break your victory. But your wireless controller decides to take a coffee break and introduce input lag.
Wireless controllers are susceptible to all the interference issues as any other RF device. But a wired controller lets nothing stand in its way. With a direct connection, your commands become lightning bolts, zapping straight into the virtual world. No more laggy missteps—just seamless control and gaming supremacy.
From your controller and gaming device to the router and modem, every part of your home network can contribute to increased latency. Setting up your home network to prioritize gaming traffic will bring down the ping for all games. Still, how low your ping can get ultimately depends on your internet service.
Satellite, DSL, and 5G services aren’t recommended for competitive gameplay—cable internet is superior. But even with cable internet, latency may be lower with some ISPs than others. Reputable operators such as Cox, Spectrum, and Grande Communications have fiber-powered networks that are less susceptible to network congestion and can allow for lower ping.
Fiber is the best type of internet in terms of latency and reliability. Fiber connections have a high bandwidth and your speeds aren’t adversely affected by other users in your area. You get low latency whether you game during peak usage hours or late at night.