How to improve your gaming latency

Modern gaming has come a long way since the release of the original Nintendo or even Atari. Gaming that once facilitated family and individual play on console systems has now evolved to gamers connecting worldwide, playing multiplayer games with strangers and virtual friends over the internet. With modern online gaming, it is more important than ever to have a strong internet connection. 

Whether you play first-person shooter (FPS) games, racing games or real-time strategy games, you need fast internet speeds for transferring all the data that keeps your gameplay seamless. However, if you have been experiencing a delay between you pressing a button on your keyboard or controller and the action happening in the game, then you may be experiencing latency issues. Latency refers to the average total time it takes your gaming devices to send data to the corresponding server and then back to your device.

 

Explore this guide to understand more about the difference between high and low latency, the causes of latency and tips on how to improve latency to create a better gaming experience. 

Online gamers can be frustrated by latency, causing delayed game response

The difference between high and low latency

Latency is the more technical term for lag, which is when you are experiencing response delays while gaming. High latency is what causes time lag and makes gaming far less enjoyable. Low latency is ideal as this means you are experiencing smoother gameplay. Generally, an acceptable latency (or ping) is anywhere around 40 – 60 milliseconds (ms) or lower, while a speed of over 100ms will usually mean a noticeable lag in gaming. Essentially, you want the ping from your gaming device to the internet serve to be as close to 0ms as possible, as this means it takes little time for one device to respond to another. 

What causes latency?

There are many reasons why you may have latency issues while gaming. A few reasons include:

  1. Geographical location: The physical distance between your internet router and the server can affect latency. For example, if you are a Chicago resident, you may want a server that is in the Chicago-land area and not in New York, as this will help reduce the amount of time it takes for data to travel between you and the server.

  2. Internet connection type: The type of internet connection you have can play a role in experiencing low or high latency. Usually, DSL, cable and fiber internet provide fast enough speeds for virtually lag-fee online gaming.

  3. Equipment: You may have an outdated router that has weakened connection. This is common if you have many people connected to your router at one time. Upgrading to a new router may decrease latency in gaming. 
A young man smiles while playing an online game on a desktop computer setup

Ways to improve latency in gaming

If you have been experiencing high latency that is affecting your gameplay, then try these methods to help lower latency:

  1. Close out of any unnecessary programs. If you are running other large applications like music or video software, then they may be eating into your internet bandwidth, which could be affecting your gaming speeds.

  2. Run a ping test. Before changing out any of your hardware, perform an online speed test to know what your ping is before playing.

  3. Use a wired connection like an Ethernet cable. A direct connection from your router to your gaming device could provide a more reliable signal for gaming. If multiple people in your home are using the WiFi, you could be experiencing a spotty connection. A wired connection may help increase speed and decrease lag.

  4. Do not stray too far from the router. If your router is on the other side of the house and you’re trying to get your game on, you may experience a slower connection. Consider moving closer to the router while gaming to improve the strength of the connection, or purchase a WiFi extender to expand the internet to other areas of the house.

With this simple guide, you’ll hopefully be able to know how to improve latency in order to get a better overall gaming experience. For more tips and guides on internet for gaming, check out the CenturyLink Gaming Hub

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