27 Jul 2023
Pete Wilkins - Gaming content creator at Gaming Careers.
Gaming Careers: How to reduce lag and improve latency
To reduce lag and improve latency during your next gaming session, try the following tips shared by gaming expert and Youtuber, Pete Wilkins, from Gaming Careers:
'‘I think it’s essential to have a fast and stable internet connection for online gaming. I recommend connecting your device directly to your router with an ethernet cable. You could also maybe try moving closer to your router to improve your signal strength.
When gaming on PC, always remember to close any programs and apps that you're not using, as this can slow down your computer. And this includes things like web browsers, streaming services, and any other applications that use the internet.
Another top tip is to ensure that you pick the right gaming server. If you're playing a game that allows you to pick a server, try to choose one that is closest to your location. This can really help you improve your connection to the game server.
And a final tip is to use a wired connection when you’re gaming. I recommend this because gaming on WiFi is usually a lot less stable than a wired connection. If you can, connect your device directly to your router with an ethernet cable''.
How to improve game lag
The best way to improve game lag is to focus on reducing latency and ping.
What is latency? It’s the time it takes to generate a response to your request. If you were to type a search query into Google, for example, latency would be the length of time between you hitting ‘Enter’ and seeing a list of results. In gaming, it’s the length of time between you clicking a button or pressing a key, and seeing the action on screen. When you make a request, the data has to travel to the server and back again. Latency is how long it takes for that data to complete its journey.
Ping, on the other hand, is the way that latency is measured. What is a good ping? For most online activities, a ping of up to 100ms is considered ideal. For gaming, however, ping should be even lower to keep lag to a minimum. A ping of 50ms or less is advised for online multiplayer games.
As speed is key here, the obvious starting point for reducing lag is to check your internet speed. A good internet speed for gaming is crucial to smooth gameplay. If you’re not sure what speeds you’re currently getting at home, use our broadband speed test tool to find out. It’ll show you in moments how fast your service is.
If your speed test shows that you’re currently receiving speeds that are less than ideal, you could consider upgrading to Fibre broadband or ultrafast Gigabit broadband for improved speeds and lower latency. Discover more about gigabit broadband.
If your speeds are already OK, there are a few other methods to help reduce lag…
How to reduce lag in online games
If you’re playing games online via a console or laptop connected to the internet, you could try…
1. Closing down competing applications
Even if you have ultrafast broadband speeds, you still may notice lag if you’ve got lots of devices and lots of applications all competing for bandwidth. For example, if you’re trying to play World of Warcraft while someone else in your home is trying to stream the latest blockbuster on Netflix, neither of you is going to get the best speeds. Try closing down any high-bandwidth activities like streaming services before playing, ensuring as much bandwidth as possible is available for gaming.
2. Moving closer to the router
The further away you get from your router, the more your WiFi signal suffers. And if there are walls, doors, or furniture between your console and your router, it can be even worse. Online experiences are typically best when your WiFi signal strength is 60dBm . However, for gaming, it’s even better between 30dBm and 60dBm (when it comes to signal strength, the closer to ‘0’ the better). Moving to a part of your home where the WiFi signal is stronger could be the solution you’re looking for.
3. Upgrading your router
How old is your broadband router? Something that many people don’t realise is that routers don’t last forever. As WiFi protocols evolve in line with advances in digital technology, older routers become less capable of delivering high speeds, good signal strength, and consistent reliability across your home. Fixing your lag problems while gaming could be as simple as upgrading to a new router. The latest routers are powered by WiFi 6 technology which offers optimal performance for gaming enthusiasts.
4. Playing on a local server
In some games, the player is given the option to choose the server that they want to connect to. To reduce the risk of experiencing lag during gameplay, it’s often recommended to select the server closest to your location. This means that the data has less distance to travel, resulting in lower latency, a lower ping, and subsequently improved gameplay. However, if you want to play with specific players, remember that you may not always be able to choose the nearest server.
5. Keeping your home network secure
Although it’s unlikely, if you’re experiencing lag while gaming it’s important to rule out the possibility that unauthorised users are logged into your WiFi, sharing your bandwidth. This can happen if you haven’t properly secured your home network. For example, you may have used weak passwords, or shared these passwords openly, resulting in them getting into the wrong hands. You can enhance WiFi security by using strong passwords, and tracking the devices connected to your network.
Don’t let lag spoil your gaming experience
Lag is every gamer’s worst nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be. Lag is frustrating, but it’s not something you have to sit back and accept. There are many different ways to reduce lag, and the easiest way is simply to ensure your PC or console is able to run as quickly and smoothly as possible.
There are two great ways to do this: eradicating things that are slowing your devices down, like background applications, and ensuring your internet speeds are the best they can be and consider options such as gaming broadband.
What broadband speed do I need to reduce lag?
To really minimize lag while gaming online, a faster broadband speed is better. Most online games only need 2-3 Mbps for smooth play, but more bandwidth gives you headroom. Aim for at least 10 Mbps, preferably 30Mbps or higher, to allow full-quality game streaming without freeze-ups or choppy video. Faster speeds also support more connected devices using bandwidth simultaneously. 100Mbps or above like our M125 Fibre broadband is ideal for lag-free online gaming, streaming HD video, and casual browsing. The faster your broadband, the smoother your gameplay. If you’re looking for superfast speeds, use our helpful broadband postcode checker to see if you can get Virgin Media in your area.