19 Oct 2023
What is a ping?
The term ‘ping’ was invented by a computer scientist called Mike Muuss, the name was inspired by the ping sound of the sonar pulse on submarines. In technical terms, ping stands for ‘Packet Internet or Inter-Network Groper’. Yes, really. It was originally designed as a program for testing internet connections and verifying IP addresses, based on the principle of echolocation. More importantly for gamers, Muuss also wanted to measure the lag time in milliseconds (ms) of data packets in transit.
Ian Garstang - Gaming content creator at GamingDebugged.
What’s a good ping speed for gaming?
The lower your ping, the faster your connection and the more competitively you can play. That’s the general rule, but you can pin it down to more specific speeds for your individual gaming style…
Professional ping: 10ms (0.01 seconds)
For competitive gamers in battles and tournaments, the slightest delay could mean game over for you and your teammates. You’ll want the lowest possible ping, so you’re not dropping points or shots because of lag or glitches.
Pretty decent ping: under 20ms (0.02 seconds)
If your idea of fun is streaming your gameplay, aim for a ping as quick as this. You’ll enjoy crisp visuals and instant actions, with no lag or choppiness.
Perfectly average ping: 20ms-50ms (0.02-0.05 seconds)
Try to get below 50ms for playing ultra-competitive first person shooter and racing games.
Poor ping: 50ms-100ms (0.05-0.1 seconds)
A 100ms or lower ping can be tolerable. But when you’re lagging this much, you’ll lose the sense that you’re playing in real time. This ping range and lag often mean you’re connected to a distant server. Depending on your game and its settings, you might be able to connect to a closer server to improve your ping.
Unplayable ping: 100ms-300ms (0.1-0.3 seconds)
Long delays are expected in this range. In fact, some online games reject your connection altogether when you’re at 170ms or more. Massively multiplayer online games are playable with a high ping, but you’ll still want to stay below 250ms. For real-time strategy games or player vs player, you’ll need to stay below 150ms. If your ping is this high, you may want to consider gaming broadband.
What affects your ping?
If your ping is higher than you’d like, it could be for one of these reasons…
Sharing your home Wi-Fi
Your gaming can lag when your broadband is busy with a lot of devices or applications. You might be in a shared home with Netflix streaming in the next room, or live in a smart home which uses multiple devices. Having too much connected at the same time will slow down your gaming, as everything competes for bandwidth. You’ll probably notice your commands taking longer to play out on screen, especially if your home broadband isn’t at least as fast as our M125 fibre broadband.
If your internet isn’t the fastest, you might have to schedule some one-on-one time with your Hub. Or you could wait for everyone else to go to bed before you challenge your mates to a rematch, or start winning levels on a lower ping. If you can’t wait that long, switch off as many devices as you can while you’re playing, or put them in flight mode. And remember, closing any programs and websites you have running in the background will also free up memory and bandwidth for your game.
Having an unstable connection
The further away your gaming setup is, the more complicated the data’s journey will be from the server to your device. This means you could be adding to your lag time. If your computer or games console really can’t be in the same room as your Hub, is it as close as it can be?
Selecting a far-away game server
A gamer who’s only 10 miles from the server will have a better ping rate than one who’s 100 miles away. So always choose the one closest to you, for a lower ping rate and a much better chance of staying competitive.
Being infected with malware
Maybe your ping isn’t to blame for your frustrating gaming experience. A virus or worm could have infected your device, slowing down your game. Or perhaps there’s an issue with your antivirus software or firewall? It’s worth a check.
Your ping could also be high...
- If your broadband provider is having problems with their network in your area
- If your device is disconnecting and reconnecting to the internet for another reason
When this happens, the gaming server won’t receive the information sent by your computer or console, which could impact your ping speed.
How to test your ping
So, how good is your ping right now? And how much room do you have for improvement? There are two ways you can do this.
1. Check your ping in your game
For an accurate measure of your network performance, specific to the game and server you’re playing on, you’ll need to investigate while the game is on screen. Go to your game settings and find your performance settings, it may show as ‘Display performance stats’ or ‘Display network options.’ Most games let you check your ping, especially first person shooter games, and some even colour-code your connection. If this shows up in your game, green means ideal, yellow is average, and red – well, red is just tragic.
2. Use an online ping test tool
You’ll find various tools online for testing your internet speed, try a few and run a few tests at different times and in different rooms to get a better idea. SpeedTest.net is one of the most popular for gamers. Or there’s SpeedSmart to measure the ping to servers all over the world and SpeedOf.me which includes a latency measurement.
For your first test, connect your computer or gaming console to your Hub with an Ethernet cable and measure your ping. Afterwards, unplug your cable and retake the test in different rooms around your home, to see how the numbers change. This will help you get a sense of your average ping, while showing you where your gaming set-up could get the fastest connection. Ping in milliseconds also appears on our broadband speed test.