What’s a good ping and how do you test yours?

You could be the best player in the world, but a problematic ping will have lesser gamers out-manoeuvring and out-ranking you, unless you find a way to level up your internet connection.

What is a ping?

It’s Mike Muuss’ invention. His way of measuring lag time in milliseconds (ms), inspired by submarines. Data packets, from your computer or console, are pinged to the gaming server and back to you. The quicker your ping, the smoother and more competitively you can play online games, and the bigger the advantage you’ll have – players with lower pings than you will struggle to keep tabs on you and you’ll seem to hop around their screen.

What is lag?

It’s the time delay measured by the ping. The longer it takes to send and receive messages, the less they make sense. Lag can cause your character to jerk about while moving (fighting, driving, jumping) and your gameplay could freeze or rollback, if you haven’t already been disconnected from your online game because of lag. Perhaps you’ve heard gamers complain about latency? Well, this is what most people mean.

With practice and saint-like patience, you could get used to a lag. But it’s better to try to improve it so you can level up faster and have more fun. You’ll react quicker to what’s happening and land your skill shots on target when you’re seeing the most recent, live gameplay. You can also game on instinct, as you’ll see where you are on the map and what players are up to in real-time without having to imagine it all in advance.

For slower, turn-based games, lag isn’t the worst thing in the world because your moves can be less precise and perfect timing isn’t crucial. But high ping is a real killjoy for first person shooters (Call of Duty, Battlefield) where a delay could stop you getting the headshots you need to win the game. It also sucks the fun out of questing on multiplayer online battle arenas (League of Legends), playing real-time strategy games (Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Northgard) or massively multiplayer online games (World of Warcraft, RuneScape).

What’s a good ping for gaming?

The lower your ping, the faster your connection and the more competitively you can play. That’s the general rule. But let’s see what you should really aim to have for your style of gaming…

How to test your ping

So, how good is yours right now? And how much room do you have for improvement? Let’s find out. There’s two ways you can do this…

Check your ping in your game

For an accurate measure of your network performance, specific to the game and server you’re playing on, go to your game settings and find something like ‘Display performance stats’ or ‘Display network options.’ Most games, especially first person shooters, let you check your ping and some even colour code your connection, green being ideal. Yellow, average. Red, tragic.

Use an online ping test tool

Take your pick of the online tools and run a few tests at different times and in different rooms. 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 games console to your Hub with an Ethernet cable and measure your ping. Afterwards, unplug your cable and retake the test 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.

What impacts your ping?

Unhappy with your test result? Perhaps your ping is higher than you’d like for one of these reasons…

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