A Complete Guide to Improving Latency for Gaming

Latency for Gaming


Lag can be a killer in online games, quite literally in many cases. As a gamer, you want your ISP to deliver low-latency connections more than anything else. But there’s a lot more that could be contributing to your high ping.

In this article, we define latency, lay out the causes of high latency, and offer some ways to effectively lower latency for your connection. Let’s get started.

What is Latency?

Latency is the time it takes for a data packet to travel across a network. Networks that take a lot of time to transfer data are considered to have high latency, and vice versa. High latency results in lag, which is the effect computers experience as a result of a delay in data transfer. In gaming, this delay is referred to as ping and is measured in milliseconds (ms).

A latency or ping of less than 20 ms is considered ideal. A latency between 20 to 50 ms is still fair, but higher latency can be problematic for competitive gameplay.

What Causes High Latency?

High latency can be a result of one or many factors acting together. Some of these factors include:

  • Bad internet connection
  • Poor connection to your router
  • Poor Wi-Fi router
  • Apps running in the background
  • Distance to the game’s server
  • Using a VPN

Some of these factors may be immutable—you can’t bring the game’s server closer, for instance. However, there’s still a lot you can do to lower your latency and ping. Let’s look at some effective ways to improve latency.

Ways to Improve Latency

1-   Upgrade to A Fiber Internet Connection

Data has to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to reach the server you’re connected to. Electrical signals are going to take some time to get there no matter what you do. This is the fundamental cause of latency—and one that remains even if you’ve fixed all the other problems.

To improve this, you can consider upgrading to a fiber connection. Light travels faster than anything else, including electrical signals. Fiber connections such as CenturyLink Internet use infrared light to transmit data, making them much quicker than cable connections.

2-   Connect Directly To Your Router via an Ethernet Cable

Your Wi-Fi router is used by devices all over your house. It doesn’t know which devices to prioritize when it reaches its bandwidth limit. If you’re connected to a Wi-Fi router that other people are also using, you may experience lag due to overload.

Wireless networks such as Wi-Fi also have significantly higher bit error rates than wired connections. These errors cost time to correct, resulting in lag and higher ping.

Connect your computer directly to the router using a Cat 5 or Cat 6 Ethernet cable. This will immediately lower your latency.

3-   Exit Apps and Websites in the Background

Apps and websites running beside the game may be using data, leaving less bandwidth for your online gaming data. There are probably several apps running in the background even if you have all the windows closed.

If you’re on windows, make sure to exit all but essential apps in the icons on the bottom right. If you’re on Mac, quit all unessential apps and tabs.

4-   Avoid Using VPNs While Gaming

VPNs add extra distance and an extra step between you and your game’s server. Data packages that would normally go directly from your computer to the server will now first go to the VPN server and then to the game’s server. Unless you can’t play the game without VPN, connect to the game with your IP.

If the online game isn’t available in your region or if you need VPN for any other reason, choose a VPN server located close to your location or the location of the game’s server. This will ensure your data packages don’t have to travel much extra distance, keeping the latency low.

5-   If You Have to, Use a Gaming Wi-Fi

Connecting directly to the router via Ethernet is probably the most common advice for lowering latency on the internet. But that’s not always convenient or possible, especially if you’re a laptop gamer.

Gaming Wi-Fi routers are designed for gamers concerned about ping. These routers have much higher bandwidth than a typical router, allowing you a lag-free gaming experience even when multiple users are connected. Gaming Wi-Fi routers also use multiple antennae to produce much stronger signals than a typical router, reducing bit error rate and improving latency.

CenturyLink Internet comes with a high-bandwidth Wi-Fi router with a longrange, so you can access low-latency fiber internet from anywhere. CenturyLink Internet also has the same upload speed as its download speed. You can stream your gameplay on Twitch at high quality and upload videos to YouTube fast without suffering any increased latency. Visit buytvinternetphone.com to see available CenturyLink Internet plans in your area.


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