Is Your Internet Connection Fast Enough for Gaming? Check Out These Important Tips

For almost two decades lag has been the killer of online gaming. You’ll have a strong streak where you are beating or gunning down your opponents and everything is going great. Then you suddenly can’t move your character, your shots are missing, and your team ends up losing a match because of your lag.

You may grumble about how you need to buy a stronger Internet connection, but that may not be true. Here are some key ways to know whether your connection is effective enough to play online and what you can do to improve things whether you are playing on a PC or your phone.

Internet providers like Comcast advertise with their upload and download speeds, but those speeds actually are not that important for gaming. Most online games do not need more than one megabyte per second, and three will suffice for anything on the higher end.

Instead, gamers need to check their ping. Ping measures how quickly your computer can respond to data requests through the Internet. If you have a very high ping of 1000 ms (milliseconds), it means you are essentially playing a full second behind what everyone is doing. In games like Counter-strike or Call of Duty, that is catastrophic.

Furthermore, online servers will often boot people whose ping passes a certain threshold. While that threshold varies from server to server, 100 ms is a common number. If you have a high ping, then playing online games will be difficult regardless of what your download or upload speeds are.

You won’t find ping numbers located on any Internet subscription plan, meaning you will need to find it yourself.

The easiest method is to just use Speedtest.net. Click the “Test” button, let it run, and see what your ping is. A ping below 20 ms is ideal, while above 100 ms indicates that you need to change things to properly game online.

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If you want to test your computer’s connectivity while playing a game, a lot of games, particularly first-person shooters, will show you your ping while you are playing. Even if it does not, the presence of overwhelming lag almost always indicates that your ping is too high to play that game, especially if you can play the game just fine offline. If you cannot play it well offline, your computer may not be advanced enough to play it.

If you have confirmed that your ping is too high, how do you fix it? There are many things you can do for both your phone and computer.

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The first step is to remove other programs or factors which may be burdening either your device or Internet connection in addition to the game. For a computer, close down any unnecessary background processes such as Internet browsers and torrent or streaming software. For a smartphone, close down background apps. And if you live with anyone else, their Internet usage can cut into bandwidth and degrade your ability to run online games. If multiple people are streaming or playing online games at the same time, the result can be that no one is actually having a good time playing them.

If cutting these programs does not work, you may have to look at cutting down on what the game is demanding for your computer. Lowering the visual settings means that your computer is sending less information to a server, which should reduce the amount of time it needs to get data back.

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The second step is to take a look at your Wi-Fi router. As the Huffington Post notes, you should avoid surrounding your router with metal objects and should keep it away from concrete or brick walls. Also, try to place your gaming device near the router – or better yet, use an Ethernet cable to connect your computer directly to the router.

If this doesn’t work, then you can look at other programs, both for your phone and computer, which can give a boost. Some of these programs include LagFix for Android and GameBooster.

However, such programs should be used only as a last resort. The first problem is that such programs can boost your computer past its limits which can have bad long-term results. But the bigger problem is that there are plenty of programs out there which promise to boost your computer but really plant malware. Knowing which boosting programs are legitimate and which are not can be difficult.

Lag is a killer, and it can be incredibly frustrating buying a new online game only to be unable to play it thanks to high ping. But using each of these above steps can help you play better without lag and ensure you actually enjoy yourself.

Image Credit: Motion blur

3 comments

  1. To me if someone is an online gamer as a 15 year hardware tech I always advise people to use Linux or Mac and never Windows. For me experience has shown me that online gaming in Windows is basically begging to get a virus or Malware on there OS because by doing online gaming in Windows you’re opening security ports that shouldn’t be opened just to play other users. 99% of my work with customers involved customers who crashed there OS’s from online gaming. And I always got the excuse “Oh I’ve played online games for years and never had a problem” Famous last words. 2 weeks at the most would go by after telling me that and they’d call me with “I got a million pop up ads all at once and then my screen went red white and blue and then gave me a blue screen. And now when I turn on my machine it says non system disk error replace disk.

  2. Hello to all ,

    Let me tell you a tip I use when playing games even with old computers ..!!

    Some rules which if you follow you will remember me for sure..!!
    1] Rule is : build a computer with easy access to your hard disks . I will explain what I mean :
    If you have a computer with an open case or a PC with a hard tray ( for me is best to have a cable from the front and there to connect your hard drives.) you have a multiple hard disks store near you BUT only one to connect at a time and boot with it. So you have multiple disks (SSD or Hard Drives) with different O.S. and with only 2 or 3 games at most on them. (It depends on your budget)
    2] Rule is : Have only the OS installed with your games and nothing else ..!! No antivirus , no other stuff that will run on the background , no wallpapers , no background pictures and if they are windows do not enable the Aero .!
    3] Rule is : Have your Graphics Card drivers always updated
    4] Rule is : Your OS should have the latest updates too.. -> very important in windows case

    Some final thoughts
    ——————————-
    With the above rules you can build different hard drives with games and boot from them anytime you want to play. In this case you build a computer ONLY for playing and not to serf the NET. So if you ONLY play your games you do not have to fear about viruses. Of course you can have a daily or monthly backup of your game-data if you want. This is the advantage of having a system easily accessed to your hard drives. You can boot with any drive you want.Make some drives with games installed and different OS to test the performance.
    GOOD LUCK.

  3. And one more thing…. believe me when I am saying that the performance even your net speed is affected by third party software that you will install in your daily internet computer system. Make a different OS on other drive and keep it as naked as possible from third party software and you will see it’s true power when you play your favorite game on line.!!
    Trust me …!!

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