Why is my ping so high

There’s a little more annoying than hopping into an online game session and finding that your ping is so high that it’s causing major lag. This is particularly problematic in competitive multiplayer games such as first-person shooters, where your reaction times are the difference between winning and losing.

The good news is that there are multiple ways to help lower ping and reduce latency in video games. Before we go through them, we’ll quickly explain what ping is and why having low ping is important. We’ll then look at some of the reasons you may be suffering from high ping, how to diagnose the problem, and, most importantly, how to fix it.

What is ping?

Ping is one of the biggest considerations for online gamers, particularly those who want to be as competitive as possible. Ping is the time it takes for data to be sent from your device to a server and then back to your device. So when it comes to gaming, ping is the delay between the moment you press a button or key and the server’s response to the input arriving at your game client.

Measured in milliseconds (often abbreviated to “ms”), ping helps gamers better understand how quickly their computer communicates with a gaming server. It dictates performance when playing video games online. The lower the ping, the less latency or lag you’ll experience, and the better your performance will likely be.

Chances are that if you’ve played popular multiplayer games like Call of Duty or Rocket League, you’ll have seen your ping displayed alongside your username on the player leaderboard. Indeed, you can likely see the ping of other players, too. You’re seeing a measurement of how fast each person’s connection is to the game server.

Why is low ping so important for gaming?

Low ping is essential for gaming because it greatly affects the responsiveness of your gaming experience. With reduced latency, the time it takes for your actions to be registered by the game server is minimized.

In games such as CS:GO and Overwatch, reaction time and precision are all the more important. Low ping ensures you’re on a level playing field with other players. In contrast, high ping can put you at a major disadvantage.

Low ping allows for a more seamless gaming experience free from interruptions caused by spikes in lag or delays. As a result, games often look better and smoother, making for a more immersive and enjoyable experience.

What are the causes of high ping?

There are multiple reasons why you may be struggling with high ping. Here are the main causes:

Internet connection issues

One of the most common reasons for high ping is issues related to your own internet connection. Other devices on the same network may be occupying a high bandwidth, particularly if they’re also playing online games, streaming, or downloading. An unstable connection can also contribute to high ping. This may be because the Wi-Fi router is too far away or because large obstacles, such as walls, block the signal. An ethernet connection usually gives you a lower ping than a Wi-Fi connection.

Another factor is your ISP’s infrastructure. Fixed, wired internet, such as cable and DSL, usually offer lower ping than wireless through 5G or satellite connections.

Server distance

The physical distance between your device and the game server can significantly impact ping. The greater the distance between the game server and your location, the further data has to travel (and the longer it takes as a result).

Network congestion

Internet traffic increases during peak usage times. These tend to be evenings and weekends when more people are at home and using the internet, which can cause network congestion (and higher ping). Some ISPs manage their networks by throttling traffic, which can again result in higher ping.

Server issues

The cause may be on the game server’s side. Whether it’s due to servers overloaded with requests, scheduled maintenance, or some unexpected server problem, ping can temporarily be increased. DDoS attacks on game servers can cause ping to spike.

Hardware limitations

Older routers may not handle high-speed internet efficiently, which could cause high ping. The same can be said for outdated ethernet cables and network adapters.

Software interference

If you have programs running in the background, be it updates, downloads, or streaming services, these can consume bandwidth and increase ping. Furthermore, some antivirus programs and firewalls may have overly strict settings that interfere with network traffic and cause delays.

Furthermore, if the game runs poorly due to hardware limitations, this can increase ping.

How to diagnose high ping

Here are some things you can do to diagnose ping and, hopefully, put a stop to it. Note that it’s worth running these tests at different times, particularly at peak times, to see if there’s a change.

Speed test

When diagnosing high ping, the first port of call is running a speed test. This measures your current internet speed. You can then compare it to what your ISP advertises. Your best bet is using Speedtest.net or Fast.com. Be sure to close other applications that are using the internet. After running the test, make a note of the download speed, upload speed, and ping.

Ping test

It’s also worth running a ping test, which measures the round-trip time to servers. For this you’d need to use Command Prompt (Windows) or Terminal (Mac and Linux). Upon opening this, you’d type ping [specific game server IP]. Of course, you’ll want to make a note of ping times.

Monitor network usage

You can check which applications or devices are consuming bandwidth through the Task Manager in Windows and the Activity Monitor in Mac.

How to lower ping (and reduce lag)

To lower your ping and reduce lag, you’ll need to examine several different areas, including your internet connection, hardware, and more.

  • Improve your internet connection: If your current internet plan doesn’t offer enough bandwidth, it may be worth upgrading to a higher-speed plan. You may need to switch ISP providers for lower latency connections. Opt for wired over wireless. Using an Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi should also provide a faster, more stable connection.
  • Optimize network settings: You may be able to reduce latency by using a faster DNS server, be it Google DNS (Primary, Secondary or Cloudflare DNS (Primary, Secondary
  • Choose optimal servers: When possible, select servers that are closer to your physical location. Data packets don’t have to travel as far, which helps speed things up. Select the region closest to your location. In some games, you can choose a specific server. Be sure to choose the one with the lowest ping.
  • Reduce network load: You can free up bandwidth by limiting the number of devices connected to your wifi network when gaming. In particular, stopping downloads, streaming, and other high-bandwidth activities can significantly reduce network load.
  • Upgrade hardware: If you have an older router, you may want to consider investing in a new, high-quality router that can handle higher speeds. Using a higher category Ethernet cable (5e and above) can also improve performance.
  • Consider your router placement: High ping is often caused by a poor wifi connection. You can improve your connection by placing your router in a central location free from obstructions such as walls and other large obstacles. Still, an ethernet connection is ideal.
  • Adjust software settings: Start by closing any unnecessary programs and applications. Take a look at your antivirus and firewall programs and make sure they’re not interfering with traffic flow. It’s also important to keep your operating system, drivers, and firmware up-to-date.
  • Use a gaming VPN: Some VPNs have gaming-optimized servers and can lower ping through more efficient data routing. The closer the server to your location, the faster the connection is likely to be. If your ISP is throttling your bandwidth, a VPN can help you bypass this by encrypting your traffic and hiding your online activities.

How low should my ping be to play online games?

The lower your ping, the better the performance is likely to be when playing online games because you’ll suffer less lag as a result. As a general rule, anything under 50 ms is good. Anywhere between 50 and 100 ms is average. If you’re getting ping of 100 to 200 ms then that’s on the poor side while 200 ms or more is considered virtually unplayable.

Ping FAQs

What’s the difference between ping and latency?

The terms “ping” and “latency” are often used interchangeably, but there is some difference. Ping is a network tool that measures latency.

Latency is the total time it takes for data packets to travel from your device to the server and back. Measured in milliseconds, it shows how quickly a gamer’s actions are registered by the game server. Gamers use ping to determine their connection quality. The lower the ping, the faster response times.

Can a VPN help reduce ping?

Although a VPN won’t lower ping in all cases, it is possible. For example, a VPN may provide a more direct or optimized route to the game server than your ISP’s default routing. Furthermore, some ISPs throttle gaming traffic during peak times.

VPN hides your traffic, making it harder for your VPN to know you’re gaming, bypassing throttling. In these cases, you may see improved ping. However, the encryption and extra step in your connection when using a VPN generally increase latency which will be reflected in your ping.

Can my ISP fix high ping issues?

Your ISP may be able to help if you’re suffering high ping although it really depends on what’s causing the issue. If you’re on a low-speed plan, you may want to look into upgrading and your ISP can advise which plan best suits your gaming needs. Likewise, your ISP can help diagnose any issues with your connection, looking at your router and local network. Your ISP can also ensure your router’s firmware is up-to-date, which can potentially help reduce latency.

Does bandwidth affect ping?

Various factors can influence ping. Bandwidth measures the maximum data transfer rate, while ping measures the time it takes for data packets to travel to a destination and back. Having higher bandwidth can reduce network congestion and improve data handling, which can potentially lower ping. However, factors such as network path, stability, and packet loss can also significantly influence ping.