How to Fix In-Game Lagging – Tips to Improve Gaming Network Latency

Weak internet connections can really put a damper on your gaming sessions. In this article, I’ll guide you through a few techniques to strengthen your internet setup. From setting up a solid baseline to optimizing your connection, I’ll help you keep lag from messing with your gaming experience.

The accessibility of high-speed and reliable internet has witnessed remarkable progress over the past decade. However, your internet plan ultimately defines the speed you can tap into. Among the three primary types of internet connections: fiber, cable, and DSL – fiber stands out as the fastest and offers the lowest latency. Yet, it’s also the least available and most costly option. Cable, taking second place, offers varying speeds and latency levels, but it’s more than capable of supporting gaming and other online activities effectively. If you have 15 mins and want a more comprehensive explanation of internet plans and speeds this is a great resource.

Latency is another popular topic that is important to understand, as it plays a pivotal role in determining your gaming experience. It’s what causes lag and disruptions. Latency is the time taken for the data packets that leave your system to reach the gaming server. Higher latency translates to prolonged data travel time, which will negatively affect multiplayer gaming—tiny milliseconds can impact your performance leading to missed shots or losing fights. As a gamer, you want your traffic to get to the game server as fast as possible so that it reduces the chances of lag and gives you a competitive edge.

Maintaining a latency under ~150ms is crucial for a positive experience. You can gauge your latency by pinging game servers and observing the response time. We’ll get deeper into latency in a later section, as it holds significance in the gaming experience.

Strategies

  • Setting the Baseline
  • Access your Internet Plan
  • Router Troubleshooting
  • Distance to the Router
  • Connection Type

Setting the Baseline

Since you probably have an internet plan in place, let’s explore ways to enhance its performance. To begin, it’s important to establish a starting point and grasp your current connection status. You can achieve this by utilizing various free WiFi speed test tools accessible through your browser.

These tests analyze key aspects like ping (latency), download, and upload speeds to provide insights into your connection’s performance. In the context of gaming, they help determine if your network can handle online gaming demands effectively.

By running tests in different locations, you can distinguish between general connectivity problems and those impacting your gaming experience.

This is the most basic step you can take in assessing your network connection. If possible, consider moving your gaming setup to an area with a more potent connection, usually closer to your router. If that is not an option, you now know a reference point for your network’s upload and download speed which will be useful in later steps.

Access your Internet Plan

It’s essential to get acquainted with the details of your internet plan, as this can give you valuable insights into the strength of your wireless connection. For instance, if you’ve signed up for a plan boasting a hefty 500 Mbps (download speed), but your WiFi test is showing a mere 100 Mbps download speed, there’s clearly some untapped potential there.

Wireless signals weaken as you move away from the router. The distance factor plays a role here. Additionally, obstacles like walls and doors further impact the signal’s strength. Now, let’s dig into some practical steps. After establishing a baseline for your network connection at your gaming setup, it’s time to scrutinize your internet plan. Knowing the actual speeds you’re paying for helps align expectations with reality. This process ensures that you’re getting what you’re investing in, and it’s an essential move towards optimizing your gaming experience.

Router Troubleshooting

Your router, along with other devices sharing the network, can indeed become a bottleneck for your network connection. While newer routers, typically acquired within the past few years, are less likely to be bottlenecks older ones aren’t exempt from causing connectivity issues.

The more devices sharing your connection, the more strain it can place on your router’s resources. If you frequently have multiple devices streaming, downloading, or using bandwidth-intensive applications while gaming, this could contribute to slowdowns. Routers serve as dedicated machines for managing network traffic, so the processor can become overwhelmed causing routing to slow down considerably.

Routers come with speed ratings that indicate their handling capacity. It’s crucial to inspect your router’s specifications to gauge its speed capability. For instance, if your router’s Ethernet ports are rated for 100 Mbps but you’re paying for a 500 Mbps plan, your connection is being bottlenecked by the router’s ports. In such instances, an upgrade would be wise.

Regular maintenance of your router can go a long way in preventing issues. Dust and overheating can affect its performance, so keeping it clean and ensuring proper ventilation is essential. Lastly, if you’ve checked all the settings and still face issues, consulting your Internet Service Provider (ISP) might be a helpful step. They can run diagnostics and provide guidance on whether the issue lies with your router or the broader network.

Distance to the Router

As previously mentioned, the distance between your gaming setup and your router can significantly impact your network performance. Wireless connections operate on two distinct wavelengths: 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

The 2.4GHz channel offers extended coverage but sacrifices some speed, while the 5GHz channel provides faster speeds but weakens more rapidly as you move away from the router.

Leveraging the insights gained from your WiFi test, you can identify the areas in your home with the strongest signal. Additionally, you have the option to adjust the channel on which your WiFi operates. If your router currently uses the 2.4GHz channel and you’re within close proximity, experimenting with switching to the 5GHz channel might yield improved speeds.

Latency and stability are more important that raw speed, as gaming does not take very much bandwidth. The distance from your gaming setup to the router can impact both latency and packet loss. As data packets travel a longer distance, the time it takes for them to reach their destination increases, causing latency. Additionally, the chances of packet loss – where data packets fail to reach their intended destination – become higher due to the extended path.

It’s worth noting that the 2.4GHz airspace has more overlapping channels. If you reside in a densely populated area such as a condo or apartment, this channel is likely more congested due to the higher number of devices using it. For those dependent on a wireless connection, the most effective strategy involves positioning your setup closer to the router, ideally in a location with minimal obstacles like walls and doors, to ensure optimal signal strength and reduced interference.

Connection Type

In the quest for a top-notch gaming experience, choosing between a wired and wireless connection holds significant importance. Each option comes with distinct advantages, impacting your gameplay in different ways.

A wired connection, often through an Ethernet cable, is known for its stability and consistency.

Unlike wireless signals that can be susceptible to interference, a direct wired connection delivers a reliable and low-latency link between your gaming device and the router. This results in faster and more consistent data transfer speeds, which are what you want for online gaming where split-second decisions matter.

Wireless connections offer convenience and flexibility, allowing you to move around without being tethered to a cable. However, they can be more prone to signal degradation due to obstacles, distance, and interference from other devices. This can result in fluctuating speeds, higher latency, and the occasional packet loss.

While wireless connections offer convenience, a wired connection is the preferable choice for optimal gaming performance. Its stability, low latency, and consistent speeds make it the go-to option for serious gamers.

Conclusion

When it comes to gaming, the key factor that reigns supreme is reducing the delay between your actions and their impact in the game. While there are several practical avenues to improve latency, it’s essential to discern which options yield tangible improvements.

Among the suggested methods is tweaking your DNS server settings. Some propose that changing your DNS server, such as adopting the popular 1.1.1.1 by Cloudflare, might boost both FPS and latency. However, real-world outcomes often don’t yield significant changes warranting the effort. Similarly, the debate around firewall settings surfaces frequently. In truth, minimizing or disabling your firewall won’t alleviate latency concerns but could render your network more susceptible to attacks, outweighing any potential benefits.

The length and quality of the data’s journey from your router to your ISP largely dictates your latency, leaving you with limited control over the matter. Utilizing a robust router can help optimize your setup. Employing a wired Ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi can further enhance stability. Additionally, ensuring other network-hungry programs are shut down and other devices transmitting minimal traffic can help create a more focused gaming environment. While a multitude of factors influences latency, making informed choices on what you can control can ultimately lead to a smoother gaming experience.