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Gamers’ GG Guide: How To Reduce Lag, Ping and Jitter In Gaming

Written by, Mihajlo Trajcheski

Updated June, 3, 2022

Let us paint you a picture: You’re at the very end of the game after endless hours of battle. You’re winning. You’re about to take the final shot and call it a day. You point, shoot aaand, the game freezes. Your shoot is late, and the next thing you know, you’ve lost.

Sounds like a nightmare, right? Well, many gamers face this issue regularly. But unfortunately, their internet speed can’t keep up with the power-hungry graphics and gameplay, and thus, they battle lag, high ping and jitter alongside their opponents.

So, how to reduce lag, ping and jitter in gaming to get the ultimate winning thrill?

Don’t go AFK before you read!

What Is Ping and Why Should You Care?

In a nutshell, Ping is the measuring unit that measures average latency in milliseconds. It basically checks how long it takes for the ping message to get from its starting point to the final destination and back again. Lower ping = better overall performance

Though sometimes ping and latency are used interchangeably, they are not the same thing: Ping refers to the sent signal, while latency—to the time it took the signal to do a full 180 and come back! Again, the lower the time—the better!

So, yes, if you think a great PC is all you need for a great online gaming session, think again. Your internet connection is just as important and can significantly influence the overall in-game performance.

What Affects Ping Rate?

Many of the factors that impact ping and latency rate, unfortunately, are not user-controlled. The round-trip time (command-response rate) is affected by many things, including:

  • Internet speed;
  • Poor bandwidth;
  • Firewall settings;
  • Physical Location;
  • Router vicinity; 
  • Network traffic jam.

Is High Ping In Games Really the Enemy? And How High Is Too High?

High ping = delays = lag. So, in a way, high ping is the enemy in a gaming session. The last thing a gamer wants is a response delay, so obviously, lower times are in demand!

The faster you get a response from the server when you issue a command, the better. Hence, low ping and latency are crucial for an uninterrupted, lag-free gaming session.

But just how high can a ping be before becoming too high? In gaming in particular, on average:

  • 150+ ms latency is seen as high;
  • The 50 to 100ms range is seen as average to good ping, and
  • 20ms or less is the low ping of gamers’ dreams.

Though arguably, you can have an okay gaming session in most game servers, with anywhere from 50 to 100ms latency, to ensure maximum smoothness and responsiveness, aim lower.

Low ping is especially important in first-person-shooter, multiplayer and racing games that require fast response from the server in order to run glitch-free. So, continue reading to find out what you can do to help!

High Ping Rate And Lag: Two Peas In a Pot

Gamers know that high ping usually means high chances for lag. Glitches are bound to happen when the response times are inadequate, which is why many of them strive to improve their ping rates and enhance their overall experience.

However, it’s important to note that high ping and ping issues are not the only reasons for lag. Delays can also be due to low bandwidth, significant packet loss and insufficient server processing power.

What is Lag?

The maddening delay between gamers’ commands and the in-game response is commonly referred to as lag. Besides, any glitch, slow-down or bottleneck during the game can also bear this name.

Alongside power cuts and WiFi loss, lag is one of the most exasperating things a gamer can face during playing.

What Makes Your Game Lag?

Most of the time, lag is caused by high latency. So, to reduce the lag, you’d have to look into reducing ping rates first.

Though high ping is a common lag factor, it is not the only one. The glitchy experience might be due to your PC components: insufficient random-access (RAM) or video memory (VRAM), as well as some central processing unit (CPU) and graphics card (GPU) issues.

What is Jitter?

Fluctuations in latency rates are commonly referred to as jitter. Simply put, jitter influences consistency. At the end of the day, you want your packets to get from point A to point B fast, every single time.

Such time variations hinder the no-lag experience. Ultimately, to play glitch-free, you want the latency to be low, and you want it to be low consistently. 

Inconsistency in packet-travel times makes for an unpredictable gaming session. So, just like with the ping rates, you want to aim for a low jitter value. The lower—the better. Jitter also affects video streaming and in-game voice communication, which only adds to the issue.

What Affects Jitter?

Inconsistent latency rates can generally be caused by:

  • Issues with the Internet Provider;
  • Changes in Route, and
  • Network congestion and Bandwitch hogs.

Just like ping rate and latency, jitter is measured in milliseconds. And in this case, too, the lower, the better principle applies.

Uninterrupted, distortion-free video streaming, for instance, calls for below-30ms jitter. 30 and below is the accepted rate for online gaming, too!

Usually, cable and fibre optics connections will offer better results than WiFi and Mobile ones. However, to check your rate, do conduct a ping and jitter test and see where you rank.

How to Fix Ping, Lag and Jitter in 3 Simple-ish Steps

Fixing your ping rate and, by extension, lag and jitter is not a simple task. In fact, it is a complex process that involves a lot of trial and error. But what are some things you can do? Wondering ‘How to reduce lag, ping and jitter in gaming to get the ultimate good game (GG)’? We’ve got you covered!

Step 1: Give Your PC Some Love

Your PC’s upkeep is an important part of the speed puzzle. So, open your case and get down to the nitty-gritty: Clean everything thoroughly, and use a compressed air can to dust away the germs.

Then move to the software section and see if something needs updating. While you’re at it, delete all the unnecessary files, and check for malware. A speedy PC is a well-maintained PC, so check if things are okay on your end before you look for a direct ping booster!

Step 2: Check Router Setups and Configuration

To have a good game, you need low ping and high internet speed. And for this, your router is key! So, make sure your router software is up to date and see if you can place it closer to your PC. 

Obviously, if you can use an ethernet cable to connect them, go ahead and do that! Ethernet cord connection will offer significantly better bandwidth results than a WiFi one. And don’t forget to check what kind of cable you’ve got. Newer cables (from Cat 5 to Cat 8) can handle higher connection speeds with consistent ping rates and little to no jitter.

But, if you must go the router route, remember to check the cache, too and wipe it clean if you need.

Ultimately, if your router is a bit outdated, consider upgrading to one that has the Quality of Service (QoS) option. This feature will allow you to set your PC traffic as the top priority, so you can improve your ping and stop those high rates from affecting your gaming sessions.

Step 3: Test Your Internet Speed 

Last but not least, run a speed test. Though this is no direct high ping fix, it will better help you understand your issue.

Thankfully, this is super easy to do. A simple Google search for ‘Speed test’ will yield many results. Choose one and see what it has to say. Make sure you repeat the test multiple times during the day for the most reliable results. And if you aren’t getting what the provider has promised, consider contacting them or finding a new one.

Most of the online games come with a minimum-speed requirement attached. So, you need to see if your data plan and speed allow you to join. In some cases, 10mbps would already suffice but you may require higher bandwidth for multiplayer games.

How to Improve Ping, Lag and Jitter: Few Extra Tips

We’ve got a few more tricks up our sleeve that you can use to answer your question: How to reduce lag, ping and jitter in gaming? Here’s what to do:

Close the Apps and Programs You Don’t Need

When your network is packed with bandwidth-thirsty apps and programs running in the background, you can’t expect your online game to be snappy.

So, make sure you close everything you don’t necessarily need: apps, programs, background operations, you name it! After all, if your game is the sole web user, you don’t have to fight network hogs.

Disable Updates

Though automatic updates let you stay on top of your software maintenance without actually worrying too much about it, consider disabling them temporarily while you play your favourite game.

Similar to other apps running in the background, these updates will nurse on the fixed amount of connection bandwidth. And the more things operating alongside your game, the more lag.

Remove Other Devices From the Network

Just like background apps take away from your much-needed speed, smart devices in your home do so, too! Nowadays, our routers have to manage a lot of household extras: smartphones, smart TVs, smartwatches, smart speakers, smart hoovers, smart everything!

All of these things congest your network and indirectly contribute to the dreaded high ping in games.

So, if your game is laggy, try turning these devices off while you play. And try explaining to your YouTube-loving roommates why they need to chill offline while you play. (Good luck with this last bit!)

Use a VPN That Is Good for Gaming

Many providers throttle or restrict bandwidth-hogging activities such as gaming to regulate traffic. While it might seem useful, this is not good news for network-hungry games. Hence, if you experience network throttling regularly, you need to start thinking about a VPN investment. 

A solid (gaming) Virtual Private Network will not only keep you from getting DDOS attacks but will also aid latency fluctuations, resulting in low ping times and blazing speeds! 

Such a VPN will also let you get to geo-blocked games, which is always a plus. Some of the best private network providers include Surfshark, NordVPN and Cyberghost!

Check the Game Server Ping

Sometimes it’s not you, it’s the server. Fortunately, that’s easy to check: Find your game’s IP address and google ‘Game Server Ping’. Insert the address, and voilà, you’ll know if the game’s server is to blame for the high ping rate that makes your game struggle.

Select the Closest Game Server

Location doesn’t only matter in real estate. Gaming can also benefit from choosing the right one. Physical distance to the game’s server will also help or hinder your speeds. Communicating with something that is near you will never be as fast as with something really far. The longer it takes for this exchange, the higher the latency!

Many games let you choose the server your PC communicates with, so choose one close to you if given an option to reduce the lag.

Adjust the Frame Rate

Great HD gameplays and realistic characters come at a price: Modern games graphics are power-hungry! 

One way to improve your gaming experience would be to lower the frame rate manually. Though not an ideal solution (it will reduce the overall quality of in-game animations), this might help you lower ping.

Contact the Internet Service Provider

If all else fails, give your Internet Service Provides (ISP) a call! Your ISP might offer more troubleshooting tips, fix issues remotely or advise you on a new and improved plan for better speeds and overall gaming experience!

Don’t Exit Just Yet

Like it or not, online multiplayer games are at the whim of your internet connection. No matter how great your PC is, you’ll need your network at its best to play an uninterrupted session. Glitches are usually due to high ping rates. So, when it comes to ping, we aim low.

To help you get there, we’ve created a comprehensive list of tips on how to reduce lag, ping and jitter in gaming. It includes all our know-hows and secret tips for a frustration-free session. 

Because the ultimate need for speed is the internet one!

                           

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

What Is a Good Ping Rate?

A good ping rate is a low one, preferably lower than 50ms!

What Does Ping Mean in Gaming?

Ping rates and online gaming are inseparably linked. The lower the ping, the faster the response to a command. Because the last thing a gamer wants is his character s-l-o-w-l-y picking up their weapon and shooting. This is why it’s important to know how to reduce lag, ping and jitter in gaming to get the ultimate glitch-free experience.

What Causes High Ping?

Many things contribute to high ping, including ISP issues, network congestion, location, router configuration, and insufficient bandwidth. 

Is Low Ping Good?

Yes. Low ping rates contribute to lag-free games and are a signal of an excellent network connection

As someone who grew up gaming and always had a love for random facts, being able to write about gaming and technology for a living has been an absolute treat. Whenever I’m not researching my next topic for Don’t Disappoint Me, I am deflecting the attacks of Bosses in Sekiro, investigating a murder in Disco Elysium, helping Zagreus escape the underworld in Hades, or flanking enemies in Call of Duty with my squad. Having studied English language and literature has helped me merge these two worlds of random facts and gaming into a fulfilling career.