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What is ping and how to reduce latency in games on PC?

The most annoying thing during competitive match in multiplayer games is the huge delays due bad ping, which make it impossible to play and makes you angry 😊.

Needless to say, in, competitive multiplayer matches in CSGO, Halo or Killzone the ping scores may vary, but the most PRO play delay is from 10 to 20 milliseconds, any additional delay can bring frustration during performance of a headshots in one of the mentioned games above – we all came across this. And although it is impossible to completely eliminate the delay physically, it is quite possible to minimize it. This is what our article is about.

Here we have gathered a number of useful tips that will allow you to reduce the delay in games and increase the chances of winning, or simply improve the feeling of the game if you play something competitively or try to stream. If you want to test your ping you can do it here.

WHAT IS PING?

Two different words can be used to indicate a delay, actually “delay” and “ping”. Many perceive them as interchangeable, but in fact their meaning is significantly different.

In fact, “ping” is a transliteration of the Ping command, a network utility for measuring latency. The program measures the time it takes for one device to communicate with another (usually a server or other PC/Console), the word Ping originates from the terminology of acoustic sonars and radars – you have probably seen in games and films how the radar really “probes” location of objects by pulses.

Obviously, your computer is not sending radio pulses, but it is trying to contact another machine by sending an echo request packet and waiting for a response. That is why the program received such a name. After receiving a response, the time in milliseconds that has passed since the request was sent is measured. This is a delay between responses. Therefore, if someone asks what ping you have, he actually means the delay. In the future we will use this very word. And one more small clarification – in the article we will talk about PC, but in general, all that has been said will also apply to consoles and other devices.

The reason for the negative impact of latency on network games is obvious – a high latency means that you receive data a bit later than other players who have lower data, which, in the end, makes you slower. What can be done to minimize delay?

Wired connection is always faster

Nowadays, wireless networks have become commonplace, and we began to forget that once there were simply no real alternatives to wired connection. Despite the fact that Wi-Fi is much more convenient, it has a number of disadvantages. As you might have guessed, one of them is the delay.

First and foremost, the Wi-Fi signal is always subject to interference, for example, from other routers and generally all wireless devices in the immediate vicinity. In addition, the wireless signal must overcome physical obstacles, and the walls can make a very significant contribution to the delay. For a wired connection, all these negative factors are irrelevant, so they are much faster. In addition, all modern motherboards have at least one Ethernet port, so no expensive additional cards for a wired connection are required.

Therefore, with a high delay, check whether the transition to a wired connection helps. If not, then this is due to one of the other reasons which we will talk about below.

Improving Wi-Fi Connectivity

If for any reason a wired connection to your computer is not possible, there are several ways to improve the quality of your wireless connection.

Firstly, you can try switching to the 5G range on your router or modem. Due to its higher frequency (5 GHz), it is less susceptible to interference than the standard 2.4 GHz band used by most devices. In addition, a signal of this frequency passes better through obstacles, although this is achieved at the cost of a shorter range.

If you are too far from your router, you can expand the coverage with a Wi-Fi repeater. However, before spending money on repeaters or 5G modems, try a few more simple steps that could potentially help.

Here they are:

  • Place the PC closer to the router. Obviously, the closer the computer is to the router, the stronger the signal.
  • Reduce the number of obstacles in the signal path. We mean that you need to reduce the number of walls through which the signal passes. You do not need to break passages in them 😊, just put the computer where there are fewer walls between it and the router, and you can already feel the difference.
  • Reduce the number of devices on the network and free the channel. Usually this question is relevant for those who live with family or neighbors. Any device that actively uses the network can slow down your connection and increase the delay, so if you have several devices that stream video in HD or 4K resolution, it will almost certainly affect the speed of your Internet connection.

Disable background apps and updates

In 2020, almost everything connected to the Internet, and we have already said how other devices can “eat” bandwidth. But what if your computer does it yourself? For a variety of reasons, a very different number of programs can be updated or simply communicate with the server, which can affect the delay, especially at a low Internet connection speed.

One of the typical examples is Steam, and here it’s useful to open the download settings (Steam>Settings> Downloads) and uncheck the box “Allow downloads during the game”. And if you use a torrent client, it should also be turned off during the game. Further, you can minimize all background activity in general, especially in the case of a small number of processor cores, a small amount of RAM or the use of HDD-drives instead of SSD.

Avoid Using VPN

There are many good reasons to use a VPN on the Internet, but there is an equally important reason why you should refuse to use them during the game.

When using a VPN, the signal always goes to the game server through the VPN server. Obviously, this increases the delay, especially if the VPN server is far away. Basically, you can always disable your VPN service during the game. Permanent manual switching on and off may be somewhat inconvenient, but to minimize the delay in games this is necessary.

Protect your computer from viruses

Naturally, we can’t talk about speeding up the computer without touching the topic of the constant threat of viruses. If your PC slows down and the connection seems slower than usual, there is always a chance that this may be due to a virus or other malicious program.

It’s not worth talking about the need for a good antivirus and regular scanning of your computer for viruses, trojans, spyware and other malicious programs. But it should be borne in mind that antiviruses themselves can consume significant resources, so they may not be in the last places in the list of background processes that need to be disabled during the game, especially on weak PCs.

Disable Windows Automatic Updates and Location Services

We all know that Windows has a habit of forcing you to install updates at the most inconvenient time. If you do not want Windows 10 to automatically download updates and occupy the channel, go to Settings> Update and Security> Windows Update> Advanced Settings.

There you will see the section “Pause updates”, where there is a drop-down menu that allows you to disable the update for a certain time. However, after this deadline, updates will be turned back on, so the process will need to be repeated periodically.

In addition to updates, the location service may “eat” the bandwidth too, but, fortunately, you can also turn it off. Just go to Settings> Privacy> Location and turn off location for your computer.

Restart your modem / router

Often, many problems can be solved using the “turn it off and on again” method, and it can also work with a delay.

It is useful to periodically restart your modem / router, as this clears the DNS cache and erases all unnecessary data, as well as reset the IP address and connection to the provider, so restarting can help with both wired and wireless connections.

In addition, like any hardware, modems and routers become obsolete over time, and at some point, it may be necessary to replace the device. As already mentioned, a good idea is to purchase a good gaming router with support for the 5G range.

Contact your provider

Sometimes the problem may not be with you, but with your Internet service provider. If you notice significant drops in speed and increased latency at certain times during the day (for example, in the evenings), this may mean that your ISP network is congested. Of course, you can get less than what you pay for all day, and the company is unlikely to do anything until you complain.

If you suspect that the problem is related to your provider, several factors should be taken into account: the general reputation of the company, the patterns of speed drop (as discussed above), the density of Internet users in the territory, the type of connection, etc.

If you ultimately decide to switch to another provider and get a new line, you should consider the fiber optic connection. But if it is too expensive for you or inaccessible where you live, cable connection or ADSL is quite enough for the needs of most users. However, try not to use satellite connection unless absolutely necessary, because for obvious reasons it has the maximum delay.

In general, given such a huge number of factors that inevitably depend on your place of residence, you will have to figure out what type of connection and which provider will be able to provide you with a fast and stable connection that will satisfy all your needs.

Choose the right game server

In most serious competitive multiplayer games, servers are divided by region. Obviously, you need to choose the region closest to your place of residence, as geographic proximity can help reduce latency.

However, in some games there are no dedicated servers, and a peer-to-peer connection can be used there, in which the devices involved communicate with each other, and not with the central server.

Although peer-to-peer connections have advantages, in particular, greater stability in games with fewer players, it also has a number of noticeable disadvantages. The most significant of them is a rather complicated synchronization between a large number of players, which can result in poor connection quality and high latency for some of them, as well as glitches that could potentially disrupt the gameplay.

Therefore, if there are delay problems in some games, check their connection type. The delay may be due to a poor peer-to-peer connection or insufficient quality of dedicated servers. In any case, as in the previous example, it will take a little deeper into the question.

Conclusion

We examined the factors that should be borne in mind if you need to reduce the delay and get rid of annoying lags in any multiplayer games. If you think that we missed something, be sure to write in the comments below and I will add it to the article.

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