The last thing any gamer wants during online play is high ping. High ping means lots of lag, and there’s a good chance you’ll lose the match as a result. But what causes high ping, and how can you lower your ping in Windows 10?
Your Internet connection is usually the prime culprit for a laggy game, but there are other factors that affect the speed and quality of your internet connection. And while you can’t magically give yourself hyper-fast broadband out of nowhere, there are things you can do to improve it.
Why Is My Ping So High When My Internet Is Good?
In gaming, “ping” refers to the round-trip time it takes for your computer to send and receive a signal from the game server. So, a faster internet connection should result in faster data transfer, thus lower ping. Right?
Not exactly. Many internal and external factors can make your fast internet connection unreliable. And an unreliable network connection causes high ping.
Some common causes of high ping include:
- Slow or unreliable internet connection.
- Your router’s position, the firmware it is running, and a corrupt cache.
- Your computer’s optimization and if it has the latest updates installed.
- Background applications running on your PC that are hogging network resources.
- The number of devices connected to your network and the activities happening.
To understand ping and how it affects your online activities, check out our detailed guide explaining ping and if it’s possible to achieve zero ping.
Now that you know what causes high ping, here are a few tips to help you lower ping and reduce game lag in Windows 10.
1. Check Your Internet Speed to Reduce Lag
What counts as “fast internet” is subjective and differs from person to person. However, every online game comes with a minimum internet bandwidth requirement. So, unless you meet that criterion, there is no point in trying to optimize something that will never hit the minimum at its 100% best.
You can use a free bandwidth testing tool to perform an internet speed test. If you are not getting the speed you are paying for, contact your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to address the issue.
2. Check Your Router’s Settings
Modern routers are designed to manage multiple devices simultaneously. However, when multiple devices use up a lot of data at the same time, it can slow down your connection and negatively affect your ping.
To reduce lag during gameplay, consider disconnecting idle or unnecessary devices from your network. Also, download and install pending firmware updates for the router so it doesn’t update itself in the middle of a match.
Upgrading your old router is also an option. Router upgrade can help you extract the maximum available speed and reduce latency to an extent. But remember: your internet connection is only as fast as your data plan.
If you are planning to splurge on a new gaming router, read our analysis of gaming routers and if they are worth buying.
3. Lower You Ping Using an Ethernet Connection
Wi-Fi is great, but still not as reliable as Ethernet. Wireless connections can cause latency issues, packet loss, and lag. Multiple devices connected to your wireless network are not the most optimal situation for gaming, as the signals from each can clash with one another.
Connect your computer directly with an Ethernet cable to ensure a reliable connection and low ping. Even if you’re not interested in lower pings, an Ethernet connection can make internet-based activities a lot faster and much more reliable.
4. Close Any Background Apps Using Internet Bandwidth
Background apps left unchecked can eat up your internet bandwidth, affecting other priority tasks like gaming. You can quickly identify such apps using the Task Manager.
- Right-click on the Taskbar, and click on Task Manager to launch the app.
- In Task Manager, click on the Network tab. It will list all the apps using the most bandwidth, in descending order.
- Select any unwanted app or process and click the End Task button to kill the process.
5. Configure Automatic Windows and Other Update Settings to Reduce Ping
Automatic updates help keep your device on top of things with performance improvements and security patches. Unfortunately, these updates can hog your internet bandwidth and slow your system’s ping rate.
On Windows 10, you can set a bandwidth limit for system update downloads. Here’s how to do it.
- Press the Windows key + I to open Settings.
- Go to Update and Security.
- Open the Delivery Optimization tab from the left pane and then open Advanced options.
- Under the Download settings section, choose Percentage of measured bandwidth.
- Check the Limit how much bandwidth is used for download updates in the background option.
- Depending on your internet speed, adjust the slider to set the bandwidth limit to 10% or less.
Furthermore, disable automatic updates on your game client to prevent any hindrance during gameplay.
6. Enable Game Mode in Windows 10
On Windows 10, you can enable Game Mode to prioritize your gaming experience. When enabled, it prevents Windows updates from performing driver installation and helps achieve a more stable frame rate to reduce lag.
To enable Game Mode on Windows 10:
- Press the Windows key + I to open Settings.
- Click on the Gaming option.
- Next, open the Game Mode tab from the left pane.
- Toggle the switch to set Game Mode to On.
7. Change Your Game Server and Check Server Ping
Depending on your location, most online games, by default, choose the most optimal server. However, if you use a VPN to play on servers outside your region, the ping can gett very high.
The closer you are physical to the server, the lower the ping will be. You can use Game Server Ping to check the best performing game server from multiple locations for your device.
8. Use Ping Enhancer for Windows 10
Ping enhancers, in theory, try to patch your connection through the most optimized route available on their system to offer stable server connection and lower ping. However, these utilities are most helpful if you are trying to play on a remote server outside your region.
It’s basically a VPN with a focus on low latency. For example, if you are in a Non-US/EU region which does not have the most optimized routing to games with US and EU servers, Ping Enhancers can help.
ExitLag, Ping Zapper, and WTFast are some popular Ping Enhancers available. Almost all these services are subscription-based. So, make sure to use the trial and take the apps for a spin before you decide to make a purchase.
Finally, double-check your ISP’s service status or call support to ensure nothing is getting between you and your game. If your ISP keeps giving you issues, it may be worth transferring to one with better local speeds. The faster your internet connection is, the quicker data is sent and received, which ideally should result in lower latency.
Your broadband plan may also have a data cap on it. Once you exceed this cap, the ISP “throttles” your connection, which reduces your internet speed. Even some unlimited data packages come with a “fair use policy” that says the ISP will throttle you if you exceed a certain limit.
That said, before you go hunting for a new ISP, give Ethernet connectivity a chance. Wired connections tend to offer better data flow, consistent speed, and low ping.
Lower Ping to Reduce Lag in Online Games
Low ping may not make you a pro gamer. But, high ping can make your game unplayable and most certainly see you on the losing end. While your internet speed does play a big hand, other system-related issues can also cause high ping, even on high-speed connections.
Want improved laptop gaming performance? Here’s how to improve laptop performance and ensure you can easily run the games you want.
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