Imagine you’re in the middle of an intense game. Maybe it’s a battle and you’re shooting or slashing your sword. Or perhaps it’s a sports match. Whatever it might be, imagine you’re just a few points from winning. You take the winning shot and your game momentarily freezes so your shot happens a few seconds later instead of instantly. Then you discover your opponent took the shot first and you’ve lost...all because your game lagged.
Game lags are when there’s a delay between the action of the players and the reaction of the game server. Alongside the internet connection cutting out, they’re one of the most frustrating things a gamer will experience. It’s irritating because it doesn’t matter if you pressed the button first. If your game lags, the server won’t react instantly so if your opponent’s game is faster, they have a much better chance of winning.
Luckily, there are several things you can do to minimise lags and maintain a consistent gaming experience.
1. Check Your Internet Speed and Bandwidth
You don’t necessarily need business-speed internet to be able to game seamlessly, but you do need at least 15-20Mbps if you’re going to play games. But you also need to think about your bandwidth.
If you or other people in your household are going to be doing other internet-based activities (such as streaming movies, video chatting and browsing the web) at the same time, it can strain the bandwidth. Activities like streaming videos and downloading files are particularly big as they require a lot of data - a lot more than gaming, in fact. This can significantly slow your internet and game down if you don’t have enough bandwidth to support it all.
2. Aim for Low Latency
Network latency is how long it takes for data to travel between its source and destination. The lower the latency, the better. If you’re gaming with high latency, you might tell your character to walk forward but they won’t actually move for a few seconds. This is what causes lag. The best combination is to have high-speed internet with low latency.
A good latency is a ping rate of below 150 milliseconds. 20ms is considered to be great.
What Causes Latency?
Like bandwidth, latency depends on more than just your broadband connection. It’s affected by your network hardware, the remote server’s location and connection, and the router.
When data packets travel from their source to their destination, it’s not usually a direct route - they often pass through different points along the route. The longer the route and the more stops they have to make, the longer the delay. How far your router is from your computer/console also adds to the delay.
3. Move Closer to Your Router
Items like the walls, floor, furniture and other physical objects can get in the way of your wireless signal. Enhance your WiFi signal and improve your line of connectivity by moving your computer or console closer to your router.
If you find that you still experience lag, it’s deteriorated or there’s no way you can move the router, try changing your gaming position. For example, placing your console at a different angle. You can also reduce signal interference from other household appliances like wireless speakers, microwaves and mobile chargers. This can help the wireless signal travel a more direct route to your device.
4. Close Any Background Websites and Programs
Bandwidth-heavy sites like Netflix, YouTube and downloads severely affect your ping rate and latency. Close any you might have running as this can impact your gaming performance.
Reducing the number of devices you have connected to the WiFi can help. The more devices connected to and using the WiFi, the more bandwidth is required. You could even put your devices on Airplane Mode while you game.
5. Connect Your Device to Your Router via an Ethernet Cable
If you live in a household where you have to share a WiFi connection with your family members or housemates, it might be difficult to ask them to stop using the internet when you’re gaming. You can try to squeeze in a game whenever they’re out of the house or you could connect your device to the router via an Ethernet cable.
As long as your router isn’t the problem, this should dramatically lower your ping.
6. Play on a Local Server
Playing on a server in your country or side of your country can significantly decrease your ping. The closer the server is to you, the better.
7. Restart Your Router
A router that has been on and in use for a while can become strained. Restarting your router can help to refresh your internet connection and can improve latency.
8. Replace Your Router
Old routers can affect your connection strength, speed and reliability. A router optimised for gaming can be the best choice. Gaming routers have special features designed to enhance all the conditions needed for gaming (including internet speed, ping rates and latency). One particular feature is Quality of Service (QoS), which allows you to prioritise the internet traffic on your console so you can get the best gaming experience.
9. Upgrade Your Broadband Package
Better broadband can be the best and most straightforward way to reduce game lag and increase internet speed. Consider upgrading your broadband package to an option that offers better conditions for gaming. Sometimes, it might be your specific area that has patchy WiFi signals so you could look for another broadband provider who offers a better, more reliable internet connection.
Gigaclear is a broadband provider who specialise solely in bringing ultrafast full fibre broadband to rural communities. We know and understand the frustrations rural communities face with poor and unreliable internet connections.
Whether you’re gaming, online shopping or streaming your favourite TV show, you shouldn’t be at a disadvantage just because of your location. Our ultrafast broadband allows you and your household to stay connected so you can go about your normal online activities with ease.