What Is Network Latency and How to Optimize It for Online Gaming?

what is network latency

In competitive gaming, every millisecond counts and can make an impact on the outcome of the game. Whether you are a regular online gamer or a professional esports player, one of the most crucial factors that can have a significant impact on your gaming experience is network latency. To gain a competitive edge over other players, having a low network latency is important.

What Is Network Latency?

If you are not sure what network latency is, it is the delay that occurs when data travels from your device to the server and back. Network Latency is measured in milliseconds (ms) and is basically the delay in network communication and is influenced by many factors including distance, network congestion, and hardware performance.

A high network latency means that there is a substantial delay between data traveling from your device to the server and coming back, and it can result in a poor gaming experience, as it affects your ability to react to in-game events in real time. This is highly important, as in competitive gaming, a split-second delay can make or break your gaming experience and outcome.

Impact of Network Latency on Online Gaming

Network latency can have multiple impacts on online and competitive gaming including:


A low network latency can enable you to react instantly and your reactions are registered instantly. Contrary to this, a high network latency means that your game reactions are registered with a delay, which can break your gaming experience.

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Low network latency is essential for accurate and targeted in-game reactions.

Competitive Edge

Low latency gives you a competitive edge by enabling you to respond faster than your opponents. This can be a game-changer in competitive esports and online gaming where every second matters.

How to Optimize and Reduce Network Latency?

Now that we understand network latency and why it is important for online and competitive gaming, here are some ways to optimize it:

Choose a Reliable Internet Service Provider (ISP)

The quality of your internet connection is determined by the ISP that you choose. An ISP that offers a high-speed and stable internet connection is a better choice to get low latency and immersive gaming experience. There are various ISPs available that specifically provide gaming internet plans designed to prioritize gaming traffic and provide low latency.

Optimize Network Settings

Optimizing the settings of your network is very important. Whether you are using Tenda WiFi or a wired connection, it is important to configure and optimize the settings of your network in such a way that network latency is minimized.

You can log into the admin panel of your router, e.g. mwlogin.net for Mercusys routers to prioritize gaming traffic, enable Quality of Service (QoS), do port forwarding, and choose the right channel for the WiFi network.

Close Background Processes

Having bandwidth-intensive applications or downloads running in the background or on other devices on the network can also increase network latency and consume network resources. For the best online gaming experience with reduced network latency, close all bandwidth-intensive applications and applications on the network to free up the network resources and reduce network congestion and latency.

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Wired Connection

To get the best possible internet connection, you should prefer using a wired connection over a WiFi connection. Although WiFi is convenient and there are numerous advantages of WiFi, however,  if you want to reduce the network latency or lag significantly, consider using a wired connection.

Gaming Servers

As mentioned, the network latency depends on various factors including the physical location between your device and the gaming servers. To get the lowest latency possible, prefer to use a game server that is located close to you or in your region. A lower distance between your device and the server will reduce network latency.

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