There’s nothing more frustrating than being deep into an online game only to come up against high ping. Your game lags out, your opponents win because you weren’t around to defend your base or protect the objective, and you throw your controller to the ground in frustration (or smash your keyboard or mouse – we’ve all been there). There’s no doubt that high ping is one of the leading causes of frustration when gaming, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
With a little savvy and some luck, you can hopefully get your ping down to a reasonable level, but you’ll need to make sure that you perform an exhaustive diagnostic when it comes to figuring out what’s causing it. There’s always a chance that it isn’t something you can fix on your end and that you’ll need to look elsewhere to fix your ping. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what could be causing the problem and how you might address it. Here are 5 tips for reducing high ping.
1. Restart everything
The first port of call when it comes to reducing high ping should be to restart everything. We’re talking about every single item in the chain; start with your console, then when that’s done, if the problem persists, move onto your router and any other devices you have connected between the two, like Wi-Fi extenders. Restarting everything should clear any residual issues and make sure the connection is as good as it’s going to get, so if you do this and it doesn’t work, there might be a bigger problem at play.
2. Check other connections
If you live in a shared house – be it with friends, family, or just housemates – then you may wish to make sure that they aren’t doing something connection-intensive at the same time as you’re trying to game. If someone is doing something that requires heavy bandwidth – downloading a file, say, or streaming a video call, for example – that can have a serious impact on your ping. Of course, you might not be able to ask your housemates to stop what they’re doing, so it may simply be a case of trying to time your gaming sessions so that they don’t bisect heavy periods of activity from the other people in your household.
3. Change your in-game server
Sometimes, connection problems are caused by the server you’re currently playing on in-game. You may find that this is the source of your difficulty; for example, if you’ve chosen a server that’s far away from where you are, then your console or PC is going to have difficulty connecting to that server and maintaining a good connection. Try to pick a server that’s close to your geographical location, or as close as possible, at least. You may need to search online for the server that your game recommends, because it might not be the one you think it is.
4. Close everything else on your PC
If you’re playing on PC, then you might be running other apps while you’re gaming. These apps could be the source of your connection problems, so make sure to close them before you continue trying to game on your machine. For example, apps like Steam or the Epic Games Store could be downloading something in the background; they could have initiated updates for games without your knowledge, or you could have left them downloading a game and forgotten about it. These activities can take up serious bandwidth and lead to lag, so check this before you start doing anything drastic.
5. Move towards your router
If you’re using a Wi-Fi connection and experiencing regular connection issues, then you may want to move towards your router. This can make your connection stronger by eliminating potential sources of interference; if, for example, there are lots of wireless devices between you and your router, then they could be having a negative effect on your connection strength. This is much easier if you’re using a handheld machine like the Switch or the Steam Deck, because it might necessitate moving your whole setup if you’re playing on PS5 or Xbox.
What else can I try?
There are, of course, other options you have if you want to improve your ping while you’re gaming. Messing with some of the settings on your router might yield results (although we don’t recommend this unless you know it isn’t going to matter to the other residents of the house or unless you absolutely know what you’re doing). If you do have the knowledge, though, changing your router settings will have a minimal effect on other members of the house and potentially boost your gaming performance significantly. Just make sure you note down what you’re doing before you start to do it so that you can quickly reset settings if you need to.
If all else fails, then it’s time to start thinking about another internet service provider, unfortunately. It’s certainly the case that some providers are better-suited to gaming than others. If you can afford it, and if it’s available in your area, you may wish to think about getting a fibre optic broadband connection. It’s much, much faster than regular broadband and usually gets interrupted less frequently, too. There’s also the added bonus that other people taking up bandwidth on a fibre optic connection matters much less. Fibre optic is the best option for gaming, but if you can’t manage it, then just shop around for better internet service providers until you find one that’s right for you.