Tech Tips

How to fix lag when playing online multiplayer games

When you’re talking strategy for online multiplayer game domination, you may not factor in one of the most important things: reducing game latency. Because when your game lags or freezes, either because your internet speed is lacking or because your family member is creating network interference by streaming movies on their iPad in the other room, your gaming mission will ultimately fail.

Whether playing Minecraft, Fortnite, or Call of Duty on your PS4, Xbox One or your PC, our experts are here to help you enjoy all your tech has to offer and keep your devices working at their best. From helping resolve bandwidth problems in your home to gaming console repairs, our experts are here to make your tech life work for you.

We’re sharing what you need to know about improving your overall internet connection for online gaming in order to get rid of lag, fix ping and reduce latency.

Why does my Wi-Fi lag when playing games online?

Wi-Fi will lag when playing even the best online games based on two factors: your bandwidth, which is how much data can be transferred at a time (the higher the number, the better) and your ping, which is how long it takes requests from your network to reach and then come back from the server (the lower the number, the better). 

Some online games can put a heavy strain on your network, which can cause reduced network speeds and increased ping – which is, basically, the perfect scenario to make your game lag.

Network interference can also cause lags. This is when other nearby devices also using your Wi-Fi disrupt your gaming console’s connection. If you suspect interference is causing problems for your network, try these tips:

  • Move your router/devices to a different area in your home
  • Change your network’s Wi-Fi channel settings from 2.4Ghz band to 5Ghz band. You can find the option to do this in your Wi-Fi network’s advanced settings.
  • The best solution? If possible, connect your gaming device directly to your router using an Ethernet cable instead of relying on the Wi-Fi network. 

What is the best connection speed for online gaming?

The minimum network speeds for online gaming are generally pretty low — both PlayStation Network and Xbox Live require only 3Mbps download and 0.5Mbps upload.

But the minimum requirements won’t indicate the best possible experience, and Wi-Fi connections can always be a little unstable. For best connectivity, we recommend connecting your gaming console via an Ethernet connection with 80-100 Mbps — 1Gbps speeds.

How to test your Wi-Fi speed

Websites like Speedtest.net allow you to check your Wi-Fi speed in one easy step  simply go to the site and click on “Go” in the middle of the screen. That’s it! The site does all the work for you.​

When testing your network’s connection speeds, it’s important to know that the tests only capture what your connection is like in that moment. Your network’s strength varies, especially when you’re connected via Wi-Fi. Even a temporary drop of the network’s strength may result in your game lagging.

How important is ping to online gaming?

Ping plays a big role in fast-paced gaming. Your ping time (or latency, measured in milliseconds) is how long it takes a request from your network to reach and return from the server.

Picture your game character and an object for your character to interact with. When you press a button to interact with that object, how long it takes your character to react to the button you pressed is your latency.

Why is this important? In competitive multiplayer online games, the players’ ping times can determine who wins and who loses. In slower paced games, though, your ping won’t be as big of a factor in your overall gaming experience.

3 tips for reducing latency or lag when playing high quality online games

  • Switch from a Wi-Fi connection to an Ethernet connection to reduce network interference. If an Ethernet connection isn’t possible, try switching your Wi-Fi channel to a 5Ghz band and get your gaming device as close to your router as possible.
  • Ensure you have bandwidth to spare. Gaming while other people in your home are putting a heavy strain on your network (by doing things like streaming 4k videos, downloading large files, or software updates) may negatively affect your gaming experience. The stronger your network is, the more activity it can handle at once.
  • Some games will allow you to choose the server you connect to. If you can, connect to the closest server possible to reduce your latency.

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