What does ping & latency mean in gaming? How to use high ping to your advantage?

Ping in gaming refers to the amount of time it takes for your gaming rig (whether it is a PC or a console) to communicate with the gaming server. It is also a measurement of latency. By this very definition, ping seems simple, and it actually is. However, it can get a bit complex as it is a pivotal factor in the highly-competitive online gaming realm. 

Ping and latency: are they the same or different?

Ping and latency are the same. The word ‘ping’ is more of a request your gaming rig sends to the gaming server for performing a specific in-game action (e.g. a jump) and the time it takes for the request to get registered in the game. 

The word ‘latency’ means the same thing, but it is more geared towards the measurement context, which, in this case, is milliseconds (ms). Therefore, it is safe to say that the higher the ping, the more the latency, or vice versa. 

Does a high or more latency cause a game to work slow?

No. Latency or ping mostly has got to do with the registration of the actions performed in the game, which is done by the gaming server. Network latency does not cause online games to literally work slow as the in-game actions, such as shooting a gun, take place natively in the game. It’s the time the server takes to acknowledge the action that shapes the online multiplayer experience. 

However, issues such as having a weak graphics card or CPU-embedded graphics can cause the slowing of the game. In such cases, the issue is lag and not network latency. 

Why is ping important in gaming? 

Ping, especially low ping, is important for optimizing online gaming performance. In almost all types of competitive online gaming genres, such as FPS, MOBA, MMO, and MMORPG, reaction/response time plays a critical role in performance. 

There are three bare minimum factors that determine the reaction or response time: your gaming skills (execution skills), your gaming rig’s performance, and the ping time. How fast and agile you are as a gamer has got a lot to do with your gaming performance. 

You can gain a competitive advantage over your opponents if you invest in a high-performance gaming PC or a console and accessories (e.g. controllers) as they have low-latency performance.  

The third important factor is the ping time as it determines how fast your reactions get registered in the gaming server. For example, after you’ve made a movement (e.g. a sprint) in the game, it’s the input speed of your controllers (keyboard, mouse, joystick) and then the ping time that determines how fast your action gets registered in the game for other online players to see it. 

Here’s an insightful video that demonstrates the in-game lags and latency high ping causes in Fortnite. As the player increases ping by changing servers, he experiences delays and lag during his builds and quick double edits. 

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncEqtTnt8Io

Why is low ping important specifically for gaming and not other online services? 

Low ping matters especially for online gaming and online video calls/conferences. This is because the packets of data make a round trip; they are sent from the gaming and video calling devices to the server and re-sent back to the devices from the server. 

However, this is not the case when you are using other types of online services such as watching YouTube videos or streaming Netflix content. This is because communication takes place one-way; the data you’re retrieving when watching something online is already stored on the server. For watching online content and using other types of online services such as shopping online, internet bandwidth is more important than ping speed. 

What is a good ping for online gaming? 

Image source: Reddit

One of the common questions in online forums is what should a good ping time be for gaming/online gaming. From a professional point of view, this question is broad and there is no single answer to it. 

This is because not all games are the same, in terms of genre as well as infrastructure. For example, ping time that’s less than 100 milliseconds is good for RPG and RTS games. On the other hand, it’s important to have ping time less than 50 ms for FPS, MMO, and MMORPG games, especially when live streaming such games to Twitch and other live streaming platforms.

Also, some game developers have better server infrastructure than others in the sense that they have more number of servers across the world or in a specific geographic location. 

How much ping is good for PUBG? 

Ping time below 100 ms is ideal for PUBG and for other FTP FPS games. However, 60 ms or lower ping time is the best ping for PUBG mobile when it comes to playing competitive, advanced level matches. 

What is the best ping for COD Mobile?  

50 ms or lower is the best ping time for paying COD Mobile. However, if you are just starting out, you will be fine with 100 ms or lower. For professional players, 30 ms or lower is required. 

What is a good ping for Fortnite?

At 60 ms, you’ll barely notice lags and delays when pulling out your builds and performing quick and intense actions such as double edits. At 100 ms, it’s playable with a bit of lag.

What is the best ping for Apex Legends?

Considering the fact that Apex Legends is a fast-paced game, 50 ms or lower ping is definitely beneficial. 100 ms or higher ping will be a disadvantage for competitive players. 

What’s the right ping in League of Legends?

For beginners and players learning new skills, 100 ms or lower ping is suitable. For professional players, 50 ms or lower is advantageous in ultra-competitive matches. 

What is a good ping for Counter-Strike GO?

70 ms or lower ping is a must-have if you are playing advanced-level matches. As it is with other FPS games, ping lower than 50 ms is the best for CS GO. 

What is a good ping for Warzone?

You get a competitive advantage at Warzone, especially in competitive matches, if you have 40 ms or lower ping. Up to 60 ms is good for making the match playable. 

Check your ping time (latency)

Don’t know what your ping speed is? You can check it directly in the game. Although not every game has the same setting layouts, you can check for setting categories such as frame rates, network settings, and game performance statistics to view the ping speed. 

If you want to manually check your ping speed, one good option is to use the command prompt. Follow the steps below:

Step 1: Open the command prompt with the Windows + R key combination and type cmd.

In the command prompt, type ‘ping,’ leave a space, and then type the IP address of your internet connection. Hit enter to fetch the result.

If you are using a phone and/or don’t want to go through the hassle of using the command prompt, you can check your ping speed online. We’ve compiled a couple of online ping time testing tools to help you check your internet connection’s ping time. 

How to reduce latency in gaming: solutions to lower ping 

Geographical location is one of the most important factors that determine ping, especially gaming ping. The farther you live from the gaming server, the higher your ping. Unless you are a highly-professional gamer and can move to locations closer to gaming servers just like professional Fortnite player Turner ‘Tfue’ Tenney would, there are other steps you can try to lower your ping.  

Choose the closest game server

One simple way to lower your ping in the game is to choose the game’s server that’s geographically close to your location. Some games, including Call of Duty Mobile, automatically connect you to the closest server by allowing you to manually choose the delay time (ping).

Upgrade your gaming rig

Even if you have a considerably-good ping, you may experience delayed, laggy responses in the game if you do not have a high-performance gaming rig. Make sure to invest in controllers such as gaming keyboards, gaming mouse, and joystick controllers that have an ultra-fast input. 

Upgrade your internet connection 

In many cases, it’s the performance of the internet connection that’s the cause for a higher ping. It’s best to upgrade to a gigabit fiber internet connection in order to lower your ping. Also, make sure to use ethernet cables instead of Wi-Fi routers as there is more packet loss in wireless data transmission. 

Avoid using VPN

VPNs cause significant packet losses as they encrypt data in order to mask your connectivity to a proxy location. It’s best not to use VPNs or other proxy services in order to lower your ping.

Disable automatic updates and close background applications

Automatic updates such as Windows updates/OS updates and background applications that require online processes take a toll on the overall performance of your internet connectivity. Disable them temporarily (when gaming) in order to optimize your internet connection’s performance and ping. 

Disable antivirus programs and built-in firewall

If you have antivirus programs on your computer or phone, it’s best to temporarily disable them as they cause packet loss and therefore can slow you down. 

Dedicate a separate internet connection for gaming

Using a separate high-speed fiber optic internet connection just for gaming is one of the best steps to take in order to lower ping. When you use a separate network, your gaming rig is not interfered with by other communication devices such as home security cameras, and video calling devices. 

Try third-party apps and programs designed to lower ping

There are several apps and programs such as LSpeed, Mobile Gaming Ping, and Haste that are designed to lower ping. While they may not work as you’d expect, it’s definitely worth trying them out. 

Use high ping to your advantage 

There’s no denying the fact that high ping will leave you at a disadvantage when competing with other online players. However, there’s one major advantage you get with high ping and latency in FPS games, the peeker’s advantage. 

The peeker’s advantage is when you peek at your opponent and your peeking movement is registered in a bit of a delayed time. Because of your high latency, the gaming server delays in acknowledging your peeking movement. As a result, your opponent sees you peeking at him/her in a delayed time (after you’ve already peeked and fired the shot).  

Watch this short video clip for a better understanding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGUZ_i6jvo0 

Compensate your strategy for high ping

You aren’t at a total loss with high ping if you adjust your strategy accordingly in FPS games. The best approach to take when playing with high ping is to avoid minimal movements and instead play in an aggressive, constantly-moving way.

Considering the fact that the game server will delay in acknowledging your movements because of your high ping, the constant movements you make will appear as pre-movement to your opponents. As a result, your opponents will make only half of the damage they otherwise would if you were standing, dodging, or peeking in a still way.