Internet speed has become synonymous with a good connection. If you are getting a speed of 50Mbps, there should not be any problem in streaming movies, YouTube, etc. for a single user. But for gamers, speed is not everything, ping also matters a lot. What is ping time, what ping is good, and how it affects everyone who’s on the internet will be the subject of this article.
When you interact with an online game, the time taken by your input to reach the servers of the game and come back with the response is called the ping time. Everything you do on the internet involves three basic processes of communication. First, you input a command. This could be typing a message, moving, or shooting in a game, clicking on a picture to view it.
This input then travels to the servers of the service providers (gaming servers, Instagram, Twitter, Google, etc). A proper response is then given by the server that comes back to your computer and you get the results. The time taken by the whole process (input, traveling, and receiving) is called latency. It’s like asking your sibling to fetch water for you (which has sky-high ping time).
What is a good ping?
While all other services majorly rely on bandwidth (internet speed), gaming is currently the online service that needs good ping speeds (and bandwidth is peripheral). This means that a bandwidth of 50 Mbps or even 20-30 Mbps will run games smoothly. In online gaming, very few packets of data are exchanged (upload and download). What matters is how fast the communication occurs, which is also called latency.
- An excellent ping is anything below 50 milliseconds.
- A good ping is anything between 50-100 milliseconds.
- A ping time between 100-150 milliseconds is considered manageable, but you’ll start having issues with the game as it gets laggy and jittery.
- Anything above 150 milliseconds is considered unplayable.
This is the general latency, and most games would agree on it. However, the type of game you are playing also changes the ping requirement. In some cases, good pings become bad and bad pings become good. Let me explain.
Ping time and type of games
Different games have different ping requirements. This does not mean that games would not benefit from a lower ping or lower latency. Low ping is always great. However, some games can be played without any issues with 150ms of ping time or latency, while some games are unplayable, even at 100ms of latency. It all depends on what you are doing in the game.
Games like Fortnite, PUBG, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, etc, which involve split-second decision making and other players playing online, you have to have a connection that gives a ping time below 50 milliseconds. Anything above can be the reason for losing the game. It is seeing the enemy and shooting that needs milliseconds of judgment and if you are already delayed by 60-80 milliseconds while the other guy has low latency, the next thing you know is you are back into the lobby, starting another game.
But a very low latency is not always needed. Think of games like Hearthstone or even games like Far Cry, etc which does not involve player vs. player scenario. Of course, lower latency will enhance the experience, but 100 milliseconds of ping time won’t be much of an issue. For example, you are playing multiplayer Minecraft or Far Cry with your friends. So the good ping depends on the type of game you are playing. But anything lower than 50ms is always the best. So how much ping does your connection has? Checked it on Speedtest.net? That might be wrong.
Measuring real ping
We use online internet speed testing services like Speedtest, Fast, etc. With speed, we also get to know the ping time. Before you get flooded with joy after seeing a ping of 10 milliseconds, there is a caveat in that number. Ping depends from server to server. This means that the type of server and the location makes a lot of difference.
While testing your speed, these speed testing services look for the best, closest server to your physical location. This ensures the highest speeds and lowest latency. When it comes to games, things might be different. The location of the game’s server affects the ping. Choosing the server in your own country is the best way of playing the game without any lag. So, always look for your ping time in-game to determine the latency and jitter. But what’s jitter?
What’s jitter and lag?
We’re familiar with the terms ping time and latency, but along with the two, there are two more words often used. These are jitter and lag. Nothing complex here. Lag is the delay you experience when you press a button in the game (moving forward for example) and then actually seeing that happen in the game. This is what lag is and it is the gift of high latency.
Jitter is when there is a sudden increase in latency. Suppose you checked the ping time was 20 milliseconds. Great. But these 20 milliseconds is not consistent, and sometimes, it rises to 70 or even 100+ milliseconds. This is called jitter. So while playing the game, everything feels great, sometimes you experience this unbearable lags (trust me, I have died many times just because of internet connection gets finicky ).
How to get better ping time?
There are few factors on which ping time depends. The most important one is the speed (bandwidth) of your connection, and how much is your PC (or phones) getting? Get a fast internet connection (preferably fiber) that is at least capable of giving 40-50 Mbps.
Another factor is how many devices are connected? Too many devices connected and using the same network will cause lower speeds and ping time over the roof (roof of Empire State building). To get the best ping times, try having a single or two devices connected to the network.
The cabled connection usually gives better latency and speeds than wireless ones. Wireless connection is prone to interference, blockage, etc. So getting the router near your set-up would be a great move if gaming is your major concern. Use CAT7 cables to connect your PC and get better latency and speed.
Get a better router. I have seen many people getting a 100+ Mbps connection and using a cheap, 2.4Ghz router that can barely touch 30Mbps. This is also why many people are confused when they get high-speed internet yet very bad latency. Get a decent Gigabit router to get lower ping time.
Reasons for high ping
In summary, here are the possible reasons why you see a very high latency:
- Really slow internet connection
- Issues with the internet service provider (server loads, traffic, etc.)
- Cheap, sub-par router, limited to 2.4Ghz bandwidth
- Wireless connection instead of wired.
- Too many devices connected or using the same network heavily (streaming, YouTube, downloads, etc).
- Server locations set to different geographical locations other than your own country.
So, in conclusion, if you want to get lower latency, try and check on these factors.