7 tips to reduce lag when online gaming

Ari Howard

Aug 21, 2021 — 4 min read

Never experience lag while gaming again.

Boy online gaming in living room

If you’re a serious gamer, then you know how frustrating it can be when you’re attempting to beat a high score or reach a new level and, all of a sudden, your Wi-Fi starts to lag and you lose everything you were working towards. 

How much lag there is when gaming has to do with your internet’s latency, which is the time it takes for data to transfer from your network to your server. If your latency is high, you can expect a longer lag time. 

Even if you are pressing the correct buttons on your controller at the correct time when gaming, if your game server experiences delays, it will not register your moves in time. Without an internet connection that can register a player’s move in real-time, live online gaming is essentially impossible. Although there isn’t always a solution to issues with lag, here are some of the best seven tricks for improving latency. 

1. Get the speeds and bandwidth you need 

You want at least 10 Mbps for the best online gaming experience. Even if you are paying for faster internet speeds, if you have multiple devices connected to the Wi-Fi, then your bandwidth on each device will be lower. 

For instance, if you have a 100 Mbps plan and have 10 devices connected at a time (computers, smartphones, smart TV, smart security, etc.), each device only receives approximately 10 Mbps of bandwidth.  

Make sure, therefore, that you have a fast enough internet plan for the number of devices you have connected to the Wi-Fi at a time. You may be able to get away with 4-8 Mbps, but 25 Mbps is really what’s ideal for online gaming. 

2. Limit internet use on your other devices 

Since you want as much bandwidth as possible going to your gaming devices, try turning off the Wi-Fi on your other devices when you are gaming. This will get you a little extra bandwidth for your gaming devices, which may be what you need to prevent your server from lagging. 

3. Consider your connection type 

Some internet technologies struggle more with lag than others. For instance, fiber optic cables are known for being the best internet connection type for online gaming. If you have multiple providers in your area and are consistently experiencing lags and buffering when gaming, look into what your other options are for connection types in your area. 

The best option for online gaming is fiber optic, but the next best option is cable internet. DSL and fixed wireless are better than satellite internet, but you may run into some lagging issues even with DSL or fixed wireless. 

4. Update your equipment

Even if you have a fast enough internet plan and a reliable internet connection type, if you don’t have good equipment, you will still experience delays. Make sure you purchase a modem and router that is known for being good for online gaming. 

5. Move closer to your router 

If you have the correct equipment for online gaming and you are still having issues with lag, you may want to try moving closer to your router (or bringing the router closer to you). Wi-Fi doesn’t always have the best range, especially if you live in a larger house or one with a lot of furniture and brick walls. Therefore, it may help to be closer to your router or to even purchase a Wi-Fi extender

6. Use an Ethernet cord 

Although a wireless connection is more convenient, connecting your device to the internet through an Ethernet cord is a great way to receive a more reliable internet connection. Many live gamers prefer to connect to an Ethernet cord because it helps prevent lagging and buffering during critical times of a game. 

7. Lower your in-game settings 

A last-resort tactic to help improve your Wi-Fi connection while gaming is to lower the graphics settings in the game you are playing. You can do this a number of ways, but however you do it, you can expect your game to look a little grainier and more pixelated. Some of the settings you can adjust to help improve your connection while gaming is to lower your resolution, turn off your Anti-Aliasing (AA) and reduce your shadow quality. 

Compare your ISP

In order to ensure you have the best possible experience while online gaming, consider comparing your internet provider to others in your area. You may find a better plan or more reliable provider when you search with Allconnect. 

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Illustration of a father and daughter in a living room. The father is sitting in an armchair and reading a newspaper, and the daughter is playing with a toy on the floor.
Ari Howard

Written by:

Ari Howard

Associate Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content

Ari Howard is a staff writer Healthline and spent two years as a writer on the Allconnect team. She specialized in broadband news and studies, particularly relating to internet access, digital safety, broadband-… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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