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How to Reduce Game Lag Online
Feature Blog Posts | MATE | 8 May 2023
There’s nothing more frustrating than experiencing lag during an intense game. As any serious gamer knows, lag can seriously impact your gaming experience. In this article, we’ll provide you with useful tips on reducing lag when gaming online and how to optimise your gaming experience. So, let’s get started!
Causes of online game lag
Because the speed and stability of your internet connection play a vital role in the quality of your gaming experience, it’s no wonder that a poor internet connection ranks as the most common cause of online game lag. If your internet connection is slow or unstable, it can lead to a delay in data transmission between your device and the game server. This delay can cause lag, resulting in a sluggish and interrupted gaming experience.
Another common cause of online game lag is server overload. Multiplayer games require a dedicated server to host a game, and if the server is overloaded with too many players, it can lead to lag. This is because when the server receives too many requests simultaneously, it can’t process them all at once, resulting in a delay in the game’s response.
Because high-end graphics settings require more processing power, a delay in the game’s response time can often occur. And if your computer or device is not powerful enough to handle the game’s graphics settings, you might expect to see some lag.
Outdated hardware is another common cause of lag when playing online games. If your computer or device is not powerful enough to handle the game’s requirements, once again, lag can work its way in. Over time, hardware components can become outdated, resulting in a delay in processing power.
Background programs can also cause online game lag. If there are too many programs running in the background while you’re playing a game, it can cause a delay in the game’s response. Programs like antivirus software, system updates, and other applications can consume resources and impact your gaming experience.
During peak hours, internet traffic can be congested, resulting in a delay in data transmission between your device and the game server. Naturally, this delay can cause lag and sub-optimal gaming experience.
Your location can also impact your gaming experience. If you’re located far away from the game server, it can result in a delay in data transmission. The farther you are from the server, the more delay you will experience, the more lag you can expect.
Game optimisation refers to the process of adjusting the game’s settings to match your computer or device’s hardware specifications. If the game is not optimised for your computer or device, it can result in lag.
Latency refers to the time it takes for data to travel between your device and the game server. The higher the latency, the more delay you will experience—the more lag there will be. It can be helpful to know that latency can be impacted by various factors, including your internet connection and your location.
Tips to reduce game lag online
Check your internet connection
When it comes to online gaming, having a stable and fast internet connection is crucial. Slow or unstable connections can result in game lags, delays, and disconnections, which can ruin the gaming experience. That’s why the first thing you should do to minimise game lag is to verify the quality of your internet connection. This will help ensure smooth and uninterrupted gameplay, allowing you to fully enjoy your gaming experience.
To check your internet connection speed, you can use speed test tools like Speedtest by Ookla. This tool provides accurate results and measures your internet speed by testing your download and upload speed, as well as your ping, which is the time it takes for your computer to communicate with the game server.
When conducting a speed test, make sure that you are not downloading or uploading any large files, as this can affect the test results. Additionally, close any unnecessary applications that may be running in the background, as this can also affect your internet speed.
After conducting the speed test, you will receive results for your download and upload speed, as well as your ping. Your download speed refers to the rate at which data is transferred from the internet to your computer, while your upload speed refers to the rate at which data is transferred from your computer to the internet. Incidentally, your ping is a measure of the latency or delay in communication between your computer and the game server.
Use Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi connection
A Wi-Fi connection may be convenient, but it is not always the best choice for online gaming. Wi-Fi signals can be interfered with by other devices, walls or distance, leading to unstable and slow connections. A more reliable option is to use an Ethernet cable to connect your gaming console or device directly to your router. An Ethernet connection provides a stable and fast connection, reducing game lags and improving your gaming experience.
To connect your gaming device to your router using Ethernet cable, simply plug one end of the cable into the Ethernet port on your gaming device and the other end into an available Ethernet port on your router. This is a straightforward process, but it’s important to ensure that you are using the right type of Ethernet cable. Category 5e (Cat 5e) and Category 6 (Cat 6) Ethernet cables are the most common types used for online gaming, as they can provide high-speed data transfer and reduce interference.
When troubleshooting common Ethernet cable issues, check that both ends of the cable are properly connected and that the cable is not damaged or bent. Additionally, ensure that your gaming device and router are both turned on, and that the Ethernet ports are not obstructed.
Limit internet use of other devices
When multiple devices are connected to the same network, they all share the same internet bandwidth. This can lead to slow internet speeds and game lags, especially when other devices are streaming video or downloading large files. To reduce game lags, limit the internet use of other devices while you are gaming. You can do this by asking other family members or housemates to avoid streaming or downloading during your gaming sessions.
Close background apps and programs
Running multiple apps and programs in the background while gaming can also cause game lags. These apps consume system resources and can impact your gaming experience. To optimise your device’s performance, close all unnecessary apps and programs before gaming. This will free up system resources, allowing your device to focus on the game.
Optimise game settings
Sometimes, game lag can be caused by the game settings. To reduce game lags, you can optimise the game settings by lowering the graphics quality, turning off non-essential features, and adjusting the frame rate. This will reduce the demand on your device’s resources, allowing for smoother gameplay.
1. Reduce the resolution
First, try reducing the resolution of the game. This will lower the number of pixels that need to be rendered, reducing the load on your computer or device’s graphics card. Lowering the resolution can result in a less detailed image, but it can improve the game’s performance and prevent lag.
2. Lower the graphics quality
This can include reducing the texture quality, shadow quality, or particle effects. These settings require more processing power to render and can cause lag if they’re set too high. By lowering these settings, you can reduce the load on your computer or device’s graphics card, resulting in smoother gameplay with no lag.
3. Disable unnecessary graphics
Finally, you can disable certain graphics features such as anti-aliasing or vertical sync (VSync). Anti-aliasing smooths out jagged edges in the game’s graphics, but it can require a lot of processing power. VSync synchronises the game’s frame rate with your monitor’s refresh rate, but it can cause lag if the frame rate drops too low.
Adjust power settings
If you are gaming on a laptop or a device with battery power, adjusting the power settings can help reduce game lags. When the device is running on battery power, it may limit the device’s performance to save energy, leading to game lags. By adjusting the power settings to high performance, you can ensure that your device is running at maximum capacity, providing a smoother gaming experience.
Disconnect other devices
If you are experiencing severe game lags, consider disconnecting other devices from the network temporarily. Limiting the number of devices connected to the router will free up more bandwidth for your gaming device, reducing game lags and improving your gaming experience.
Update gaming device and router firmware
Another way to reduce game lag online is to ensure that your device and router are running on the latest firmware. Firmware updates can fix bugs, improve stability, and optimise performance. You can check for firmware updates on the manufacturer’s website or use the device’s built-in update feature.
Invest in a quality gaming router
Investing in a quality gaming router can also help reduce game lag online. Gaming routers are designed to provide a stable and fast internet connection for online gaming. They come with advanced features, such as Quality of Service (QoS), which prioritises gaming traffic over other internet traffic, thereby reducing game lags.
Consider upgrading your device
If you have tried all the above tips but still find your game lagging, it may be time to consider upgrading your gaming device. Newer PCs and consoles come with more powerful processors, more memory and better graphics cards, providing a smoother gaming experience. However, upgrading your device can be expensive, so it is important to consider your budget and gaming needs before making a decision.