Few things are more annoying when playing games online than your session starting to lag like crazy. You are right in the middle of the action with friends, and suddenly your round is bouncing. It won’t take long for someone in your squad to inevitably ask, “What’s your ping looking like?”
Do you know how to answer, and do you know what a good ping speed is in the first place? If not, this detailed guide will help you out!
Ping 101: What Is Ping?
Ping is an essential piece of the online gaming puzzle – so much so that it’s infrequent for a game with a scoreboard to not show what all player ping levels look like in real-time.
But what is ping, anyway? What does it mean, why is it represented in a number, and is a high ping or low ping better to have?
Ping is simply the measurement of signals from your computer getting sent out to a server and then receiving the signal back.
The term “ping” goes back to World War II when early submarines used sonar technology to navigate underwater. They would send out a sonar signal and get back a metallic-sounding ping and return, and that’s how they “saw” below the ocean.
The principle is the same today with computers.
High Ping vs. Low Ping
Ping status is expressed in numbers, and gamers know that having a lower ping is much better than having a higher ping.
High ping (anything above 150 ms) is a real drag on an online gaming experience.
If you have a ping that starts to get up around or above 150 ms, your game will be jittery, your experience will be subpar, and operators may even kick you off the gaming server altogether.
Low ping, on the other hand, is a much better situation for online gamers – and many will do absolutely everything they can to bring those numbers down as low as they go.
Any number approaching 20 ms is considered pretty low, but anything under 20 ms is speedy. We are talking lightning fast, which is the ping that competitive gamers want to have whenever they boot up.
What Is a Good Ping Speed?
But what is a good ping speed for “normal” gamers? Do you need to have a rock-bottom ping to have any real success online, even if you aren’t necessarily looking to be the most competitive gamer under the sun?
No. Not really.
You don’t have to go to crazy lengths to get a ping that gets down to 20 ms or even faster. Depending on the game you’re playing, where the servers are geographically located, and a whole host of other factors outside your control, you may not even be able to get that kind of ping.
Ideally, though, you want a ping number that sits between 40 ms and 60 ms. The faster your ping, the better your gaming experience will be. But you start to see some diminishing returns when you approach 40 ms or so.
Unless you are super into the ultra-competitive gaming space, you can get away with 40 to 60 ms of ping without much impact.
Understanding Latency and Lag
Latency and lag relate to your ping.
Latency is expressed in milliseconds, giving you an idea of how long it takes for the entire round-trip of your signal to be sent from your computer to the gaming server and then back again.
You should also know that latency refers to that signal’s quality. Low latency will mean you have a more precise, authentic, and accurate signal with low ping. This often gives you more responsive, smoother, and generally more enjoyable gaming experiences.
On the other hand, lag is associated with high latency issues, and it may cause your game to start to jitter or jump around, and you could even see actual in-game delays when you give commands.
If lag and latency are high enough, you might even begin to experience “rubberbanding“.
This is where everything looks smooth, you are chugging along in your game online, and then suddenly, you are snapped back to an earlier position – almost as if the program transported you in midair.
Few things are as frustrating as rubberbanding in the world of gaming today. You must get your ping under control if you deal with this a lot.
What Impacts Ping the Most?
Let’s look at the factors that may influence your internet speed. Check the three main possibilities below.
The quality of your ISP – and the speeds they provide you – will significantly impact your ping and your overall online gaming experience.
High-quality ISPs offer fantastic download and upload speeds, giving you all of the bandwidth you need to enjoy online games the way they were meant to be played.
It can be a little rare to find symmetrical ISP options right now – when the download and upload speeds are a perfect mirror of one another. Usually, you get fast download speeds and very slow upload speeds, which may be okay for watching movies or streaming shows but can handicap your ping.
Shop around for the best ISP whenever possible.
Wired vs. Wireless Connections
Secondly, it’s good to make sure that you are hardwired directly to your router and not gaming off a Wi-Fi connection.
Hardwiring will help your latency in a big way, dropping your ping by allowing your computer signals to go directly to the router and the gaming server via a physical connection rather than broadcasting them through the air.
Fiber connections will always give you the fastest possible ping and should be taken advantage of whenever you can leverage them.
Lastly, it’s good to ensure that your network hardware is specifically designed for gamers and provides tons of options for dialing in your latency.
Gamer-specific network hardware usually has a lot more “horsepower” under the hood to smooth these signals out, drop your ping significantly, and provide you with prioritized traffic that makes your games run snappy and as responsive as possible.