A Guide to What Ping Means in Gaming & What Affects It

A Guide to What Ping Means in Gaming & What Affects It

A low or high ping during an online game contributes significantly to the user experience, and having reliable and fast internet contributes considerably to your ping. 

Ping in gaming refers to a unit of time measured for a user and server to communicate with each other. Being relatively near the server's location decreases the time to communicate and, in relation, affects ping. Factors like bottlenecked connections, wireless interference, splitters, and ISP (Internet Service Provider) restrictions contribute to significantly slower internet speeds and affect in-game performance. 

This article discusses online gaming processes and tips for decreasing ping.

What Does Ping Mean In Games?

Ping applies heavily to online games as they rely on your network's capabilities to send and receive information from game servers. Having amazing reaction time doesn't mean anything unless your internet connection is reliable in its ability not to lose packets communicated between the server and user.

Packet Loss

Packet loss is common among users and their ISP servers due to distance lengths and other external factors that will stop packages from getting through. 

If you have been in a voice chat with someone using VOIP(Voice over Internet Protocol) and hear a distinct robot sound coming from their voice, that behavior is attributed to packet loss.

Higher than normal ping is also be attributed to jitter or the “shuffling of packets” in a data stream. Most, if not all, data centers have jitter buffers that sort in the incoming packets ensuring continuity of data being received and sent out.

Low Ping & High Ping

Like a golf score, the lower the ping, the better. The effective range for good ping is as follows:











Diving into the graph above, ping is measured in milliseconds. It varies depending on the type of internet connection and the plan type you have with your ISP of choice. 

Ping & Latency

While ping is a good indicator for game connectivity, it also signals the "Package Latency" for upload and download requests from servers to your PC. When you load into an online game, important information like map data, characters, and statistics must be loaded before the game starts.

Your ping, download, and upload speeds are as important as your SSD or Hard Drive speeds. Games like Escape from Tarkov will make a 15-20 second difference depending on your internet speed.

Why Ping Is Important to Online Gaming

Lag is the difference between winning or losing the round and affects direct input most significantly. Let's look at what goes into the networking protocol when determining ping and how each game deals with it differently. 

What Affects Ping?

Multiple variables contribute to how reliable or spotty an online connection can be. Each of these factors can negatively affect your ping in online gaming. Let's break down the pipeline from the source to your PC.

From Data Center to Network:

Starting from the data center of an ISP, there are multiple types of cables distributing information to service providers through fiber optic cable over significant distances in metro areas and across broader service areas. Depending on your approximate distance from a metropolitan area, your availability for fiber may vary, and local ISP or cellar may be the only options available to you. 

Maximum Internet Speed At Network Line


From Network to Neighborhood:

Lines from the data centers proceed to large nodes, which then get scattered into smaller nodes directly into neighborhoods/apartment complexes. This is the first great filter for advertised speeds for suburban homes.

Maximum Internet Speed At Neighborhood Node

2 Gbps- 1Gbps

From Neighborhood to Home:

Depending on your modem, the internet available in your house can follow two common trends. Oftentimes ISPs incentivize promotions for internet speeds and pricing depending on demand in the area, which creates a diverse internet speed market from house to house depending on your needs and infrastructure.

This is also where a firewall by your ISP can get in your way and affect your match-making ability. For more information on NAT (Network Address Translator) types and how they affect game consoles and PCs, here's an article showing the importance of having an open NAT type.

Most likely, you'll be sharing a connection with neighbors, and having an older router will limit the bandwidth available if your advertised internet speed is not capping out.

Maximum Internet Speed At Home


From Home to PC:

Most interfaces can occur depending on your connectivity method and environment, disrupting wireless signals. Using ethernet dramatically increases the reliability of speeds that can fluctuate with wireless.

To ensure that your wireless receiver gets the best signal, ensure that the modem or WIFI signal is not behind any shrouding metal objects like a large desk or the PC itself.

Maximum Internet Speed At PC


How to Test Your Ping

Many tests may give way to inaccurate results from the modem to the computer. A decent company for desktop and mobile solutions is Ookla Speed Test, in which you can compare tests over a certain period to reach advertised speeds.

How To Improve Your Ping

Improving your ping is not as difficult as it seems; here is how to get the most out of your internet between your PC and the modem.

Using a Wired Connection

Ethernet is the first significant step for ensuring a dependable connection; when WIFI cannot reach certain parts of the home, a wired connection may be needed. 

Having a direct ethernet connection to the modem is not the only solution. Solutions like an Ethernet Information/Power outlet are simple yet ingenious solutions to routing ethernet through a house using the copper power wires in outlets.

Playing on Regional Servers

When you are located on the east coast and playing with friends on the west coast, maybe the best solution is to play on central servers so no one gets the short end of the stick when it comes to ping.

Reduce other Network Activity

The bandwidth for available internet per person will be reduced per the number of people active on the network simultaneously.

Simply reducing the number of connected devices requesting information will be able to increase the bandwidth and by relation download and upload speeds.

Check If You Are On A Coax Splitter 

A coax splitter is the bane of faster internet speeds for internet-only houses. It is worth seeing how your outbound internet is wired for those who just moved into a home or have not investigated where the modem connects to the internet.

If your household does not use cable TV, disconnect the primary coax connection going out of the house and plug it directly into the modem. This solves bottleneck issues that allow the modem to have full access to the entire bandwidth of your internet plan, which giveaway to relatively higher speeds and lower ping.

Close Background Applications

Applications that take up a majority of bandwidth while gaming.

Closing these background processes like game updates, different browsers, or other programs will benefit our ping in the game.

Prevent Updates from Running While You're On Your PC

It's best to close or set a time for these background applications to carry out updates. This can be done for windows updates by setting a time in the Windows Update Settings.

Or, if you're trying to download updates to games on steam, you can override the update and place games in a queue to be updated at a later time.

Conclusion For What Is Ping in Gaming

This article covers some beginner and intermediate fixes for getting faster internet and, in relation, lower ping. Some solutions include switching DNS addresses, higher than 1 Gbps network switches, and many others.

At Apex Gaming PCs, we offer many connectivity accessories along with our PCs. By default, every PC we sell comes with an ethernet port that is compatible with a modem. In addition, we also offer WIFI USB modules for purchase. Whatever your network requirements are, we hope to fulfill them at Apex!

Written By William Wilson

Photo Credits: Pavan Bhakta & William Wilson


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