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14th February 2023

What is latency, and how does it affect your gaming experience?

Written by Team Pentanet

14th February 2023

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It’s the eleventh hour. You engage with your team, aim your ult, and the CC will give you the time you need to clear their backline, then your ping jumps to 260ms, then 383ms, then 582ms. Everything’s jumping all over the place. You die. It’s a tale as old as time. But it doesn’t have to be like that. You can free yourself from high latency.

But what is latency?

Latency, lag and ping are a trio of terms that get used so interchangeably that they begin to lose all meaning besides as a general statement of discontent. So, what are they? 

  • Ping: The time in milliseconds (ms) it takes for a packet of data to be sent from your device to its destination, such as a game server.
  • Latency: The time in milliseconds (ms) it takes for a packet of data to complete a round-trip (i.e Round Trip Time or RTT)from your device to its destination, and back. 
  • Lag: The delay between an action being performed (pulling the trigger in an online FPS), the information being sent and returned, and the action taking place (your target registering your shots).

Usually, games will display (or have the option to display) your ping while playing. Anything below 50ms is considered excellent and will be perfect for any hardcore gamer. When your ping reaches 150ms and above, however, you will begin to experience notable lag, which will begin to affect gameplay.

But what’s important is that there are ways to improve your latency, up your game, and decrease the impact lag has on your play sessions, but first, you must understand what is causing your latency to be so high, so...

What causes high latency?

Several factors can cause you to have high latency, we might only catch some of them here, but these are the ones that we considered most critical.

Geographical Location

If you’re in Australia and you’re playing on an American server, then your data packets have much further to travel than they would if you were playing locally.

Internet connection type

Your internet connection’s technology type plays a significant role in your latency; all Pentanet networks were designed with gaming in mind and provide the lowest latency possible. However, some networks are still more optimal for this than others. Apartment Broadband, neXus and high-speed nbn connections are the best for gaming.

Equipment

An outdated router will suffer from a throttled network connection and may be unable to provide the speeds and low latency promised by your network. The same applies to how you connect to your router; utilising WiFi or a poor-quality Ethernet cable can cause your latency to suffer.

So how do you improve latency?

Below are a few steps we can recommend for improving the latency you see in games; put them all together, and you should see a substantial difference in the quality of your gaming experience.

Device connection

To receive the best latency and speeds your modem and internet connection can provide, ensure you are connected via a high-quality Ethernet cable or a Wi-Fi 6 standard capable connection, such as those offered by Pentanet's Prism Edge routers. 

Wi-Fi 6 offers speeds up to 40% higher than Wi-Fi 5 and works as much as four times better in dense environments, making it great for gamers and the new benchmark for quality Wi-Fi. In addition, the closer you are to your router, the better a connection you will usually enjoy.

Close unnecessary programs

If you’re running any other bandwidth-intensive applications like streaming music or video, these can negatively impact your latency and gaming experience.

Upgrade your modem

Routers play into your speeds more than you might realise. You might have a plan offering speeds of 100 Mbps or more, but if you’re using an old router from the mid-2000s that you carried over from an older plan, it might not be able to support those promised plans, especially over WiFi. These days you can get routers designed specifically to offer lower latency connections, such as our Pentanet Prism Edge router or AmpliFi Alien router. Learn all about our router options here.

Upgrade your plan

Some plans cannot keep up with the needs put upon them by active gamers. If you want a high-speed, low-latency connection, you should look no further than Pentanet. We were founded by gamers, for gamers, and all our networks were designed to provide next-level speeds and game-ready latencies. 

If you’d like to learn more about our networks, click here to see what plans are available at your address or get in touch with our team at (08) 9466 2670 and we’ll be happy to discuss what plan might best suit your gaming and browsing needs.

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