Latency is the enemy of any internet experience. However, understanding it can help you reduce it. Let us provide you with some useful tips.
Have you ever felt that your games were slow? Do you feel like you’re controlling a character moving through water? Are you quick to blame your setup instead of your own skills when playing games? Perhaps cloud gaming hasn’t convinced you?
Behind these questions often lies a major problem: excessive latency. While it’s typically associated with video gaming, the principles to reduce latency can be useful for everyone. In this article, we’ll explain the concept of latency and provide steps to reduce it, from the simplest to the most complex solutions.
Latency in a Computer System
Latency is simply the time it takes for two devices to communicate, measured in milliseconds. This delay occurs in various places in a typical device chain, such as communication between a peripheral (joystick, screen, keyboard) and a laptop PC, smartphone, console, or your internet box to your operator’s network. Accumulated latencies can lead to frustrating issues.
Best Practices to Reduce Latency
Start by opting for fiber optics if possible, as it offers faster and more reliable communication due to its speed of light transmission without signal loss over distance. Using a mobile network in 4G or 5G might be an option in some regions, but its performance and stability can be uncertain and limited by data caps.
Keep in mind that humans interpret visual signals in a minimum of 13 ms. Aim for a total summed latency equal to or below this statistic to make it imperceptible.
If you’re interested in digging deeper into the subject, you might come across various technical terms related to latency. Here are a few you might encounter:
- Blurring / Ghosting: Occurs when the screen latency is high, causing images to linger and create a blurring or “ghost” effect.
- Input Lag: The time it takes for a screen to display an image in response to a user’s action, like a mouse click.
- Ping: The duration of a call between two devices to measure communication latency.
- Polling Rate: The frequency at which a USB controller refreshes information about a device.
- Refresh Rate: The number of images a screen can display per second, expressed in Hz.
- Tearing: When the screen’s frame rate differs from the game’s frame rate, resulting in a tearing effect on the screen.
- Response Time of a Screen (GtG): The time it takes for a pixel to change from one color to another.
- Vsync: A synchronization method between the screen’s refresh rate and the computer’s image production to prevent tearing.
- Use the Right Controller
When playing on your smartphone or PC with a Bluetooth controller, be mindful of the latency it introduces. Wireless technologies inherently introduce delay, especially in unstable connections. Wired controllers or controllers using targeted radio frequencies (with a USB dongle) can significantly reduce latency.
- Choose and Set Up Your Monitor/TV
Your screen can also contribute to latency. Opt for monitors or TVs with a refresh rate of at least 120 Hz to reduce display latency. Additionally, look for screens with low input lag to ensure quick response to your actions. Technologies like NVIDIA G-Sync or AMD Freesync can help prevent display issues like tearing.
- Optimize the Latency of Your PC
PCs can have various delays in their system, affecting gaming performance. NVIDIA Reflex and AMD Anti-Lag are software solutions that can optimize your PC’s performance and reduce latency. Be cautious with low latency settings, as they might not be suitable for CPU-intensive games.
- Choose a Wired Connection
Wireless technologies introduce latency and instability. For the best performance, use wired connections with an Ethernet cable. If Wi-Fi is your only option, opt for the 5 GHz band over the 2.4 GHz band to reduce latency significantly.
- Consider Power Line Carrier (PLC)
PLC technology allows data to pass through your electrical network, providing a stable Ethernet connection to devices far from your router. While effective, its success depends on your electrical network’s condition and configuration. For the best results, invest in a quality Wi-Fi 6E router.
By following these tips, you can significantly reduce latency and enhance your gaming and internet experience. Happy gaming!”
- Optimize Your Internet Connection
To further reduce latency and enhance your gaming experience, optimizing your internet connection is essential. Start by checking your internet plan’s speed and bandwidth. If possible, consider upgrading to a higher-speed plan to ensure smoother gaming sessions with lower latency.
Next, minimize network congestion by limiting the number of devices using your network simultaneously, especially during gaming sessions. Avoid downloading or streaming large files while gaming, as it can significantly impact your latency.
Another helpful tip is to prioritize your gaming device on your router. Many modern routers have Quality of Service (QoS) settings that allow you to prioritize specific devices or applications, ensuring your gaming device gets priority over other internet activities.
- Reduce Background Processes
Background processes on your gaming device can consume system resources and contribute to latency. Close unnecessary applications and processes running in the background before starting your gaming session. This will free up resources and help your gaming device focus on delivering a smoother experience with reduced latency.
- Keep Your Drivers and Software Updated
Outdated drivers and software can cause compatibility issues and affect your gaming device’s performance, leading to increased latency. Regularly update your graphics card drivers, gaming peripherals, and other software to ensure optimal performance and reduce potential latency problems.
- Optimize In-Game Settings
Many games offer various settings that can affect latency and overall performance. Lowering graphics settings, such as resolution and texture quality, can reduce the load on your GPU and lead to lower latency. Additionally, disabling vsync can reduce input lag, but it might cause screen tearing, so you can experiment with different settings to find the right balance for your preferences.
- Choose Gaming Servers Wisely
For online gaming, the server location can significantly impact latency. Choose gaming servers that are geographically closer to your location to reduce ping and improve overall responsiveness. Many online games allow you to manually select servers or regions, so take advantage of this feature to find the best-performing servers.
- Monitor Latency and Performance
Keep an eye on your latency and gaming performance to identify any issues. There are various tools and software available that can monitor your network’s latency and performance metrics. By regularly checking these metrics, you can detect any abnormalities and take appropriate action to address them.
In conclusion, reducing latency for PC, console, or cloud gaming requires a combination of hardware, software, and network optimizations. By following these tips and maintaining a well-optimized gaming setup, you can enjoy a smoother gaming experience with minimal latency. Remember to stay updated with the latest technologies and gaming trends to ensure you’re always ahead in the gaming world. Happy gaming!