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Why is My Game Laggy and How Can I Fix It?

  • Posted 13/03/2023

Remember the meme that says, "X doesn't make gamers angry, but lag does it"? We all know that is actually true. Lag is the ultimate enemy of PC gamers who want to enjoy their games. Even more in multiplayer games, as it is really frustrating to lose a match due to lag ruining your match. Unless you are playing on servers far away from your region (that's all on you), there are several ways to fix lag in games. Some might require an additional investment, while others require checking your PC, internet speed, and game's graphics settings. And some people playing on a gaming console might also find these tips useful. In this article, you will know the many reasons that might cause you to experience lag while playing games or even doing regular stuff on your PC. We will tell you how you can fix this issue.

How does Lag work?
Lag won't only affect your online gaming. Lag could appear while streaming, browsing, or doing anything on your PC. So, it is quite frustrating when your connection isn't working properly. But for gamers, it is a dealbreaker, as it is more noticeable, and lag easily ruins anyone's gaming experience. The games most affected by lag are the ones whose multiplayer component is the key aspect of their selling point. In first-person shooters or fighting games your input needs to be impeccable, though just a bit of lag will make you drop your combo or miss that precise headshot. MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) usually also suffer from lag due to the number of assets and people that need to load up every time (and few have a stable server connection). Lag, essentially, affects the responsiveness of your controls. So, any game that requires quick reflexes and precise inputs will be heavily affected. At the same time, others, such as Trading Card Games, are quite playable even when it becomes laggy.
The Two Types of Lag
Lag is a delay produced between your inputs and the server’s connection. There are two types of lag:
  • Latency Lag:
    It happens whenever your network is congested due to high traffic of online data.
  • Graphics Lag or FPS Lag
    The main cause of this type of lag is your computer doesn't have enough processing power. Usually, you must modify some graphic settings that might overload your graphics card and your hardware.
One is not exclusive to the other. You might find yourself in situations where both happen. In MMOs, for example, you will find many people showing up simultaneously in a specific spot, and both your network connection and your hardware have to keep up with all the data. For these reasons, your network needs to slow down due to high server traffic, and your graphics card will start to lower its FPS (Frames Per Second) to save power.
The Difference Between Ping and Latency
High-end PC gaming will still suffer from lag due to high latency and ping rate. Although these terms mean different things. Ping is the signal a player sends when they press an input, which will travel through the servers. The lower the ping, the faster your character responds to your inputs. But, if you have a high ping rate, you will suffer from lag. The best ping rate goes below 50 milliseconds (ms), while something between 50 and 100 is considered acceptable for certain games or actions. Anything above those numbers will produce lag and a noticeable delay from your button-pressing to your character doing your command. Latency is the time that expires between an action and the reaction of such signal. That latency number should be as low as possible. Otherwise, high latency will result in lag. The best way to reduce lag and latency is to play on servers located in the nearest regions.
Reasons Why Your Game Might Be Laggy
There are several reasons why your game suffers from lag. We already discussed latency and ping, which are bound to a network connection. But there are other factors, from having game settings too high for your hardware to the operating system not working properly due to being outdated.
Low Internet Speed
Sometimes the problem of high ping or latency is quite obvious: your internet connection is insufficient. A low internet speed or a bad connection is the main cause of awful gaming experiences for many. To check how well your internet connection is doing, you can use online tools such as SpeedTest. It will test your download and upload speed and also tell you about services and games that might suffer from server issues (so, perhaps it isn't your problem, it is just the game malfunctioning). Although, if your internet speed doesn't match how much your ISP (Internet Service Provider) should provide, it could be a signal or hardware issue. If that happens, call your ISP tech support to solve this issue. Also, if you are connected through a Wi-Fi network, you should try using an ethernet cable. It ensures a solid connection and better performance on your online PC games.
Thermal Throttling
Thermal throttling happens when your PC components are operating at high temperatures. Then, these components will drop their performance to address the increasing temperature and help to reduce it before it can be ramped up. This will cause not only lag in your games but in your PC performance as well. You can use tools like HWinfo to check your equipment temperature. Anything above 80°C is quite problematic, while if your PC is above 90°C, you risk overheating your computer and damaging your components. You can clean the fans and dust filters, check they are working properly and even make them run faster, ensure appropriate ventilation in your room, or replace your thermal paste (although this one should be your last option).
Background Apps Consuming Processing Power
Sometimes your PC has other programs running in the background that could be using processing power, making your game laggy. You can check this by opening up the task manager (pressing the keys "Ctrl + Alt + Del"). You will see which processes are being run and which use most of your CPU, RAM, CPU, and GPU power, among other things. If you see a process and program you aren't using, right-click it and select "End Task." Also, if you find a program that usually uses power in the background, you can use the Windows key, write "add or remove programs," find that program and uninstall it. Or, if it is a program you use but not regularly, you can right-click it to disable it.
Outdated Drivers
Sometimes, it is as simple as updating your component drivers, especially with graphic cards. You can check your hardware provider's websites for their latest drivers. Most have automated software to check your current version and give you their best deal. Also, you need to keep your operating system up to date.
System Bottlenecks
If your PC already has several years of working, it might be time for an upgrade. Most people tend to replace their graphic cards with newer ones. But doing so without considering the rest of your components could surface new issues. System bottlenecks can happen when a particular component (for example, your new GPU) is way better than the rest. This will lead to your new and better component performing below what it should be. So, you need to keep upgrading the rest of your system, such as more RAM memory or upgrading your CPU.
Game Settings
Okay, you have a good PC, generally working well with other tasks, and your internet connection is fast and strong. You are even using an ethernet cable. And servers are working well. Then, why is my game laggy? Perhaps your in-game settings are causing problems. You should consider lowering your graphic settings. It might look a bit worse, but it will boost your gaming experience massively. Some games can lock the amount of maximum FPS, and you should consider increasing it to 60 FPS, 144 FPS, or setting it to "unlimited." For some games on high-end PCs, unlimited FPS might also cause issues, and you need to set a limit. Other graphic options you should look for are:
  • Resolution
  •  Games perform better in the monitor's native resolution. When you choose something above, most of them will look awful or out of frame. But lowering the resolution might help boost your game's performance.
  • Anti-Aliasing (AA):
  • This option smooths the object's edges. There are many options, but they all come with a big performance boost. First, try playing with the "AA" off. If it performs very smoothly, you could try to amp it up with FXAA, 2X, or 4X (in that order).
  • V-Sync:
    It locks your monitor's refresh rate. You can disable it to boost your game's speed, although you may suffer from screen tearing.
  • Shadow Quality:
  • Detailed shadows will require high processing power. You should drop the quality to get a better performance.
  • Texture Quality
  •  Perhaps you aren't suffering from a low frame rate, but you might suffer from stuttering in your game. Try lowering the texture quality. This usually happens with older graphics cards running newer games.
PC Infected With a Virus
Lastly, you should check if your PC is infected with malware, spyware, or viruses, as they might cause lagging issues. You can easily diagnose your PC using Windows Defender or any Anti-Virus software you may have installed. If you don't have an anti-virus program, you can check 360 Total Security, as it is free to download and try.
How To Fix Your PC Online Lag
We discussed several reasons that depend on your hardware, how to use your PC properly, and how you can fix those problems. These issues will make every game you play have a laggy performance. But now, we will focus on network issues and other possible ways to fix them, as these problems will mostly affect online games.
Use a Lag Reduction Software
How NoPing Works? 2022 You can try out for free our NoPing software to reduce your latency time. Our program enables maximum ping reduction, packet loss correction and even drops in connection. NoPing seeks out the best route for your games to give you the most stable connection. It also works like a VPN, allowing you to play games with IP block for some countries. Check out our 7-day trial and see the improvement by yourself.
Use a Wired Connection Or MoCA Adapters
Using a Wi-Fi connection is fine for your everyday tasks. But their problems will appear once you want to play online games, as the connection is unstable. Always try to connect your PC or console to your router with a fiber optic cable. It ensures a stable connection and will grant your network's full potential. Another solution is to create a powerline network using MoCA adapters with a coaxial network. You can connect the adapter to your router and then the same adapter to your PC with an ethernet cable, ensuring a fast and reliable connection.
Improve Your Internet Connection Speed
Suppose directly connecting your router to your PC using a cable isn't enough, and everything is running normally. In that case, you might need a better connection speed. An internet speed of around 25 Mbps should be enough for a smooth online experience. But, for some reason, you can't connect your PC or console through cable, and you need to use a Wi-Fi connection. Each device connected to the same network will "get a portion," contributing to your laggy experience.
Reduce the Bandwith Use For Other Programs
Close programs that you won't be using while you are playing. Limit the use of your Wi-Fi, disconnecting from your network from any of your other devices. It will ensure maximum bandwidth is streamlined to your PC or gaming console.
Bottom Line
These are all the main reasons why your games are so laggy. As you can see, not everything is due to a poor internet connection. Sometimes, you would need to look further into your PC components or configure your in-game settings according to your computer's capabilities.

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About the blog

Blog destined for news, articles, monitoring of the e-sports scenario and much more around the world of games. Created by NoPing, a Brazilian company active in the gamer market for over 5 years, always looking to improve the experience of online players.