Two Ways To Improve FPS And Speed In Online Games

Multiplayer online games are growing in popularity, but some homeowners are finding that they have issues with lag, disconnections and frames-per-second (FPS) once they log in. Many people commonly attribute this to a weak or malfunctioning internet connection, but this isn't always accurate. While your ISP's stability and speed rating certainly can impact your experience, so, too, does computer hardware and distance to the game servers. If you've found yourself frustrated with these issues in newer titles like Overwatch, Black Desert, or Tom Clancy's The Division, this short guide will help you to better understand and troubleshoot the issue so you can get your in-game groove back.

Your Hardware

The fastest, most stable internet service plan in the world won't do you a bit of good if your computer doesn't meet the minimum requirements for playing your favorite game. There are very often clear signs that your hardware may be the problem, and not your connection:

  • The game fails to load at all
  • The game immediately crashes to the desktop
  • You get a pop-up in Windows with an error formatted like 0x0000000CB
  • Graphical textures in the game are blocky, blacked out, or missing
  • Your entire computer becomes slow the second you run the game

Newer games require an immense amount of graphical processing power and memory to run smoothly. That means having plenty of RAM, a solid video card, and a power supply that's capable of powering these advanced devices.

Troubleshooting Hardware Issues

If you think this is your issue, start by checking your computer's specs. Cross-match this to the system requirements for your favorite game. Do you have more or less memory available? Does your video card have enough VRAM (video memory) to process the graphics? If not, upgrading your hardware should always be your first step.

Choosing hardware is a fairly specific process; you'll need to identify each of your computer's current hardware parts and verify that they'll be compatible with newer, better hardware. Unless you're fairly proficient at building systems already, it's best to bring your computer to a technician when upgrading.

Sometimes, buying a new computer outright ends up being the cheaper option, especially if your current machine is very old. If you choose this route, look for a system with a video card that holds at least 2GB of DDR5 memory. A 650-watt power supply should be sufficient to power most video cards.

Systems with a fast processor with a speed rating of 3.8GHz to 4.5GHz will also help to give your gaming experience a little boost.

Game Server Distance and Ping

This is one of the most commonly overlooked problems for gamers struggling with FPS and connection issues. Despite popular belief, if you are fairly far away from the game's servers, it can impact your speed in-game. The reason for this relates to how Internet services and the World Wide Web functions as a whole.

When you request information from the game--for example, when you log in, you ask the authentication servers to verify your identity--your computer sends a small packet of data out onto the network. From there, it reaches your modem, and then it travels on to your ISP's servers. There, your internet service provider determines a path to the game's servers.

Your data packet continues to travel along that path until it reaches the servers.

The problem with this is that people who are very far away from the game's servers may need to go through a multitude of path points before the data ever reaches the servers. Each of those path points takes a fraction of a second in time, and that can add up. The total time it takes for your data to travel from your computer to the servers and then back again is called ping. 

Still confused? Here's an example. You're in Alaska, but a game's servers are in Arizona. You may have 20 to 30 or even more hops between you and the servers--that's a lot of stopping points!

Each of those stopping points can also be impacted by the amount of traffic along the network, as a server is only capable of handling so many connections at a time. When there are too many connections, you need to "wait in line" until one becomes clear. For the average web user, this isn't a problem because the amount of data being transferred is so small. In gaming, however, where you must communicate a large amount of data in nanoseconds to be effective, it can seriously impact your response time.

Troubleshooting Ping Issues

Troubleshooting this problem is surprisingly easy. Some games have built-in ping testing features right in their in-game settings; start there if your game offers the option. If not, run the game and then bring up Task Manager in Windows by pressing CTRL-ALT-DELETE. Click on the "Performance" tab, and then choose, "Resource Monitor."

Once the Resource Monitor is up, click on the "Network" tab. Find the TCP Connections section, and locate your game's filename in it--usually something like YourGame.exe or YourGame64.exe. Once you've located it, scroll all the way to the right and find the "latency" column. The number under it is your ping.

So what's a good ping rating? The answer can depend on a lot of factors. Generally speaking, a ping rating of less than 100 is pretty good. If you fall under this number, ping probably isn't your problem. If your ping is higher than this, you may have issues. 

A rating of 500+ will produce extreme lag; if you fall under this category, ask your ISP about services to reduce high ping. There's nothing you can to resolve ping-related issues on your own, but some internet service providers offer latency reduction services. These services work by reducing the number of hops between you and your source.

Premium dedicated or VPN connections are another option for ping-related issues; though they often cost a bit more than the average internet package, they are not shared with other customers and are less likely to experience traffic-related congestion.

If you've checked through this guide and believe that neither of these issues are the cause, your connection's stability or overall speed could be the problem. First, try power-cycling your modem. Turn it off, wait 30 seconds, and then turn it on again. If the problem still persists, it's time to call your ISP.  For more information, consider websites like