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Online gamers will do whatever it takes to make their network connection as fast and reliable as possible to get that competitive edge. This got me thinking about how well powerline adapters would perform and whether they can help lower your ping.
Powerline adapters can lower ping, but how well they ultimately perform is influenced greatly by the quality of the electrical wiring found within the home. A better alternative is to use ethernet which is more reliable, will usually be faster, and is not subject to outside interference.
In this article, we’ll look at what ping is and how it is important when gaming online, how to test your ping to decide whether new hardware would be beneficial, and some tips to help keep your ping as low as possible if you do decide to use powerline adapters.
What Is Ping?
Ping is simply a measurement of how long it takes for your PC to receive data from somewhere out on the Internet.
Also referred to as latency, ping is one of, if not the most important, metric that online gamers monitor and do their best to keep as low as possible.
In a game, ping represents the length of time that it takes to send a command to the game and then have the game respond to that particular input.
Why Is Ping Important?
Ping can influence how well you perform when gaming online; having a higher ping where it takes longer for the game to respond to your inputs can be disastrous.
It may not be as important when playing a casual single player game, but when you are in the midst of battle in Fortnite, Overwatch, or Call of Duty, a lower ping could well influence victory over defeat.
The British Esports Association recommends a ping of around 40-60ms, but the lower the better.
If your ping is over 100ms, you will noticeably notice a considerable delay between your input and the game displaying this on screen.
Should your ping be truly dreadful, you could find that game rejects your connection completely leaving you to play offline until you can lower it to an acceptable level.
A lower ping will ultimately make your game feel much smoother and make for a more enjoyable online experience.
How to Test Your Ping
Before going out and purchasing new hardware hoping that it will lower your ping, it is important to first test your ping with what you currently have.
You could find that following this test, your ping is perfectly low enough as it is, and buying new gear won’t benefit you in any way.
Many people will rely on a service such as speedtest.net to tell them their ping. This particular service is fantastic for getting an idea on your download and upload speeds, but when it comes to ping, it won’t give you the most accurate assessment.
The best way to test your ping is run a ping test to your router whilst you are gaming. This will give you the most thorough diagnosis and help you to know whether any new hardware will be beneficial.
Open up a command prompt and enter this command: ping -n 1200 *router’s IP address* > pingresults.log
This command will send ping tests from your PC to your router for 20 minutes and then save the results in a log file for you to reference later.
Once you have issued the command, load up your game and play as you normally would; the ping test will continue to run in the background.
You don’t have to worry about the ping test affecting your game either as the amount of network traffic that it is sending is so small you won’t even notice a difference.
When the 20 minutes have passed and you are ready, browse to C:\Users\*Your Username* and you should find the log file there which contains the ping results.
Use these results to influence your next steps if you feel they are needed.
This article goes more in-depth into the ping test specifically if you wanted to check it out.
How Well Do Powerline Adapters Lower Ping?
To test how well powerline adapters perform when it comes to ping response times, I performed four different speed tests; all of which used a different connection type.
- Connected directly to the router using an ethernet cable
- Connected to the Wi-Fi network supplied by the router
- Connected to the ethernet port of a powerline adapter
- Connected to the dedicated Wi-Fi network provided by the powerline adapter
Although the download speeds did vary quite a bit, especially when comparing the powerline Wi-Fi network with regular ethernet, the upload speeds and ping response times were relatively similar accross the board.
Being connected using an ethernet cable provided the lowest ping times, which I expected and is one of the main reasons serious gamers will always make sure they are receiving their access to the Internet through this method.
The ping times when connected to the powerline network were only slightly slower, with response times of 15ms and 14ms when connected to the powerline adapter using ethernet and the powerline’s dedicated Wi-Fi network respectively.
Regular Wi-Fi provided the slowest ping time at 16ms.
Regardless of the results of my tests, it really does come down to the quality of the electrical wiring within your home, amongst other factors, as to how well your powerline adapters will perform, and from there, reflect your ping.
How to Lower Ping When Using Powerline Adapters
It does , unfortunately, come down to luck when using powerline adapters; some people find them to be great, whereas others find them to be completely useless.
There isn’t really any getting away from having to just try them for yourselves as you can’t really analyze the quality of your electrical wiring to conclude whether powerline networking is worth it.
That being said, I do have a few tips for when you are using powerline adapters that will hopefully help lower your ping.
The first tip is to keep all of your powerline adapters connected to the same electrical circuit.
Now this isn’t always possible, especially when you consider that each floor of a home will usually have its own electrical circuit, but it is recommended if you can.
Powerline networking should still work even when the adapters are connected to different circuits, providing all of the circuits connect back to the same consumer units, but performance will not be as good.
Another tip is to avoid plugging the powerline adapters into extension cords wherever possible.
Again, just like with the electrical circuits, powerline adapters can continue to work when plugged into some extension cords, but you won’t see their full potential.
Notice I said some extension cords there.
Certain types of extension cords will contain built-in filtering which can affect the powerline signal and stop it working completely, so make sure to avoid using these advanced cords whilst still making sure the cord you use is anti-surge to protect whatever is plugged into it.
Some people have also found that they got better performance out of their powerline adapters when the adjacent power outlet is left empty.
The other electrical items found around your home, like the kettle or microwave, can have an impact on both your speeds and your ping.
These items will tend to affect your speed more than your ping, though, and to be honest, there is not really any getting away from the others in your household using these appliances throughout the day, even if you are gaming.
I can’t see anyone accepting that you being in the middle of a gaming session is a good enough reason for them to not make themselves a cup of coffee!
Something you do have more control over is what is plugged in next to your powerline adapters, so try and leave the outlet empty if you can.
It may not make a huge difference, or even any difference at all, but it is certainly worth trying given how simple of a test it is.
What Are the Alternatives?
The reliability of powerline adapters is widely known to be very much hit or miss.
Some people have even reported having to power cycle all of their adapters as often as once a week in order to maintain a connection.
This is really not a situation you want to find yourself in. Can you imagine being in the middle of a game only to find your connection drops completely as you forgot to power cycle your adapters?
Some adapters will work great for some people, whereas others will be completely useless. The take-home message is that powerline adapters can be OK to establish a network connection and possibly lower your ping, but they are not great.
There are certainly better options out there which are much more likely to lower your ping.
The best option by far, in my opinion, is to run an ethernet cable from your router or network switch to your PC.
Ethernet is the most reliable type of connection out there as it doesn’t rely on having to maintain a wireless signal like Wi-Fi does. There is simply one route for data to be passed back and forth between your PC and your router.
Not only is it more reliable than the other ways in which you can establish a network connection, but it is also much more likely to lower your ping.
Some have reported a ping of around 19ms when using powerline adapters which then dropped to less than half at 8ms as soon as they switched over to using ethernet instead.
My advice would be to use ethernet for all of your networked devices, not just your gaming PC, wherever possible.
Recommended Powerline Adapters
If you are looking for some powerline adapters for your own home network, here are some recommendations.
- D-Link DHP-P701AV – These powerline adapters offer the best speeds and built-in noise filtering whilst remaining very easy to setup
- TP-Link TL-WPA4220 – The powerline adapters I personally use myself and have found great success with. Very quick and easy to get set up with speeds that will be perfect for most people.
- TRENDnet TPL-407E2K – This is your budget option that includes two powerline adapters in a bundle and has useful features such as a power-saving mode
Recommended Ethernet Cables
If you want to use ethernet instead, here are some you may want to check out.
- Monoprice Cat6a Cable – This cable is half the thickness of a regular Cat6a cable and comes in a variety of lengths and colors.
- Vandesail Cat7 Cable – This cable delivers the best performance with speeds up to 10 Gbps and supports a bandwidth of 1,000 Mhz. The flat design is also space-saving.
- Fast Cat Cat5e Bulk Cable – Buying in bulk and making your own Ethernet cables could save you money in the long run and offers more flexibility around the length of cable you need.