Have you ever been in an intense gaming session in Fortnite, in the last twenty surviving, playing better than you ever have before, when all of a sudden, the game felt a lot less responsive? Concerned, you checked the framerate counter with a quick glance, to find it was stable and normal. In the split second you looked away, an enemy popped up and tore through your shields. Just like that – game over.
Everyone has heard about lag in video games. It’s something we take for granted. If your setup isn’t absolutely perfect, lag will occur. Of course, knowing that this is how things will be doesn’t mean we aren’t frustrated. When you’re playing highly competitive shooting games like Fortnite, where every second matters in a gunfight, lag more often than skill determines the winner.
No matter what kind of platform you’re playing on, there are definitely workarounds to the lag issue. Most people assume that lag is an unfixable problem, somethings to adapt to rather than eradicate. To some extent, they might be correct, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your game experience at all.
Understanding lag – what are the major causes?
For the most part, lag is caused when your game data is being sent at a much slower speed than it is received. This means that your game will continue to update fluidly, but you’ll be stuck a few seconds behind everyone else. Everyone knows this if they’ve played games online at any level. But if you think about it, this doesn’t really explain why lag happens only periodically, as compared to being the same all the time. Most people can’t explain why, though.
If we think of the data going through and from the internet as cars on a highway, then it’s easy to understand why Internet Service Providers (ISPs) talk about “traffic” going through your router. They’re really talking about the amount of data going to your game from the internet, which is the download bandwidth, and the amount of data going back to the internet from your game.
This second lane is the upload bandwidth lane. Sometimes, what happens is that background processes in your network router tend to swell in size instantly. This means there’s less space for the rest of the data you’re sending, so it takes longer to reach the internet. Kind of like a traffic jam.
If you’re on low bandwidth networks, lag can be a frequent hassle. Some websites recommend high-speed networks for Fortnite, but you should be just fine with a 3 Mbps download and upload speed. This is because your lanes for data transfer are too narrow for a lot to be sent at the same time. Besides upgrading your data plan, the only other viable option would be to ask others to not use the internet as intensively during your playtime.
Simple fixes if you’re playing Fortnite on low bandwidth networks
If there’s nothing you can do to increase your network speed – don’t lose hope. There’s still a little you can do to cut down on lag significantly.
1. Use an Ethernet cable connection instead of wireless
For most folk, Wi-Fi is enough to get downloads and office work done. However, it just won’t cut it for gaming. Using an Ethernet cable connection can cut down lag by huge amounts. If you’re having issues with lag, and you’re playing over Wi-Fi, this step alone might fix your issues altogether.
2. Upgrade to a 5GHz router
Most ISPs provide a standard 2.4GHz router with their packages. This is because the 2.4GHz router while having less space to send data, has a larger range than the 5GHz model. However, for gaming purposes, there’s nothing better than having a 5GHz router to boost your network speeds and cut down lag to the minimum. You’ll thank us when you see the difference. And many routers are fairly cheap now, with hundreds of different companies offering competitive prices.
Simple fixes for Fortnite lag when internet bandwidth isn’t the issue
For the rest of us, with fairly high-speed networks, there are still options available to cut down on lag. Although, it should come as no surprise that these tend to be far more technical than the other options. Don’t worry, though – we’ll do our best to make everything easy to understand.
1. Relax firewall restrictions on games sending data
Part of protecting your device from viruses and hacking is scanning every last bit of data your device sends and receives. For the most part, this is fairly harmless, adding only a half-second of delay while streaming content from Netflix, but it can be a significant delay for gaming. Many firewalls aren’t designed with gaming in mind, and that can be an issue when your data is scrutinized carefully before being allowed to pass.
To fix this, go into the settings of your antivirus or firewalls and whitelist Fortnite and other games. This allows free traffic for these games, possibly cutting down on lag.
2. Disable automatic updates
There’s always a lot going on behind the scenes while you’re gaming, and mostly it’s harmless. But with the next-gen edition of Fortnite aspiring for 4K 120Hz gameplay, you can expect download sizes to shoot up. The last thing you want when playing online is for a game to be updating in the background – so make sure to disable that feature.
Simply go to the downloading settings of your game launcher and choose to pause all current updates before you play. Also, make sure you disable automatic updating in the settings too. This will focus all your bandwidth on the game, reducing traffic and lag.
3. Close all background programs to free up bandwidth
Obviously, having a lot of programs in the background tends to clog up processing power. More importantly, though, having a lot of programs on in the background means your game has to compete for bandwidth all the time you’re shooting away or building in Fortnite. This places an unnecessary burden on your hardware and your network capacity.
Do yourself a favor and close all those Google Chrome tabs you’ve got open before you start gaming. You won’t need it, anyway.
If you follow all these steps and still find high latency spikes, you might have a deeper issue. Contact your ISP and try to get it fixed. Otherwise, check out our other guides on Fortnite here!