What causes lag?

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What causes lag?

We’ve all played games in different situations. And we’ve all been in situations when we realized the game isn’t performing like we know it could. Everything moves slower, inputs are missing their timing. You are just certain you clicked on a spot but your character just won’t respond. Your shot was dead on, but it doesn’t register as a hit. And as more and more things happen, you begin hating everything and want to just throw your computer away. We get it. Been there. Done that. 


The good news is: This isn't a skill problem. The bad news? Looks like you have a lag issue. 


There are two major contributing factors of lag that need to be taken into consideration: hardware and network. In today’s article, we’ll go through different factors that might contribute to making your computer lag. 


Bandwidth & Latency

To know what causes high latency, it’s first crucial to understand the difference between latency and bandwidth. Bandwidth and latency have a lot to do with one another but are not 100% the same thing. 


To understand the difference between the two, there is an analogy we have seen that works well. Think of your Internet connection as a solid pipe that’s transferring data. Bandwidth (measured in Mbps) is the actual size of the pipe. If you have low bandwidth, you would have a smaller pipe that cannot carry a lot of data at once. This would be the exact opposite if you had high bandwidth. Latency (measured in ms), on the other hand, is how long it would take the data to go from end to end of the pipe in question. This is referred to as a delay or the ping rate.  


A weak, potentially outdated CPU can overheat easily and cause high CPU usage (which you can check in your Task Manager). This can create lag in the form of lag spikes on your computer. To think about it on a basic level, the stronger your CPU is, the better your PC performance is.


There are two ways your RAM may be causing lag: not enough RAM or corrupted RAM. If your RAM is not up to the standard minimum or is corrupted, your PC cannot handle processes that help the system function. Due to its inability to manage its process load, your computer will lag, most notably in extensive tasks like gaming or editing.


Your hard drive is vital when it comes to loading times, what you would call the “speed” of your hard drive. Now, imagine you are playing a game on a computer that uses the traditional mechanical hard disk. If the game is demanding, your computer will lag (even has the potential to completely stall momentarily).

Operating System

The operating system is often overlooked as something that needs to be maintained. You think of your Windows as something that simply functions properly on its own and is the constant foundation for everything. But your operating system needs to be taken care of just like all the other aspects of your PC. If you don’t maintain your operating system regularly, including making sure its configuration is correctly set up, there will be a lot of programs cluttering your PC as well as the need to proper updates. This will cause your computer to lag, regardless of how “powerful” it is.


Now it’s time to check if all of these aspects work properly on your side in order to solve your lag issues and never miss a hit again. And if the problem wasn’t the lag but more your own capacities then well… you can still say it was the lag, or just have an excuse to play even more!

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