Like most gamers, I do not have the mightiest PC and NASA internet. Not every gamer has the budget to build a $2000 PC. We need to make do for what we have. Sometimes, our love for competitive shooters gets a bit less affectionate. Lag spikes and stuttering frames limit the overall enjoyment of a game. In my case, that game was Rainbow Six Siege.
Fed up with losing streaks, I set out on a journey to improve my gameplay once and for all. The very first thing I did was improve the performance of my PC and network. After successfully doing so, I decided to share everything that I have learned. Without further ado, here are the 6 methods to lower ping, increase FPS, and win more rounds.
What is system latency? How does it affect your gameplay?
Before diving into the tips, it is essential to understand some technical terms.
If you are a budget gamer, your PC may barely meet the requirements for Siege. Low-end and middle-end graphics cards often have limited memory, and once they reach maximum efficiency, graphic cards can no longer keep up with intense graphical demands. As a result, there is a visible delay between your gameplay and what you see on the screen. This is known as system latency.
System latency, otherwise known as lag, becomes very disruptive to your gameplay if the graphical demands extend way beyond GPU's capability. Frame skipping (or FPS drop) is a common symptom of bad system lag. In Siege, precision and fast reaction are how players win matches. For example, you find an enemy and rotate your mouse to that target. If the GPU cannot keep up with the instant action, you may end up swinging too wide or too narrow and get killed. Frame skipping is frustrating to deal with because it makes the cursor unpredictable.
System lag in Siege can also cause screen tearing. Screen tearing happens when the frame being sent does not match the monitor's refresh rate (Hz). This problem occurs when the FPS is not consistent. FPS (Frames-Per-Second) refers to a metric that calculates how much of a second your screen needs to output a frame. Consistent FPS leads to smoother gameplay because the GPU and monitor can synchronize seamlessly.
So, if your PC performance is struggling to run Siege, what should you do to increase FPS?
Method 1: Tweak video settings for better performance
Now, most readers may know this method already. It is obvious that if you want to reduce system lag, you must decrease the video quality. However, some might not be aware of the most optimal settings for Siege, hence why this is my first tip. If your PC struggles to run Siege smoothly, reducing the video quality is first on the list.
Some players believe they are at a disadvantage if they cannot run Siege on the highest graphics. Supposedly, a quality that is too low will reduce the visibility. That may be true for casual shooters. However, it is not the case for competitive shooters.
In fact, low graphic settings have been the go-to method for professional Siege players to increase visibility and PC performance. If you ever watch Beaulo or Pengu, two of the most prominent Siege players, you would notice that they play on the lowest setting even though their PC can easily handle maxed-out graphics. Why do they accept that sacrifice? Because there are competitive advantages to low graphic settings.
Decreasing the video quality makes textures load faster, so they appear on screen faster. Faster load time for textures also allows more frames to display simultaneously, resulting in higher FPS. Furthermore, when objects and environments do not distract you with reflections and shiny details, enemy players become easier to spot.
Do you want the competitive settings that pro players use? Below are the options that will largely influence your Frames-Per-Second:
tuned to your monitor's refresh rate
(can be found by googling the model)
(old technology, use G-sync or Free-sync instead)
LOD Quality: Ultra
(This setting enables far distance processing)
Ambient Occlusion: OFF
(high definition shadow processing)
Method 2: Maintain a consistent framerate
Let's move on to the second method. As stated above, a consistent framerate will prevent screen tearing. To do well in Siege, players must be comfortable with a level of consistency from gunplay to decision making. Aiming requires a smooth transition of the cursor, which is only achievable if the gameplay does not stutter. Unstable FPS caused by system lag will significantly reduce your chances of winning gunfights during crucial moments. It also causes input latency. Therefore, we should always strive to have the most steady FPS.
For that to happen, you need to cap your framerate to the monitor's refresh rate. Why refresh rate? Because it determines the FPS limit. Any frame above your monitor's refresh rate is a wasted frame. If the FPS is higher than the refresh rate, your monitor will not display all of the frames your PC produces.
The refresh rate is there to force limitations on the frame rate. Let's say you are rocking a 75Hz monitor like the one I have (yes, judge me). 75 Hz means you can only see 75 FPS, even though your PC can confidently output +100 FPS. There is no need for those 30-40 extra frames because all they do is make your GPU work harder for no reason. Furthermore, setting a cap creates an FPS goal for your PC, allowing it to focus on that goal rather than spreading thin. Therefore, you get to enjoy smooth and consistent gameplay.
There are many ways to cap your framerate. Let's go through a few easy ones.
If you own Siege on Steam
Add (+fps_max "your cap") to the launch option. For example, +fps_max 74.
If you own an Nvidia card
Open Nvidia Control Panel, click on "Manage 3d settings," then scroll down to "Max Frame Rate" and match it to fps.
On your computer
Visit "Documents" and find your Rainbow Six Siege folder. Dig around until you find "GameSettings.ini" then click on it. Scroll down to "FPSLimit" and set it to your monitor's refresh rate.
My LG monitor has Free-sync enabled. Screenshot by author.
Alternatively, you can use G-sync on Nvidia cards or Free-sync on AMD cards. Their job is to make sure the FPS stays consistent. Newer monitors should have options to turn them on. Click here to check if your monitor has G-sync. If it does not, check here to see if it has Free-sync.
Method 3: Launch Siege in Vulkan Mode
For years, Siege or other competitive shooters roll out updates to optimize the game as much as possible for low-end PCs. Thanks to the dev's hard work, budget gamers now have a chance to compete with expensive PC builds, and that chance is called Vulkan.
Vulkan is an API (Application Programming Interface) that takes advantage of multiple technologies to provide performance improvements, particularly on low-end PCs. Vulkan replaces DirectX 11 API, which was released back in 2010, to allow programmers the freedom to tweak how the CPU communicates with the GPU. As a result of advanced coding, Vulkan can reduce both the GPU and CPU cost of rendering.
Screenshots by author.
You can access Vulkan by selecting the option when you start Siege. Most Siege players reported significant FPS gain using Vulkan. I managed to gain 14 min FPS. Please note that the margin of improvement will not be notable for high-end PCs since they already perform exceptionally well.
FPS gain is not the only enhancement Vulkan brings to the table. In fact, the API enables extra optimization tools to reduce input latency to the next level. You can access these tools under "Graphics" inside the setting menu. These tools are:
Nvidia Reflex Low Latency:
one of the best features of Vulkan, this tool performs as its name suggests. There is also a boost option, which uses more GPU to reduce input latency. Try it out for yourself!
Latency Flash Indicator:
this setting is for game developers and dedicated gamers. It is used to measure precisely the latency between a mouse click and the firing animation. It only works if you have a Latency Display Analysis Tool.
Adaptive Render Scaling Target FPS:
if you experience fluctuating FPS, this is another way to remain a consistent framerate. What sets it apart from capping methods is that there is also a cap for min value. By adjusting the render resolution on the fly, this tool makes sure you play with the same FPS throughout the match.
What is network latency? How does it prevent you from clutching?
In the first half, I discussed 3 methods to improve system and input latency. Now, let's now shift our focus to network latency reduction.
Every time you fire a bullet in Siege, a piece of data gets transferred to the server. Every time an opponent kills you, your computer receives a data package from the server. This constant back-and-forth communication between your computer and the server is the sole reason why online video games can exist.
High latency occurs when there is a delay in the amount of time data takes to go from your PC to the Siege data center and back. During this process, there are many things that can prevent the data from getting to the end destination as soon as possible. These problems include physical limitations, limited bandwidth, and bottleneck. Imagine four-lane traffic trying to merge onto one exit. When that happens, the data packages get pushed back, and these 4 symbols of death show up.
Screenshot by author.
Similar to system lag, network lag causes frustration to the player. If system lag makes you miss your shots, network lag makes your bullets fail to register. It is safe to say that your bullets get erased from the Siege's universe every time a packet loss happens.
Network lag is not something you can fix easily. The best method is to increase internet speed from your internet service provider. If you don't have the budget for that, these workarounds might lower your ping to some extent.
Method 4: port forward the client
Port-forwarding is the most effective way to reduce network lag in Rainbow Six Siege that you can do for free. After completing the nitty-gritty, such as unblocking the game from your firewall and closing down background apps, this is the next step you should take. Port-forwarding is a useful trick in gaming because it can help make your network connection more stable and intermittently even faster. The only downside is that you must have access to your router.
Without diving into technical explanations, here are what port forwarding does:
It essentially allows your router to trust and accept incoming network requests from Ubisoft's servers.
It reduces peeker's advantage while you are holding the entry of Basement in Oregon.
It instructs the firewall not to block network data from the local server to your computer.
It creates a direct tunnel for transmitting packets.
Port-forwarding is an advanced method as it requires a little work to get it done. Each router has its own way of accessing port-forwarding. You can use this resource to learn how to port-forward with your specific internet modem.
Method 5: change data center manually
When you start the game for the first time, the data center's location will be chosen automatically. The game pings to different data centers to see which one pings back the fastest. The further the server, the longer the signals. The fastest center to receive the ping is usually the closest one to your location. However, technology is not always flawless.
Let's take United States data centers, for example. There are 4 data centers for 3 different regions: East US, West US, Central US, and South Central US. It is hard for your computer to locate which one is closest if they are all nearby. To correct this, you need to step in and do your own test.
First, you need to know how to change the data center manually. Locate the game data by following this directory:
[C:\Users\"Username"\Documents\My Games\Rainbow Six - Siege]
Locate a string of numbers and letters. If you have different accounts, there will be more than one string. Find the correct string, click on it, and you will see a "GameSettings.ini" file. Open that file, scroll down until you find this:
Screenshot by author.
These are all of the data center locations. Did you notice a code above them? ";DataCenterHint =>"
If left blank, the game will choose the default data center. Go ahead and switch to your preferred location. For example, I set mine to West Us:
";DataCenterHint => westus"
Don't forget to save and restart your game. Once you are in, press F10, and the gearbox icon will drop down to a menu. Inside that menu, you can see which data center your game is currently on and your ping (measured by milliseconds). Now is the time to do your test. Figure out which data center delivers the lowest ping. I shaved off 38 milliseconds (from 50 to 12) using this method, which is a huge advantage!
Method 6: Switch to higher bandwidth channels on your router
Most modern routers have 2 or more channels for different usage needs. Typing an essay or browsing the web should fall into the 2ghz channel, while demanding and continuous tasks such as streaming, watching movies, and gaming should occupy the 5ghz channel.
Some routers have dedicated built-in software to facilitate usage based on the amount of data. However, manual configuration ensures that the network does not switch mid-match automatically.
In short, switch to a 5ghz channel (if applicable) whenever you want to play Siege. This channel prioritizes more bandwidth for high internet usage, and it could help lower your ping.
That is everything you need to know about lag reduction in Rainbow Six Siege. Remember, esports is not normal sports. In normal sports, your chance of winning relies solely on your skills and decision-making. For esports, there are technical aspects that impact how you play the game. Your monitor and GPU are two of them.
If this article helped you eliminate lag successfully, share it with a friend so everyone can achieve lower ping and higher FPS.
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