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Ping vs. Download Speed: What’s The Difference?

Ping vs. Download Speed: What’s The Difference?

Ping and download speed are two essential concepts in data transfer. But what’s the difference between the two, and do they affect each other?

Read on for in-depth answers to these questions. 

Ping vs. Download Speed

Ping refers to the time it takes to receive a response from a remote server after sending out a packet of data from your PC. In contrast, download speed is the the amount of data you can download from the internet to your device per unit of time.

Pinging involves two-way communication, whereas download speed involves one-way communication.

In gaming, ping is the amount of time it takes for the game to respond to commands that a gamer issues. This makes low ping ideal for gaming.

If one gamer’s ping is lower than others, their moves will register first. Playing fast-paced games like Valorant or Apex with a high ping may be a massive disadvantage as your reaction time is subject to ping.

In terms of importance, download speed is usually more important to most people, while a high ping is detrimental for gaming.

Downloading files, watching YouTube, and using streaming services like Netflix are all affected by download speed.

You can test your internet speed and ping rate using Google Fiber’s Speedtest. You should be aware that your ping is highly dependent on the distance between you and the server you are pinging.

Different games have their own servers in different locations throughout the world. So your ping may be high for some games but low for others, depending on your proximity to the game server.

For the most accurate results, it is best to measure your ping inside the particular game you want to play. Most games have a ping icon in the game’s settings that will display your ping in milliseconds.

What’s the Difference Between Ping and Download Speed?

Ping represents the latency between your PC and a remote server. Your ping is dependent on network performance and your proximity to the remote server. Download speed focuses on the data transfer rate between the internet and your PC, and can be throttled by ISPs (Internet Service Providers).

At first glance, ping and download speeds may appear the same since they both involve the rate at which information travels. Because of this, many people wrongly use these terms interchangeably.

Although ping and download speeds are similar, they have several unique features that set them apart.

Below is a table that helps point out some key differences between these two concepts.

PropertyPingDownload speed
Communication Pattern2-way1-way
Measured InMilliseconds (ms)Megabits per second (Mbps)
Other party in communicationAnother device.Typically the Internet.
Data volumeMostly small packets of data are transferred from one device to another.Large pieces of data are downloaded per second from a website or application.

Let’s discuss these differences in more detail:

Communication Stream

“Pinging” between PCs or devices involves two-way communication. Without hearing back from the receiving device, the device that sent a request cannot act.

On the other hand, download speeds do not require two-way communication. All this involves is downloading large pieces of information from the internet to your device. 

Measuring Metric

Ping rates are measured in milliseconds (ms). Essentially, lower ms result in faster responses between two devices.

Download speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Since most online activities consist of downloading more than uploading, many ISPs have designed their connections to have much faster download speeds. 

Other Parties in Communication

When a device wants to ping, it does this with a network provider or another device. If your device pings slowly with a network provider or device, whatever information you send on the network is also delayed.

On the other hand, downloads only require one-way communication between the device and the internet. When a device wants to use information from the internet, download speeds will mask low ping or latency rates. 

During this one-way communication, the amount of data that can be transferred from the internet per second is critical. This makes a high download speed essential, especially for large downloads.

Data Volume

Due to the speeds at which communication must be done during pings, only a small packet of data is usually transferred between two devices. 

On the other hand, since downloads do not require constant back-and-forth communication, ping is less important.

Which Is More Important for Gaming: Ping or Download Speed?

Ping is more important for online gaming due to the impact of latency on in-game performance. A low ping is necessary for the game to respond quickly to your keyboard/controller input. A ping rate of 20 milliseconds or less is ideal for smooth gaming.

Although download speed is still crucial to gaming, most forms of online gaming don’t depend on large transfers of data using bandwidth. As a result, a decent download speed will usually suffice for most games.

Download speed is more beneficial for streaming movies and music and loading webpages.

So, aim for a lower ping if you want to stand a fighting chance while gaming competitively.

You can do this by updating your software, choosing a fast ISP with fantastic internet speeds, and disconnecting all other devices that may be lowering internet speeds from the network. 

But are ping and internet speed the same thing? And do they work together?

Are Ping and Internet Speed the Same Thing?

Ping and internet speed are not the same thing. Ping represents the latency of your connection, while internet speed represents the throughput of the connection. Ping describes the “friction” in sending and receiving data from a remote server, while internet speed describes how much data is received per unit of time.

Ping is more important when the timing is critical, like in gaming.

On the other hand, download speed is vital when doing activities that involve transferring large amounts of data from the internet, such as streaming movies on Netflix. 

Now that you know this, you might wonder if or how ping and download speed affect each other.

Is Ping Affected by Download Speed?

Ping is generally unaffected by download speeds. Ping is not directly related to bandwidth and download speeds, since it is a measure of latency/delay, and not throughput. It’s possible to have average internet speeds and a low (good) ping rate.

However, it’s still best to have good internet speed while playing games. Although excessively high download speeds won’t make much difference, you still need a decent baseline download speed.

But while connection speeds don’t necessarily affect ping rates, the type of connection you use will.

Cable, fiber, and satellite are perfect for download speeds. However, using satellite or dial-up connections is terrible for ping rates.

What Is Considered a Good Ping?

Pings of 20ms and below are considered good pings in gaming. However, the average ping rate for many connections is 100ms. Your ping will vary based on various conditions, but with about 100-120ms, you can play most games reliably.

Any ping rate of more than 100ms is considered to be high ping and, thus, undesirable for gaming.

More often than not, satellite connections may give you terrible ping rates of 300ms and above, while cable and fiber connections will give you acceptable ping rates of 100ms and below. 

Is 0 Ping Possible?

0 ping is not possible on any network. Although 0 ping would be perfectly ideal for gaming, data requires time to travel from one computer to another. This time delay, known as latency, can be greatly reduced, but technically it cannot be brought to 0.

The only way you can try (and still possibly fail) to achieve 0 ping is to make your PC send a ping to itself. You can do this by “ping localhost” in the Windows Command prompt.

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Since 2018, I've been making streams come true.

I like gaming, streaming and watching other people stream. I created this website to help streamers, viewers, and gamers answer questions they have regarding live streaming, gaming, and PCs. I am a Twitch affiliate and currently stream on Twitch 3 days a week. I also have a Youtube channel where I make videos about streaming. I hope you find my content helpful. Feel free to stop by one of my streams to say hi.