Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reduce DOTA 2 Lag – How to Play Multiplayer Matches without Delays

Playing Dota 2 is fun, but only if there’s no lag. When there is, expect disappointment from other players. You may also end up getting annoyed for being unable to kill an enemy hero due to that unexpected delay. Such madness must be minimalized, unless you stay with just the restricted games in LAN lobbies.

If you follow the tips below, you may reduce lag down to negligible levels for gameplay. On a side note, consider having a permanent view of your ping and FPS to help you constantly check if you’re currently suffering from delays or not.

Search matches closest to your region

As of this writing, there are nine available regions in the world where you can queue in. The game states this tip itself: “Select only the closest regions to you for the best experience.” Duly follow this tip even if the region nearest to your home has a longer average wait time than the others.

Dota 2 Matchmaking Regions

Set Dota 2’s network quality setting to high

You can find this setting under Game > Network of the game’s options. In short, low quality means bigger delay, while high quality means lesser delay.

Dota 2 Network Quality

To specify the network quality yourself, use the console commands below. See my guide on how to skip the Dota 2 tutorial to know how to launch the console window.

  • cl_updaterate 40

The default value is 30, representing the “number of packets per second of updates you are requesting from the server.”

  • cl_cmdrate 40

The default value is 30, which is the “max number of command packets sent to server per second.”

  • rate 80000

This is the “max bytes/sec the host can receive data.”

Stop downloads and updates of other applications (and users in the network)

If you want smooth sailing as you play Dota 2, you need to stop any in-progress downloads (as well as uploads) by other programs. Turning off automatic updates of all installed software is recommended too, since updates can happen suddenly without your knowing. Though your antivirus program is usually the culprit to causing lags and delays, you can check which apps are currently eating away your bandwidth through the Resource Monitor.

Resource Monitor

If you belong to a network, also make sure that other computers and users aren’t hogging all the bandwidth and therefore making you lag in the game. Better yet, acquire your own Internet connection to have complete control.

Use an Internet connection meant for the home

You may be tempted by the promised speeds being advertised by cellular carriers, but their Internet access isn’t actually stable. How unstable is it? Based on personal experience, I got lags/delays as high as 9000ms (9 seconds!) several times just on one game.

Subscribe on connections powered by Wimax, DSL, or cable. Those types are meant for gaming, whereas mobile connections such as 4G LTE, HSPA+, and 3G are for users who are on the go. Factors you need to consider when selecting an Internet service provider are the speed, signal reception (for wireless), and reliability/uptime. Also be aware of any usage caps that your provider might impose, whether explicitly or hidden in fine print.

Lower advanced video games settings

Though not directly related to the game latency, lowering or disabling options found in Dota 2’s video games settings will help increase performance, specifically the frames per second (FPS). The acceptable rate is 40fps, though your computer must be able to reach and stay beyond 60fps for the smoothest gameplay.

Dota 2 Video Settings

For the fastest FPS, choose the following settings:

  • Aspect ratio – 4:3
  • Resolution – 640x480
  • Vertical sync (Vsync) – off
  • Anti-aliasing – off
  • Specular – off
  • Specular bloom – off
  • Water quality – off
  • Fog – off
  • Shadows – low
  • Animate portrait – off
  • Additive light pass – off
  • World lighting – off
  • Ambient occlusion – off
  • Textures – low
  • Render quality – lowest
  • Ambient creatures – off

Of course, you’d want to balance the performance and quality. If your computer can take it, just disable some of the settings. Anti-aliasing, shadows, and render quality are usually the ones causing a heavy demand in your computer’s graphics card. You may also want to configure your card’s own settings.

Other ways to reduce Dota 2 lag

To reduce lag even more, do the following:

  • Achieve a faster connection through proxies and tunnels
  • Don’t find matches when Steam is updating the game to a newer version
  • Don’t play when Steam is updating itself


Note that there will always be delays or lags as you play Dota 2. By following the guide above, you can at least make sure that your multiplayer matches have a positive overall experience. Lastly, the tips above apply not only to Dota 2 but pretty much just about any online game.

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