WoW lag, or high latency, can be a real issue in the MMORPG (Massively multiplayer online role-playing game) World of Warcraft. High latency can be caused by several circumstances. While internal hardware can be the cause, this article refers to external devices and the Internet connection as the problem source.

Latency is the restricted movement of data from the transmitter to the receiver. Bandwidth and latency are not the same thing, but latency affects bandwidth. The bandwidth represents the speed of data in unrestricted conditions, while latency refers to the restrictive conditions that slow the data flow to the receiver. There is no cure for latency, but there are some things that can be done to help optimize the data flow.


Minimizing WoW Lag, World of Warcraft’s website, recommends a latency under 300 ms, however hard-core players want a latency of 30 ms or less. Latency can be detected when the graphics card is pushed to its limits. When a player is in an area with many other players, such as Stormwind, or fighting a boss battle in a 10-person raid and there are multiple spell-castings going on, then everything begins to slow. This is latency raising its ugly head.

Players can do a few things to find out where the latency is coming from and then hopefully minimize its effects.

  • Check the Realm Status: This may seem obvious, but it is the first step. If the realm status is showing a high latency, then the data is having problems at the server level. Hover the mouse over the Game Menu icon to see the world and home latency connections. If the world latency is high, then latency will be high for everyone.
  • Connection Type: A wireless connection will always add latency to bandwidth. Disconnect from the router and use a wired connection directly to the computer. Also, if others are using the router at the same time, it is possible that there are too many people grabbing for the same bandwidth.
  • Internet Connection Speed: While the game is open, press the “Esc” key, select “System,” and then select the “Network” option. Players with a high-speed Internet connection should click the “Optimize Network for Speed” check box. Those with a low-speed Internet connection should make sure the check box is not checked. The “Optimize Network for Speed” check box, when not checked, tells the game to not send as much data in each packet, which improves the gaming experience.
  • Drivers and Updates: Verify that every piece of hardware dealing with the acceptance of data is up to date. Modems, Ethernet cards, and routers all require either drivers or firmware to make them run. As technology advances to push data faster and easier through the same amount of space, drivers must be updated from the manufacturer to keep the hardware up to date.
  • Take an Internet speed test at BandwidthPlace. This will help to isolate where the problem lies. If the Internet connection is slower than it should be, then the player will know it could be a problem with the cable provider.

Paul Williams
Paul Williams

Paul Williams brings a wide range of experiences to his writing. He worked extensively in technology, as a software engineer, technical writer, and now a technology writer. Known as the leader of one of the top American Spacerock bands, his forward-looking music continues to be heard all over the world.