How much speed you need for online gaming

How much speed you need for online gaming
Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Online gaming has become a ubiquitous pastime that attracts many different kinds of people. One thing those people all have in common is the need for reliable broadband internet. When it comes to Internet service, the average consumer puts a great deal of emphasis on download speeds, but gamers know that there are other limiting factors, such as latency, that separate the good connections from the bad.

Download and Upload Speeds

The FCC defines broadband Internet as at least 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up. This is actually more than enough for online gaming in most cases. We can look to the major console providers for evidence. Microsoft recommends at least 3 Mbps down for its Xbox One console, and Sony recommends at least 2 Mbps up for its PlayStation 4 console. Microsoft also recommends a maximum latency of 150 ms.

Be mindful that these are bare minimums. Our team actually recommends at least 5 Mbps down and at least 3 Mbps up, which is still below the FCC threshold. In addition, we recommend a latency of 100 ms, and strongly encourage no more than 50 ms if you have that option available to you.

Low Latency Is Key

Latency is a measure of how long it takes to send data to and receive a response from a server. You can have a fast download speed and still have a high latency, which is bad. In the U.S., the average latency for fiber-optic, cable and DSL Internet are 17, 28 and 44 ms, respectively. Be mindful that there are many factors that can worsen your latency, including your physical difference from the server.

Top Services for Online Gaming

If you have access to fiber-optic Internet, then we highly recommend it. It is generally the best option for online gaming by far when it comes to latency but also download and upload speeds. Cable Internet is a close second and practically just as good in some areas. DSL is generally good enough. Satellite services are usually not up to the necessary standard. This is also the case with fixed wireless. Typical 4G LTE connections normally have too much lag, and it is too early to tell when it comes to 5G.

Reducing Lag

If high latency—commonly called lag—is your problem, consider the following points.

Avoid Wi-Fi

Connect your console or PC to your router with an Ethernet cable. A wireless connection will always introduce some lag. If you are on PC and have no choice, consider upgrading to a PCI-based adapter.

Reset Your Router and Modem

Have you tried turning it off and on again is a meme, but it earned this status for a reason. Regular power cycling of your network equipment will help keep your Internet connection optimized.

Update Drivers and Turn Off All Unnecessary Apps

Keep drivers for all relevant devices updated. Disable any app that could be consuming bandwidth in the background. Many PC gamers set up a gaming mode that disables all of these apps via a hotkey.

Downloads Can Strain Your Internet Connection

While we have focused more on latency than download speeds thus far, be aware that saturating your Internet connection can cause issues with online gaming. Make sure that you have enough download speed for your entire household. The average household in the U.S. needs about 100 Mbps down.

Maintain Low Latency

Once you ensure that your residence has enough download to go around, latency should be the focal point. Speed test your Internet on a regular basis and at various times of the day so that you know what your norm is. When games give you the option, choose the server that is closest to your home. If there are issues with that server, however, choosing a farther server could provide better results.



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