What is a good internet speed for gaming?

Gaming is all in the moment, so a good internet speed is crucial. When you’re just about to take out your last opponent, you don’t want to worry about your game freezing up. A recommended internet speed for gaming provides an average download speed of up to 362Mpbs and upload speed of up to 36Mbps, depending on your household usage.

What type of broadband is good for gaming?

Faster broadband with greater bandwidth can greatly enhance your gaming life, such as Gigabit fibre broadband. If you’re a fan of playing massively multiplayer online games and there are many other devices running in your home, a higher internet speed will help things run more smoothly. All members of the household will enjoy better response times, with fewer dropped calls and choppy connections.


When considering gaming broadband, it’s also important to consider the rest of your internet usage, from the number of devices in your household to the types of users. As in our highly connected world, your network will also want to be running other devices, which could impact your gaming experience. It’s important to choose a broadband package that offers enough flexibility for the needs of your household and also support your gaming needs.


Key gaming terms you should know

Before you get further into the nitty gritty, let’s clear up some keywords and phrases...


Mbps

Mbps stands for megabits per second, and defines how much data is flowing per second between you and the web service. The bigger the number, the greater your internet speed. This indicates how much you can download or upload at any one time.

It’s like filling up a swimming pool with a hose. You’ll need a good-sized nozzle and enough water pressure to fill the pool quickly, otherwise you’ll be there all day. The faster your data flows, the better your online activities will run.


Download speed

This refers to how many of those Mbps it takes to fill the pool, i.e. to transfer data from a server to your device, or between devices. You may be watching Netflix, listening to music on Spotify or streaming online games on Twitch. It doesn’t matter whether it’s video, audio, text or images – more Mbps equals faster downloads.


Upload speed

On the flipside, upload speed tells you how many Mbps it takes to empty the pool, i.e. to transfer data from your device to another device or server. Taking part in MMOs or live gaming tournaments demands fast upload speeds. Even emailing or video calling requires you to send data elsewhere.


Ping

Ping is the time it takes for the signal sent out when a player types a command to get a response. The four keystrokes commonly used in video game movements are W and S to go forward and back, plus A and D to go left and right. So when you press A, having good ping means a quick move left for your character, and so on. Bad ping signifies a delay after you press the key. Your character takes too long to move, and this may impact badly on your manoeuvring ability.


Latency

Many gamers get confused between ping and latency, as they’re both measured in milliseconds (ms) and only slightly different. Ping refers to the time taken by a signal sent in one direction from one device to another on the same network. Latency measures the time it takes for the ping also to come back to the originating device. So ping measures the one-way journey time of a signal, while latency measures the round trip. Your device is literally pinging the server, and measuring the response time.

Lower ms is always better for your response times. 15-45ms is optimal for ping, and 15-60ms for latency, but you can go up to 100ms on either without too much trouble. Higher than that? Games may become unplayable due to lag, and you could easily lose out in fast-paced action.


Lag

Lag is what happens if you have high ping or latency – i.e. your internet connection is slower or of a lower quality than you need to play effectively. The main effect of lag is that you’ll suffer delays in your gameplay, so when you press a command key there’s no immediate response. A delay of even a few seconds could lose you a critical position in the game, when your commands are not acted on instantly. Even worse, if lag builds up in the middle of a match it can cause huge problems. Your screen may suddenly freeze up, perhaps jumping back to your most recent play, or even ejecting you from the game altogether.

What are some recommended download speeds on different consoles?

If your broadband internet connection reaches these speeds, you should have no problem gaming online. If you want to be sure to avoid lag and high ping, a superior connection might be preferable.

System
Min. download speed
Min. upload speed
Max latency

Nintendo Switch

3 Mbps

1 Mbps

N/A

Xbox One

3 Mbps

0.5 Mbps

150ms

PlayStation 5

2 Mbps

2 Mbps

N/A

What Mbps is good for gaming?

To many people’s surprise, online gaming isn’t the most bandwidth-busting internet activity. This is due to its physical characteristics. Online videos take up a lot of bandwidth streaming data across your internet connection. But the images in video games are rendered directly by the graphics card in your PC or games console. So the real-time data that’s travelling back and forth online is generated only by the keys or joypad buttons you’re pressing. This means that to keep playing online, you only need a download speed of around 3Mbps – even for modern games with pin-sharp 4K graphics.


Upload speeds are also important in online gaming, as games are interactive and you need data to travel rapidly to a remote server when you’re playing. The upload speed required for gaming is actually pretty low, about 1-3Mbps, which you can get from even a slow connection.


Broadband speed in practice

Even though the game itself may only need 3Mbps to play, there are other factors to consider. For example, say you want to download a 50GB file. With a 10Mbps connection, this would take roughly 11 hours or longer to download. On 1GB fibre broadband, however, the same file is going to download for you in only eight minutes.


Now apply this to upload speed, which is important if you host streaming channels or upload videos to YouTube. Using our example of a 10Mbps connection, your uploads will transfer at a speed of 1Mbps. Applied to a 50GB file, that means it would take up to a hefty five days to upload.


What if you used gigabit broadband for the same job? The expected 40Mbps upload speed would get it all done in around three hours.


Please note: these data transfer speeds and times are rough estimates, not precise or fixed measurements.

Test my broadband speed

How can I improve my online gaming experience?

There are several steps you can take to get a reliably good internet speed for gaming. These should reduce latency and help you avoid game-crashing lag.


Get the right broadband

Choose an appropriate tier of broadband speed based on your household usage, especially if you want to use multiple devices at the same time. Our M125 broadband is a good internet speed for daily activities and gaming, for up to 4 devices at the same time. For larger households you may find M500 Fibre broadband a great option as it’s great for those with lots of people online at the same time.


Switch from Wi-Fi to Ethernet

Connect your device to your router using Ethernet cables wherever possible. A wired connection can really help you run gaming apps smoothly. If this isn’t possible, you can get a Wi-Fi booster plug to enhance your connection.


Reset your network devices

If lag is impacting your gaming, try the old reset trick on all your network devices. Switch everything off, unplug and wait at least 30 seconds before re-establishing connections.


Turn off your other devices

Don’t run other apps while you’re gaming, as this can significantly slow down your device and cause major lag. It also depends on how many users are connected to your network. Your household may be full of streamers, shoppers, TV watchers and people working from home. Other gamers will also slow everything down.


Changing server

Check that you’re using the closest server. Geolocation does make a difference, and one of the biggest influences on latency is distance. Most games have instructions in their menu for changing servers. If you can find the closest one, this should improve the stability of your game.


Try to avoid peak hours

Unless you have a fast enough internet speed for gaming, you might need to schedule off-peak times for playing. This could help improve stability and the quality of your session.


Date Published: 1st December 2022

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