What is a good internet speed for gaming?

When you’re gaming in the moment, the last thing you need is to worry about lag or everything freezing up. So what is the best internet connection speed to keep you on track, every time?

How fast should your internet be?

The simple formula is that faster is always better. Especially if you're sharing your broadband with non-gamers who browse, watch, stream, download or even work from home, when you want play online. For heavy users and family-size households, M500 to gigabit broadband speeds are usually the most tempting.

The terms you need to know

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

Benefits of high speed internet

It’s worth considering how faster, bigger bandwidth broadband packages can greatly enhance your life online. If you’re a fan of multiplayer gaming or video streaming and you've many devices at home, a higher speed will have everything running smoother. Everyone at home will enjoy better response times and probably stop grumbling about dropped calls or choppy meetings.

One approach to take is to have a quick think about how you expect to use the internet in the coming months or next year. Choose a plan with enough flexibility for your needs.

So, what Mbps is good for gaming?

When it comes to download and upload speeds, one general mantra is ‘faster is better’ which is true from a certain point of view. To some people’s surprise online gaming actually isn’t the most bandwidth-busting activity you could be doing. Unlike online videos, which stream across your internet connection, video game images are rendered by the graphics engine in your PC or games console. The information that needs to go back and forth online is from the keys or joypad buttons you are pressing. All this means – even for modern games with pin-sharp 4K graphics – you'd only need a download speed of around 3Mbps to keep playing online.

As games are interactive, you do also need to think about upload speeds for your online gaming as well. The speed at which information hits a remote server when you’re playing is a factor. The upload speed you need is actually pretty slow, roughly 1Mbps to 2Mbps, which even a lesser connection will supply you with, so other factors may be more important in the long run.

Broadband speed in practice

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, the same file is going to download for you in 8 minutes. Now apply this to upload speed, which is a factor if you either host streaming channels on Twitch 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 a hefty 5 days to upload. Now consider if you used gigabit broadband for the same job. The expected 40Mbps upload speed would get it all done in around 3 hours. Please note, these data transfer speeds and times are rough estimates, not an exact science.

What are some recommended download speeds on different consoles?

If your broadband internet connection hits these speeds you should be able to play online. Having a superior connection might be preferable as well to make sure you don’t suffer the buffer or drop out at a key point in a tournament or match online.

System
Min. download speed
Min. upload speed
Max latency

Nintendo Switch

3 Mbps

1 Mbps

N/A

Xbox One

1 Mbps

0.5 Mbps

150ms

PlayStation 4

N/A

2 Mbps

N/A

How can I improve my online gaming experience?

There will always be little issues along the way, best to try and avoid them and keep your scores and achievements rock solid. Here’s a few tips.

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