Broadband for gamers

No matter where your allegiance lies in the console wars, we all loathe lag and know that a decent broadband connection is vital for an enjoyable online gaming experience.

Here we introduce you to everything you should know when choosing the best broadband for gaming.

No matter where your allegiance lies in the console wars, we all loathe lag and know that a decent broadband connection is vital for an enjoyable online gaming experience.

Here we introduce you to everything you should know when choosing the best broadband for gaming.

Holly Niblett
From the Digital team
7
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Posted 14 JUNE 2021

Why does broadband for gamers matter?

Whether you’re playing friends online, installing game updates or streaming your epic battles live, you depend on your broadband service to stay connected and give you the edge. 

Gamers know that speed, latency and traffic management can all make a big difference to the online gaming experience.

Most broadband deals are suitable for the casual gamer, and the general principle is that the faster your broadband is, the better overall gaming experience you’ll have. Deciding on the right provider could be as simple as choosing the fastest package available.

If you’re someone who regularly buys new titles online, uses large downloadable content (DLC) files or streams your sessions, you may want to look for an ultrafast fibre broadband deal that’ll handle even the most demanding games. 

How fast should internet speed for gaming be?

Technically speaking, online gaming doesn’t need particularly fast speeds. Microsoft recommends a download speed of at least 3 Mbps (megabits per second) when using Xbox Live, and Sony suggests a minimum of 5 Mbps for its PlayStation Now games subscriber service.

A fast connection is undoubtedly best for multiplayer games, and for downloading new games titles and updates for existing games. And if other people in your household are using the internet at the same time, you’ll need enough bandwidth to make sure there’s no loss in quality.

Streaming a game through cloud storage or an on-demand gaming service will place even greater strains on your broadband connection. For example, Google Stadia, Google’s cloud gaming service, recommends a 10 Mbps connection, or speeds of 35Mbps to experience its games in 4K resolution. The table below shows the sorts of download speeds you’ll need for game streaming.

Service Minimum download speed Recommended download speed
PlayStation Remote Play 15 Mbps N/A
Google Stadia 10 Mbps 35 Mbps
Shadow 5 Mbps 25 Mbps
Nvidia GeForce NOW 15 Mbps 25 Mbps


Speed check

You can use our broadband speed test to check how fast your internet is, and AutoSergei could help you find a better deal if you need to upgrade. 

Of course, speed isn’t the only box you should be looking to tick. A smooth online session depends on having a consistent connection. A slower but reliable connection is usually preferable to a superfast connection that’s prone to disconnecting. The last thing you want is to crash out of the game at a crucial moment. Look out for providers with low daily disturbances.

How long does it take to download games?

The time it takes to download a game depends on the size of the file. If we take a couple of popular titles from below, we can see how their download times compare across different broadband speeds:

Game title

ADSL

8Mbps

Fibre

38Mbps

Superfast

362 Mbps

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (PS4, 65GB) 19 hours 23 minutes 4 hours 5 minutes 25 minutes
Fortnite (Xbox One, 33.82 GB) 10 hours, 8 minutes 2 hours 8 minutes 13 minutes


These figures are based on being able to take advantage of full-speed downloads. In reality you’re likely to experience a longer wait.

What else should I look out for when choosing broadband for gaming?

If you’re serious about gaming, there are several things to think about before committing to a broadband package, not just speed. Familiarise yourself with these key terms to help in your hunt for the best broadband for gaming…

  • Latency – Also known as lag, this refers to the time it takes for the information from your button bashing to reach the screen. This is especially important for multiplayer cloud gaming when you’re about to strike. Look out for anything under 50 milliseconds for the best performance.
  • Jitter – The rate at which latency corrects itself. You’ll need a low jitter rate of 20 milliseconds or less for a smooth experience.
  • Traffic management – Internet service providers may prioritise data use for certain activities during peak times. Some providers offer a monthly add-on that ensures all gaming traffic filters into their priority queue.
  • Packet loss – Your gaming data can be lost between servers during peak periods. Avoid missing out on vital gaming experience points (XPs) by choosing a deal with 0.20% or less packet (data) loss.
  • Data limits – Some providers will limit your downloads, although this is far less common these days. Opt for an unlimited broadband deal if you don’t want to have to constantly watch the data clock. All the broadband deals available through Compare the Market are unlimited.

Frequently asked questions

How important is upload speed for gaming?

Upload speed will be important to you if you plan to host online games or stream your sessions. For this, you’ll want to go for the fastest upload speed possible.  
  
Upload speed is the measure of how quickly data is uploaded to the internet. If you opt for a faster download speed, it’s likely you’ll also benefit from faster uploads.  
  
A low upload speed of 1Mbps found on most broadband connections will handle the majority of gamers’ requirements.

What type of router do I need for gaming?

When you’re choosing a broadband provider for gaming, the quality of the router you get can make a difference. Although most routers that come with a broadband package are good for standard uses, like web browsing or watching videos, they’re not always designed for heavy gaming. If you’re not getting the performance you need, it might be worth upgrading.

Also make sure you keep your router as far away as possible from other electrical equipment and devices that emit wireless signals, like stereos, computer speakers and microwaves. Keep your router switched on and try to put it on a table or shelf, rather than on the floor.

Should I use a wired connection?

A wired connection can ensure that you get the fastest speeds possible from your broadband provider. An ethernet cable between your router and console or PC will avoid problems with electric devices and any other obstructions to your WiFi signal.

For most gamers, a WiFi connection will do the trick. Just remember, the further you are from the router, the weaker your signal.

If a physical connection with leads is not possible in your location, wireless extenders are a great solution. Simply plug them into a power socket for a boost to your existing signal.

Does the time of day I play games online make a difference?

A few broadband contracts still come with traffic management restrictions. Those that do will slow down your connection during peak times. If that’s the case, it’s better not to stream or download games during peak hours, for example after school or early evening.

The good news is that most broadband packages no longer have traffic management, so it shouldn’t make a difference what time you play. Always check your contract terms and conditions to be sure.

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