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Broadband for gamers

Broadband for gamers

No matter where your allegiance lies in the console wars, we all loathe lag and know a decent broadband connection is vital for an enjoyable online gaming experience.  
Here’s everything you should know when choosing the best broadband for gaming.

Holly Niblett
From the Digital team
minute read
posted 27 FEBRUARY 2020

Why does broadband for gamers matter? 

Data limits, latency and traffic management can all make a difference to the online gaming experience. 
Most broadband deals are suitable for the casual gamer, and deciding on the right provider can be as simple as choosing the fastest package available.  
However, those who regularly buy new titles online, and who download large downloadable content (DLC) files or stream their sessions, may want to look for a deal that offers more.

How fast should internet speed for gaming be?  

Online gaming doesn’t require particularly fast speeds. Microsoft recommend a download speed of 3 Mbps (megabits per second) when using Xbox Live, and Sony suggest a minimum of 2Mbps for the PlayStation Network. 
However, a faster connection is best when downloading new games titles and updates for existing games. 
Streaming a game through cloud storage or an on-demand gaming service requires an even faster connection. For example, Google Stadia – Google’s new cloud gaming service - recommends a 10 Mbps connection, or speeds of 35 Mbps to experience its games in 4K resolution. 
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 preferable to a super-fast connection that’s prone to disconnecting. 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 popular games titles from 2019 (shown below), you can see how their download times compare across different broadband speeds. 

  ADSL 8Mbps Fibre 38Mbps Superfast 362Mbps
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (PS4, 65GB) 19 hours 23 minutes 4 hours 5 minutes 25 minutes
FIFA 20 (Xbox One, 46GB)  13 hours 43 minutes 2 hours 53 minutes 18 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.

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, you’ll also benefit from faster uploads. 
A low upload speed of 1Mbps found on most broadband connections will handle most gamers’ requirements.  

Should I use a wired connection? 

A wired connection will ensure you’re getting 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.

What else should I look out for?  

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 gaming button bashing to reach the screen. 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 by choosing a deal with 0.20% - or less - packet loss. 
  • Data limits – Some providers will limit your downloads. Always opt for an unlimited broadband deal if you don’t want to be constantly watching the data clock.  

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