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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 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
3
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Posted 16 SEPTEMBER 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 use 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. 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


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 a couple of popular titles from below, we can see how their download times compare across different broadband speeds. 

 

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.

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.

Should I use a wired connection?

A wired connection can 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 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 (XPs) 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 so you don’t have to constantly watch the data clock. 

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