Understanding Internet Speed for Gaming

If you’re a serious gamer, you need an internet connection that can keep up with your demands. If you’re aiming for a Victory Royale in Fortnite or you’re deep in League of Legends, you want your favourite games to play on without lag or buffering.

So what internet speed do you need for gaming? And what other factors play into your gameplay?

Read on to learn about speed, ping and why Wi-Fi may not be your solution.

What are Mbps?

Before you can start debating the best internet speeds, it helps to understand how it’s measured. Internet speed is measured in megabits per second, which is written as Mbps.

Mbps measures the rate at which data is transferred from one point to another – in this case from a server to your device. When data is being sent from the server to your computer, it’s what we call “download speed” and when data is sent back to the server from your computer, it’s referred to as “upload speed”.

You’ll probably see internet plans advertised as two numbers. These two numbers represent the download speed and the upload speed. For example, a 100/20 plan offers a download speed of 100Mbps alongside an upload speed of 20Mbps.

If you know what your download and upload speeds are, you’ll be able to get an idea of how your internet connection is affecting your gaming.

Download speed measures how quickly data can be transferred from the internet to your device, as in how quickly you’re getting the next steps of the game. This is generally more important for gamers than upload speed.

Upload speeds determine how quickly data can be sent from your computer or console to the game server. This is most important for online multiplayer games, where a slow upload speed can cause lag and make it hard to keep up with the other players.

What is latency?

Latency, which is sometimes also called ping, measures how long it takes for data to get from one point to another. Latency is measured in milliseconds (ms), and it essentially tells you how fast your connection responds when sending out requests or receiving responses from a server.

High latency is what causes the dreaded lag and makes gaming slow and glitchy. For a smooth gameplay experience, you want latency to be as low as possible.

A good ping rate is important for online games because it determines how responsive the game will be to your actions.

Anything at 100ms or less is fine for gaming, but you’re looking for 20-40ms for ideal gaming conditions.

You may be able to check what your ping is in the settings of your game. Look for an option like “display performance stats” or “display network options” to get an idea of how the network is performing for the specific game and server you are playing on.

If high latency is causing lag when you play games online, one easy solution is switching to Ethernet instead of WiFi.

The reason is that WiFi adds an extra step in the connection between your gaming device and your internet connection, so naturally there’s an extra delay.

Other factors that can make Wi-Fi less than ideal for gameplay include radio noise, fluctuating speeds, network congestion and the distance you are from your router.

Connecting your device to your router with an Ethernet cable should reduce the impact of those factors and limit speed fluctuations associated, giving you a smoother gameplay experience.

So, how fast is fast enough for online gaming?

Good news: you probably don’t need as high a speed as you think you do. An acceptable internet speed for online gaming is actually anything above 25 Mbps.

However, you may be limited by how many other people or devices are using your connection at the same time, and what they’re doing with it.

For the ultimate gaming experience, we recommend speed tiers with download speeds of 120 Mbps and above. This is extra important if you have five or more people using your network.

Having an internet plan with unlimited data means you won’t need to worry about data usage or going over your limit.

The same is true for the internet speeds needed for streaming: you simply don’t need as fast a connection as you think you do: 25 Mbps is more than enough). However, you do need to consider who else is using your connection, how they’re using it, and whether you have unlimited data.

We hope that’s cleared up some of your questions around internet speed, latency and gaming. Now, game on and let the best player win.