Internet speed can make or break a gaming experience.
When you have high ping rates, it can lead to severe in-game lag and also cause sputtering or jumping on the screen.
Everything must work together to provide an impeccable gaming experience.
But little thought is often given to the best Internet speed for gaming.
If your speed is subpar, even the world’s most powerful gaming rig will have issues performing well.
It’s one of the biggest bottlenecks that your online gaming experience can suffer from.
Stability Versus Speed
Speeds can jump from 3 Mbit to 10 Mbit, but it’s more important for a connection to be stable than it is to be fast.
For example, a connection that can hit 10 Mbit will perform better than the 3 Mbit connection, but what happens if speeds drop to 1 Mbit?
Performance will suffer, the game will run terribly and the experience will be ruined.
It’s always better to have a consistent connection than a connection that has stability issues. This is where hardware may also come into play. A gaming router may be able to produce the consistent speeds your gaming experience needs.
Take a look at our review of the NetGear NightHawk XR700 to see a great example of a gaming router.
What Consoles Recommend for Speeds
Consoles are a great judge of the speeds needed to run games optimally. PS4 and Xbox One both recommend that a minimum speed be:
- 3 Mbit (.375 MBs) download speed
- 1 Mbit (.125 MBs) upload speed
Data needs to go in both directions when gaming online, so you need to have decent download and upload speeds.
But these are just the minimum speeds that are required. The good news is that most connections are far higher than these speeds, so you should have an Internet connection that suffices for gaming.
The faster the speed, the better.
Every game is different, but you’ll be able to play most games at the minimum speed requirement.
If you’re facing problems with your speed, it may be related to:
- Router. Your router may not have the ability to keep up with your game’s speed.
- Connection. Wired connections will always outperform wireless connections and offer better overall connectivity.
When the router is close to the computer or console, you will suffer with less connectivity issues. The further the router is away from the console or gaming rig, the more issues you’ll have.
Internet providers recommend that for an optimal game experience, you have speeds of at least 1 Mbps.
So, if you have speeds of 3 Mbit to 1 Mbps or higher, this will suffice for your gaming experience.
Help! I Have High Speeds But Bad Ping
When you play a game, you need responsiveness and reaction times to be fast. If you hit a button, you want the button to register quickly and the action to be taken.
The problem with speeds is that you need to look at more than just the best Internet speed for gaming.
Ping will dictate how responsive the connection is when playing.
Measured in milliseconds, ping rates are even more important than Internet speeds. If you have a 3 Mbit connection with a ping rate of 20 m/s or better, it will perform much better than a 10 Mbit connection with a 150 m/s ping rate.
Ping measures how fast your console or computer talks to the game’s server.
If you’ve played an MMORPG, such as World of Warcraft, you know that you can choose servers, and some are recommended to you. Ideally, the server node would be as close to your location as possible.
For example, if the server is located 3,000 km away versus 200 km, the ping rate will often be higher.
It’s best to choose a data center that is closest to your location to eliminate some of this lost speed and maximize your gaming experience.
In general, if your Internet connection is able to keep your ping under 150 m/s or 100 m/s, you’ll be able to play games just fine. If you’re a competitor or trying to go professional, you may need speeds that are closer to 20 m/s. A faster Internet will help, but you’ll also want to go with a wired connection or a gaming router designed to reduce ping.
Speeds and Multiplayer Setups
Now, let’s assume for a minute that your game requires a consistent 3 Mbps speed to play well.
If you have multiple people in the home playing the same game or someone is streaming a high-definition movie, this will have a negative impact on your speeds.
An ideal setup would be 3 Mbps for one player, 6 Mbps for two players, 9 Mbps for three players and so on.
Streaming the gameplay so that other players can watch you in real-time will also be more intensive and take bandwidth away from your game. Upload speeds will need to make up for this streaming, so you may need a higher download and upload speed if you plan on streaming to Twitch or YouTube while playing.
Streamers need an upload speed of 3.6 Mbps or higher to be able to stream to Twitch at 720p.