The landscape for gaming has changed in the last 20 years and it’s now commonplace for most people to play online as their preferred method. With the number of gamers continuing to grow each year as well, our reliance on the internet and achieving consistently fast speeds will grow with it.
In the past, internet connections haven’t always been so reliable nor have they been at top speeds. However, as technologies improve and we get access to faster connections, the games we play begin to require more from us, and sometimes it’s hard to know how fast we need to go to keep up.
What is a good internet speed for gaming?
The speed of the internet needed for gaming depends on the type of game you’re playing, the latency of the connection, and your bandwidth. Generally speaking, having at least 20Mbps is the minimum, and if you’re able to go faster, you should try to get well above this speed.
If you feel bound by what your service provider offers, all hope is not lost. As well as knowing the fundamentals of internet networks and gaming, there are some tips you can follow to boost speeds, meaning a better performance without distractions and a consistent connection that ensures you stay in the game.
Why Internet Speed Matters for Online Gaming
In a world where basically everything we do is now online, it’s no surprise that gaming is heading that way too. Online gaming is more than just versing others in a far-off location across the globe while you play an FPS, but it’s now a part of almost all genres and aspects of gameplay.
A fast and reliable internet speed is essential in gaming as it enables you to stay in the moment without worrying about lagging or freezing, both of which can be caused by a poor internet connection. You may drop out of play entirely or have a two-second delay, and either of these can spell the end of your game for good.
As well as being able to access in-game play, an internet connection is needed to download games and updates as they come out. You’ll need to be connected to communicate with teammates, opponents, and friends, whether by voice or video chat, as well as stay active online to discuss all things gaming and keep up with your favorites.
The Basics on Speed Requirements
To know what’s required of your internet speed, it helps to get a basic understanding of how it all works. With a standard internet connection, you’ll have an available speed that is set by your ISP (internet service provider), an allocated bandwidth, and a range of accessories like modems and routers that help you get the most out of what you’ve been given.
In a standard household, there might be more than you trying to access the internet, whether it’s for gaming or streaming or any other purpose. The allocated bandwidth the connection has means it may have to be shared with others, so you want higher speeds. In this case, you’ll need more Mbps available to cater to everyone, with around 50Mbps being the minimum if this sounds like the scenario you’re working with.
For those living alone or being the only one using their internet connection, you might get away with something less like 25Mbps. The two genres that require the steadiest and fastest speeds are FPS and MMOs, as one quick dropout of the internet could mean your game is over. These types of games can’t afford even a millisecond of lag, so you want your internet to be reliable.
Ping is another term to become familiar with when looking at internet speeds, as this refers to the time it takes a message to be sent from one place to another online. If you have a slower ping or higher latency, the response time in the game will be lagging, which will lead to real-time lagging as you try to play. Usually, your modem and router will be responsible for ping and packet loss, which is why you need to shop accordingly.
Types of Internet Connection and Their Speeds
Choosing the right internet connection can make a world of difference in the speeds you achieve. However, you might not always have access to the one you want. Here’s a little more about the most popular network setups and the speeds they can achieve.
- Cable: A cable connection can reach speeds over 40Mbps and is usually the preferred option for gamers. It can be sometimes unreliable when speeds vary at peak times but is usually the fastest option.
- DSL: DSL is also effective for gaming but would max out at two users in the same household relying on this connection. The average speeds sit around 25Mbps and slightly more.
- Fiber: Fiber internet is very fast and if available, has become a popular choice for gaming online. The speeds easily reach 40Mbps and above, but it’s not available everywhere at the moment.
- Satellite: Satellite isn’t ideal for gaming purposes as it has a hard time getting over 10Mbps even on a good day. This is better suited to basic uses like email and web surfing.
Tips for Improving Internet Speed
Your ISP and modem aren’t the only things determining the speed of your network connection, which is good news for gamers everywhere. If you want to improve speeds at home and notice a difference while you play, check out these tips that can help you do just that.
Invest in a new router
Many people rely on the router that came with their internet bundle, even if it’s now years older and many models behind. The simple investment in a new router can do wonders for your internet, and all without you having to upgrade your internet plan. Choose a gaming-specific router and benefit from features like Quality of Service, which lets you prioritize internet speeds to your computer so you benefit from the best of it.
Speak to your ISP
It might be as easy as speaking to your internet service provider about internet speeds to give them a boost. Sometimes, they can recommend tricks to try, offer you an upgrade on your modem or router, or have a deal going on a new plan. If gaming is your goal, you should be willing to spend a little extra to get the best and don’t be afraid to shop around if your current ISP can’t give you what you need.
Game on a local server
When you play online games that give you access to a server, choose one that’s closest to you to enable a steady network speed and reliability. Playing on an international or far away server won’t do you any favors but it will for others who live closer to it. Therefore, only pick local where possible and if you can’t see any, find whatever is next in line for proximity.
Get closer to your router
Sometimes there are no special technical tricks to use if you want to improve speeds, just simple ones. If you’re able to move your gaming station, try to position it closer to your router and see if that does the trick. By improving the line of connectivity between your computer and the router, you’ll minimize interference which will keep the connection stable and also boost speeds to their full potential. This can be helpful if you’re playing on a laptop but a little harder if you have a desktop setup.
Stop any background internet use
Before you start gaming, make a point of going around the house and seeing what might be using the internet and whether or not it can be disconnected. Then, check your PC or laptop for applications and programs running in the background that might also be using the internet. By shutting down these other applications, you’ll ensure that your game is the only thing relying on the bandwidth.
Look for low latency
When shopping around for accessories, it’s not all about choosing one that can give you higher speeds. Having a modem with low latency is the second key to success with gaming. Running the internet with high latency means the response time is slowed down and this is the most common cause of lag. A good guide for ping rates is to look for anything below 150 milliseconds, but something like 20 milliseconds being ideal for gaming.
Run a speed test
Before trying any other tricks, you want to have a solid idea of the speeds you’re working with first. There are loads of resources online that allow you to check the speed of your network connection, and from there you can determine if there’s an issue or you simply need to spend up and upgrade to a faster speed on the next plan. Keep in mind, some times of the day may have faster or slower speeds than others, so it should be performed around when you usually game.
Get an adapter
A wireless adapter is a simple USB device that can be plugged into your computer to boost speeds and create a more reliable connection. If you’ve tried everything else or just want to see what the internet is truly capable of, one of these can be a smart investment and it might push you over the edge and give you what you need for gaming.
Staying Connected to Online Gaming
A solid internet connection never used to be a prerequisite for gaming on your computer, but these days, you’ll struggle to get far without one. Even the most basic games played on a smartphone over your home’s wireless internet connection need a solid speed to work, and when gaming on a computer, it’s even more important.
The last thing we need while in the middle of a battle is for our internet to drop out, or even have to worry about the possibility of it. In the future, who knows how much more our games will rely on the internet, as we start to play more immersive titles and with graphics and in-game experiences like we’ve never seen before.
The good news is, there have never been so many ways to boost your speeds, thanks to a range of tech accessories built for the job, as well as helpful advice from the gaming community. With all of these at your fingertips, you’ll be able to maintain a steady and speedy connection while you play, but never be able to blame the internet again for your less than perfect in-game performance.
A reliable internet connection is a must-have for gaming these days, but depending on where you live, your limitations, and what your local ISP offers, it might always be possible. We’ve got the answers to some FAQs that people have about the internet and how to help it excel for gaming, so read on if you still need some pointers.
Is Ethernet Better for Gaming?
An ethernet connection is considered better quality and safer when compared to wireless, however, it’s not a necessity to game with good speeds. Using an ethernet cable does have its advantages though, especially when streaming high-quality media or gaming, so if you have access to one it can give the connection a boost.
Is Zero Ping Possible?
The lowest ping rate possible is the goal for gaming and reaching high internet speeds, however, zero ping is not. As ping refers to the time it takes for the computer to send messages to a remote server, it’s not physically possible for this to take no time at all, and so trying to achieve such times will only disappoint.