Just what exactly is considered fast internet?
A lag spike is a major enemy of a good gaming experience. Fortunately, you can avoid encountering such problems with good internet speed. But how does one exactly do that? What do you need to have smooth gameplay or at least have one that’s lag-free and fun to play?
This article will explore the required internet speeds for gaming. And because that is such a wide area to talk about, we will break down the minimum requirements for the most common types of online games, too. We’ll also cover some basics quickly. So, keep reading!
What is Good Internet Speed for Gaming?
In reality, determining the good internet speed, you need for gaming depends on two things: the device you play with and the game itself.
However, if you want a quick answer, most online games can be played smoothly at 25 Mbps download speed. 3 Mbps is the bare minimum to play a game online, but higher Mbps usually means faster, so aim for at least 25 Mbps. And this is just for casual players.
If you’re playing competitively, try to go for at least 50 Mbps or higher. 100 Mbps is the recommended internet speed indicated by some, but somewhere around 50 Mbps is already passable if you’re the only one using the internet in your area.
But then, there’s more to a better gaming experience than just measuring your download and upload Mbps speeds. Latency or ping rate also plays a huge role in gaming. And this is arguably as important as internet speed, if not more.
What Does Latency Mean?
Latency basically means how long data is transmitted from one designated point to another. Think of packets of data as cargo ships coming and going out of port. Your device is one port, while the destination port is the game’s servers, and then vice versa. How long it takes for that ship goes from one port to another, and then back is called “latency”.
Latency also refers to the time lost between the data transfer. When you play online games, your input (by the way of pressing keys) needs to keep up with the data transfer, or else you won’t be able to respond on time. A few seconds delay in a real-time FPS competition, for example, can result in a loss, which we can all agree is something we don’t want.
Going back to our ship analogy, if it encounters interference along the way, it may arrive at the port longer than it should. Data packets can also be lost due to these delays. As a consequence, when the data returns to you, there are already jarring changes such as time jumps. One second ago, you may still be pursuing the enemy, and then due to lag, you’ve already been slain because you’ve been shot during the delay and you didn’t have time to react.
What is Ping in Gaming?
Latency is measured by ping rate in milliseconds. The higher the ping rate is, the more lag you have. On the other hand, the lower the ping rate is, the less lag you have and the more in sync you are with the game.
To have a better game experience, you need to aim for a lower ping rate. Games that are played in real-time by multiple players and fast-paced ones require low latency. Some of the most popular titles in gaming today work better in low pings, such as Valorant, League of Legends, Fortnite, and Call of Duty.
Upload Speed vs Download Speed
I’m sure you’ve already heard about upload speed and download speed. These two are different but both are used to measure your internet speed.
As a quick refresher, upload speed is how fast your gaming devices transmit data. Meanwhile, download speed is the opposite: it measures how fast your device receives data from the servers. Both are measured in megabits per second or Mbps. Not to be confused with megabytes per second (MBps), which is used to measure file size.
Recommended Internet Speed for Online Gaming
Most video game console manufacturers like Xbox and Playstation recommend at least 3 to 6 Mbps of download speed and 0.5 to 3 Mbps of upload speed.
Each gaming platform and type of game is a little different. But you’ll generally meet the minimum requirements for online gaming with these internet speeds:
- Download speed: 3 to 6 Mbps
- Upload speed: 1 to 3 Mbps
- Ping rate: Less than 70 ms
While internet providers generally specify speed in the details of the plan this is only an estimate. There are several ways to test and optimize your connection which will be covered in this post. As we live in a highly connected world, the number of devices you have connected to your network will also impact your gaming experience.
Choosing a higher internet speed tier gives you the ability to transmit more data, which offers greater leeway so it is less likely that other network constraints will impact your gaming. To have the ultimate gaming experience, we recommend speed tiers with download speeds of 300 Mbps and above.
Keep in mind that these numbers are for a single-player only, and they are minimum requirements. For better online gaming performance, we recommend download speeds closer to 15–25 Mbps per player. (Faster internet speeds will also speed up game downloads and load times).
Here’s a quick rundown:
|Minumum||Casual Gaming||3 Mbps||1 Mbps +||100-150 ms|
|Better||Casual Gaming||5-25 Mbps||1-3 Mbps||40-100 ms|
|Best||Streamers/Competive||100 Mbps||5-10 Mbps||20-40 ms|
|Competitive Gaming||Competitiv Gamers||> 100 Mbps||5-10 Mbps||20-40 ms|
Do note that these numbers may vary depending on the type of game you’re playing. For that, refer to the section, “Internet Requirements by Game Type” below.
Best Internet Speed for Gaming
The best internet speed for gaming is anything over a 100 Mbps download speed with a 3 to 5 Mbps upload. Not everyone can have impressive Mbps download speeds of 300 and up. On the other hand, meeting the bare minimum may affect your gaming experience and you’ll end up gambling on whether you will win the game or lose because of the lag spike. Therefore, it’s best to aim for at least 100.
This would ensure your connection is capable of downloading background processes such as updates and is more capable of supporting multiple devices. This means if you’re sharing a connection with friends or family your gaming won’t be affected by how others in the home use the internet.
Internet Connection Types: Which is the Best?
The recent emergence of 4k streaming has also pushed up the threshold of internet speed requirements for the average gamer who shares a connection. Right now, there are several types of internet connection, including satellite internet, cable, DSL, fiber internet, and more.
To compare, here’s how each internet connection types vary in terms of speed and latency:
|Type||Download Speed||Ping Rate|
|Satellite||12 to 200 Mbps||594 to 624 ms|
|Cable||15 to 1,200 Mbps||15 to 35 ms|
|DSL||15 to 100 Mbps||25 to 43 ms|
|Fiber||50 to 10,000 Mbps||11 to 14 ms|
Fiber-optic internet is the best option for speed consistency and is great for handling multiple users. However, installing fiber internet can be more expensive and will take several days to complete. But compared to the benefits it will bring to the table, it’s certainly worth it.
You can check with your internet service provider to know which type of connection you currently have. If it’s not one that is ideal for you, you can ask for a plan that fits your needs or switch to another ISP that has a better offer.
Which Is Better For Gaming: WiFi or Ethernet?
As of the moment, plugging an ethernet cable to connect your device to the internet is still better than using WiFi in gaming. While WiFi allows you to play anywhere even if you’re not close to the router or modem, a wired connection still takes the cake for having the best speed and stable connection.
However, as WiFi continuously improves, we can hope that it will soon match the speed of Ethernet in the near future.
What Internet Speed Do You Need?
For the gamer on a fixed connection, the minimum internet speed requirement to play mainstream games in HD is a 25 to 30 Mbps download speed with at least 1 Mbps upload. If you are interested in streaming your gameplay you can read our full article on Twitch internet requirements.
Internet Requirements for a Multiple Person Connection
For multiple players using the same internet connection, multiply the requirement by the number of players who would be online at the same time.
For example, if you have three players in your home, you’ll need an internet connection with at least 9 Mbps of download bandwidth. Meanwhile, if you are playing games with HD graphics or require quick reflexes, go for at least 150 Mbps. This way, each one will have at least 50 Mbps of their own. Also, take into consideration internet users in your home that streams 4k videos on Netflix or HD on YouTube because that takes a large chunk of bandwidth as well.
Be sure to check the specific requirements for your gaming system below before making your calculations.
Internet Requirements by Game Type
Below are some of the most popular game categories and their minimum internet requirements.
|FPS||30 Mbps||1 Mbps||15 ms|
|MMO||5 Mbps||1 Mbps||150 ms|
|RTS||3 Mbps||1 Mbps||150 ms|
How To Improve Your Internet Connection for Gaming
If your internet provider states that you should be getting better speeds than you are, there are a number of ways you can troubleshoot internet connection issues.
- Turn off unnecessary background processes
- Reset your modem router.
- Switch to a fixed connection instead of wireless (e.g., connect your device to an ethernet cable)
- Update software regularly
- Configure your router to the best setting
- Check and replace cabling
- Scan for viruses
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s My Ping Rate?
The quickest way to check your ping is to use a speed test site like Meter.net or Speedtest by Ookla. Both sites are free to use and can also be used to diagnose potential internet issues.
Why is My Computer Lagging Playing Games?
The most common issue that causes lag while playing games is an internet connection. This is easy to test by running a scan through Meter.net or Speedtest by Ookla. If you are running through a wi-fi connection consider switching to a cabled connection. If there are no problems detected the fault likely lies with your PC. Use Task Manager to check CPU performance and consider hardware upgrades or replacements if required.
Lag spikes and a slow internet connection are a total bummer, especially when you’re in the middle of an intense game. Meeting the minimum internet speed and ping rate requirements can help you avoid the issue while playing, which leads to a better gaming experience.