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What Internet Speed Do I Need for Smooth Online Gaming?

There’s nothing quite like the frustration of playing your game when, all of a sudden, it stutters. Your character locks into place and doesn’t move. Or your game just flat out disconnects itself from the server to put itself out of its misery. If you experience this pretty often, then it’s probably time to ask yourself: “What internet speed do I need for gaming?”

How is internet speed responsible for the smoothness of our online gaming experience? In this guide, we will discuss both the reasons why it’s important and the steps you can take to improve it.

 

What is Internet Speed?

What Internet Speed Do I Need For Smooth Online Gaming?
Photo by Jorge Guillen from Pixabay

 

Internet speed is the performance of your internet connection. Depending on what type of connection you have, the speed of your internet will differ significantly. One thing that you have to remember is that the download rate of your internet is usually higher compared to the upload. Any request to the website that you’re looking for results in a much bigger download of the web pages in question, especially with the images that are there and videos embedded.

 

What is Upload Speed?

Uploading File
Photo by Pettycon

 

Upload speed depends on how many megabytes per second (Mbps) you can send info from your device or internet server. While downloading data is usually a more common occurrence, there are other online activities that need data from your device. For example, sending emails or video calls with friends.

 

What is a good upload speed?

In general, and for normal usage, upload speeds of around 3 Mbps meet the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) minimum standard. However, if you or anyone in your house highly depend on the internet, you may want a plan with higher upload speeds. This is especially important for gamers who play on multiplayer games or MMORPGs as these games need fast upload speed in order to even play.

 

What is Download Speed?

Downloading Shutterstock Images to PC
Photo by MIH83

 

Meanwhile, download speed refers to how many bits per second it will take to download data from any server on the internet that takes the form of videos, images, and more. These include things such as listening to music on Spotify and other platforms, downloading any files to your PC, or streaming videos on Youtube and Netflix, and all need you to download data.

 

What is a good download speed?

In general, download speeds of at least 25 Mbps adhere to the minimum broadband threshold that’s been set by the FCC. Do keep in mind, however, that the number of devices, your own online activity, and the activity of other internet users in your own home can and will change what the good download speed is for your own household. You can check out our article to know the good internet speed for uploading and downloading files.

 

What are Pings?

Call of Duty Gaming Ping
Screenshot from gameserverping.com

 

Ping is your connection’s reaction time. In short, the speed of its response after you’ve sent out any and all requests or actions. A fast ping usually means a fairly responsive connection, especially with apps and programs where input timing means everything. Ping is usually measured in milliseconds (ms).

 

What is a good ping?

An acceptable ping count to have is around the 40ms-60ms mark or even lower. Anything higher than this, like speeds of over 100ms, typically shows a noticeable delay in your game. And if you go over 170ms? Some games spit you right out. However, if you have a ping of 10ms, for example, your game will be faster and smoother when compared to playing with 100ms ping.

This all depends on what game you’re running. Games like Hearthstone may not require a low ping, as it is a slower turn-based game. Other titles that require precise inputs and timing would require a much lower ping to play.

 

What is Lag?

Lags are the common source of annoyance for any gamer. This is often the result of either a high ping or a slow internet connection on your part. It’s where the game you’re playing executes your inputs with a delay no matter how insignificant. An example of this would be if you press W to advance in Overwatch, but your character doesn’t move until about a second or two later.

 

Lag build-up

Sometimes in a game, lag can build up. The game will often seemingly freeze for a few moments, and then catch up with all the inputs you made in one go. Alternatively, they can also flat out disconnect you from the game you’re playing.

Most gamers can experience lag for many reasons, the main culprit of which being high ping. This is where your inputs are being sent to the game you’re playing on a delay. Other times, the problem is due to a slew of unstable internet connections, where your own device will periodically disconnect and reconnect to the internet. Many refer to this as packet loss. It mostly happens when the information you send to the game’s server in packets isn’t received, or the worst case, lost. This issue can be because of an overcrowded game server, low game security, or internet disconnections.

 

What is Internet Bandwidth?

Choosing the best internet service for online gaming
Photo from TechLog360

 

We can’t talk about internet connection and internet speed without talking about its bandwidth. Bandwidth, in general, is similar to a highway. The more lanes this highway has, the more room there is to drive for traveling cars. This lets cars travel faster and also allow more cars through the roads leading up to their destination.

In terms of internet connection, you can use Kbps or Mbps as an indicator of how much bandwidth your plan has. Simply put, more internet bandwidth means more data you can download or upload at a reasonable pace.

 

What’s the Importance of Upload Speed?

Internet service providers (ISPs) tend to advertise download speed more than upload speed. This is because most, if not all households typically rely on download speed more.

However, many online games like Dota 2 and League of Legends need good upload speed in order to function well. And usually, ISPs tend to neglect that aspect of their service. Thus, having a quick and secure internet connection can be the very difference between a won game or a lost match. After all, nobody wants the inconvenience of lag when playing games or streaming movies.

 

What’s the Ideal Internet Speed for Online Gaming?

Hand holding smartphone with speed test on screen
Photo by iNueng on iStockphoto

 

When it comes to running and playing games online, your internet connection is a necessity. The connection needs to be as secure as possible. Moreover, it has to be quick, especially when you’re playing on consoles like the PS4 and the Xbox 1. Internet speeds are set by the provider and may vary. However, there are things players can still do to improve upon this speed. If you know how to check your internet speed, you can figure out how to improve it from there.

Games tend to come with a list of minimum system requirements. And if the game also has an online component, that list will include the minimum connection speed that you need to run the game’s services.

Thus, your internet connection speed can and will make a huge difference to your online gaming experience. Many video game console manufacturers typically recommend having at least 3 Mbps of download speed and at least 0.5 to 1 Mbps of upload speed if you want to play the game’s online content. You might need to choose a higher internet speed tier from your network provider in order to have greater leeway on your internet speed. This will make it less likely to have network constraints.

 

What Internet Speed Do I Need for PC Gaming?

What internet speed do I need for PC Gaming?
Photo from The New York Times

 

For PC, it is typically recommended that you get an ISP that provides download speeds of at least 6Mbps per PC that plays online games in your household.

If you have that much internet speed, you now have enough to get a smooth and uninterrupted gaming experience for many popular online PC games like Dota 2, PUBG, League of Legends, and CS: GO, among others.

 

What Internet Speed Do I Need for PS4 Gaming?

What internet speed do I need for PS4 gaming?
Photo from ExtremeTech

 

Meanwhile, PlayStation games are a wee bit different. The PS4 itself already has a minimum requirement for internet speed. This means that any and all games on the console must meet that minimum in order for it to allow you on the platform. Thankfully for many developers everywhere, Sony’s minimum requirement is pretty low.

All you need is a minimum download speed of 3 Mbps and a minimum upload speed of just 1 Mbps. By today’s standards, this is a low benchmark, at least for the US whose average internet speed is currently topping at around 19 Mbps. Any game that you have on the console should run fine if you have an average to exemplary internet speed. However, while internet speed is an important factor when it comes to playing online games, ping and hardware are the real issues you should focus on, as with any console that we’re discussing here.

 

What Internet Speed Do I Need for Xbox Gaming?

What internet speed do I need for XBox 1 Gaming?
Photo from EBGames

 

Xbox’s developer Microsoft recommends that players have a minimum download speed of 3 Mbps for online gaming, 1 Mbps for SD video streaming, and 3.5 Mbps for HD video streaming. Your minimum upload speed if you wish to go for online gaming should be at least faster than 0.5 Mbps. The ping should be less than 150ms and not more for anything done on the internet on this console. As mentioned, the lesser your ping number is, the more effective the connection.

What Internet Speed Do I Need for Mobile or Switch Gaming?

What internet speed do I need for Mobile Gaming?
Photo from The Hackpost

 

Due to the portability of the Nintendo Switch and mobile games, their internet speed needs are a bit more flexible. Many mobile games don’t really have groundbreaking 4K graphics and things like that. Your standard internet or data speed should be enough. Many of these providers also offer special promos for people who play these games. These games need only enough to load the game and all the corresponding assets. As such, having even around 500 kb to 1 Mbps is usually enough for mobile gamers.

On the other hand, the Nintendo Switch isn’t so merciful. After all, it’s the main console. There are a lot of AAA titles on the Switch that need higher Mbps in order to download the game.

 

How Do You Improve Internet Speed?

Internet speed measurement. Internet and technology concept
©Photo by Adobe Stock

 

If you’re sharing the wealth of your internet connection with others, you’re going to experience some drops in your own online gaming. Either that or you’re not connected to the internet with a wired connection.

Here are some tips to help your internet connection improve its speed. Do note that some internet companies give an estimate of how fast the connection is. This doesn’t mean you will get the advertised speed. You can send an email or make a call to your local ISP to ask what speeds your area can accommodate.

 

Test a different modem/router

One of the biggest causes of your internet slowing down is usually a bad modem. Try checking if you need to replace your modem with another model. Who knows? You might find a significant improvement in internet speed if you do. Always make sure your modem suits the internet plan that you are on.

 

Scan for viruses

Ladybug Antivirus
Photo by Mohamed Hassan

 

You need to make sure that there are no viruses causing your internet to slow down. Sometimes, these viruses can linger on your device and leech resources away from what you are currently doing, and thus reduce your internet speed. For this, you can download or buy antivirus software.

 

Check for on-system interference

Your own virus scanner or device’s built-in programs can interfere with internet speed. This can get frustrating, but you can try turning off certain programs. Then, run a speed test to check whether the internet runs faster or remains the same. It can be a bit of trial and error, but this practice serves as beneficial in the long run.

 

Check your filters

If your internet connects to a phone line, then you’re going to need to get good quality filters installed on your phone line. These are tiny plugs that you attach to this phone line and they’ll help in filtering out disturbances.

Now, these filters also have different versions for the different types of internet connection. If your internet has ADSL2+ or other cables, ensure that you have the appropriate and best filter for the job.

 

Try getting rid of your cordless phone

There are cases where cordless phones interfere with your internet even if you have filters installed. Thus, it’s worth trying an isolation test by taking out your phones and replacing them with different models to see whether you get better results.

 

Plug into the modem

why is my internet so slow? probably your modem
Photo by Peggy_Marco from Pixabay

 

Try getting that cord out of the box and plugging straight into the modem, especially if the device you’re connecting is your PC or any console in general as you’re not really that inclined to move it around often.

 

Restart your modem

Oftentimes, the last thing that people suggest is often the most obvious one. Shut down your modem for about one minute and then turn it back on. This is known as power cycling, and will often flush out any problems that affect your internet speed. If you have more experience, you can even attempt to reconfigure your modem to refresh connections. Do note that doing so involves high risk.

 

Update firmware and software regularly

Your router/modem has software that you need to update on a regular basis. You can log in to your own modem by following your modem brand’s instructions. You might also need to consider getting updates for your PC’s desktop version, OS, etc. As oftentimes, the wireless settings become less and less compatible.

 

Shorten and replace cables

Robotics Tools
Photo on Pixabay

 

The length of your cables and their general structure can affect internet speeds. Thus, you might want to try changing old phone cables, sockets and lines, and use newer, or even shorter ones. This simple change often makes a big difference in your internet speed.

 

Find your router/ISP’s best settings

When you log in to your own modem/router, you’ll see a few settings that are relating to channels. Sometimes, these settings and not the best by default and you’re going to need to update them all based on device compatibility. It’s typically recommended to check out your router and ISP’s website for the best settings for each device. To fully exhaust your network’s abilities, try some of the best Wi-Fi boosters on the market.

 

Check the cabling and do a line test

If all else fails, it might be time to contact your ISP and modem company and request for a line test and investigation of your connection. This may require that a worker from the company be sent out to your own house, and this might cost additional fees.

 

How Do You Improve Your Ping?

To play the best you can, you need the best connection possible. In this guide, we’re going to talk about the six ways that you can lower your own ping and make some improvements to your PC gaming.

 

Whitelist your games from your antivirus or firewall

Your PC’s firewall and antivirus running in the background will scan packets they receive from a central game server. Sometimes this causes a minor latency. In the worst-case scenario, security denies or loses these packets entirely. Make sure to whitelist your online games in your antivirus and security settings in order to lower packet loss and can improve your game’s ping times.

 

Close background programs

How to Edit Photos Using PC or Mac
Photo by Startup Stock Photo

 

Depending on the specifics, there are some background programs in your PC that can hog a lot of your internet bandwidth. There are times when your internet connection can handle the load. But usually, that’s not always the case. In addition, your typical video streams can often cause framerate issues on your games due to the added strain on your graphics processing unit or GPU.

This will have some form of impact on not only your game’s video quality and clarity but also on other things that need it as well. The best way that you can ensure a quality experience is often turning off other programs to let your online game or stream have priority.

 

Optimize game settings

What internet speed do I need for Nintendo Switch Gaming?
Photo from iMore

 

From a typical PC resource perspective, it’s an incredibly important thing to ensure your game settings are at an optimized level. It’s important to make sure that your GPU, RAM, and processor can support and handle smooth gaming.  True, optimizing these settings may take some tuning, but in general most games in the market will make the most of your current PC build.

 

Remove other devices from your internet connection

Manage devices for optimized internet speed for gaming
Photo by Hal Gatewood from Unsplash

 

Another thing that bears repeating is that each additional device on your internet network puts a strain on your bandwidth. For smooth gaming, you need to manage network traffic within your household. Doing what you can in order to reduce the number of connected devices have a large impact on lowering your ping.

How Do You Monitor Your Internet Speed for Gaming?

As mentioned, your internet speed will highly depend on bandwidth. You’re paying your ISP for a given amount of bandwidth on their systems, but it’s all up to you in order to manage how this bandwidth gets consumed. Whether or not you have a data cap on your connection, simply letting all the devices on your internet network engage in a pseudo-battle royale for who gets the most of the connection speed is a recipe for disaster.

However, there are solutions to this. We’re going to show you how to monitor and keep your ISP on the up and up by measuring your internet connection speed in order to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

 

Get the most of your network plan

IoT Applications
Photo by jeferrb on Pixabay

 

The first part of your bandwidth audit should be to ensure that your ISP is giving you the internet speed you’re paying for.

The best and fastest way to do this is to run a speed test. To get the most accurate and exact baseline speeds of your connection, check it from a device that’s hardwired directly to your broadband gateways like your DSL or cable modem.

Right-click your system tray to bring up a list and select the task manager on your Windows computer, or check the Activity Manager on your MacOS PC, then look for the network statistics. Close any apps or programs in order to keep them from downloading any software updates while testing your internet connection. You’ll want your bandwidth to be as close to zero as you can get. You might need to wait if your OS is already downloading an update.

Compare the baseline results of these tests to the speeds that your ISP promised to give you with the current plan you’re paying for. If you’re doing this scan and you see significantly lower speeds, make a call to your local internet provider. They have the ability to run diagnostics on their end and give you some suggestions in order to fix the problem before they send a technician.

You might also wish to check the speed of any device connected to the internet that you’re seeing performance issues on. Devices hardwired into the internet network should at least gain speeds on a par with the baseline. On wireless devices, the speeds can greatly reduce when they’re going further away from the home’s wireless router. Also, if there’s some manner of interference from other devices in the vicinity.

 

Know how much bandwidth you really need

Keep in mind that the bandwidth your ISP promises isn’t a per-device floor or ceiling. It’s the total amount of bandwidth that’s available for your own internet connection. This means that this bandwidth gets divided among all devices on your home network. For example, internet speeds of 20 Mbps with four connected devices might see a maximum download and upload speed of 5 Mbps.

In reality, however, it’s not that simple. The way in which your bandwidth is distributed to all of your devices depends on your own router and the demand from each of your devices.

Monitor usage to identify bandwidth hogs

Multiple Devices
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Whether you have a data cap or performance issues, you might want to consider tracking the bandwidth usage of each of your devices. You can do this to check which devices are hogging the most bandwidth.

You might also want to consider using a Windows-based bandwidth checking program. These applications will track internet usage over time for the PC they’re currently installed in, and can offer raw data that you can review. You also have the ability to set up a data quota and be alerted when any device approaches or even exceeds that limit.

If you’re using multiple types of devices on the network, it would be a great idea to track down the whole network’s bandwidth usage from a single point. Though many routers don’t really track the bandwidth consumption by device, you might want to consider checking yours just in case.

If by chance your router doesn’t support it, think about purchasing another router or installing a supported router with aftermarket firmware that does support it. If you’re on a tight budget, you can also try to bulk up the firmware. You can also opt to create your own router out of an old or spare PC.

 

How Do You Distribute Bandwidth Using QoS?

Most routers available today have a quality-of-service (QoS) feature. However, it’s not activated by default on some routers. The idea behind the QoS feature is to regulate and police bandwidth usage to allow you to ensure a good performance on services with noticeable lag.

The exact QoS features and settings that are available for usage vary between router brands and models. Although, many do provide their users a way to give a particular device a higher priority. Some routers come with a myriad of default QoS settings that the users can tweak and customize.

 

What Are the Benefits of Good Internet Speed for Online Gaming?

What internet speed do I need for gaming?
Photo from Entrepreneur

 

Many avid gamers know in their hearts that a slow internet connection can hinder their gaming experience. Thus, it’s important for you to realize that you’re going to need fast internet speeds if you want to have a great game. Here are other benefits of good internet speed:

 

  • A fast connection delivers a steady and uninterrupted amount of bandwidth. This eliminates any lag so that you can easily continue playing your game in peace.
  • Many high-speed internet connections are far more reliable when compared to other types. So ensure that your internet connection is one of them so that it won’t disappear on you while you’re gaming.
  • Downloading with a fast internet is a simple and painless affair.

 

More Than Gaming

Obviously, the World Wide Web does so much more than giving you the ability to play online games. Getting a faster internet can and does aid in these endeavors and in other tasks as well. This makes a fast internet an excellent addition to your online gaming experience as well as your day-to-day life.

 

Pia

Pia

I write about upcoming gadgets and tech news.

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