How Much Internet Speed Do You Need for Gaming?

Sean Jackson
August 24, 2020

Whether you are saving your troops in Call of Duty or outrunning Husks in Fortnight, the speed of your internet connection can decide your fate as you play the latest online games.

As an avid gamer, you will want to find the best high-speed internet package out there to keep up with all the current online trends. The good news is that there are several options available for most customers interested in upgrading their ISP for gaming.

Best Internet Providers for Gaming

If you’re looking to maximize your online gaming experience, these are the best providers for you:

ProvidersAverage Upload SpeedAverage Download SpeedAverage Latency
Verizon FiosUp to 880 MbpsUp to 940 Mbps12 ms
FrontierUp to 880 MbpsUp to 940 Mbps19 ms
CoxUp to 35 MbpsUp to 940 Mbps25 ms
XfinityUp to 2,000 MbpsUp to 940 Mbps22 ms
SpectrumUp to 35 MbpsUp to 940 Mbps28 ms
AT&TUp to 880 MbpsUp to 940 Mbps15 ms

Source for latency data: U.S. News

It’s important to note your average download and upload speed depends on a variety of factors such as the plan you choose, the kind of internet you have, where you live and how many devices are connected at one time. 

As a reference, your upload speed is the time it takes to send data from your device to an online server. Meanwhile, your download speed is the time it takes to receive a file from an online server or app store onto your device. The faster these speeds are, the more responsive the game is to your commands. 

Meanwhile, latency is the pause between when you make a command and when the host responds to your request. As you can guess, the higher the latency speed, the more likely you are to experience interruptions when gaming. 

What is the Best Internet Speed for Gaming?

There are a few important factors when looking for a new ISP for gaming purposes. Check out the internet providers available in your area by entering your ZIP code below: 

Wired vs. WiFi for gamers

Any experienced gamer will tell you that wired internet is better than wireless. Wired internet that connects your PC or laptop directly to your internet router or modem using an Ethernet cable is the best option for lag-free gameplay.

Connecting using an Ethernet cable ensures that you have the fastest speeds possible since you have a direct line to your internet source. This is true for any type of internet use, such as streaming content or downloading large files. A wired connection is always the fastest and most secure option.

Meanwhile, if your preference is to use a WiFi connection, there are some simple steps to take to ensure it operates at maximum speeds. The first step is to place your router in an elevated area so it receives the best reception. You can also buy a router antenna or range extender to improve its signal strength. When using WiFi for gaming, it’s ideal to disconnect other devices not currently in use to give you more bandwidth.  

Connection speeds for gaming

Download speed is how quickly data is pulled from the server. Your upload speed is how fast you can send data to others. For general internet use, and even with streaming, it is usually fine to focus only on download speed when comparing new plans and ISPs.

When it comes to internet speeds for gaming, you will want to find a service that offers high speeds downloading and uploading. This will help ensure that you enjoy smooth gameplay with less latency. Remember that your upload speed does not have to be the same as your download speed for it to be effective and fast.

Download speed vs. ping

While download speed measures how many megabits of data are downloaded from the server per second, ping rate refers to how fast you get a response from your internet connection after you have sent out a request. An ideal ping rate is 20 milliseconds or less, though anything in the neighborhood of 20 to 100 milliseconds is good for gaming. 

What is latency?

While ping is the signal that's sent from one server to another on the same network, latency is the time that it takes for the ping to return to the computer. It could be described as the time between pressing a button on your game controller and the time it takes for the game to respond. You will experience high latency when there is a delay between your actions and the game’s response, which is often described by gamers as lagging. 

Latency is measured in milliseconds, and that might not seem like much, but any serious gamer will tell you that it can make a very huge difference, especially with fast-paced first-person shooter games. You will want to avoid any internet service plan known for having high latency.

Data caps for gamers

Along with speed, another factor to consider when choosing an ISP is whether they have data caps for service. Some providers cap maximum connection speeds at certain usage amounts and once you reach that threshold, you can still connect to the internet, but it will be at lower speeds. 

Streaming vs. downloading games

Some games allow you to play via online streaming while others require you to download them. When you play a streaming game, it requires more bandwidth to maintain a constant connection. With downloaded games, there’s more in the way of bandwidth required upfront, but once you download the game, you normally can play it in offline mode, which doesn’t require any internet access at all.

Suggested Speeds for Gaming PCs and Consoles

Microsoft Xbox One

To receive the best play from your Xbox One, you’ll need minimum download speeds of 3 Mbps and upload speeds of 0.5 Mbps. With most home internet plans, this won’t be an issue unless you have multiple devices connected at the same time. Meanwhile, the maximum ping rate with Xbox One is less than 150 ms. A ping rate is the time it takes for a response to your command.

  • Minimum Download Speed: 3 Mbps
  • Minimum Upload Speed: 0.5 Mbps
  • Maximum Ping Rate: Less than 150 ms

Nintendo Switch

Similar to Xbox One, the Nintendo Switch requires minimum download speeds of 3 Mbps. However, it also requires a faster upload speed of 1 Mbps and has a maximum ping rate of less than 150 ms.

  • Minimum Download Speed: 3 Mbps
  • Minimum Upload Speed: 1 Mbps
  • Maximum Ping Rate: Less than 150 ms

Sony PlayStation 4

The Playstation 4 shares the same minimum download and upload speeds as the Nintendo Switch. And similar to all gaming consoles, it has a maximum ping rate of 150 ms.

  • Minimum Download Speed: 3 Mbps
  • Minimum Upload Speed: 1 Mbps
  • Maximum Ping Rate: Less than 150 ms

PC or Mac

Gaming on your computer can require double the download speeds compared to gaming consoles. A good rule of thumb is to have a minimum download speed of up to 6 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 1 Mbps available for gaming. Computers also respond to requests quicker, as evidenced by the ping rate between 100 and 150 ms.

  • Minimum Download Speed: 3 to 6 Mbps
  • Minimum Upload Speed: 0.75 to 1 Mbps
  • Maximum Ping Rate: Less than 100 to 150 ms

Is Fiber-Optic Internet the Best for Gaming?

Fiber-optic internet service, also known as Fios, is the fastest option currently available in the industry. It offers impressive speeds that are perfect for any type of online gaming. You can play for hours with no lagging or interruptions and there are no data caps, so you never have to worry about your speed slowing down. Fios speeds are reported to be as fast as 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps), which is a big step up from your typical 100 Mbps offered through broadband service providers.

So, why would anyone who loves online gaming or binge-watching their favorite shows on Netflix choose anything but fiber-optic internet service? The main reason is that it is not available in many areas. Fiber-optic internet service is still in its early stages and has only been installed in select cities, typically major metropolitan areas. 

Tips for Improving Gaming Connection Speeds

  • Use a hard-wired connection

  • Using an Ethernet cord to connect your gaming console or computer to your router is the best option for improving your connection speed. WiFi may have its advantages, but it currently runs at a slower speed than a hard-wired connection. Keep in mind that some consoles, like the Nintendo Switch, will only connect using WiFi.

  • Shut down any programs that use up too much bandwidth

  • There are some programs (typically your streaming services like Netflix and Hulu) that will use more of your bandwidth and can cause your online games to lag. If there is an application that demands more of your internet bandwidth than others, you may want to shut it down while playing. It's best to close all programs that stay connected to the internet regularly like email programs or messaging applications.

  • Maintain a direct connection

  • Do you have other devices connected to your main router or hub? These additional devices will take up more bandwidth, especially if they are used to play games on other consoles or stream videos. If you’re having problems with a game or console, you may want to disconnect all other connections until you finish playing.

High-Speed Internet Options for Gaming

There are several high-speed options available for gaming. If you are strictly looking for a new plan for online gaming purposes, the following can help you meet your high-speed internet needs.  

Verizon Fios

Verizon offers high-speed internet plans with download speeds between 100 up to 940 Mbps. They offer a Gigabit connection which is optimal for gamers.

Frontier

Frontier offers high-speed internet plans with a wide variety of download speeds. They have a Fios 1G plan that delivers 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) download speeds that are ideal for gaming.

Cox

Cox offers high-speed internet plans that range in download speeds between 10 to 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps). Cox also offers high data caps—you have to reach 1 TB of use per month before you’re charged extra.

Xfinity

Xfinity offers high-speed internet plans that range in download speeds between 15 and 2,000 Mbps (2 Gbps). Similar to Cox, Xfinity has a high data cap where your speeds won’t get throttled until you reach 1 TB of monthly use, making this a great choice for gamers.

To find out which internet service provider is the best option for you, it’s best to look at the amount of time you spend online and in what activities you participate. If you are an avid gamer, choosing the fastest internet plan that fits your budget would be your best option. If Fios service is available in your area, it is highly recommended that you give it a try as it is the fastest internet service currently available. Otherwise, Xfinity and Cox offer fast speeds at affordable prices for most gamers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of Internet is best for gaming?

Fiber-optic internet is the best option, but if it isn’t available in your area, you can choose a cable internet plan (think Cox or Xfinity). When you have service installed, make sure to hardwire your device to your router or modem via an Ethernet cable as this reduces latency. 

What’s a ping rate in gaming?

Ping occurs when your device sends a request to the gaming servers. The ping rate measures how fast that server responds to your device. For optimal gameplay, it’s ideal to have a ping rate of fewer than 20 milliseconds, though anything fewer than 100 milliseconds works for games with the highest bandwidth.

What’s latency in gaming?

Latency measures any delay in connection. The more latency there is due to a poor internet connection or issues with the gaming company’s server, the slower the game will be, resulting in poorer gameplay.

Which internet provider is best for gaming?

There are several things to look for when choosing the right ISP. First, see if they offer a fiber-optic connection, as this offers the highest connection speeds. Second, ask what their latency rates are, as this shows whether the provider has a history of connection speed issues. Finally, see if the provider has data caps, as this could reduce your quality of play if you reach the usage threshold.