Share this guide:
Last updated: 21 May 2021
Need better internet for your gaming hobby?
What internet speed do I need for gaming?
Avid online gamers know that when it comes to making the leader board, your broadband connection can matter as much as your trigger finger and problem-solving skills. Slow internet can hamper your moves, high latency can give you out of date information on your opponents' moves and jitter on the line can make shots go astray. Sluggish broadband can also mean games and patches take ages to download.
The speed of your internet connection isn’t the only spec that matters for gaming. You should also consider your broadband’s latency (ping), jitter and packet loss. But you can’t even get out of the starting gate unless your connection is delivering enough megabits per second (Mbps).
What’s the minimum speed I need for gaming?
As a rule of thumb, you need a minimum connection of 3Mbps downstream and 1Mbps to game online. Nintendo recommends these speeds for playing games on its Switch system, while Xbox One says you need 3Mbps downstream and 0.5Mbps upload. You should have symmetrical speeds of 2Mbps (that’s both download and upload) to use a Playstation 4.
Most ADSL broadband connections, with download speeds of 10-11Mbps and upload speeds of around 1.5Mbps, will deliver these minimums. However, if any other devices are using your internet connection, the bandwidth available to your gaming console will fall. So, if your girlfriend is watching Netflix in the other room, or you’re downloading a Blu-ray film on your laptop, you might not have enough bandwidth to fire up Call of Duty.
Additionally, the copper telephone wires ADSL uses to deliver internet suffer from attenuation, meaning speed deteriorates over distance. If you live far from your local telephone exchange, the speeds you receive on ADSL could fall well below the minimum.
What broadband speed should I get for gaming?
Just because you can game on an ADSL connection, it doesn’t mean you want to. You might find the game lags, games and patches take hours to download, and your opponents always seem a move ahead.
Serious gamers, particularly those playing first-person shooter and twitch-play games, will want broadband with download speeds of between 50Mbps and 100Mbps, delivered by fibre optic or cable broadband.
It isn't just the type of connection you have that is important though, there are various in-house factors that can affect the speed you can get from your connection. Gaming over WiFi is often frowned upon as it usually isn't as reliable as using an ethernet cable, but this really depends on the router you use though. To make sure you aren't let down by a lag spike due to insufficient hardware, it is worth looking at the best gaming routers for 2021 to stay ahead of the competition.
What type of broadband should I get for gaming?
We’ve established that serious online gamers want a connection with download speeds of 50-100Mbps and healthy upload speeds too.
Ideally, you’d sign up for the connection with the fastest speeds on the market—the 1Gbps (1,000Mbps) symmetrical speeds delivered by full fibre. Full fibre is hands down the best broadband for gaming.
It is also great for streaming video over the internet, which is useful as you can now watch tv on games consoles (modern ones at least!).
However, as you’ll find when you compare broadband deals for your address, full-fibre connections are only available to just under a fifth of UK premises and can be prohibitively expensive for some consumers. Slower fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and cable connections can do the job for most gamers.
- Fibre Optic (FTTC): delivers average download speeds of up to 67Mbps and upload speeds of up to 10-20Mbps, depending on the package. Available to 98.8% of UK premises. Lower latency, jitter and packet loss than ADSL.
- Cable: available from Virgin Media to 52.8% of UK households, delivering download speeds of up to 1,104Mbps or 636Mbps, depending on the area. Upload speeds top out at 52Mbps. Lower latency, jitter and packet loss than ADSL.
- Full Fibre (FTTP): delivers symmetrical download and upload speeds of 1Gbps. Available to just under 20% of UK homes. Best broadband connection for low latency, jitter and packet loss.