What is a good internet speed for gaming? or is my internet fast enough for gaming? These are some of the age-old questions on the internet and with 5G finally becoming a reality (at least in some countries) – we decided to answer these questions once and for all. So, without any further ado let’s dive in.
What is internet speed?
When most people talk about internet speed the first thing that comes to their mind is Mbps.
Mbps is almost a universally accepted abbreviation of the term Megabits (and not bytes) per second. It is a data-rate metric used to measure data transfer speed. In very easy terms, the more Mbps you have the faster your connection.
So, How many Mbps do I need for gaming?
Although it is natural to have this question, there is no Magic Mbps number for gaming. That being said, many seem to agree that you need at least a 3-8 Mbps connection to play online games.
FCC on their broadband speed guide recommends (for a single user) a minimum download speed of 3 Mbps for regular console gaming and 4 Mbps for playing multiplayer games.
If you want to know how much Mbps you have go to www.speedcheck.org and make a speed test.
However, realistically speaking, Mbps are only a part of the story. If you are an actual gamer there are a lot more things that you have to look out for if you want an actually good gaming experience.
Things that Actually Affect Your Gaming Experience
Internet speeds affect all gamers more or less the same. However, as shadowknightgaming.com is centered on mobile gaming, we will focus on that from time to time.
Download speed is one of the most talked-about metrics probably because of how most ISPs advertise it. As the name suggests, your download speeds affect how quickly you can download data/files from an external server to your device.
While gaming, it determines how quickly your PC, console, or mobile device for that matter, can receive information from game servers. A 3-6 Mbps connection should be enough in most use cases.
However, when it comes to downloading a game/update patches the perks of having higher download speeds really shines. Let’s take the example of Cyberpunk 2077. The game on PC has a download size of 70 GB.
So, if you plan to download that game on a 3 Mbps connection you will have to wait for 2 and a half days.
Now I know that’s a hypothetical situation but one real issue that bugged a lot of users last year with slow download speeds when players tried to download Microsoft flight from Valve. The game has a total download size of 127GB but The Steam download is only a 532MB client which then downloads the rest of the game as an in-game update.
Provided valve has a “2 hours played” refund policy, players were concerned if the in-game download time will be counted against the refund time. In the end, it turned out to be a “nonissue” and you can follow the story in detail in this article by PC Gamer, but the key takeaway is Download speeds do matter.
Even popular Mobile games like PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty Mobile the download files can be as big as 2 Gigabytes. The latest update of the popular open-world RPG game Genshin Impact takes 3.42 GB on mobile.
Now, these download sizes are much lower when compared to PC and console games, but you have to remember download speeds on mobile are usually significantly slower compared to download speeds on consoles or PCs.
Upload is just the opposite of download. Instead of pulling files off an external server over the internet, upload speeds determine the speed at which data can be sent from your device to the network.
While playing online games every time you make a move, fire a weapon, move your units to a different location, or any other command, your game needs to send that data to the game servers. This is where upload speeds come into play.
While there is no denying that uploading speeds are important, most people don’t need huge upload speeds. Major console manufactures recommend a minimum of 0.5 to 1 Mbps upload speeds for gaming. This is 3 to 6 times lower than the minimum recommended download speeds.
However, if you plan to Livestream a game while playing it the situation changes drastically, and depending on your stream quality you might want 2.5Mbps to 60Mbps sustained upload speeds (more on that later).
Bandwidth refers to how much data your connection handles at any given time and is measured in Mbps. Majority of the time your Internet provider advertises your connection in terms of bandwidth.
So, if you have a 100Mbps connection it means you are only allowed a maximum of 100 Megabits per second from that connection.
Uploads and downloads both use bandwidth. So, you can expect (theoretically) either 100 Mpbs downloads or 100 Mbps upload or a combination of the two (70Mbps downloads + 30 Mbps uploads) at any given moment unless separate upload and download speeds are mentioned in your plan.
All devices connected to a network require some bandwidth depending on the type of the device and what you are doing on them. Some of the most bandwidth-heavy tasks include Straming 4K content or downloading large files.
Only Gaming in general doesn’t require high bandwidth. That, being said if you have a lot of devices connected to a network or all your roommates are streaming NetFlix in 4K while you game – having a high bandwidth will ensure that your game always gets the minimum bandwidth.
Latency or Ping
Latency or ping rate is the time it takes for a small data set to be transmitted from your device to a destination server and back to your device again. It is measure in milliseconds.
In online gaming, ping is the time it takes for the game server to register your inputs and return the response. For example, if you move your character in CSGO the game sends that information to the game server. The server then registers this movement and sends the data back to you and all the players in the same match.
A high ping means your inputs will be registered slower compared to other players resulting in issues like – your bullet hits not being registered or your opponent somehow still being able to land a final shot on you even when you seem to have moved to cover.
As someone who plays a lot of PUBG Mobile, I know how frustrating it can be.
Your Ping is affected by a combination of factors, including your internet speed, your distance from the server, and the performance of your router. Technically, the lower the ping the better but if your ping crosses 150 ms you might start to see some occasional lags.
You might have internet with good download and speeds but if your router is lacking you might still see some hiccups. You see your internet is not a continuous flow of data, instead, data is sent and received as packets.
When your router receives these packets of information, they’re not immediately processed. Instead, they’re put in a queue. This is known as Queueing time and is the amount of time that a packet of data spends in the queue before being be processed by the router.
If your router isn’t powerful enough to clear that queue quickly, the queue will fill up and once it is full the router will start dropping more incoming packets. Thus your router will need to request the packet again which in turn will increases latency and you will see in-game lags.
Stability of Your Connection
Although not a lot of folks talk about the stability of your connection you must have a stable connection to have a good gaming experience. This is one of the reasons why most gamers prefer wired broadband connections over mobile data or traditional satellite internet as the former is more stable at a lower price.
Now you might argue 5G is much faster and can achieve “Gigabit speed” but realistically speaking 5G is still in its early stages and the gigabit speeds are only achievable on mm waves which are not available in most of the countries just yet.
How to Check Your Internet Speed and Quality
Now all that was discussed earlier can be a bit overwhelming but thankfully it is very easy for you to access the quality of your internet. Simply head over to any internet speed testing website like www.speedcheck.org and hit start test.
The website will test your ping download and upload speeds and will present you with all the details.
What I really like about the websites is that it gives you stability scores in % for both uploads and downloads. They also have a history feature that lets you check your previous speed test results and make it much easier for you to compare all of them at once.
Let’s take a look at my speed test results.
As you can see my ping is 77.6 ms which is not great but not terrible for gaming. My download and upload speeds are 45.85 and 73.31 Mbps respectively. Both my uploads and download speeds got a stability score of over 60%. So, it looks like I will have a decent gaming experience.
One thing to note here is that internet speed and latency can vary a lot so to get the best idea of your actual speeds and other metrics you should check your speeds throughout the day and compare them.
Personally, I have seen my ping shot up to 250 ms which is pretty high. This happens every once in a while and I think my old router is to blame here as it simply cannot keep up with all the devices connected to it. My upload and download speeds remain more or less similar.
Things you can do to Improve your Gaming Experience
- Use a Wired connection when ever possible: A ethernet wire provides a much fster and stable connection compared to wirreless. If you are gaming on a pc or console make sure you are using a ethernet for internet.
- Move closer to your WiFi: If you are gaming on a mobile device or simply there is no way for you to get a ethernet cable to your device, you can atleast try moving closer to your wifi router. For exmple you can move the router to the same room where you usually game. If you have a dual band router make sure your are conncted to the 5GHz band to enjoy maximum speeds.
- Close all unnecessary services or apps: Some apps, web pages, or services could be eating up all the bandwidth. Close them when you’re gaming.
- Limit the number of connected devices: If you are someone who has a lot of devices connected to a network it is probably a good idea to disconnect some of them to ensure your game gets all the bandwith and minimum que time.
- Reset your router and keep the firmware up to date: Though we barely poweroff our routers sometimes turning of your router for 30 seconds and turing it back on can help boost up your connection. Additionally, many manufacturers recomend reseting your routers every once in a while to ensure optimal performance. Apart from that make sure you are running the latest router firmware.
- Turing on Quality of services setting in your router: When multiple devices are competing for bandwith turing on quality of servise feature on upur router can help. It lets you proritize data from a device among others. You can set your gaming device as highest priority.
- Reach out o your ISP: Sometimes, you just can’t figure out issues on your own. In situations like this try calling your Internet Service Provider and check what’s going on. In most cases they would be happy to help you out.
- Upgrade your internet connection: If nothing seems to work and your gaming experince sucks, you probably need an upgrade. There are many paths to take. You can get a faster internet plan, buy a newer router, or upgrade to a fiber optic internet. Just make sure you have tried all the aforementioned thing before you sell out your hard earned money.