Why you need the best internet for gaming
Let’s talk nightmare scenarios here.
You invest thousands of dollars in a pristine gaming rig. Your graphics card and CPU can’t be beat. You’ve even got the light-up mouse with 19 programmed buttons.
And then you’re playing Warframe with your best friends—when your internet lags at a vital moment. Your whole squad is wiped out. And you’re left thinking you should have spent all that money from your hardware on platinum for mods instead.
Nah. We won’t let that happen. Let’s get you better internet, my friend.
Gaming-level internet buyers guide summary
Conventional wisdom might lead you to believe slow internet download speeds are the cause of all your gaming problems.
But in reality, the only time gaming requires something faster than your average broadband internet (25 Mbps) is when you’re downloading a new game or update.
(And even then, you don’t need it because the file will download eventually. It might just take an afternoon, and you could be using that time to crush the competition.)
Whether you’re into Apex Legends or Minecraft, here are the pitfalls standing in the way of your perfect internet for gaming:
- Packet loss
Let’s break down the jargon. Hold onto your ergonomic gaming chair—it’s analogy time.
Boring definition: Latency measures round-trip time (RTT), or how long it takes for a packet (bundle of information) to get from your device to the internet network, then back to your device. A program called ping can measure your latency, which is usually expressed in microseconds (ms).
Make sense? No? Then here’s a clever analogy:
- You’re playing ping-pong with a friend.
- You’re the device.
- Your ping-pong ball is the packet, holding the data of that no-scope headshot you just took in Fortnite.
- Your friend is the network.
- The time it takes for your ball to get from you to your friend and back to you is latency.
Ideally, your RTT latency will be as close to 0 ms as possible. Any speed under 100 ms is okay, and under 40 ms is excellent. Too long, and your opponent will have escaped unscathed before the network can process your perfect headshot.
You can check your current latency at HighSpeedInternet.com. Click Start Speed Test, Test Upload Speed, and then Share Your Speed Test Results. Don’t worry—you won’t have to send anything to anyone. It just pulls an image like this:
See that third line down marked “ping”? My work internet has a latency of 152 ms, so it would be a waste for me to play Dead by Daylight on my lunch break. The Shape would have me on a hook before I could knock over a pallet.
Jitter is how much your latency varies over time. This little change in tempo can make a big difference in your gameplay. You might experience it as visible choppiness or merely a feeling that your rhythm’s been thrown off.
Imagine you’re playing ping-pong with your friend again. They hit that ball/packet back at you, and suddenly, it disappears.
No worries, they’ve got a magic copy of it, and they hit that at you instead.
Packet loss is like that. Sometimes information bundles get lost or deleted on the way back to your computer, usually due to network congestion, spotty Wi-Fi, or outdated software.
Sometimes the network sends the packet again, like it does if a picture doesn’t load right in your browser. But for real-time video or audio, that doesn’t do any good. The information would come out of chronological order, making your video or audio even more confusing.
Instead, you’ll have a moment of frozen or glitchy video and audio.
In short, packet loss is the enemy of Discord voice chats everywhere. Any packet loss over 2% can cause enormous problems for call quality.
Internet for gaming FAQ
Is satellite internet good for gaming?
Unfortunately, satellite internet isn’t a great choice for online gaming because the latency is so long. The data sent over satellite internet has to travel from your house to a satellite in outer space to the network hub back on earth—and then the whole process in reverse.
Even though satellite internet can do all that in only a few seconds, it can’t support the quick response time online games require.
What is the best router for gaming?
The ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 is our pick for the best gaming router this year. It supports two 5 GHz frequencies and one 2.4 GHz frequency. That plus its six antennae and eight Ethernet ports make it a superb router for almost any gaming setup.
Is 10 Mbps good for gaming?
Most games can run just fine on 4 Mbps download speeds, since your computer or console does most of the heavy lifting. But you should make sure that your latency is good and that you don’t have other devices competing for the internet while you’re gaming.