Xfinity Discovery Hub

September 18, 2019

Need for Speed: Choosing the Best Connection Speed for Online Gaming

ps4 controllers

Your Internet connection speed can mean the difference between life and death — at least when it comes to online games. Whether you’re gunning for a Victory Royale in “Fortnite” or defending your goal in “Rocket League,” a fast Internet connection makes a big difference. What Internet speed do I need for gaming, you ask? Most video game console manufacturers recommend at least 3 Mbps (or “megabits per second,” the measurement of how much data can be moved in a second) of download speed and 0.5 Mbps to 1 Mbps of upload speed. The good news is that all Xfinity Internet speed tiers are suitable for online gaming. However, there are a variety of factors that can impact your performance. 

Short take: how to choose the best connection speed for online gaming

  • Wired Internet is better than wireless
  • Fiber optics are the best medium
  • Avoid using multiple services (phone, TV, and Internet) on one line
  • Consider both upload and download speed

Download speed versus ping

For most gaming sessions, you'll want a download speed of 3 Mbps, although requirements differ between platforms. The download speed is how fast data is pulled from the server and upload speed is how fast you send data to others. Download speed is typically much faster, because most of what you do online (loading Web pages, streaming videos, etc.) consists of downloads. Additionally, the term “ping” or “ping rate” refers to how fast you get a response from your Internet connection after you send out a request. Find the recommended Internet speed for gaming with your console below:

Video Game System Minimum Download Speed Minimum Upload Speed Maximum Ping Rate (in milliseconds)
Microsoft Xbox One 3 Mbps 0.5 Mbps Less than 150 ms
Nintendo Switch 3 Mbps 1 Mbps Less than 150 ms*
Sony Playstation 4 Estimated 3 Mbps* Estimated 1 Mbps* Less than 150 ms*
PC / Mac Estimated 3-6 Mbps* Estimated 0.75-1 Mbps* Less than 100-150 ms*

* No manufacturer-specific information available, however recommends these ranges

When it comes to moving data, download speeds matter. If your Internet speed is lower than what we recommend here, in-game textures might load slowly, and the game may not perform as well as it should. 

Surprisingly, latency has a bigger impact on game performance and response time than your download speed. Latency (gamers call it “ping”) is a delay between the action in the game and its display on your screen. High ping can make multiplayer almost impossible. If your ping is higher than another player’s, his shots might register first. In fast-paced gameplay, especially with fighting games like “Street Fighter V” or “Mortal Kombat X,” you want as little ping as possible.

How to improve connection speed

Take these steps to give yourself a competitive advantage and increase your Internet speed:

  1. Use a hard-wired connection. Use an Ethernet cord to connect your console or computer directly to the router. WiFi is convenient, but it almost always runs at lower speeds than a hard-line connection. (Note, the Nintendo Switch only connects over WiFi.)
  2. Shut down any programs that eat up bandwidth. Some programs use more bandwidth than others. If a certain application demands more of your Internet than necessary, shut it down during gaming sessions. For example, close all programs that regularly connect to the Internet, such as messaging apps and email programs.
  3. Maintain a direct connection. If you have other devices connected to your main hub or router, you may be introducing additional latency to your gaming sessions. Multiple devices can chew up bandwidth, especially if they are all playing games or streaming videos. Connect your console or computer directly to the Internet, and you may see faster connections and lower ping.
  4. How do I know if my Internet is fast enough? Learn how to test your Internet speed, and learn more about other important speed factors.

What about streaming?

We can’t talk about gaming in the modern age without touching on streaming. Twitch and other mediums let dedicated gamers stream live gameplay for their fans to watch, but you need the speed to support it. Streaming requires higher Internet speeds than a standard gameplay session would.

For streaming, hard-wired connections are essential. Your minimum upload speed should also be around 4 Mbps for a 720p stream.

Your download speed doesn’t have a huge effect on stream quality. Download speeds almost always exceed upload speeds, so a connection that provides a consistent upload speed of 5 Mbps will likely have a download speed of around 50 Mbps.

Internet speed, latency, and ping rate can all affect your gaming performance and are essential for taking your gaming to the next level. If you want to improve your online experience and perform better in your favorite game, the first place you should look is your Internet service. Xfinity can help you find the ideal Internet speed for gaming and reduce your latency to help take your gaming to the next level. Test your internet speed with the Xfinity Internet Speed Test today.