Do I Have the Right Internet Speed for Gaming?
The gaming landscape has changed dramatically thanks to the ubiquity of high-speed internet. Multiplayer online matches used to be a special feature, but now it is expected in nearly every genre. The ease of picking up a controller and being able to jump into an online match is not something everyone has access to, however.
Places like Windsor Ontario have some of the highest average internet speeds in the country, but rural towns are another story. There are many reasons why internet speeds are inconsistent for the average gamer. Good internet speed for gaming is not only necessary, but it's also required if you want to compete with the best.
Read this guide to understand more about internet speeds and how you can get the best internet speed for gaming.
The Difference Between the Best and the Rest
Gamers everywhere have experienced lag at some point. You're running down a corridor, rounding a corner, and before you even get set: you're dead. You're firing entire rounds into an enemy online, and they somehow survive and kill you.
This is so frustrating because no matter how skilled you are, your enemy can still beat you in a match. Slow connections can also make you sit for hours waiting for game patches or updates. If you have a small window to game, you may not be able to play at all if you can't or don't update while you're away.
Having the best internet connection is vital for competitive play. You don't want just "okay" internet speeds. Just because you don't experience obvious lag, it doesn't mean you can't gain from better internet speeds.
Gaming Internet Speed Requirements
When it comes to multiplayer gaming, internet speed requirements are two-fold. On one end, you need a fast download speed to properly download the maps and gaming data and not leave your teammates waiting. On the other end, you need a fast connection to the servers.
This means you need to be able to download a lot of data and at a fast speed. You'll see references regarding "ping" and "bandwidth" with these two categories. Ping will be the quality of your connection speed, how quickly data moves from you to the gaming servers. Bandwidth will be what you see advertised for internet speed.
Typically, most games require you to be above 5Mbps to participate in multiplayer gaming. You'll be a sad panda if you're only getting those speeds, but, technically, you can compete with such a small bandwidth. This is only true if your ping is very fast, anything that is below 100ms is considered competitive.
Quality of Internet Line
Advertised rates of internet speed and bandwidth are the maximum capability. It is rare that these speeds are ever met, especially for cable customers. This is because the internet is delivered over a shared highway. The more people watching cable TV and surfing online, the less there is to go around.
Fiber optic internet is the most consistent and closest-to-advertised speeds you can find. You get a dedicated line of the internet to your house and fiber has a much, much bigger highway. Once the internet gets to your home, you also have other factors that may slow your speeds down.
In-Home Internet Speeds
Most people will be connected online via WiFi. As an online gamer, you should not connect wirelessly if you're trying to compete. Wireless internet is subject to interference, plus you're creating one additional 'hop' your data has to travel to the servers.
Older internet routers should also be inspected for shortcomings or problems handling higher speeds. Plus, you should always be aware that people can and do steal internet from those with older routers. Your router needs to have at least WPA2 password protection.
As a gamer, you should be connected via ethernet, from your console or computer to your router. This will take away other variables that can cause lag or disconnections. If you can't run a wire to your game, for whatever reason, try to be as close as possible to the router.
Test Your Might
Are you suspicious that your internet speeds are too slow, inconsistent, or lower than advertised? You can test all of these things using sites like Fast.com. These tests will give you a comprehensive look at your rated internet speed and ping.
Often, download speeds may appear to be as advertised, but the upload speed isn't. Upload speed is essential for both FPS shooters and MOBAs like League of Legends and Heart of the Storm. The minimum upload speed is at 1 Mbps.
Internet providers will try to under-deliver upload speeds because they know 90% of customers won't notice it. Download speeds are what matter for average browsing and streaming needs. Latency is in a similar boat, important for gamers, but not so much for average users.
If you feel like your latency is too high, check for outside factors first before calling your ISP.
There are some connection problems you can diagnose at home. Here are a few of the major contributors:
- If you're on a PC, check for background programs that could be delaying your response times. Outside downloads will also create latency, even if they're slow or small downloads.
- Other devices will also create latency on your computer or gaming console. If you have family that uses the internet, then you'll just have to accept higher ping.
- Being on Wi-Fi will automatically increase your latency. If you're connected via ethernet and have high ping, check your wires and connections.
- Sometimes routers need to be reset, or 'power cycled' to update settings and firmware. Do this if you feel like things are extra laggy.
- High ping can be attributed to a poor connection to your ISP's servers. Call them and ask for a complete diagnostic.
Upgrade Your Internet Speed for Gaming
Once you've determined that there's nothing that you can do to increase your internet speed for gaming without lag, it's time to shop around. Just because you live in a rural area, like in Essex County, Ontario, it doesn't mean you have to settle.