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what is a good internet speed for online gaming and streaming? (2022)

what is a good internet speed for online gaming and streaming in 2022? In summary, an Internet speed of above 20 Mbps is usually ideal for gaming, especially multiplayer or “competitive” gaming. Anything lower than 20 Mbps falls into the danger “lag zone”.

How much internet speed do I really need? You may find yourself asking this question every time you need to renew your internet service plan or even every time you go to pay your bill.

You don’t need a lot of speed to play games online. It’s not a bandwidth-intensive activity, so all you need is a 5 Mbps connection or faster. But keep in mind that no amount of speed is going to stop your game from lagging if your latency ranges into hundreds of milliseconds. There’s a lot more to having a good online gaming experience than signing up for the fastest internet plan on the planet.

Your Internet connection speed makes a big difference in your online gaming experience. 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 as a generally “good internet speed”. Because we live in a highly connected world, the number of devices you have connected to your network will also impact your gaming experience. Choosing a higher internet speed tier gives you the ability to transmit more data, which offers greater leeway so it is less likely that other network constraints will impact your gaming.

What internet speed do I need? Quick tips

  • Netflix says you need 5 Mbps to stream full HD content and a data rate of 25 Mbps (megabits per second) for 4K Ultra HD content, but you’ll want even faster speeds if you plan to connect several devices at once. The same holds true for other streaming services as well as game-streaming services like Twitch. 
  • Multiple devices demand more bandwidth. If you’re planning to stream 4K video content and have multiple devices connecting to your network simultaneously, you should seriously consider investing in plans that can provide faster download speeds, such as 200 Mbps. That speed should work for even the most data-hungry households.
  • Consider gigabit (1,000 Mbps) speeds, if available. Serious data-hogs will want faster speeds and more bandwidth. If they’re available, gigabit-speed internet plans are the best you can get for home connections.
  • Know your speeds. Use one of the best speed-test apps to check your internet connection speed and determine whether you’re really getting the bandwidth you’re paying for.
  • Check your Wi-Fi connection. Sometimes the problem is with your home network and not your ISP. See our guide on how to make Wi-Fi faster at your office and home

Download speed and upload speed for gaming and streaming

Playing games like Halo Infinite and Fortnite online doesn’t require a lot of bandwidth. Unlike an online video—which is streamed over the internet to your device—the graphics chip in your computer, game console, or mobile device renders (draws) the virtual world locally on your device and displays it on your screen. In fact, very little information passes between the gaming server and the gamer. Both sides exchange the following data:

  • Keyboard input
  • Mouse input
  • Controller input
  • Player location (you and everyone else)
  • The current world state
  • Player communication
  • Server notifications (like in-game announcements)

Out of the items on the above list, player location can introduce slowdowns, especially in massively multiplayer online (MMO) games. These games can have more real on-screen players than the typical online gaming scenario, causing frame rate drops and “teleporting” players.

Overall, many modern games with high-definition graphics need a download speed of at least 3 Mbps to play online.

Minimum speed requirements across game platforms

SystemMin. download speedMin. upload speedMax latency
Nintendo Switch3 Mbps1 MbpsN/A
Xbox3 Mbps0.5 Mbps150 ms
PlayStation2 Mbps2 MbpsN/A
Steam*1 Mbps1 MbpsN/A

As long as your internet connection meets these requirements, you can play games online. However, if you want to have a consistent online experience, we suggest having a slightly better connection.

The cost of Internet connectivity in the US (2022)

Although there’s a debate over how much internet speed the average home customer needs, it’s clear that ISPs benefit from your desire for faster internet speed. The ISPs can also provide some insight into how much speed you really need by listing how many devices can connect to the network at any given time.

According to a report by The Internet & Television Association, the average American household pays $61 per month for internet service, but your costs will vary based on your plan and usage.

Comcast Xfinity, a prominent ISP in the U.S., has varying prices based on speed. If you listen to the above engineer, you can probably get away with the company’s cheapest package, which offers download speeds of up to 100 Mbps. 

The plan is available for new customers at $40 per month and, according to Xfinity, should be able to accommodate up to five devices simultaneously connecting to the internet.

Xfinity also delivers a connection with up to 200-Mbps download speeds for $55 per month. According to the company, that should be enough to accommodate up to eight devices simultaneously connecting to the internet.

There’s even a 2-Gbps Xfinity plan for $300 per month with a two-year agreement. “Unlimited devices” should be able to connect to the web at that speed, the company says. But if you want more speed and a little less cost, consider Xfinity’s 1-Gbps option that starts at $80 per month.

The best internet connections for streaming and gaming online in the US

A fiber-to-the-home (or building) internet plan from an internet service provider like AT&T, Google Fiber, or Verizon is the best connection for playing games online. Cable internet comes in at a close second, with some 5G networks also providing stable connections with low latency. Other wired connections generally introduce more latency but are still better for gaming than wireless connections.

Connection typeDownload speedsLatencyProviders
Fiber50–10,000 Mbps (10 Gbps)11–14 msGoogle Fiber, Verizon, AT&T, Frontier
Cable15–1,200 Mbps (1.2 Gbps)15–35 msXfinity, Cox, Spectrum, Optimum
DSL1–100 Mbps25–43 msCenturyLink, Verizon, AT&T, Windstream
5g25–1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps)Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile
4G LTE4–100 MbpsVerizon, T-Mobile
Fixed Wireless10–1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps)Rise, Windstream, AT&T
Satellite12–200 Mbps594–624 msViasat, HughesNet

Consistent and reliable latency data is difficult to gather. The FCC was a source for some of the most comprehensive studies of internet latency. However, the agency has since stopped including latency in its annual broadband reports, so newer technologies like 5G and home 4G LTE are not included.

Although 5G is still an emerging wireless technology—especially its gigabit millimeter-wave connections—it promises to have lower latency than any other wireless connection. 4G and 4G LTE connections generally have much more lag than wired connections but are capable of reaching our recommended latency of below 100 ms.

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