While most people shopping for an internet provider will consider a variety of factors like customer service, price, and availability; online gamers are primarily concerned with speed, latency (ping), and reliability (downtime). The two critical factors for a great online gaming experience regardless of platform is low latency/ping and fast speed. Let's take a look at different types of ISPs and connections to see which one is the best for online gaming.
The single most important element for a good gaming experience is download speed. Upload speed only matters when you are hosting a game, but most people probably aren’t hosting. Instead, they’re typically connecting to a dedicated server that handles most of the work. Speaking from personal experience, the absolute minimum download speed required to compete online effectively is 12 Mbps, though some sources say you can get by with 5 Mbps. For FPS games like Counter-Strike, TF2, Rainbow Six, GTA, Rust, etc. more speed is better, and some connection types are better than others as far as ping goes. Check out this article on internet speed tests to learn how to test the speed of your internet connection.
If the options for internet in your area are limited and you only have access to a connection that offers 12 Mbps or less for multiplayer gaming, here are a few tips:
- Avoid streaming any video content on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, or Twitch while playing.
- Use a wired connection rather than a wireless one. When you connect to your router directly by using a network cable, your connection will be faster and more reliable than a wireless connection.
- If you like to game on a PC or Mac instead of a console like Xbox or PS4, close any programs that you have open unless you need them to run your game. Otherwise, those extra programs will be using up bandwidth and slowing down your internet connection.
- If you live with family or have roommates, ask them to avoid excessively checking Instagram, Facebook, or watching videos while you’re playing. Anyone using your internet connection while you game will slow it down.
To see how fast your current ISP is and determine if you need to upgrade, you can check several websites like these. If your fastest speed between the three tests is below 25 Mbps, or your ping as reported by speedtest.net is above 100, consider finding a quicker broadband internet connection for the best online gaming experience by searching for a new internet provider in your area..