How to get the best broadband for online gaming
Is there anything more frustrating than waiting, and waiting, for your latest game to download from the PlayStation Store? Fed up with constant buffering, slow lag times and dropped connections when you’re online playing games with your pals?
The answer to your prayers might be better broadband. But with so many providers promising the best broadband for gamers, which provider should you choose, and how much should you be paying if you want to download games faster? Let’s look at the options.
The minimum broadband speed for online gaming
When it comes to online gaming, having a fast broadband speed sounds like it’s essential, but it’s not actually the most important factor to consider. You can quite happily game online with broadband speeds between 7Mbps and 10Mbps – and these are speeds that most homes in the UK can now get, even with ADSL connections. But what’s absolutely crucial is a reliable broadband connection – which is usually only available through a fibre broadband connection.
You’ll need the fastest possible connection if you like to download games
If you’re a hardcore gamer, who is constantly online either playing games or prefers to downloading games rather than buy physical copies, you’ll need a broadband download speed greater than 50Mbps. The maximum speed you can get from ADSL broadband is 17Mbps, so to achieve at least 50Mbps, your home needs to be served with a fibre broadband connection. Some of the best broadband providers that offer download speeds of at least 50Mbps are BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media.
The best games console for downloading games
We know this guide is all about the best broadband for online gamers, but it’d be remiss of us if we didn’t take this opportunity to plug the next generation of games consoles aimed specifically at gamers that are always online – and that’s the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition console.
It’s the first disc-less games console to be released and the only way to play games on it is to either download them, or stream them. So when it comes to the hardware used in this fantastic console, you can be assured that Microsoft has thought of everything to ensure the best online gaming experience is guaranteed. And for less than £200, with several games already included, it’s not a bad price to pay for a brand spanking new games console.
The best broadband provider for online gaming
If you’re streaming games online and connecting with 1000’s of gamers from across the globe, you’ll need a reliable broadband connection with a fast download speed. By having a fast download speed, your game content will be delivered faster and by choosing a broadband provider that gives you decent bandwidth, you shouldn’t have to worry about other people in your household sharing the same broadband connection.
So who should you turn to? Well, our overall winner of best broadband provider for gamers is Virgin Media. Ask any gamer out there and they will all give you the same answer. Hardly surprising, given that Virgin’s superfast broadband has its own infrastructure, with fibre cables directly into your home, and doesn’t rely on Openreach – the company that provides broadband for BT, Plusnet, Sky, Talktalk and the majority of other Internet Service Providers.
Virgin Media broadband deals for online gamers
Prices for Virgin broadband start from £27 per month and it has four available packages offering varying speeds, starting from 54Mb average download speed to 362Mb if you want the top of the range. Unless you’re constantly online, streaming games and films, or downloading every hour or so, there is no need to spend your hard earned cash on this ultrafast speed. The 54Mb or 108Mb packages are more than enough speed for downloading computer games.
But there’s one snag in that not everyone can get Virgin broadband, so don’t get too excited – just yet – if you have your heart set on switching to Virgin. But if your home is Virgin ready, happy download days are right around the corner!
Fibre broadband offers the best online gaming experience
If you’re unlucky enough to not benefit from the fast download speeds that Virgin broadband offers, you can always look at fibre broadband packages from other major providers. The download speeds you can expect will range from 35Mb – 66Mb per second. It sounds obvious but if you can afford it, opt for the 66Mb download speed packages as you will notice the difference and video games will be downloaded quicker.
Broadband packages from providers other than Virgin broadband tend to be slightly cheaper, but that’s because they don’t operate on its own network, like Virgin, and this means you’ll need a BT phone line. The good news is, most people will have a BT line, so you should be able to get fibre broadband – even if only from BT.
Our pick of the best fibre broadband providers for online gaming is Sky, BT and Plusnet – all of which operate using BT’s Openreach network.
Ready to increase your download speeds? Take your pick from the best fibre broadband deals from uSwitch.
Online gaming with a copper (ADSL) broadband connection
As we alluded to earlier, you can game online quite comfortably with a copper broadband connection, which is the still the most common connection for most homes in the UK. You will need a speed of at least 7Mbps and a reliable connection. If you have one and not the other, your online gaming will suffer – either through jitter or latency – so you should consider upgrading to fibre broadband if your home can get it. By doing so, you will be betting the two key ingredients for the best online gaming broadband; fast download speeds and a stable connection.
If you can’t get fibre, see our tips below for how to improve your broadband speed.
Best broadband for streaming on Twitch
Despite naming Virgin Media as the overall best provider for online gaming, we can’t give them top spot for those that like to stream their online gaming on Twitch. That’s because latency and stability are key here, and far outweigh the benefit of decent broadband bandwidth.
With this in mind, the best broadband for Twitch has to be Sky Fibre Max, with packages starting from around £40 p/m. It provides 76Mbps download speeds and upload speeds of 19Mbps, all with unlimited data – exactly what you need for online gaming and streaming.
How to improve online gaming without a fast broadband connection
If you’re stuck with ADSL broadband because fibre isn’t available in your area, there’s a few tricks you can follow to try and speed up your game downloads, and broadband speed in general. Here’s our top 3 tips:
1. Move the broadband router
Your games console will use a wifi connection to download games, so stick your router as close as possible to your PS4 or Xbox One. If that’s not possible, make sure your router isn’t close to a window, or stuck behind a wall. Try and make the path as clear as possible between your console and the router.
2. Buy a wireless booster
Cheap wifi extenders cost as little as £20. They won’t improve your download speeds, but if you have any dead spots in your home, they can improve the signal to these areas. Nintendo Switch gamers – who could game anywhere in the home – may benefit the most from a wifi booster.
3. Get a better router
If you’ve been with the same broadband provider for some time, chances are you’re still using the original router that was delivered to your door many years ago. Ditch it and buy yourself a shiny new one. Your internet provider may even send you its latest router free of charge, especially if you threaten to leave for another broadband provider.
Best broadband for gaming on the go
For online gamers on the move, the solution to a great gaming experience is a 4G dongle. Compared to 3G networks, these devices offer lower latency – the time it takes to send a request to be game server and back again – and considerably quicker download / upload speeds.
If you’re looking to buy a mobile broadband dongle, the one thing you will need is an unlimited data allowance. It’s far too easy to burn through a limited allowance after only a few hours of online gaming. We recommend 3 mobile or Virgin Mobile for fantastic deals on unlimited data packages.
Frequently asked questions about broadband & online gaming
How much internet data does online gaming use?
Playing your favourite games online is going to eat data, so you’ll need a broadband plan that offers you unlimited data. If you’re on a capped data package, beware that most modern game titles will use between 50MB to 350MB per hour. For example, Fortnite, one of the best selling games of all time, uses 100MB data per hour.
Is online gaming better with a wired broadband connection?
The simple answer is yes. Wifi strength and performance can be affected by all kinds of things in and outside the home, and the only real way to avoid this is by going old-school and connecting your games console via an Ethernet cable. This will guarantee you less interference, and therefore provide you with a more reliable gaming experience.
Do I need fibre broadband for online gaming?
To experience the best online gaming – without dropped connections and latency problems – you will need have a fibre broadband connection. With the level of detail packed into modern game titles, standard ADSL broadband connections simply won’t live up to expectations when you fire up your games console online. To avoid any misery, make the switch and upgrade to fibre broadband.