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What internet speed do I need for gaming?

The download and upload speed requirements for online gaming are quite low, but there are other reasons to consider faster internet for a better gaming experience.

Nathan Lawrence
Jul 07, 2023
Icon Time To Read4 min read

Not long after the advent of the internet, gamers have been looking to the World Wide Web as a way to download, update and play games online. Fast-forward to more recent times and broadband is a whole lot faster than its dial-up internet origins. While most online games don’t need a whole lot of bandwidth—the finite amount of download and upload capacity users have as part of their internet plans—there are some key considerations when it comes to picking the right internet speed for gaming.

Before we delve into that, below is a daily updating list of popular NBN plans from our comparison engine.

Here's a broad breakdown of the speeds you'll need for various online activities:

What internet speed do I need for online gaming?

Technically, you can use any available internet speed for gaming today. For example, games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive only reportedly need around 70Kbs of download and upload bandwidth for a smooth experience. Something like Apex Legends requires 512Kbps, Destiny 2 uses up to 1Mbps of download and upload, while GTA Online recommends 7.5Mbps download and 1Mbps upload. Note that cloud gaming services like Xbox Cloud Gaming uses between 10Mbps and 20Mbps of download speed.

With these numbers in mind, entry-level plans like NBN 12 are technically good enough to meet the minimum requirements for online gaming. But there are some disclaimers. The first is bandwidth. NBN 12 plans only have up to 12Mbps download capacity and up to 1Mbps upload bandwidth.

If anyone else is using an NBN 12 connection while someone is trying to play games online—particularly if they’re streaming or downloading files—it will result in a shaky and inconsistent online experience for the gamer. The solution, then, is to treat NBN 25 as the real absolute minimum for online gaming because it has up to 25Mbps download and 5Mbps upload bandwidth.

Here’s a look at popular NBN 25 plans from our database.

From NBN 25 onwards, what you’re really investing in is faster download speeds and opening up the opportunity to stream games to platforms like Twitch. NBN 50 plans, for instance, offer a lot more versatility with download speeds up to 50Mbps and upload speeds up to 20Mbps. Here are some popular NBN 50 plans from our database.

It’s a similar story with NBN 100 plans, which offers up to 100Mbps download speeds and up to 40Mbps upload speeds. Note that most NBN providers tend to offer NBN 100/20 plans, which tap out at a max of 20Mbps upload speed. Admittedly, 20Mbps is still plenty of bandwidth for gaming, even if you want to stream to platforms like Twitch, which has a 6Mbps upload requirement for 1080p streaming. Check out popular NBN 100 plans below.

Homes connected via Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) or Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) can sign up to faster NBN plans. NBN 250 offers download speeds up to 250Mbps and upload speeds up to 25Mbps. Here’s a look at popular NBN 250 plans from our comparison engine.

And for no-compromise downloads, NBN 1000 plans offer download speeds up to 1,000Mbps and upload speeds up to 50Mbps for eligible FTTP and HFC homes. Below is a daily updating list of popular NBN 1000 plans from our database.

Light Bulb
Online vs offline games
Truly offline games let you download and play without needing an internet connection. The catch is that not every single-player game is a fully offline experience. More and more games these days are internet-dependent, even if you’re playing alone, meaning you still need to factor in an active internet connection and potential bandwidth considerations for a smooth experience. Diablo IV is a recent example of a game that can be played alone in its entirety, but you need to be always online whenever you play.

What internet speed do I need for downloading games?

While internet speed requirements for online games aren’t particularly extreme, it’s worth considering a faster internet plan if you want to download games faster and play them sooner. This is particularly relevant today when massive game updates seem to roll out at the most inconvenient times. Larger games can weigh in at 100GB+ and the same is true of certain updates. Basically, the faster your download speed, the quicker you’ll get to play a new or updated game.

For context, the table below breaks down the time it would take to download 10 of the most popular games on Steam at the time of writing (all of which can be played online).

Steam game
Download size
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive12.9GB2 hours, 23 mins1 hour, 8 mins34 mins17 mins7 mins2 mins
Dota 221.8GB4 hours, 2 mins1 hour, 56 mins58 mins29 mins12 mins3 mins
Apex Legends63.8GB11 hours, 49 mins5 hours, 40 mins2 hours, 50 mins1 hour, 25 mins34 mins8 mins
Grand Theft Auto V106.4GB19 hours, 42 mins9 hours, 27 mins4 hours, 44 mins2 hours, 22 mins57 mins14 mins
PUBG: Battlegrounds31.8GB5 hours, 53 mins2 hours, 50 mins1 hour, 25 mins42 mins17 mins4 mins
Rust12.4GB2 hours, 18 mins1 hour, 6 mins33 mins17 mins7 mins2 mins
Call of Duty: Warzone45.8GB8 hours, 29 mins4 hours, 4 mins2 hours, 2 mins1 hour, 1 min24 mins6 mins
BattleBit Remastered431MB5 mins2 mins1 min34 secs13 secs3 secs
Team Fortress 210.9GB2 hours, 1 min58 mins29 mins14 mins6 mins1 min
Destiny 292.3GB17 hours, 5 mins8 hours, 12 mins4 hours, 6 mins2 hours, 3 mins49 mins12 mins

What internet speed do I need for online gaming latency?

While download and upload speeds vary between NBN plans, providers and speed tiers, latency should effectively stay the same. The only disclaimers are that latency will be impacted by local network conditions (wired vs wireless connection, signal interference, etc.), including when bandwidth is maxed out for download or upload capacity.

You should expect NBN latency to be comfortably below 15 milliseconds (ms) and, in most instances, that number should be closer to 10ms. Unlike download and upload speeds, the lower the latency, the better the experience. That’s because latency is the measurement of how long it takes data to get from one place to another. In practical terms, lower latency provides a smoother experience when playing online and is also great for video conferencing.

According to the most recent ACCC data available at the time of writing, here are the participating NBN providers with the lowest latencies (MyRepublic doesn’t sell NBN plans anymore, so it’s not included below):

  1. Superloop 8.8ms
  2. Launtel 9.3ms
  3. Exetel 9.4ms
  4. Aussie Broadband 10.6ms
  5. TPG 11ms
  6. Optus 11.1ms
  7. Dodo and iPrimus 11.5ms
  8. Vodafone 11.6ms
  9. Telstra 11.9ms
  10. iiNet 12.3ms

Lower latencies are more noticeable with fast-paced online games, which is why an NBN connection is recommended over other forms of broadband, including mobile internet and 5G home internet. Even with great signal strength in a 5G area, latency can be double (or more) than NBN connections. There’s also a chance for greater variance in latency, which can make an online experience feel inconsistent.

Info Box
Quality of Service
If you own a modern router or modem-router, you may have access to a Quality of Service (QoS) feature that can help a lot with online gaming. QoS automatically determines the download and upload bandwidth that should be allocated for a smooth experience based on specific tasks or for particular devices. Some networking devices let users manually determine QoS based on use-case or device parameters. With QoS active, you can play a game online while someone else is downloading a large file or streaming and you’ll still have a smooth experience because QoS locks the required bandwidth for online gaming.

Internet for gaming frequently asked questions

NBN 25 plans are the cheapest place to start for online gaming. Alternatively, you’ll get faster game and patch downloads with an NBN 50, NBN 100, NBN 250 or NBN 1000 plan.
Yes, NBN 25 is enough for online gaming. The only disclaimer there is that game and update downloads will take a lot longer on NBN 25 compared to NBN 50, NBN 100, NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans.
NBN 50 is a good middle point between download speeds and value for gaming. Download speeds are up to 50Mbps and upload speeds go up to 20Mbps, which is more than enough for all online games.
Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence
Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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