The Best Internet for Gaming
You’re escorting the payload when bam! Lag hits. When your game finally catches back up, your whole team is dead, and you’re waiting on the respawn timer while watching a recap of how the enemy team steamrolled you.
Gamers will be the first to tell you that not all ISPs are created equal, especially when it comes to speed, latency, and packet loss. Which ISPs will help you land those kill shots? We’ve picked four of the best ISPs for gaming, and we’ve got proof to back up our choices.
|Provider||Monthly price||Download speeds||Learn more|
|Cox Internet||$19.99–$99.99*||10–1000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Frontier FiOS Internet||$29.99–$199.99†||50–1000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Xfinity Internet||$29.99–$299.95‡||15–2000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios||$39.99–$79.99^||100–Up to 940 Mbps||View Plans|
Cox: Best value
Cox cable internet delivers high speeds and great performance for dodging enemy skill shots.
For all of us who can’t quite get fiber yet, we still have a few good ISPs to choose from. Cox is one of them.
|Cox Internet Starter 10||$19.99/mo.*||10 Mbps||View Plan|
|Cox Internet Essential 30||$29.99/mo.*||30 Mbps||View Plan|
|Cox Internet Preferred 100||$59.99/mo.*||100 Mbps||View Plan|
|Cox Internet Ultimate||$69.99/mo.*||300 Mbps||View Plan|
|Cox Gigablast||$99.99/mo.*||1000 Mbps||View Plan|
- Budget-friendly prices
- Low-speed plans available
- No fiber plans
- 1-yr. contract required
Sure, Cox is cable internet, but it can still get you zooming on the interwebs. Netflix actually ranked Cox third in its March 2019 ISP rankings. When you factor in the affordable price on top of everything else, Cox easily offers up some of the best internet for gaming.
But the best part is, Cox is more widely available than Frontier or Verizon Fios. In fact, it’s available in cities coast-to-coast—from San Diego to Pensacola.
TJ, my buddy who lives in Vegas, jumps right into the fray in Apex Legends while using a Cox Wi-Fi connection. He even games lag-free while his two other roommates are hard-wired in and joining the action. The whole apartment can squad up and bond over Apex Legends at the same time. Apartment morale has never been higher.
Lag in Apex Legends is the last thing you want.
He’s been using Cox for over a decade now and hasn’t run into anything that would make him switch to CenturyLink, the other ISP in the area. “[My] ping is always low and I never have issues with latency,” he says. If you’re looking for some of the best Wi-Fi for gaming, Cox would be a great choice.
Who is Cox best for?
Here’s who we’d recommend Cox to:
- Gamers living in the West, Midwest, and South
- Anyone who doesn’t need a ton of Mbps for gaming
- Gamers who love multiplayer games but don’t plan on livestreaming
Frontier Communications: Best for no data caps
Frontier’s speed lags behind Verizon Fios, but fiber is still love.
If you can’t grab Verizon Fios where you live, you should check out Frontier’s FiOS plans.
|Simply FiOS 50/50||$29.99/mo.°||50 Mbps||View Plans|
|Simply FiOS 200/200||$39.99/mo.||200 Mbps||View Plans|
|Simply FiOS 300/300||$100/mo.||300 Mbps||View Plans|
|Simply FiOS 500/500||$39.99/mo.°||500 Mbps||View Plan|
|Simply FiOS 1G/1G||$199.99/mo.°||1000 Mbps||View Plan|
- No data caps
- Blazing-fast fiber speeds
- Limited availability
- High prices for high speeds
Of course, getting a Frontier fiber plan may be just as difficult as getting a Verizon Fios plan, since it’s still limited to certain areas. But we say fiber is worth the 30 seconds it takes to check.
Someday, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, we can all have fiber connections with gigabyte speeds. If you do get Frontier FiOS in your area, you can get some of the fastest internet speeds modern technology currently has to offer. Just be prepared to pay a pretty penny for all that speed.
But the price might be worth it for the sweet feeling of victory you get on being the last standing in Fortnite.
Image from cloakzy’s Twitch stream
Who is Frontier best for?
Here’s who we think Frontier fiber internet is best for:
- Anyone who can’t get Verizon Fios but wants a fiber connection
- Livestreamers who need to collect all the bits on Twitch
- Gamers who live in a house with other gamers and needs lots of Mbps
Xfinity: Best for no-contract options
Xfinity’s no-contract options are perfect if you already waffle over re-upping your game time.
Sure, you can go the contract route with Xfinity to save some money. But if you’re a tad shy about commitments to the point where you tell your teammates you’ve gotta go walk your goldfish when clearing the dungeon takes too long, Xfinity’s no-contract plans might be a better fit.
|Performance Starter||$29.99/mo.*||15 Mbps||View Plan|
|Performance Starter (no contract)||$39.99/mo.||15 Mbps||View Plan|
|Performance Plus||$39.99/mo.*||60 Mbps||View Plan|
|Performance Plus (no contract)||$49.99/mo.||60 Mbps||View Plan|
|Blast! Pro||$69.99/mo.*||250 Mbps||View Plan|
|Blast! Pro (no contract)||$79.99/mo.||250 Mbps||View Plan|
|Gigabit||$70/mo.**||1000 Mbps||View Plan|
|Gigabit Pro||$299.95/mo.††||2000 Mbps||View Plan|
- No-contract options available
- Widely available
- Top-ranked speeds
- Prices can vary by location
- 2,000 Mbps plan is costly
Xfinity gets a bad rap for its customer service, and we don’t necessarily disagree. But it does shine where it counts: speed and performance.
While gaming, we’ve experienced latency issues only a few times with Xfinity.
It’s smooth sailing no matter what game I’m playing. From pushing greater rifts in Diablo 3 on my PC to dual-wielding fire spells in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim over a Wi-Fi connection on my PlayStation 4 VR console, I’ve run into few, if any, connection issues with Xfinity.
Racking up those enemy kills on Li Ming in Heroes of the Storm, yeah-yuh!
And the speed gets me loaded into games faster than 80% of my teammates on Heroes of the Storm. (That 80% is a very rough estimate, mind you—but her loading bars are usually the first to fill up, kthx.)
Netflix’s ISP rankings agree with us—Xfinity scored second place in the 2019 leaderboards.1
Who is Xfinity best for?
We think Xfinity will help you get your game on if you’re one of these types of people:
- You don’t want to be locked into a one- or two-year contract.
- You don’t live on the East Coast where fiber is king.
- You need an ISP with reliably fast speeds and low latency.
Verizon Fios: Best Speeds
Fiber is king for gaming, and Verizon Fios brings highly rated download and upload speeds.
It’s not quite fair to compare fiber internet to cable or DSL, we know. But there are a few reasons why Verizon Fios brings the best speeds for gaming.
|Fios Internet 100/100||$39.99/mo.‡‡||100 Mbps||View Plan|
|Fios Internet 300/300||$59.99/mo.^^||300 Mbps||View Plan|
|Fios Gigabit Connection||$79.99/mo.°°||Up to 940 Mbps||View Plan|
- Reliably fast fiber speeds
- Competitive prices
- Limited availability
- Prices go up after 1 year
Verizon Fios has a reputation for low latency and consistently quick download and upload speeds.
Another gamer friend, Drew, loves competing in World of Warcraft arenas and has used Verizon Fios for years now said it’s “solid, stable, and [has] no latency when doing world quests for the Horde.”
For the Horde! Our buddy grabbed a 2.1k 3v3 arena rating (which is very good).
Along with a lack of latency issues, Drew doesn’t notice any packet loss while he games, so that’s a double win for Verizon Fios right there. And Netflix agrees Verizon Fios has got it going on—it ranked as the best ISP in its March 2019 leaderboard.1 We also ranked it as one of our top picks for livestreaming on Twitch.
What’s the catch? Well, Verizon Fios is pretty much limited to the East Coast. That’s a huge bummer for us gamers located west of the Mississippi. But hey, we’ve still got some ISPs that come close to Verizon Fios’s performance.
Who is Verizon Fios best for?
We say grab that Verizon Fios fiber internet and run if this describes you:
- You live on the East Coast and can get Verizon Fios in your home.
- You like to livestream your gameplay to your adoring fans.
- You prefer to team up with other gamers online—no single-player games for you.
Recap of the best ISPs for gaming
Need an ISP that won’t let you wipe the raid due to lag or get KO’d when you disconnect mid-game? We’ve got a few recommendations that are gamer tested and gamer approved.
- Cox may not be fiber, but it’s still holding its own with reliable speeds and historically low latency. Plus, it’s more widely available than our two fiber picks, Verizon Fios and Frontier.
- Frontier’s FiOS plans are a close runner-up—it also offers high upload speeds for livestreaming and some solid performance in terms of speed, latency, and packet loss. However, it’s also limited to certain areas of the US too.
- Xfinity offers wicked fast speeds and low latency as well as a chance to opt out of that pesky contract. You can also get quick upload speeds in some of its higher-tier packages if you want to livestream.
- Verizon Fios is made our list thanks to persistently fast fiber speeds and low latency. Plus, if you wanna livestream your games on Twitch, Verizon Fios gets you the upload speeds to do it. (But it’s limited to the East Coast right now.)
What is latency?
If you’re not up on all that internet lingo, it’s okay—we’re here to explain.
Latency is the time it takes for data to travel. You can think of it as the time between an action you take and the time for the game to respond.
If you’re experiencing high latency, you’ll notice a delay between your action (e.g. clicking a mouse) and the game’s response (e.g. your character pew-pewing the enemy).
Latency is measured in milliseconds, which may not seem like a big deal. But if you ask any serious gamer about in-game lag (a.k.a. high latency), they’ll tell you it’s the difference between missing a perfectly-timed shot and getting play of the game in Overwatch.
What is packet loss?
By now you know that latency is the time it takes data to travel. Packet loss happens when that traveling data doesn’t reach its destination—and, no surprise, it can be a huge frustration for gamers.
If you’ve ever heard someone talk about “rubberbanding,” “drifting,” or their game pausing suddenly, they’re likely experiencing packet loss.
Ask any World of Warcraft player what it’s like to aim for a 2k arena rating while rubberbanding, and you’ll quickly find out just how frustrating packet loss can be.
1. Netflix, “ISP Leaderboard – March 2019”