How Much Internet Speed Do I Need?

Tyler Abbott
Jan 19, 2024
bullet7 min read

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As a rule of thumb, most people need 100Mbps download speeds to easily cover streaming, gaming, and internet browsing all at the same time.

But for most people online these days, the internet speed you need completely depends on what you do on the internet, and how many people access it at the same time. So while a 100Mbps plan is sufficient for most, you may need 300Mbps download speeds or even faster if you share your Wi-Fi with lots of other users, or if you need the smoothest, highest-quality experience possible while streaming, gaming, or working from home.

Upload speeds aren't nearly as needy as download speeds, but you still want at least 10Mbps upload speeds on your home Wi-Fi to make sure you can FaceTime without getting a blurry picture every two minutes.

Want to know more insights about internet speed? Read on for a full guide to how to measure your internet speeds, what speeds you should get, and more.

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Internet speed test

To get started, we recommend taking an internet speed test to see what internet speeds you currently get.

Take the Reviews.org speed test below to get a quick readout of your internet's download speed, upload speed, and latency.

If your result shows downloads below below what you pay for, you can either try a few things at home to optimize your connection, or upgrade your plan for faster speeds. 

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Your speed is faster than of our speed test results

Okay, now that you've run a speed test, you know what you're currently working with. To give you an idea of what your internet speed should look like, here's what the download speeds look like from the fastest internet providers:

Fastest internet providers

Provider
Overall speed score (OSS)
Avg. download speeds
Advertised speeds
Prices
Learn more
Google Fiber201.10204.05Mbps1000-8000Mbps$70-$150*
MetroNet174.21185.96Mbps100-1000Mbps$29.95-$69.9
Xfinity Internet166.05182.50Mbps75-2000Mbps$19.99-$120
Verizon Fios Home Internet154.78163.00300-2300Mbps$49.99-$89.99^
Optimum Internet153.54166.15Mbps300-8000Mbps$30-$265°
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Plus taxes and fees. Upload/download speed and device streaming claims are based on maximum wired speeds. Actual Internet speeds are not guaranteed and may vary based on factors such as hardware and software limitations, latency, packet loss, etc.
Offers available to new residential customers only and may not be combined with other offers. MetroNet reserves the right to revoke or modify offers at any time. Taxes, fees, and other terms apply.
Pricing for some packages are for the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1- or 2-year contract.
^ Price per month with Auto Pay & without select 5G mobile plans. Fios plan prices include taxes & fees
° Prices w/Auto Pay & Paperless Bill. Terms apply. Not available in all areas.

Internet providers offer speeds of up to 8,000Mbps on home internet plans nowadays. But most people get plans with speeds much slower than that, in the range of 100–200Mbps.

You don't need the fastest-possible speed to have reliable internet. But having fast speeds certainly helps—and you can get the best performance out of a fiber or cable internet plan.

To get an accurate picture of the fastest internet providers, we rank ISPs by an overall speed score. We calculate that score by combining 90% of a provider's average download speed with 10% of its average upload speed. Check out our fastest internet service providers report for more details on how we rank ISPs. 

Alright, now compare what you see in the table above with the results you got from the speed test. If your results aren't in the neighborhood as the ISPs listed above, it might be time to switch your provider, or upgrade your plan. 

What can you do with different internet speeds?

Here’s a quick look at what you can do with other speeds and bandwidth commonly offered by internet service providers (ISPs).

Internet speed
Number of users
Activities

5–100Mbps

1–2

Casual web browsing, heavy text-based social media, light video-based social media, streaming HD video on 1–3 devices, making video calls

100-300Mbps

3-5

Streaming 4K video on 2–3 devices, online multiplayer gaming, making video calls on 3 or more devices, operating 3–5 smart-home products

300-500Mbps

6-9

Streaming HD or 4K video on 4–5 devices, posting video content regularly to social media, operating 6–8 smart-home products

500-1,000Mbps

10+

Streaming HD or 4K video on 5 or more devices, hosting a livestream, VR gaming, operating 9 or more smart-home products

1,200Mbps or faster

20+

Doing anything you want online on as many devices as you need while sharing your Wi-Fi with dozens of other users

To get these numbers, we used the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broadband speed guide, our streaming internet speed guide, and our Zoom internet speed guide.

The speeds you need to power your home internet come down to how many devices you're looking to connect, how many people will be using your connection, and what region you live in.

To find the internet speed sweet spot, you’ll want to follow these steps:

  1. Count the people using your internet
  2. Count the devices connected to your internet
  3. Look at what you do online
  4. Add up the recommended Mbps
  5. Find the right internet plan
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1. Count how many people use your internet

The more people using your internet, the more speed, or Mbps, you need to keep everyone happy.

Don’t forget to count yourself when you tally up everyone who connects to your internet. Other potential internet users can include your partner or spouse, children, housemates, and even frequent visitors, like friends, grandkids, or siblings.

Gamers in particular need an internet connection and router with low latency and good bandwidth. Some ISPs make more sense for gamers than others.

2. Look at all the devices using your Wi-Fi

Like people, the more smart devices you have that use the internet, the more speed you need.

You might only have two or three people using your internet, but each person can have multiple devices connected to your Wi-Fi at one time so this may take some thinking. There are so many smart devices that use your wireless network in today’s world. It’s easy to forget how many you have at home, but this list of common connected devices might help jog your memory:

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What devices use your internet?
  • Smart TVs and apps: Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, Amazon Video, Max, etc.
  • DVRs: DIRECTV Genie, DISH Hopper, etc.
  • Streaming devices: Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Roku, etc.
  • Gaming consoles: PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, etc.
  • Computers, laptops, tablets
  • Mobile devices, digital cameras and smart wristwatches
  • Smart appliances: Nest thermostat, smart locks, smart printers, smartbulbs, etc.
  • Smart home hubs: Amazon Echo, Anova Precision Cooker, etc.
  • Security systems: Hubs and cameras for ADT, Vivint, Simplisafe, Ring, etc.

3. Get an idea of what you and others do online

What do you do when you’re online? Do you game? Watch Hulu? Stream music on Spotify? Or maybe you’re a pretty casual internet user who just checks email and Facebook.

Each of these activities needs different speeds—otherwise you’ll run into laggy internet or that dreaded buffering icon. Here’s a quick look at the bare minimum internet speed you’ll need for a few common online activities.

Recommended minimum speed by online activity
Activity
Recommended speed

Streaming SD video (480p)

5 Mbps

Streaming HD video (1080p)

10-25 Mbps

Streaming 4K video (2160p)

25-100 Mbps (per device)

Streaming music

1–10 Mbps

Gaming

10 Mbps

Downloading large files (HD movies, PDFs, etc.)

50 Mbps

Making video calls

0.5–1.5 Mbps

Checking email and social media

1 Mbps

To get these numbers, we used the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broadband speed guide, our streaming internet speed guide, and our Zoom internet speed guide.

A good internet speed comes down to what you're doing online. For example, if you're making a simple video call to your extended family, a good speed is somewhere between 5-25 Mbps. But, if you're trying to stream a 4K video, you're going to want at least 25 Mbps and likely much more.

Keep in mind that you do one of those online activities at a time. 

It’s more likely you’re a multitasking machine when it comes to doing things online. You’re streaming Dopesick on Hulu while you check email, download an HD video to watch later tonight, and hop into a Call of Duty match. And your roommate, kid, or partner is doing the same things at the same time that you are.

This is why most ISPs don’t offer internet plans with just 5 Mbps—they’re offering you 50, 100, or even 1,000 Mbps plans, so you can keep doing what you do best online.

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Upload speed vs. download speed

Things like live video calling a friend or sending an email require a good upload speed. Upload speed refers to how fast data can transfer from your computer to the internet.

Download speed is how fast data is being transferred from the internet to your device. A bulk of most people's internet usage relies on a fast download speed to load web pages, music, and streaming videos. 

4. Add up the Mbps you need per person and device

Okay, now that you’ve got a general idea of who and what uses your internet and how they use it, it’s time to do some math. (Don’t worry, it’s just some simple addition.)

We’ll start by going over our recommended baseline speed per person and device.

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Love to binge-watch?

Make sure you get enough internet speed to fuel your Hulu and Netflix addiction. We’ve got a full list of recommended internet speeds for each streaming app, plus a list of internet providers that’ll keep you connected for every scene and show.

Recommended internet speed per person or device

We recommend giving each person who uses the internet in your home 50 Mbps. And for every device, you can allot 10 Mbps. (But if it’s a 4K device, bump that up to 25 Mbps.)

  • People: 50 Mbps per person
  • Devices (not 4K): 10 Mbps per device
  • Devices (4K): 25 Mbps per 4K device

Okay, now let’s see how those recommended speeds add up with an example.

Let’s say we have a home with two adults and two children who all use the internet. Here’s a list of the internet speeds each person gets, plus the internet speeds each of their devices gets.

  • People: 50 Mbps x 4 = 200 Mbps
  • Desktop computer: 10 Mbps x 2 = 20 Mbps
  • Laptop: 10 Mbps
  • Tablet: 10 Mbps
  • Mobile device: 10 Mbps x 3 = 30 Mbps
  • Smart TV (4K): 25 Mbps x 2 = 50 Mbps
  • Xbox gaming console: 10 Mbps
  • Wi-Fi printer: 10 Mbps
  • Home security system hub: 10 Mbps
  • Home security camera: 10 Mbps x 2 = 20 Mbps
  • Total: 370 Mbps

The recommended internet speed for this family is 370 Mbps. This recommendation assumes that every person and every wireless device is online at the same time.

That’s where online activities can factor in. If the family knows they usually stream 4K videos on one of their TVs about once a week and in the evening when no one’s on their computers, gaming on the Xbox, or using the printer, they can probably knock this speed down a bit to 200 Mbps.

If the family knows no one uses the computers and tablet for working or studying from home, they might even be able to get away with 100 or 150 Mbps.

Even though it’s not a definitive answer, adding up the speeds needed for the people and devices using your internet gives you a ballpark estimate of where your internet speeds need to be.

5. Find an internet plan that works for you

Next stop? Now that you have a good idea of what goes into choosing an internet provider and the things you need to consider, it's time to find an internet provider and plan that has good internet speed for your needs. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but we can help.

And to get even more specific, let’s look at the top internet providers in your area.

Enter your zip code, and we’ll pull up a full list of internet providers available in your area. Then you can easily check what plans they have for you and how much each plan costs. Easy peasy.

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Enter your zip code to find internet providers in your area.

Finally, if you have specific internet needs—like you play an unusually large number of online games or spend an abnormal amount of time watching a streaming service—we have more specific recommendations that can help. Check out our top internet providers for online gaming and for streaming. We even have recommendations for business internet setups if you work from home.

Here are the top internet service providers available in the US (Xfinity, AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum, and Viasat) and their speeds.

Is 100 Mbps fast?

By US standards, 100 Mbps is a fast internet speed, but it's not the fastest you can get. High-speed internet is considered somewhere between 25 and 100 Mbps. 100 Mbps is fast enough to stream in HD and 4K, browse social media, stream music, work remotely, and play your favorite video games. 

We recommend 100 Mbps download speeds for households of 1–4 people.

If everyone in the house uploads files or games daily and often, a 100 Mbps internet plan will give you lagging problems. We recommend gigabit internet for high-bandwidth-activity families or households of 8+ with 20+ Wi-Fi-connected devices. 

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Tyler Abbott
Written by
Tyler Abbott
Tyler has been obsessed with watching sports as efficiently as possible since the creation of the DVR. He is always on the lookout for the best tech in TV and wireless so he can watch all the sports and still have enough time to hang out with his baby. He has written about streaming, wireless, and TV for over three years. He hopes the Lakers will eventually get better.

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