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What is a Good Internet Speed for Gaming?
The short answer is this: you only need about 5 to 10 Mbps minimum for most online games, even new AAA titles like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.
But we recommend that you have at least 50 to 100 Mbps if you’re really trying to grind in your favorite games, whether on PC or console. That’s because there are a bunch of other factors at play, like network congestion, that can affect your speeds.
You also need to consider other causes of online lag, like latency, which is different from your raw internet speed. We’ll go over everything you need to know in this article, so as Deckard Cain says, “Stay a while and listen.”
How much internet speed you need for online gaming
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends that you have a minimum download speed of 4 Mbps for multiplayer online gaming. That might sound laughably slow, especially if you’re paying for 50 Mbps internet and still experiencing lag in your Fortnite matches. But there’s more to the 4 Mbps number than you may realize.
First of all, 4 Mbps is the minimum recommended requirement for online gaming. Most people will want much higher speeds of at least 25 Mbps to account for slowdowns and for the other devices in your house that are invariably connected to the web. If you’re trying to grind with some friends in Destiny 2 while your partner is on a Zoom call and your kids are streaming Bluey, things might get a bit laggy even with 50 Mbps speeds.
It’s also important to understand that you won’t always get the exact internet speeds that you pay for. Someone on a 100 Mbps internet plan will often see actual speeds around 50-75 Mbps. Your speeds can be made even lower by a slow modem, a faulty Wi-Fi connection, or outdated software.
Plus, modern gaming consoles use the internet for more than just running games. If you’re on a PS5, for instance, then your console is likely multitasking even as you play. It’s downloading games, software updates, and bug fixes almost constantly. Faster internet means faster downloads and less congestion.
For example, here’s a quick breakdown of how long it will take to download some popular games, depending on your internet speed.
Game files on console
Download time with 3 Mbps
Download time with 25 Mbps
Download time with 200 Mbps
|Minecraft (224.92 MB)||10 minutes||3 minutes||A few seconds|
|Fortnite (32 GB)||23 hours||3 hours||21 minutes|
|Apex Legends (57 GB)||42 hours||42 hours||38 minutes|
|God of War: Ragnarok (90 GB)||66.5 hours||8 hours||1 hour|
|Borderlands 3 (116 GB)||86 hours||10.3 hours||77 minutes|
|Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (231 GB)||171 hours||20.5 hours||2.5 hours|
As you can see, a slow internet connection could have you waiting days to download a big file like CoD: Modern Warfare. No thanks.
One final thing to understand about your online gaming experience is that there’s a difference between your internet speed and your latency. We’ll dive into that in this next section.
How to reduce latency in online gaming
Latency (sometimes called ping) is maybe even more important than raw internet speed in determining your gaming experience.
Your internet speed refers to how much data can be transmitted through your connection per second. Speed is determined by your internet service provider and it greatly affects download speeds and loading times.
Latency, on the other hand, refers to how quickly information can be sent from your device to the server, and then be returned back to your device. A latency or ping of 100 ms means it’s taking 100 milliseconds from the time you touch a button on your control until it is registered by the actual server.
So when you’re playing a shooter, let's say Apex Legends, high latency can mean that even though it looks like you’re beaming an enemy player with your R-301, you’re actually missing because they’ve moved by the time the server registers your actions.
If you’re using a VPN, make sure it’s not slowing down your game. Get yourself a TV that has a high refresh rate. And upgrade your modem to something that’s designed to keep your ping low.
You can have super fast internet, but still have high latency (and visa versa) due to a faraway server or a poor connection. One of the best things you can do to reduce latency in your game is to connect your console or PC directly to your modem with an Ethernet cord. If you must use a Wi-Fi network, get as close to the router as possible.
You can also try disconnecting other devices from your Wi-Fi router, switching to a closer server in the game, and lowering your game graphics settings.
How to boost your internet speed for gaming
Sometimes the problem isn’t latency or someone else using up all the bandwidth to binge the latest season of the Great British Baking Show. Sometimes you just need faster internet. Don’t worry, there are options.
Here are some of our favorite internet service providers for dedicated gamers.
Available download speeds
|Verizon Fios Home Internet||300–2300 Mbps||$49.99–$119.99*||View Plans|
|AT&T Fiber||300–5000 Mbps||$55–$180†||View Plans|
|Xfinity Internet||75–1200 Mbps||$19.99–$70‡||View Plans|
|Spectrum Internet®||300–1000 Mbps||$49.99–$89.99^||View Plans|
We like Verizon Fios and other fiber internet providers the most because their networks offer the lowest possible latency. However, fast cable internet providers like Xfinity perform well enough for pretty much every kind of gamer.
If you’re not in an area that’s covered by these top internet service providers, there are other options. You can get satellite internet that will do the trick for casual gamers (though latency can get pretty high). Or you can try 5G home internet. 5G mobile network technology is surprisingly fast and tends to have low latency. You can even sneak in a few matches of Starcraft II or League of Legends on your laptop while you’re traveling with a fast mobile hotspot.
Other ways to boost your online gaming
There’s a handful of other issues that may be causing your multiplayer games to lag. We’ll go over a few of the more common ones here.
- Packet loss: If you’ve ever had a package disappear after you mailed it, then you understand what packet loss is. Essentially, data that’s transmitted from the server to your device gets lost along the way, often due to outdated software. Be sure that you’re running the latest version of your device’s operating system and that you look for updates to your drivers and other software.
- Internet data caps: Some high-speed internet plans come with a data cap that you can’t exceed. Same goes for wireless plans. In most cases, gaming doesn’t actually use that much data and shouldn’t contribute a ton to reaching your limit, but if you're downloading huge PS5 updates or a bunch of games on Steam, then that could do it.
- Router settings: Make sure you’re using the less congested band on your Wi-Fi router (maybe put your TV on the 2.4GHz band and your console on the 5GHz band)
- Firewalls: Computer firewalls are important for keeping you and your data safe, but they can interrupt or even block a game completely. Make sure that your games are marked as “safe” by your firewall.
- Graphics cards and other hardware: If you’re trying to run Overwatch 2 or Elden Ring on an old 2010 Dell laptop, then you may be totally out of luck. Even many newer computers can have a tough time with AAA games if they lack a nice graphics card (which are in short supply these days). If you can’t upgrade your rig, try lowering the graphics settings to see if your lag dissipates.
We hope that we’ve answered all of your questions about internet speed, gaming, lag, latency, and the meaning of life (or at least those first four).