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How Much Speed Is Required for Online Gaming?


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If you’re asking yourself, “How fast is my internet speed?” maybe you’re not satisfied with your online gaming performance. You’re experiencing lag, buffering, or just plain old slow speeds.

Playing games online is a mixed bag regarding how much data you need. It can be fast and efficient or demanding and bandwidth-intensive, depending on the type of game and how it’s played.

Download and Upload Speed Requirements

If you’re downloading games, like PC or Mac games, then you’ll need significantly more speed than if you were only uploading them; most modern full-length PC and Mac games range from 5 to 20GB in size. And that’s for a single download – it doesn’t account for updates later on. High-resolution visuals, special effects, animation files, and large-scale online multiplayer games are just part of what you get with today’s modern games.

Download speeds for PC and Mac gaming can range between 5 Mbps and 20+ Mbps, depending on your game and how it’s played. 

The amount of bandwidth needed to play PC/Mac games usually depends on the game itself. For example, games that require more data include MMOs, MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arenas), and multiplayer FPSes (first-person shooters). Games with minor data requirements are usually single-player games or less demanding games like StarCraft 2, consuming only 6 to 7 MB/hour of bandwidth.

Another factor is how you’re playing the game. Online games tend to use more data than offline games, but some activities like streaming can require even more bandwidth if your connection isn’t fast enough. 

Some types of online gaming also require high upload speeds that you might not need for other online activities. For example, multiplayer FPSes require high upload speeds to allow users to host games with their friends or classmates.

Download Speeds for Mobile Gaming

If you play mobile games on your phone, tablet, or other mobile device, things are a bit different since most of these devices don’t have the storage capacity for full-size PC/Mac games.

Mobile games usually range from 2 to 10 MB in size. The difference in download and upload speeds necessary for mobile gaming tends to be pretty small or negligible, especially since smartphones and tablets typically have 4G/LTE connections. Mobile games often require less than 1 Mbps speed to play without lag or buffering issues.

Upload Speed also Play an Important Role

Although most mobile games can be played using a relatively small amount of bandwidth, upload speed is vital for multiplayer games and other activities like streaming video. It is because download and upload speeds tend to work together in consuming data, and high download speeds often translate to higher upload speeds.

Our Speed Recommendation for Playing Online Games

The superior download speed for PC and Mac online gaming is 25+ Mbps. It ensures you can play most games with minimal lag or buffering issues and handle any other activities that may be happening on your network simultaneously (downloading/uploading large files, streaming video, or audio). If you’re playing an MMO, you might want to kick up the bandwidth speeds by 10 Mbps to be able to handle more data-heavy activities.

If you’re playing mobile games, 2+ Mbps is usually enough for lighter games like Angry Birds or Cut The Rope. Gaming on Android devices typically requires 4G/LTE connections, whereas iOS devices (like iPhones and iPads) usually require 4G/LTE connections.

The key to a successful online gaming session is an internet connection that offers consistent download speeds with minimal fluctuations. Smithville Communications provide the best copper speed available, up to 50 Mbps, and reliability with 911 location accuracy. 

High Latency is Your Worst Enemy

Although bandwidth is vital for online gaming, latency (or “ping”) is equally crucial. Latency refers to the amount of time it takes for data to travel between your ISP and the game server. 

Generally speaking, you need a fast internet connection with low ping rates (ideally under 50-100ms) to achieve low latency.

Latency Is Different than Bandwidth or Data Rate

Bandwidth is measured in Mbps, whereas latency is measured in milliseconds (ms). For example, it’s possible to have 20 Mbps of download speed with 300ms of latency or 25 Mbps with 100ms of latency. Although bandwidth and latency are related, one doesn’t always mean the other.

How to Reduce Your Ping When Playing Online Games

Lowering your latency for online gaming is pretty simple in most cases. All you have to do is switch up servers, game providers, or even countries (if you can). For example, playing on a game server in the UK might result in lower latency than playing on a US game server.

Another great way to achieve optimal ping times for online gaming is by using a VPN or Proxy Server. Usually, simply choosing one of these services results in quicker speeds since you’re directed to a server that’s physically closer to you – rather than requiring you to a server halfway around the world.

Factors That Impact Latency

Several factors impact latency. These include the following:

Physical Distance: Generally speaking, the closer you are to a game server, the lower your latency. For example, if you’re trying to play an online game hosted on a US server but live in Asia, latency increases simply due to geographical distance.

Internet Connection Type: Your physical connection type can impact latency, whether you’re using DSL, cable, or fiber. Simply put, fiber connections tend to offer the lowest latency due to their direct routing to central game servers. Smithville internet keeps you connected with the fiber advantage and the best internet speed available: 1 Gbps download and upload speeds.  

Congestion: If other people in your general location consume excessive bandwidth, this may impact your ability to do so. For example, someone might be streaming a movie in the background, which reduces your download speeds and thus increase latency. 

Best Internet Options for Online Gaming

Here are the best options for internet connectivity when online gaming:

Fiber: Fiber broadband offers consistent bandwidth speeds and low latency. In one test, a fiber connection even managed to provide nearly 70-80% lower latency than DSL. And for the lowest latency, fiber is your best bet. 

DSL: Although ADSL connections have a reputation for being slower than cable and fiber they tend to offer much more consistent speeds with minimal fluctuations. It results in less severe latency spikes, which can be great news if you’re playing online games that require quick reactions times (not that you should be playing games like this in the first place).

Cable: Cable connections are perhaps the worst for latency. They tend to fluctuate severely, and your overall speeds aren’t exceptionally high either. However, there are some ways around it, including using a VPN or Proxy Server. A VPN covers both bandwidth and latency issues.

4G LTE Mobile Broadband: This type of internet is now gaining popularity as a gaming option for those with super fast 4G LTE smartphones. However, keep in mind that not all smartphones support this – you’ll need to use a smartphone that supports 4G LTE-A networks if you want to take full advantage of speeds up to 300Mbps.

5G LTE Mobile Broadband: 5G is a faster option, but it’s a work in progress and requires a 5G compatible router/modem to work correctly.

How to Reduce Lag during Online Games

Several online tools and websites can help reduce lag during online games. For example, Game Indicator is an open-source tool made by gamers that offers real-time monitoring and the ability to quickly switch between servers/worlds to improve latency issues. 

In addition, there are numerous websites available that detail system requirements and tutorials for online games meaning that you can configure your PC or laptop properly to improve performance.

Use Ethernet or Wired Connectivity 

Its always advised using ethernet or wired connectivity when playing online games. The reason is that WiFi-only has a maximum throughput of 54mbps compared to 10/100/1000mbps provided by an ethernet cable.

Update Drivers and Firmware

The best thing to reduce lag is to update your drivers and firmware. It means updating your GPU, CPU, and Motherboard. Newer drivers tend to work much better than older ones, so it’s always advised to keep these up-to-date to ensure you’re getting the fastest possible speeds when it comes to online gaming.

In addition, keep in mind that many games are affected by firmware versions, and different firmware can cause various problems when playing online. Therefore, if you want to play a game, it’s always recommended to go for the most up-to-date version to avoid unnecessary latency spikes.

Gaming VPNs

The best way to reduce latency is undoubtedly by using a VPN. VPNs are quickly becoming the preferred choice for online gamers due to their ability to take care of lag issues as well as encrypt your connection so that no one else can gain access to it while you’re playing online.

Using a gaming VPN service guarantees the fastest speeds available with minimal to no lag. VPNs are also suitable for security purposes as they encrypt your connection which means that hackers or anyone else who tries to access it are unable to do so.

Gamers on Reddit also claim that using a VPN is the only way unless you’re happy to go around the houses of bypassing routers and other complicated solutions that don’t work.

Using a Gaming Router

Another tip is to use a gaming router which typically has better connections and has been built to reduce latency and lag. Many brands have new router models available, and some of these routers even include features such as free VPN services so that you can use them for more than just online gaming purposes.

Use Port Forwarding

This tip is for those gamers who can’t use a VPN due to firewall and security restrictions. Port forwarding enables you to redirect traffic from one port on your router to another machine to transfer data more effectively when playing online games.

Avoid Peak Hours

Finally, avoid playing online games during peak hours after school and in the evening. More people are on the same connection at these times, which can cause increased latency/lag due to the overcrowding of the network.

Upgrade Internet Connection

Another option is to upgrade your internet connection. For example, Smithville internet offers fiber internet for blazing-fast connectivity. As a result, you can enjoy fast download/upload speeds and low latency for online games: less downtime, more playtime. 

Downloads Can Also Strain Your Connection

Playing games online isn’t the only thing that can create lag when downloading files. If you’re not careful, large file downloads (such as game installations) can also affect your latency when playing online games by reducing data traffic to download these large files. It is simply something that cannot be prevented, but in contrast, uploading different types of data can prevent latency from being affected as upload data cannot be used to play games online.


Another thing to consider is that streaming online can significantly affect your internet speeds. If you want to stream YouTube, Netflix, or any other service, it takes up lots of bandwidth. This means it can affect the latency and performance of your device when it comes to playing online games.

Game Streaming

The same applies when playing online games via game streaming services such as in-home streaming, PlayStation Now, and more. The internet speed can help you understand whether the problem stems from the lack of speed provided by your service provider. For an accurate speed test, visit Smithville’s official website. You can also find out the download speed for the following categories: 

  • Songs (5 MB)
  • 1000 photos (150 MB photo)
  • HD Movie (2 gigs)
  • Online gaming (5 gigs)

If you’re still experiencing latency issues on your console or PC, the problem could arise from your router. Most routers don’t have enough ports for all of your devices, so they are quickly overwhelmed when everyone tries to connect to the internet at once, causing your connection to be sluggish and slow.

Online Games vs. Playing Games Online

Now that you have gained insight into playing online games, how does it differ from playing games online?

The short answer is that playing games online requires a connection to a server or set of servers to provide you with the gaming experience. So, for example, if you’re playing Overwatch via PlayStation 4, then your console is simply acting as a client – it’s not hosting the game or connecting you to any other players. 

You’re merely sending your actions (controlling your player character) to the Overwatch servers, which are then relayed to all of the other consoles and PCs connected to those servers.

The same is true for games like World of Warcraft or EVE Online – they require a connection to their respective servers to provide you with an online gaming experience. On the other hand, playing online games means that your console or computer is both the host and the client – it’s acting as a server for any other players who might want to join your game. 

Instead of connecting directly to other players in the game – as is the case with playing games online – these consoles or computers act as persistent hosts. This allows any player who comes along to join up seamlessly without waiting for a central server to assign them a session.

It is an important distinction, as playing games online affects your latency, while online games won’t.


In most cases, the internet speed requirement for online gaming is a download speed of at least 10 Mbps. However, for online games with less data traffic, such as some indie titles and MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games), you can get away with even slower speeds.

If your connection doesn’t meet this threshold, then there’s a chance that your console or PC won’t be able to connect to the game servers, and you’ll have a difficult time playing against other players. Again, we recommend checking out the incredible packages at Smithville communications. 

Nevertheless, suppose you find success with online gaming. In that case, you might not be experiencing any latency issues, but rather the problem might be caused by something else.


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