Having an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that offers over 100Mb/s downlink is great! It’s not often you get such high speeds that are available straight out-of-the-box, a lot of people depending on the country or if you live in a rural area you may only get 10Mbps. Some common questions are:
How much bandwidth do I really need while playing video games on Steam?
Is there any reason why gamers need more than 50 Mb/s up/down speeds?
Is 10 Mbps Good For Gaming?
These questions all stem from one core issue – how fast should your internet be? There has been plenty of discussion regarding the importance of having the right amount of upstream and downstream traffic, but most people don’t consider two other factors: latency and jitter. Latency refers to the delay between sending data over the wire (e.g. by pressing “X” during gameplay), whereas jitter refers to the variance in packet arrival times caused by various conditions, including congestion and fluctuating wireless interference levels.
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Is 10 Mbps Good For Gaming?
It is more than enough for most games, especially if you do not stream or have videos playing in the background. If you’re just looking at raw throughput numbers, then yes, you can probably play pretty well with 10Mb/s download speed. However, if you want to keep everything else constant, like ping, game loading time, or even streaming local media files, you’ll need upwards of 50/s upload and 500mbps download speed minimum.
For reference, Netflix recommends 250 Kbps up / 700 Kbps down for HD content playback.
With these guidelines in mind, let’s explore whether 10 Mpbs is adequate for a modern-day PC gamer.
How fast should your internet be?
To understand what makes 10 Mbps inadequate as a baseline requirement for gaming, firstly let us look at some quick stats.
On average, a single player will generate around 2GB of data per hour of gameplay, which includes both downloaded maps, textures, models, etc., along with uploaded screenshots and videos. The fastest way to transfer large files quickly is using USB 3.0, so take advantage of those ports whenever possible. If you only own wired connections though, transferring larger files takes longer due to the physical limitations of cables used to connect peripherals to computers.
The average computer user spends approximately 80% of his time browsing websites, emailing friends, reading articles, watching YouTube clips, downloading music, and uploading photos. This means that he needs roughly 5Mbps upload and download speeds combined.
Streaming audio through services like Spotify requires 4.5Mbps upload, plus 0.8 Mbps overhead. Video conferencing uses an additional 790 kbps of upload, so total usage would require 9.3 Mbps.
According to Speedtest Intelligence’s latest report, 25 percent of U.S. households had an actual peak speed faster than 15 Megabits per second (Mbps).
For example, if you stream games online via Twitch or another platform, make sure you have a reliable and stable connection. Otherwise, you might end up frustrated when you notice terrible input lag every few minutes. When testing for gaming purposes, always run a full system benchmark before installing new updates and drivers. You may find yourself unable to launch certain programs until you update graphics card drivers or install experimental software.
Remember that each person also shares resources with everyone else in the house. Even if your household consists of a couple and three kids, you still need to account for extra users who share bandwidth. A lot of web activity tends to happen simultaneously throughout the house, and you won’t know where your precious internet bandwidth goes unless you monitor it closely.
What does a gamer need from their ISP and router? What about the rest of my home network?
Since you already have a decent internet plan, now it’s time to upgrade your hardware. First off, you should purchase a modem capable of handling whatever type of service you receive from your provider. Wireless modems tend to come standard with 802.11ac technology, which provides increased coverage areas and better reception strength. Your router should support Gigabit Ethernet, preferably 802.3ad, otherwise known as Super GB.
Finally, your desktop PC should have PCIe x16 slots, since newer GPUs utilize 16 lanes of PCI Express connectivity rather than 8. Older cards usually plug into slower PCIe x1 sockets.
Now here comes the tricky part – choosing a suitable router. Routers typically work best within a specific range, meaning they function optimally when placed close to a central point and surrounded by walls. Most routers will prioritize Wi-Fi signals based upon proximity, thus making it difficult for older devices to access the signal. In addition to being physically closer to your modem, your router must also provide gigabit ethernet port(s) for connecting multiple devices together.
Finally, you might choose to buy a separate switch. While expensive compared to a regular router, switches allow you to manage several different networks easily without cluttering up your desk space. They also give you greater control over managing network traffic, particularly if you have many PCs and laptops connected to the same network. Some brands include QoS settings to prioritize applications and mitigate against bottlenecks.
Make sure you pick a brand that isn’t too complicated, however, because setting up advanced features can sometimes result in frustrating configuration errors.
While buying a dedicated device may seem like a hassle, it pays off in the long run. Remember, you’re paying for convenience and peace of mind.
A common misconception among consumers is thinking that bigger numbers mean better things. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Don’t fall victim to marketing jargon and think that adding a zero onto your download speed somehow magically gives you unlimited potential. Just remember that increasing download speeds beyond your monthly cap usually leads to unexpected fees and throttled speeds, and although it really is better, it gets to a point where you hardly even notice a difference while browsing. For example, 100Mbps Internet Speed vs 1Gbps internet speed, you will only notice a difference while downloading big files, however, while browsing or gaming you will not notice a single difference despite 1Gbps being 10x faster.
Packet Losses or Lag with 10Mbps Internet Connection
Unless you live somewhere remote, chances are you’ve experienced slowdowns or loss of packets due to congested highways. Although this problem seems unavoidable, there are ways to help minimize downtime and maximize efficiency. Using Quality of Services (QoS) allows administrators to specify priority rules for incoming and outgoing traffic. By utilizing QoS correctly, you can ensure smooth operation and prevent problems from arising in the future.
Is it worth upgrading or changing ISPs?
Most average PC users wouldn’t call themselves “gamers”, despite how demanding games are. Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise you that most people aren’t prepared for the requirements needed to enjoy a steady 60FPS frame rate. Furthermore, despite living in a world dominated by digital distribution platforms, very few people realize that their ISP plays a big role in overall quality. In fact, according to Netgear’s recent State of Connectivity Report 2021, 56 percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with their ISP.
Of course, this statistic varies depending on location. In general, rural Americans are far more likely to suffer from low speeds and reliability issues. Many states have adopted net neutrality laws designed to protect citizens’ rights, but loopholes have allowed major corporations to block competition altogether.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to traditional cable providers. Google Fiber currently dominates the market in cities across America, providing ultra-fast fiber-optic service. Other prominent examples include Starry and VidaMeTV. These competitors are constantly improving their offerings while reducing prices. Keep an eye out for upcoming competitions in your area, where ISPs compete to win customers by lowering prices.
Although cheaper options exist, switching away from your current ISP is never recommended under normal circumstances. Customers who wish to leave their old company should contact customer retention departments to request a cancellation fee refund. Providers often charge exorbitant exit fees, ranging from $150-$350, so stay vigilant.
Conversely, if you decide to stick with your current ISP, you can try contacting the company’s tech department to ask about getting upgraded equipment. Companies like Comcast and Cox regularly hold events where they swap out outdated infrastructure for newer versions.