Forget About Internet Speed. What You Need to Win at Online Gaming.
When it comes to choosing an Internet service provider for online gaming, there’s a lot of talk about speed.
What if we told you speed doesn’t really matter much at all?
According to PCMag, “Almost any high throughput connection to the Internet of any kind is going to be okay for today’s games. Most of the hard work is handled by the gaming device when it comes to rendering and gameplay.”
In fact, a puny 1 Mbps download speed is probably fine for most games (although your updates might be slow).
The Difference Between Bandwidth and Latency
Bandwidth, which is most commonly advertised as Internet speed, is the amount of data that can be transferred over a period of time. It’s usually expressed in Mbps (megabits per second), Gbps (gigabits per second), MBps (megabytes per second), GBps (gigabytes per second), etc.
Having more bandwidth is beneficial when transferring large files—but not necessarily in online gaming.
What you do need to rack up the wins is a high-quality connection to the Internet. This means you should be looking for low latency.
Latency is the amount of time it takes for a signal to go from point A to point B, and ping and jitter are components of latency (Ping is actually the tool that’s used in order to measure the latency, but ping is typically also used to refer to latency, as well). Jitter refers to the amount of variation in the latency when multiple ping tests are performed. Wired connections such as Cable, Fiber, DSL, etc. Will always have a lower latency than wireless connections such as Satellite, LTE, Wi-Fi, etc. Lower latency and lower jitter is beneficial in applications such as online gaming.
As PCMag explains, latency could be “the difference between your last minute frag, or someone else becoming king of the online hill.”
You can test your latency with our speed tester.
According to Tech Advisor, anything lower than 20 ping is considered fabulous. Anything over 150, and you’ll start noticing performance issues.
The Nation’s Best ISPs for Latency and Jitter Performance
PCMag recently measured the nation’s ISPs against what they call their PCMag Gaming Quality Index (a combination of latency and jitter performance).
This year’s top three winners are:
- Hotwire—No. 1 for gaming for the first time. This ISP takes the top spot with what is close to the best PCMag Gaming Quality score ever recorded.
- Verizon Fios—Known for being one of the fastest Internet service providers, this ISP took second place in the gaming index, improving from their previous score.
- Optimum—With third place in PCMag’s index, Optimum also improved from their last recorded gaming score.
Unfortunately, you can’t count on consistent year-to-year gaming quality of a connection. The latency on ISPs can be up one year and down another, sometimes with startlingly different numbers. So, make sure to research the latency and the jitter of any potential Internet service provider you’re considering.