Regardless of the type of games you play, smooth gameplay is essential. There is nothing more frustrating than getting shot because of lag or jitter. Or finding it impossible to complete a challenge because the screen keeps freezing. When that happens, playing is just not fun anymore.
When it comes to lag, jitter and disconnections during play, there are several potential underlying causes. One of which is a lack of connection speed. That is the issue we are going to consider here. It is becoming increasingly important as more and more gameplay takes place in a streamed environment.
Data exchange speeds
When it comes to gaming the rate at which data is passed from your PC, laptop, gaming console or phone is your main consideration when deciding which internet provider to sign up with. Data exchange happening too slowly leads to your always being a step behind the gameplay or frozen out completely.
Given that it only takes a nanosecond for a player you cannot yet see to shoot you, having a fast enough broadband connection is essential. It is just as important as having a top of the range CPU and graphics card.
The three connection speeds gamers need to consider
When it comes to your internet connection, there are three main speed measurements that you need to consider – upload, download and ping rates. Here is a breakdown of each of them and how they relate to the various gaming formats.
Upload speed considerations for gamers
Now that games are interactive, upload speed, the rate at which data about your movements is passed to the gaming service, is important. Typically, for an HD game 1 to 2 Mbps will be enough for FBS and most MOBO games. If you see a provider that can reliably provide 2Mbps sign up with them. But if there is not one that is covering your area do not worry too much for most games 1 Mbps will be enough.
Download speeds for gamers
Download speed matters because it is the rate at which data travels from the gaming server to you. If there are too many delays the game environment will not be shown to you in real-time. Leaving you unable to see what other players can do, which puts you at a significant disadvantage.
Generally speaking, the faster-paced the game is the more download speed you need. For example, to smoothly play a first-person shooter like Doom Eternal via Google Stadia a whopping 30Mbps download speed is recommended. For the MOBA games, League of Legends only needs 6Mbps and Apex Legends is even lower at just 512 KBPS. Huge differences, so it makes sense to double-check the download speed requirements of your favourite games before signing up with an ISP.
Ping rates and latency for smooth gameplay
Ping is perhaps the most important speed consideration. Regardless, of the type of game you are playing, lower is better. You can play Apex Legends with a ping rate of 140ms, but it will run much more smoothly at a lower rate. Whereas if you were to play Doom at a ping rate above 30ms your gaming experience would be frustrating.
More broadband speed information for gamers
If after reading this you are still not 100% certain which internet service provider to sign up with, use this gaming broadband guide to help you decide. It goes into a bit more detail than we have been able to do here.
Also, if you are experiencing lag, this guide will help you to narrow down what the root cause of the issue may be. As well as provide you with the terminology you need to discuss the issue properly with your ISP.
Hardware specs still matter
Connection speed is important, but it is only a part of the equation. Your hardware matters too and what you need for each game can vary by a surprising amount. Take for example the MOBA games League of Legends and Apex Legends.
The recommended PC specs for League Of Legends are a 3 GHz processor, 4 GB of RAM, 12 GB spare HD space and an Nvidia GeForce 8800/AMD Radeon HD 5670 or equivalent video card. You also need support for DirectX v9.0c or better, Windows XP SP· or better and the latest update to .NET Framework from Microsoft.
For Apex Legends the recommended specs are much higher. It needs a 64-bit processor and operating system (Windows 7 or above), a Ryzen 5 CPU or equivalent and 8 GB RAM. As well as an AMD RadeonTM R9 290, NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 970 graphics card or better, DirectX 11 and 56GB of spare HD space.
As you can see there is a significant difference in the specs. So, before signing up for a new game it makes sense to first check that your hardware, as well as your broadband connection, will be up to the job.
Solving other speed-related issues
If you have the right hardware and broadband connection and are still experiencing poor gameplay, try tweaking the settings of the device that you are playing on. There is plenty of information available online to help you to do exactly that. For example, this article takes you step-by-step through the process of speeding up your frame rate.