What Your Broadband Specifications Mean for You If You Game

Broadband and internet access are pivotal to both peoples’ business and personal lives. Understanding all the specifications and statistics your router or provider throws at you is vital in deciding what broadband is right for you. Do you need that much capacity just for a home network? Is a slower upload speed than download speed a problem? Will I have latency in my connection when gaming or in video calls?

All these questions can be answered by knowing what stats to look for and finding a provider that matches your requirements. This article will address broadband upload, download, capacity, latency, and more to help you decide the best provider for you.

Download Speed

What is it?

When thinking about internet access, downloading is one of the first things to come to mind. All that information, all those programs, and all those products, like games on Steam or films on Netflix, are all waiting on the internet to be downloaded. This means download speed is a measure of how quickly your systems can get information that isn’t on the device, onto the device.

Contextualising Download Speed

So, now you know how important download speed is for accessing content on the internet, what’s a reasonable and good rate? For some context, let’s look at games that someone might download.

Games as big and mainstream as the Witcher 3 and Battlefield 1 sit around 50GB in total size. Meanwhile, behemoths like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (With Warzone) or Microsoft Flight Simulator with expansions can be over 200GB in total size. What this means for your download speed is that anything below a reliable 3 Mbps will take upwards of a day to finish accessing the largest games on the market. The download is a one-time thing, so once it’s done once you have the files locally and your download speed no longer matters for your enjoyment of the game, but if you plan on switching games up and having multiple installed, download speed is vital.

Upload Speed

What is it?

Upload speed is, essentially, the opposite of the download speed that we just talked about. Downloading is the act of taking data from the internet and installing it on your system, while uploading is the act of sending data from your system out into the internet. This includes your video feed when you are in a Zoom call, your voice across a program like Discord, and your file transfers across your network to other devices.

Contextualising Upload Speed

Upload speeds are generally lower than download speeds. This is because your system generally needs to take in more data than it submits, especially at any great speed. The exceptions are video calls, streaming, and hosting certain games. Some games have dedicated servers which allow you to play without a host, while others use P2P (Peer to peer) systems that make you or one of your party the host of the session. This host is then responsible for uploading and downloading at a much more intense rate than other players.

For gamers in general, upload isn’t vital, but you still want a stable and accessible amount for those moments you just have to stream and those games that use P2P. You don’t want to launch a game and hear everyone complain about server issues just for it to end up being your upload speed as host. Aim for the same as your stable download, if possible (although slightly less will do), so around 3Mbps.

Latency

What is it?

Latency is the big one for gaming. Once you’ve downloaded your game and have the upload speed to connect to it, latency is the final test. Latency is a measure of your constant connection to the server and the speed at which all that data stays in sync. This can rely on server location, your set-up, and what else your network is doing based on your broadband capacity. This means that the best internet for gaming keeps your latency low and speeds high. Latency in games is generally represented by your “Ping” time; the time in milliseconds that it takes for your inputs to sync with the game server.

Contextualising Latency and Ping

Since latency and ping determine how in sync with the server you are, they are directly responsible for games being playable and responsive. High ping or latency can have you press an input and not see the result reflected on the server for multiple seconds. This could mean in something like Call of Duty mentioned above that on your screen, you see your shots hit, but don’t receive hit markers from the game until up to a second later. As you can imagine, that ruins most games.

The maximum latency in milliseconds you can afford to play with is around the 100 mark. Ideally, you want between 25 and 50 ping, but at the very least get your set-up able to cap ping at 100. Also, ensure that you play on the correct regional server if you can choose to, and stop your network from other activities while gaming. If your broadband is busy downloading games while you’re trying to play, then your ping will go through the roof.

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