Two boys hands with games controllers playing video games

Best broadband for online gaming

What do you really need to look for if you need broadband that's suitable for online gaming? We've got all of the information you need...

If you’re a keen gamer, you’ll know that lag is the last thing you need to be faced with when you’re gaming online, so a reliable, fast broadband connection is crucial if you want to make sure you’re not left frustrated.

Whether you’re gaming on a Playstation, Xbox, PC, or on your phone - if you’re looking to get the best online experience, your type of connection, broadband speeds and and data allowances will all be important.

Fast download speeds - what internet speed do I need for gaming?

In order to have a reliable gaming experience, you’re going to need a good connection, with speeds of at least 10Mbps at all times - but obviously the faster the better. The quicker you’re able to connect, the lower your latency will be, which means that the motion shown in the game will be fast enough for you to respond and interact as appropriate.

This is the fastest widely-available plan available in Ireland at the moment and, if you can get Virgin Media broadband where you live, it could be a good option.

If not, don’t worry - there are plenty of providers offering plans with speeds of up to 100Mbps. Vodafone’s Simply Broadband plan is one of the most-popular broadband-only plans and could work well if you don’t need to bundle TV and/or phone with your phone.

If you’re not happy with your current broadband performance, try a broadband speed test to see what speed you’re actually getting - if it’s lower than you expected, our tips on improving your broadband could help.

Download allowances - do I need an unlimited deal?

When you’re gaming, on top of speed you also need to think about data, as you’ll usually be using a significant amount - it’s important your plan has a high enough limit, or you could end up facing nasty additional charges.

If you want to avoid this, unlimited broadband packages are probably the best option - you’ll be able to use as much data as you want (within fair usage limits) for the same price each month.

What else should I look out for?

While speed and data allowance are probably the two most important things to look out for, when you’re comparing deals, you should also look for plans and providers with:

  • no traffic management;
  • a high-performing modem;
  • strong technical support; and
  • a low contention ratio.

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Broadband packages to avoid for gaming

Since fast broadband packages with high data allowances are the best option for gaming, it makes sense to avoid ones that don’t offer that. This will rule out the likes of satellite broadband and mobile broadband as it’s likely you won’t get fast enough speeds, and your download limit will be too low with these kinds of plans.

Should I use WiFi or a wired connection when gaming?

If you want to make sure you get the fastest possible speeds and reduce the instance of lag, a wired network connection is going to be the best option. If this isn’t possible, you can of course use WiFi, but it might be a good idea to make sure your router is not encased in a cabinet, or near any devices that can interfere with the signal, such as a baby monitor.

Can I improve my broadband speed for gaming?

Yes, there are lots of things you can do to help improve your connection if you have slow broadband. The steps you take to improve your speeds will depend on whether or not you connect via WiFi or you’re connected directly by wired connection.

I use WiFi - how can I improve my broadband speed?

First of all, it’s important to remember that you will get slower speeds using WiFi than you would if you were connected directly to the router. If it’s feasible, try connecting your device directly to the router - you should notice a big improvement in speeds.

If you need to use WiFi, there are a number of things you can do to improve your speeds, as follows:

  • make sure the router is not encased in a cabinet or surrounded by things that may block the signal;
  • ensure the modem is not near devices that could interfere with it - like microwaves, baby monitors or cordless phones;
  • move the router into the room where you use the internet most; and/or
  • use a WiFi extender.

If you live in an apartment building or an area with lots of wireless modems and lots of devices you may experience some wireless interference. Simply rebooting your modem - by unplugging it, leaving it for 30 seconds and plugging it back in - will automatically select the most appropriate channel for you.

Also, if you have a large number of devices connected to the WiFi, it may be that one of these is causing an issue. You could try disconnecting all of your devices one by one to see if there’s a particular one that’s causing you a problem.

My wired connection is slow - how can I improve my broadband speed?

If your wired connection is slower than expected, firstly contact your provider. They may be able to give you a newer modem, which could make a big difference, and they may also be able to offer some advice or technical assistance.

If your provider can’t help, you may want to look around and see if you can find a broadband deal with better speeds or a different type of connection. The speeds that are achievable vary hugely depending on the type of connection you have - for example ADSL broadband will be slower than Fibre-to-the-Home - so moving to a provider that offers a different type of connection, if possible, might be the best bet.

Switcher.ie’s free broadband deal checker shows you all of the deals available in your area, along with information on the type of connection, and maximum speeds for each provider.

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