How to choose the best broadband for gaming

Whether you’re forging a streaming career, competing against friends and just looking to improve your skills, gaming broadband must be reliable, resilient and fast. However, with the plethora of ISPs to choose from, it can be tricky to work out which broadband solution is best. We run through the key features and specs you should look out for when on the hunt for a new broadband provider.

Fibre vs ADSL: which is the best gaming broadband?

When choosing the best broadband for gaming, you will need to choose which type of connection to opt for: fibre or copper. Often, this decision will be dictated by the delivery method available in your area.

ADSL broadband

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) broadband utilises traditional copper phone lines in order to deliver an internet connection. Although ADSL is widely available and moderately priced, copper wires are prone to damage and not capable of delivering the speeds that fibre can achieve.

Whilst fibre may offer download speeds of up to 330Mbps, most ISPs advertise ADSL as providing up to 8Mbps. Unreliability and poor connection speeds will combine to increase latency, diminishing your gaming experience.

Fibre broadband

Fibre broadband will either come in the form of FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) whereby an internet connection is delivered by fully fibre-optic wires directly to your home, or FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) which uses a mixture of both copper and fibre cables.

A fibre broadband connection, be it in the form of FTTC or FTTP, is likely to be the better option for broadband gaming. It offers faster upload and download speeds and is widely considered to be more reliable than a copper connection – both of which will work to reduce ping rates.

However, it is worth noting that fibre broadband will be considerably more expensive than ADSL, especially if you opt for FTTP. Additionally, fully-fibre connectivity is not yet widely available in the UK – you may find that copper is the only available option in your area.

Avoid an ISP that caps your internet usage

Occasionally, ISPs will offer a broadband package with capped internet usage, limiting how much data you can download. Whilst this usually equates to cheaper fees, it is less than ideal for keen gamers, who will regularly partake in online gaming. Also, whilst hard copies of games are still popular, many opt to download them directly instead. Although convenient, many games require a lot of data, and could easily tip you over your limit.

Additionally, game streaming services, such as Google Stadia, are notorious for eating through a significant amount of data – quickly taking you over your designated limit.

There are a number of ways providers can cap your internet usage and penalise you for exceeding this limit. Some may incur hefty fines, whilst others may throttle your bandwidth, providing a slower connection – and therefore an increased ping rate – once you surpass a certain amount of data. Generally, when choosing broadband for gaming, it’s best to find one that does not cap your usage.

Screenshot of Counterstrike Go gampelay

How important is speed for online gaming?

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that speed is the most important factor when choosing the best broadband for online gaming. However, this is not entirely true as day-to-day, online gaming uses very little data – except in the cases of streaming services. It is generally considered that the minimum download speed for online gaming is 1Mbps – a speed you’d be hard pressed to not achieve with most standard providers.

Although such a speed may not provide the optimum gaming experience, it’s clear that the fastest download speed is not the key factor you should be considering when choosing broadband for gaming. Instead, consider factors such as reliability, customer support and limited downtime.

What are ping and latency and how do they affect broadband for gaming?

Any keen online gamer will be able to confirm the importance of ping rates and latency when it comes to their internet.

In simple terms, latency is the time it takes for data to travel from your device to the server – i.e. the reaction speed of your internet connection. Ping rate is the way in which latency is measured, in milliseconds.

The lower the ping rate, the lower the latency. These means less lag and smoother game play. If you experience high ping rates (anything over 150ms), the quality of your gameplay can be seriously affected, meaning that these are the speeds you should be considering – not your overall connection speed. Generally, a ping rate under 20ms is considered ideal.

High latency and ping are most detrimental in games where timing is crucial, for example FPS (first person shooter) or racing games. In these models, just a few milliseconds of lag can be the crucial difference between winning and losing.

Although factors other than your broadband provider come into play with ping and latency, it is worth considering when searching for a new ISP. If they advertise low ping rates and latency, they more than likely understand the needs of an online gamer and will have built their network accordingly.

Best broadband for gaming infographic

Broadband for professional gamers

Many gamers are now able to make a living live streaming their games to their fans on websites such as Twitch. When it comes to choosing broadband to support a professional gaming career, your requirements will be more specific than that of a more casual gamer.

If you are planning on streaming your gameplay, speed becomes more important – namely, your upload speeds. Twitch recommends a minimum upload speed of 5Mbps, which is not guaranteed with FTTC and even less likely with ADSL broadband.

With professional gaming it is advisable, where possible, to opt for an FTTP solution. Although it is possible to stream with a low upload speed by using a lower output, you’re unlikely to generate a dedicated following with a stream that is of sub-par quality.

Another thing to look for when choosing broadband for professional gaming is whether or not your chosen ISP can offer a static IP address. A static IP address is needed to host and run your own website and host online gaming sessions – your online gaming career will not go very far without one.

DJ Oli live-streaming Fortnite game via Twitch

Ask your neighbours about the ISP they use

Location has a huge impact on the quality of your internet connection. Even if your neighbours are not gamers and therefore have different requirements when it comes to broadband, it will still be worth finding out what provider they use and their experience.

If they just use the internet for casual browsing and social media scrolling, yet have still had some serious connection woes, you can almost guarantee that said provider will not be able to cater for your unique broadband requirements as a gamer.

On the other hand, if they can recommend an ISP they have found to be reliable and which offers comprehensive customer support, this will provide a good starting point in your search for a new broadband provider.

Choose a dedicated gaming broadband provider

With the competitive gaming industry growing at such a considerable rate, the popularity of dedicated gaming networks, such as Ghost Gamer Broadband, should come as no surprise.

In the same way that a dedicated business broadband provider will have built and developed their network to cater for business customers, dedicated gamer broadband providers will have designed their network to suit the exact needs of online gamers.

Key features offered by a dedicated gaming provider may include:

  • No throttling, ensuring that gamers experience a high-quality connection always – even during peak hours. “Bargain” providers often throttle bandwidth, limiting the connection quality, which can increase ping rates and cause latency issues.
  • A superior quality network, reducing user downtime. At Ghost Gamer Broadband, we utilise multiple circuits, ensuring that if one were to fail, you would be seamlessly connected to another with a negligible impact on the end user.
  • Direct links to online gaming services, such as Twitch, Steam and Xbox, which helps ensure less lobby time and therefore low latency.

Often, standard ISPs are not capable of catering for the needs presented by avid gamers. By opting for a dedicated gaming broadband provider, you stand in excellent stead for unlocking your full online gaming potential.

 

At Ghost Gamer Broadband, we are every bit as passionate about online gaming as our you are. For more information about our network and how we work, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – our team is always happy to have a chat!