How to get the best broadband for online gaming

How to get the best broadband for online gaming

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Online gaming has never been bigger. Record numbers of players are logging on the games like Counter-Strike and FIFA with many exclusively playing online. What’s more, while online used to be an extension of a game, it’s now the core feature of many; without an online connection, you simply can’t play them, at least not anywhere near their full potential. Simply put, it’s never been more critical to have a good internet connection if you’re a dedicated gamer, and it's only going to become more important as online games become more and more prevalent

There are two core factors to bear in mind when looking for gaming-friendly WiFi; speed, and reliability. Speed speaks for itself; if you’ve got a connection that would struggle to load the Google homepage, it’s very unlikely that your connection will be quick enough to provide you with a smooth, consistent online performance for gaming. Reliability, on the other hand, is often overlooked. Getting the most all-singing, all-dancing broadband package is all well and good, but if you go with an ISP with a reputation for struggling in your local area, you may find yourself with a connection that drops out, booting you from games and causing you and your teammates no end of headaches.

In this guide, we’ll aim to answer the big questions about gaming broadband, help you figure out which ISP is the right one for you, and get you well on your way to the ultimate online gaming set up. Either scroll down to start reading, or use the following menu to hop to the section you’re most interested in.

Choosing your broadband provider

Check your local coverage and your fibre eligibility.

As time goes on, the areas of the UK that are not reached by the major broadband providers are becoming smaller and smaller. However, it’s still worth double checking your coverage options before you have your heart set on a particular package, in case it’s not available in your area! These checkers should also inform you of if said providers offer a fibre connection in your area. Paying extra for a fibre connection you will get a better, more reliable gaming experience.

Almost all of the major providers of broadband now offer a quick and easy way of checking your area for eligibility; you can find the tools for each at the following links:

TalkTalk gaming broadband offers

TalkTalk are one of the UK’s most respected broadband providers. Since 2003, they’ve championed user-friendly broadband, and have launched a Fairer Broadband Charter, which aims to keep broadband packages transparent. They offer a great range of broadband options, including fibre. They have plenty of flexible add-ons and perks for customers looking to join their service. Here are some of the important links to help you get started.


Fibre 35 (New Customers)
38Mb/s £26.00 per month
View Deal 
18 Month Contract

Full Fibre 65 (New Customers)

77Mb/s £28.00 per month
View Deal
18 Month Contract

Full Fibre 150 (New Customers Only)

152Mb/s £28.00 per month
View Deal
18 Month Contract

Full Fibre 500 (New Customers Only)

525Mb/s £39.00 per month
View Deal
18 Month Contract

Full Fibre 900 (New Customers Only)

944Mb/s £49.00 per month
View Deal
18 Month Contract

Virgin gaming broadband offers

Virgin boast one of the fastest offerings in the UK, with some of their ultrafast fibre packages capable of hitting speeds up to 1130Mbps, easily enough for a buttery smooth connection when playing online and flying through big downloads in a matter of minutes. Virgins Gig1 fibre broadband is capable of hitting download speeds greater than 1Gbps - for context, that would get a game the size of Red Dead Redemption 2 downloaded in under 5 minutes, compared to hours on a standard ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) internet connection. They've also improved most of their standard fibre offerings with the 200 Mb/s now boasting 264 Mb/s average speeds at the same costs as before.

They also offer a solid range of fibre and non-fibre packages, and of course, have their own TV service to throw into packages for an even better deal if you’re looking for something to keep you entertained in your gaming downtime! Keep in mind some of these prices may increase after the initial 18-month period so make sure you read all the details on your chosen package. They also have no setup fees!

M125 (New Customers Only)

132Mb/s £24.00 per month,
View Deal
18 Months Minimum

M250 (New Customers Only)

264Mb/s £27.00 per month,
View Deal
18 Months Minimum

M350 (New Customers Only)

362Mb/s £33.00 per month,
View Deal
18 Months Minimum

M500 (New Customers Only)

516Mb/s £33.00 per month,
View Deal
18 Months Minimum

Gig1 (New Customers Only)

1136Mb/s £39.00 per month,
View Deal
18 Months Minimum

BT gaming broadband offers

BT are one of the UK’s most respected and long-running telecom companies, and their reputation for broadband is equally strong. As with other major providers, BT offers some special services that will be of particular interest to gamers.

BT also have plenty of custom packages offering their BT sports options etc which may be of interest to those of you who are gamers and also sports fans. Keep in mind BT Broadband contracts tend to be 24 months as opposed to the 18 months minimum of some other broadband providers. BT Broadband do charge £31.99 upfront for set-up and installation.

Package Info

Fibre Essential Broadband

36 Mb Per Second
24 Month Contract

£28.99
£11.99 Upfront


Fibre 1

50 Mb per Second
24 Month Contract

£34.99
£31.99 Upfront


Fibre 2

74 Mb per Second
24 Month Contract

£36.99
£20 Upfront


Full Fibre Max 500

150 Mb per Second
24 Month Contract

£38.99
£31.99 Upfront


Full Fibre Max Gigabit

500 Mb per Second
24 Month Contract

£49.99
£31.99 Upfront


Full Fibre Max Gigabit

900 Mb per Second
24 Month Contract

£57.99
£31.99 Upfront

PlusNet gaming broadband offers

PlusNet offer a few fibre packages at some of the most competitive prices around, with strong coverage across the country too! They've also been named the best broadband provider of 2023 by Uswitch! If you're looking to save money on your broadband and looking for a provider with fantastic customer service then Plusnet are a fantastic option. 

Package Info

Full Fibre 74

36Mb Download Speed

24 Month Contract

£25.99


Full Fibre 145

145Mb Download Speed

24 Month Contract

£27.99


Full Fibre 300

300 Mb Download Speed

24 Month Contract

£35.99


Full Fibre 500

500Mb Download Speed

24 Month Contract

£32.99


Full Fibre 900

900 Mb Download Speed

24 Month Contract

£42.99


EE gaming broadband offers

Known for their mobile network, it was a natural move for EE to move into broadband. They offer a range of fibre options, including their Fibre Max 100 and 500 options, which deliver some of the fastest average speeds below Gigabit connections that we've seen thus far. EE does offer a fibre broadband option with gigabit speeds and it's definitely powerful and is starting to be more and more readily available, but use the postcode checker to see if you could be eligible.

Package Info

Full Fibre 36

37 MegaBytes Per Second
24 Month Contract

£28.99 New Customers
Connection costs £0


Full Fibre 50

51 MegaBytes per Second
24 Month Contract

£34.99 New Customers
Connection costs £31.99


Full Fibre 74

74 MegaBytes per Second
24 Month Contract

£29.99 New Customers
Connection costs £0


Full Fibre 150

149 MegaBytes per Second

24 Month Contract

£30.99 New Customers
Connection costs £31.99

Full Fibre 300

149 MegaBytes per Second

24 Month Contract

£34.99 New Customers
Connection costs £0

 

Full Fibre 500

500 MegaBytes per Second
24 Month Contract

£49.99 New Customers
Connection costs £31.99


Full Fibre Gigabit

900 MegaBytes per Second
24 Month Contract

£49.99 New Customers
Connection costs £31.99


Full Fibre Gigabit

1.6 Gbps per Second
24 Month Contract

£69.99 New Customers
Connection costs £31.99

Gaming Broadband FAQ

What is the minimum speed for internet gaming?

When it comes to online gaming, having a fast broadband speed sounds like it's essential, but it's not actually the most important factor to consider. You can quite happily game online with broadband speeds between 7Mbps and 10Mbps - and these are speeds that most homes in the UK can now get, even with ADSL connections. But as we said above what's absolutely crucial is a reliable broadband connection.

These speeds are ideal for if you’re playing a game you have installed locally on your console, either via a disc or a download. This will be the case for most gamers; however, there are a growing number of services that offer a Netflix/ Spotify equivalent to gaming. In these examples such as Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud gaming games are hosted on remote servers, with players effectively streaming the game, as you would a song on Spotify or film on Netflix. As you can imagine, doing this is a lot more intensive - on top of having to stream the video to the player, the service has to do so at a speed where the player is able to take in what’s being shown to them, react with a button press, and have this input beamed back to the server as seamlessly as possible.

These sort of services demand a much faster internet connection to function optimally. For 4K gaming you'd need to be requiring a speed of at least 35 Mbps. As the services mature and improve, it’s possible that these requirements will drop slightly - although by the time they’ve done so, it’s more likely that the general standard of internet speeds across the UK will have improved sufficiently to meet the current bare minimum specs.

Finally, a quick point on game downloads. Gaming is increasingly becoming software focused, rather than hardware. Nowadays, even buying a physical disc isn’t likely to spare you from needing an internet connection; many major games launch with a day 1 patch, containing last minute tweaks the developers made after the physical copies of the game had shipped. It's clear digital games is a huge focus for companies like Sony and Xbox with their digital only consoles the PS5 Digital Edition and Xbox Series S. There’s nothing worse than waiting for months for a game, only to find yourself waiting hours for it to download. Game sizes are increasing all the time, with many AAA titles starting from as much as 70GB and some exceeding 100GB. These used to be the minority but they're becoming more and more common as time goes on, games are getting bigger as a result of 4K textures etc. Having a great internet connection only makes your life easier. It also means if you have to remove games from your quite limited storage like the 512GB SSD in the Xbox Series S downloading them again at a later date doesn't take an excessive amount of time.

How much data does online gaming use?

Internet data caps are slowly becoming a thing of the past in the UK (although it’s always worth triple checking when signing up to a new provider if the offer seems too good to be true!), but something people need to be mindful of is the amount of data that online gaming uses. Even if you’re uncapped and your speed meets the requirements, if your internet package is on the slower side, you may still find that online gaming puts the brakes on others in your household from streaming TV or music or browsing.

Online gaming can use a pretty varied amount of data depending on what came you’re playing. It’s far from a surefire rule, but generally, the more intrinsically complicated the game and the inputs you’re asking the game to process. A game with very basic inputs and that lacks the real need for instantaneous communication, like the online card game Hearthstone, may use as little as 3MB an hour. Something like an FPS such as Overwatch 2, which needs to account for over 100 inputs a minute and has to offer next to zero latency, can use something like 135MB an hour. Even that isn’t a huge amount, but as we’ve mentioned, if you do find yourself on a capped broadband limit, you may find yourself using it up relatively quickly by gaming. The same goes for downloading games. A single AAA game could comfortably take you over the monthly limit.

What is fibre internet and do I need it for gaming?

Fibre broadband refers to a relatively new type of internet connection, which utilises fibre optic cables to connect you. The upshot of this is that you will typically get faster broadband and, crucially, a more reliable connection. However, fibre does come with two chief drawbacks. Firstly, it’s more expensive than a standard ADSL connection. Secondly, it requires a whole new infrastructure. This means that for some, particularly those in rural areas, the option to get fibre internet simply won’t exist. Even if you are eligible, installing the fibre may involve some time consuming work to get installed.

If you don’t mind paying extra and you’re able to actually get fibre broadband installed, the speed and reliability it offers is almost always superior to a standard connection, making it a great choice for gaming. However, it’s still possible to have a perfectly acceptable online gaming set-up without using a fibre connection.

Which console requires the best internet to play online?

As we said in our section about how much data is used by online gaming, the type of game you’re playing can affect the speed of the internet you need. Whether you're playing on a home console like the PS5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch or on a PC a constant reliable connection is required to play online. However, the Nintendo Switch library does consist of a lot of exclusives that are primarily played offline.

Furthermore, when it comes to download speeds if you primarily play on Nintendo Switch you're probably going to be less hampered by downloading your games as they're usually a lot smaller than the triple-A titles we see on PS5, Xbox Series X and PC. There are no Red Dead Redemption 2 sized behemoths on the Nintendo Switch.

I don’t care about playing against other people online - do I still need to worry about broadband?

As we’ve written above, gaming is an increasingly digital pastime; more and more people are now buying games digitally rather than on physical discs and cartridges. What’s more, as games are becoming more complex, so their file sizes are expanding rapidly; it’s not uncommon for major games to now clock in at more than 80GBs. If you’re struggling to maintain a steady, quick connection, waiting for games to download can be a real pain.

Even if you’re someone who likes to physically own their games, many games nowadays come with large patches, some of more than 10GB, that are almost essential to download before you can boot a game up from a disc. Many developers are now tweaking games and squashing bugs right up until the last minute before release, meaning these fixes don’t make it in time to be put on the discs. Games are now being frequently expanded after release too via free or paid DLC, which is another thing to bear in mind. In short, without a decent internet connection, you’ll need a lot of patience to be able to enjoy many modern games even if you have no intention of playing online.

Is online gaming better with a wired broadband connection?

The simple answer is yes. Wifi strength and performance can be affected by all kinds of things in and outside the home, and the only real way to avoid this is by going old-school and connecting your games console via an Ethernet cable. This will guarantee you less interference, and therefore provide you with a more reliable gaming experience.

How can I improve my current online performance?

If you’re not able to upgrade currently, or if you have a decent connection but still seem to struggle to get the performance you’d like, here are our top tips for improving performance.

1. Move the broadband router

Your games console will use a wifi connection to download games, so stick your router as close as possible to your PS5 or Xbox consoles. If that's not possible, make sure your router isn't close to a window, or stuck behind a wall. Try and make the path as clear as possible between your console and the router.

2. Buy a wireless booster

Cheap wifi extenders cost as little as £20. They won't improve your download speeds, but if you have any dead spots in your home, they can improve the signal to these areas. Nintendo Switch gamers - who could game anywhere in the home - may benefit the most from a wifi booster. We've personally had a lot of success with the TP-Link Decos which are a lot more expensive that then traditional plug-in Wi-Fi extenders however they're much more reliable at boosting Wi-Fi signal.

3. Get a better router

If you've been with the same broadband provider for some time, chances are you're still using the original router that was delivered to your door many years ago. Ditch it and buy yourself a shiny new one. Your internet provider may even send you its latest router free of charge, especially if you threaten to leave for another broadband provider.

4. Use a wired connection

As we mentioned above, using a wired connection is almost always preferable to a wireless one, as it’s one less thing to go wrong. If you can get an ethernet cable to reach your console, we recommend it!

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