Picking the right broadband deal to keep costs low and your gaming time frustration-free means balancing up a few different factors. It’s not all about the price point or the download speeds, it’s also about finding ways to cut down on unnecessary lags and glitches. If you’re not quite sure what you should be looking out for to help you pick the package most likely to suit your gaming habits, check out these handy hints.
The need for speed
Obviously, speed is a big factor – especially when it comes to downloading games or live streaming your playthroughs – but do massive upgrades make that much of a difference? There are definitely speeds you don’t want to dip under. For example, you need a good bit over the minimum 6Mbps needed for a basic upload to look forward to a smooth stream. On the other hand, if you’re more into downloading a decent games library, you’ll want at least 20Mbps to avoid long wait times.
That said, you’re really not going to notice much difference between 50 and 350Mbps, so don’t get tricked into paying over the odds for something that makes very little difference to your experience.
A strong and steady experience
While speed is obviously important, it’s not the only thing to think about when you’re choosing a broadband deal. In fact, if you’re primarily playing MMOs, there are other things that are going to have a huge impact on your experience, like packet loss, latency, and jitter. The lag or glitches caused by packet loss can be very annoying and results are variable, but an Ofcom report from a few years back suggests that BT is leading the charge.
Luckily, most major providers report low latency, but Sky and Virgin are known for edging out competition with numbers as low as 15 milliseconds. Most providers don’t seem to have many jitter issues, but Virgin doesn’t have a particularly strong showing here, so Sky or BT might be a better bet overall.
Tech-compatibility and reliability
There are a couple more big factors worth taking into consideration, first is the router you’ll be tied into. If you want to avoid cables all over the place, a Wi-Fi router is ideal, but some are harder to link up to gaming setups than others. Be sure to check your preferred console or PC against the brand name of the router offered with any particular package, just in case there are any known compatibility issues.
The second big thing is reliability. The last thing you want is to find yourself kicked offline mid-campaign. It might be worth plumping for a slightly lower speed if it means going with a provider who’s well known for reliable coverage and minimal downtime. Sky tends to perform well here, with Plusnet one to perhaps be wary of.
If you’re on the lookout for a change and are checking out how various broadband deals stack up right now, be sure to think about reliability, latency, jitter and packet loss as well as speed before you commit to a new package.
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