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Myths and Truths About Broadband Connections for Gaming

Broadband connections can get a little confusing for gaming. Most people just sign up and go, expecting the internet to be…well, the Internet. Is there really a difference? It turns out there are quite a few differences around which broadband connection you have and how it affects your digital activities. Here are myths and truths about broadband connections for gaming.

Myth: You Need Super High Speed Internet For Gaming

Faster connection speeds help with gaming in general, but they’re not the be-all, end-all. In fact, the routes that your game data takes from your PC to the game server and back are often more important than your connection speed. Most games don’t need a high speed connection, though 10-20 Mbps is ideal. Beyond that, it depends on how many devices are connected to a single line, what they’re doing, where the connection is going and your ping when connecting to the game server. What’s most important is the speed and stability of your connection to the game server, not how fast it can download data. Online games require very little data when transmitting and receiving data (though patching is another matter).The reason you want higher speeds is for ease of use when doing other things. You can actually get away with the minimum speeds like 2 Mbps with a very low ping — it probably wouldn’t affect your gaming response at all. But the second you introduce another device, say your roommate watching Netflix or a family member downloading a movie, that’s when your gaming suffers. Going with higher speeds, and the ability to transmit more data, offers leeway and less likelihood that your gaming will be impacted by other constraints on the network. It also helps you download new games and patch updates much quicker.

Truth: You Do Need Higher Speeds For Streaming

While regular online gaming can exist on lower speed rations, streaming your gameplay to others requires more bandwidth. Namely what you’re concerned with is upload speed. The catch when looking at broadband internet is that everyone advertises the download speed, which will help you download games faster, but not the upload speed, which is what transmits your stream to everyone else. Most streaming software will offer various video outputs so you can tweak the stream if your upload speed isn’t up to par. It’s all about finding a balance between your stream quality and your connection quality.

Myth: Gaming Requires A Lot Of Data

Like we mentioned with broadband connection speeds, online gaming uses very little data on a day-to-day basis. What you have to watch out for is downloading the games or patches, which can easily eat through your data if you aren’t careful. If you’re getting a new game every other week, you’ll want to look at higher data caps to accommodate the constant downloading you’re doing. But if you play a game like Overwatch where it’s consistently updated in smaller patches, you don’t have to worry as much about getting larger data caps. The initial game download will be a larger investment, but the patches that are only a couple times a month will take far less data after that.

Truth: The Type of Connection You Have Affects Your Speed

Not only do different broadband connections like DSL and Cable affect what speeds you can get, but having a wired or wireless connection inside your home will also affect your gaming speeds. DSL typically runs slower than cable connections — capping out around 10 Mbps while cable often hovers around 30 Mbps and can go as high as 100 Mbps or even higher with fiber optic. Where you are located also has an effect on your connection speeds. Cable is on a shared connection which can be used by entire neighborhoods, downgrading the speed during peek times. DSL is used on your phone line, so it’s only used by you, but the connection downgrades the further you are from the ISP hub.

Inside your home, your own connections also make a difference. To get the quickest connection possible with the least amount of interference, you want a direct ethernet line going to the router. Wireless connections may be convenient, but they’re also susceptible to interference which causes increased lag, or decreased speeds. Other electronics or wireless signals can interfere with the wireless connection to your PC and distance from the router can have an adverse affect the further away you are. Wires can get clunky, but they’re the best way to ensure a stable connection inside your house.

Myth: You Can’t Do Anything About Connection Lag

Lag can be caused by a bevy of things: hardware, software, home connection, ISP connection and so on. If you’re consistently lagging when you connect in game, it may be the route your ISP is taking to the game’s server. Sometimes it can just be a hiccup down the line. Other times it might just be a sub-optimal route. ISPs often focus on creating the most cost-effective route instead of the fastest routes.

That kind of lag is easy to fix — it’s simply a means of finding a better route. As a consumer, you can’t really do that on your own. The good news is that someone else has. Haste optimizes internet traffic, creating customized routes to game servers to give you a much better and faster connection. Right now it works to get you to Blizzard and Riot’s servers for Overwatch and League of Legends. Haste is planning to add more games in the near future.

Hopefully this myth-busting article has cleared up any misconceptions or confusion about how internet connections affect gaming. In competitive gaming it’s all about keeping a steady connection to the game and every second counts. If you find yourself besieged by lag, check out Haste’s free trial.

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