Mozo guides

What do gamers need from an NBN plan?

Young male gamer playing at night
Image Credit: Alistair Berg via Getty Images

So, you’re a gamer looking for a broadband plan to suit your gaming needs? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

Whether you’re playing games online with friends, downloading the latest releases or updating your gaming console or PC – gamers tend to have very specific needs from their internet plan and typically require a stronger connection than the average person.

Download speed, upload speed, data caps and even the modem-router you use can all impact your overall gaming experience.

With so much to consider, it’s important to compare a range of different providers and plans to ensure you choose the right internet plan to suit your gaming needs and location.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about finding the right gaming-ready internet plan for you:

Download speeds for gamers

Gamer girl - twitch streamer
Image credit: Complexio via Getty Images

Your broadband plan’s download speed is responsible for bringing data into your home. For gamers, your download speed keeps information coming into your console during online gaming and dictates the time it takes to download games.

What’s the minimum recommended download speed for gaming?

Most game developers recommend a minimum download speed of 3 megabits per second (Mbps) for online gaming (sources may vary).

This means your console or gaming PC will require 3Mbps of dedicated internet bandwidth to ensure smooth operation. That might not sound like much, but with today’s multi-device households, many devices are often connected (and competing for bandwidth) simultaneously.

Remember that 3Mbps is considered the bare minimum to get you up and running. Most gamers would prefer much higher speeds than this to ensure a stable connection and fast game downloads and updates, 

What’s an ideal download speed for gaming?

The ‘ideal’ download speed for gaming will depend on the individual – However, the general rule of thumb is 10Mbps - 25Mbps.

If you find your connection is lacking, you might want to check what other devices are using your internet and taking up bandwidth or run a broadband speed test.

If you’re into streaming games instead of downloading them before playing, 10Mbps-15Mbps tends to be the recommended minimum speed for a stable connection.

How does the download speed work?

Remember, your internet plan’s download speed is spread across all your connected devices. For example, if you have an NBN 50 plan (with a typical minimum download speed of 50Mbps), that 50Mbps is shared across all your connected devices.

If you’re gaming while someone else in your home is streaming videos, your connection might slow down as it’s split between both devices – thus, neither device will be able to access the full 50Mbps.

Even if there’s no one using another device while you’re gaming, updates can run in the background and use up bandwidth.

Peak vs off-peak download speed:

Be aware that most plans are advertised with their absolute maximum speeds, and not necessarily the speed you’d get in the busiest part of the day (7-11 pm).

The internet plan details will include its typical evening speed, so be sure to check this if your regular gaming hours fall in the peak period.

How to get the most out of your download speed:

If you’re tech-savvy, some routers can be configured to prioritise gaming traffic, ensuring your games and gaming devices are always first in line for bandwidth. A few routers on the market even come pre-configured for gamers, but often at a higher cost.

Upload speeds for gamers

Most console developers will recommend a minimum 0.5Mbps upload speed to get you online, while 1Mbps seems to be agreed upon as a good starting point.

Gaming setup - Powerful Personal Computer Gamer Rig with First-Person Shooter Game on Screen
Image credit: gorodenkoff via Getty Images

Finding a plan’s upload speed can sometimes be tricky as internet providers tend to focus on download speed when advertising plans. You might need to look in the plan’s product details to find this information.

How does a plan’s upload speed work?

Upload speeds are responsible for information going outbound from your devices. So providers tend to offer much slower upload speeds than download speeds.

NBN 12 plans, for instance, typically feature a 1Mbps upload speed. Even a top-tier NBN 1000 plan’s upload speed is capped at 50Mbps, as it's the maximum the NBN network can achieve for households.

What’s an ideal upload speed for gaming?

An upload speed of 5Mbps or higher is generally considered a pretty good speed for an internet plan and should be enough to handle most of your gaming needs.

You’ll usually find upload speeds of 5Mbps on NBN 25 plans or higher, so gamers might want to consider a jump up from the NBN 12 tier if online gaming is a significant consideration.

An NBN 12 plan would typically see upload speeds cap out at about 1Mbps, which might be enough to cover the minimum requirements for your gaming – However, you might experience stability issues.

Data caps for gamers: Do I need unlimited?

When it comes to gaming, it’s not just downloading the game that takes up lots of data – it’s the ongoing software updates and online gameplay.

Young black female gamer playing at night
Image credit: Alistair Berg via Getty Images

If you’re a gamer, you’d already know just how big game files can be. Downloading some games can use up 50GBs or more of your data plan – something to factor into your data usage.

Common speed tier options:

Some providers offer plans with lower data caps that can be cheaper so long as you don’t go over. Here are some of the common speed tier options you might opt for:

  • 100GB: 100GB is a fairly common data cap but would mean you’d be very limited for the rest of the month with one or two game downloads.
  • 500GB: is another common tier that could offer a bit more freedom, but keep in mind that those data caps encompass all of your internet usage and not just your gaming.
  • Unlimited: An unlimited data plan could offer the most freedom if you can afford it, but it may not be necessary depending on your internet usage habits.

Tips for choosing a speed tier:

Here are some things to consider when deciding on an internet speed tier option.

  • Determine your needs: Work out how much data you typically use in a month before committing to a plan, and then try to give yourself a bit of a safety net if possible.
  • Find out about any extra charges: Enquire about any excess data usage charges your provider may include if you exceed your plan's data allowance.

Latency, ping & lag: What are they?

Latency, ping, lag - (oh my!) As a gamer you may have heard these terms being thrown around. Here's what they mean:

Young man wearing headset and play computer video games online
Image credit: Sabrina Bracher via Getty Images
  • Latency: is the term used to describe the sending of a ‘packet’ of data sent from your device to the server it’s connecting to, and receiving that ‘packet’ back.
  • Ping: is the measurement of the one-way journey of these ‘packets’ (ignoring the return time).
  • Lag: Lag is a delay, disruption or decreased speed issue that impacts the fluidity of your gaming experience. Lag can be caused by latency or ping issues, but this isn’t always the case, as software and hardware issues are also frequent causes.

How about the network?

While your download or upload speed can cause issues with lag, latency and ping, the quality of the network can also have an impact.

Gamer Hands - Play Station PS Controller - PS4 PS5 PS3
Image credit: Marco_Piunti via Getty Images
  • Inadequate bandwidth: Having inadequate bandwidth allocation can also slow down your gaming, while any firewall issues can also impact any online games.
  • Server locations & distance: Server locations and distance are also a big factor, so playing online games with users all around the globe may be slower than playing on a local server, depending on the distance you are from the servers you’re connecting to.

There are a whole range of factors that can cause lag or issues with latency and ping. Choosing an appropriate internet plan with a reputable provider can give you a better chance of avoiding these issues.

That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have fewer issues on an ultra-fast plan than you would on a standard NBN plan or even notice significant differences between providers.

Finding the internet plan that suits you and your needs can be complicated, but it’s achievable. First, get an understanding of what you need for your gaming, and then you can search for providers offering plans that match up.

Compare broadband plans

To compare popular internet providers, use our handy Broadband comparison tool below.

To learn more about and compare internet plans, head over to our broadband hub

Rhianna Dews
Rhianna Dews
Senior Money Writer

Rhianna, RG146 certified in Generic Knowledge and Deposit Products, has helped Aussies with finances for a decade. She's written for TechRadar, Simple Living Australia, and worked with Foxtel and Vodafone.

Cooper Langby
Cooper Langby
Money writer

Cooper is a double-degree graduate covering Energy and Broadband here at Mozo.