If you’re experiencing poor internet speeds, you might be considering an upgrade. However, what is a good internet speed and how much is enough for your needs? We’ll help you understand what a good internet speed is for various bandwidth-intensive activities so you can get the internet plan that best suits your needs.
The exact answer to that question will largely depend on what you use your connection for. As an example, if all you do is browse the web and stream music, you probably don’t need much more than 15 Mbps. However, if you want to stream 4K video or download huge video games from platforms like Steam, then even 100 Mbps might feel insufficient.
- If you use your internet connection on a regular basis, you’ll probably want a plan with a download speed of at least 25 Mbps. For multiple devices connected at the same time or data-intense internet traffic, we’d recommend 50 Mbps.
- However, 4K streaming on a single device requires a minimum of 25 Mbps, and if you want to speedily download large files or video games, you’ll probably want at least 100 Mbps.
- Online gaming doesn’t require much in the way of bandwidth. As long as the connection is stable and not under any other load, 25 Mbps should be sufficient for most games. However, keep an eye on latency.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume a wired connection using an Ethernet cable, as there are far too many variables related to WiFi that are unique to each user. If you plan to connect to the internet primarily via a wireless connection, you might want to aim slightly higher than the targets listed here.
The internet speeds available to you are largely dependent on where you live. According to Ookla, the global median download speed for fixed broadband is roughly 60 Mbps download and 25 Mbps upload. In the U.S., the median is about 135 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up.
You’ll always lose out on some bandwidth with a WiFi network as opposed to a wired connection. How much depends on a multitude of factors like your hardware, signal interference and even the materials your house is made out of.
Yes, for the vast majority of people, a 100 Mbps connection will feel very fast and have more than enough bandwidth.
What Is a Good Internet Speed for General Use?
A good internet speed depends almost entirely on what you intend to use it for. In general, a high internet speed is most useful for video calls or meetings, streaming video, gaming online, live streaming and downloading large files. If we over-simplify things, most users with just one or two devices will experience anything over 50 megabits per second (Mbps for short) as fast.
Download Speed vs Upload Speed
It’s important to remember that when we talk about “internet speed,” we’re really bundling two different metrics together: upload speed and download speed.
For the vast majority of users, download speed will be the most important, as most people receive far more data than they send. However, for things like live streaming, online gaming and video calls, upload speeds are also crucial.
What Internet Speed Do I Need for Browsing?
Browsing is some of the least bandwidth-intensive internet traffic there is, so you don’t need much in terms of speed to be able to visit regular websites. That said, anything under 10 Mbps will be noticeably slower in terms of loading new pages and images. Switching to a faster browser can alleviate this slightly, and some websites are much heavier loads than others.
What Is a Good Internet Speed for Streaming Content?
How much internet speed you need to stream content depends on what you’re streaming. The most bandwidth-intensive is obviously video, so we’ll focus on that.
Generally, if you want to be able to stream HD content without interruptions, you’ll need a 5 Mbps connection at the very least, and that’s if your device is the only one currently using the connections.
This increases exponentially with 4K streaming, as you’ll need at least 20 to 25 Mbps to be able to stream content in UHD. Various streaming services have different quality options, though, including “standard,” “high definition” and “4K.”
|Streaming Service & Quality
|Netflix Standard Definition
|Netflix High Definition
|Amazon Prime Video Standard Definition
|8 Mbps (1 MB/s)
|Amazon Prime Video High Definition
|40 Mbps (5 MB/s)
|Disney Plus High Definition
|Disney Plus 4K
Except for Amazon, this all lines up pretty neatly. Something tells us that Amazon’s help page actually means 1 Mbps and 5 Mbps, but we can’t say for sure.
What Internet Speed Do I Need for Gaming?
Much like with streaming, the amount of bandwidth required for online gaming varies significantly depending on what games you’re playing. For most games, a low ping is much more important than a large amount of bandwidth, though competitive games that require fast reaction times and low lag — like shooters — tend to be the most affected by poor internet conditions.
In terms of actual data usage, most games generally don’t use more than a few hundred megabytes per hour, at most. That said, in order to ensure that there’s no lag, you’ll want at least 20 Mbps of bandwidth available to your device, with a ping ideally below 40ms, though you should be fine with up to 70 ms if the game doesn’t rely on aim and quick reactions.
In an increasingly digital world, there’s also the issue of downloading the games in the first place. New AAA titles routinely pass 100GB in size, which can take days or even weeks to download on a slow internet connection.
To give you an idea of what kind of speed you want to download games from platforms like Steam, we’ve put together a table of some popular titles and how long they would take to download at different speeds.
Internet Speeds Needed for Online Gaming
|Call of Duty:
As you can see, a 10 Mbps connection will probably be insufficient if you want to regularly download large games, as you’ll be waiting for the download for a full day even in the absolute best-case scenario.
What Internet Speed Do I Need for Video Calls & Meetings?
Attending video meetings and conferences is something we’ve all had to get a lot more used to in the past few years, and it’s been driving increased investment in internet infrastructure since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since video calls are two-directional, they need both good upload and download speeds to function well. How much bandwidth you need also depends on how many people you are talking to at once.
Generally, a one-on-one video call in HD requires between 1.5 Mbps and 4 Mbps in both upload and download speeds depending on the software you’re using. Below is a table with some example speed requirements for various video conferencing software.
|Skype 1:1 HD Video Call
|Skype Group Video (3 people)
|Skype Group Video (5 people)
|Skype Group Video (7 people)
|Zoom 1:1 HD Video Call
|Zoom Group Call HD
|Google Meet HD (2 people)
|Google Meet HD (5 people)
|Google Meet HD (10 people)
What Is a Good Internet Speed for Live Streaming?
To an even greater degree than video calls, live streaming relies on upload speed. Twitch is by far the most popular platform for live streaming video, and its guidelines recommend an upload rate of at least 3 Mbps on the low end and 6 Mbps on the higher end.
Higher speeds might improve video quality somewhat, but generally anything more than this will have diminishing returns.
What Internet Speed Do I Need to Use Multiple Devices?
Having more than one device connected to your network doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a faster connection. That said, if you want to be able to do multiple bandwidth-intensive activities simultaneously, the capacity you need increases depending on exactly what it is you’re doing across your devices.
For basic online activity and speed, a good rule of thumb is 10 to 15 Mbps for two devices, 25 Mbps for four devices and 50 Mbps for eight devices.
Do VPNs Increase Your Internet Speeds?
Generally, VPNs slow down your internet speeds because they route your internet connection through a VPN server tunnel.
However, there are a couple instances where VPNs can help speeds: if your internet server provider (ISP) throttles your speeds due to certain types of traffic or internet activities (like streaming), or if it has poor peering with other networks.
Final Thoughts: Good Internet Speeds
That’s it for our guide to download and upload speeds. Figuring out different internet providers’ offerings can be a confusing process, and knowing how much bandwidth you need is the first step in untangling it all. If you’re lucky enough to have multiple broadband-type options, you should head over to our DSL vs fiber vs cable comparison as well for more info.
What did you think of our guide? Do you feel like you have an idea of how much bandwidth you need, or is it still unclear? Have you had to upgrade to a faster internet plan in the past? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.