How to Improve Internet Speeed for Gaming

written by jacob tuwiner Jacob Tuwiner

Whether you die one off a high kill streak or are building a base, nobody likes to lag.

I remember when I was a kid, I’d always be playing Xbox (either COD or GTA IV) with my friends.

One minute I’d be kicking butt, and the next I was screaming to my little sister “Ellie, get off the damn internet!” as I lagged uncontrollably.

I tried every trick in the book to improve my internet connection speed. Some worked, some didn’t.

In this article, I’m going to share my top 14 tips that’ll help you improve your internet speed for gaming.

These tips actually work (I’ve tested them myself), and if you do all (or most of them), you should see an improvement.

However, I’m going to address the elephant in the room:

Oftentimes the best way to improve internet speed is upgrading your internet or switching to a better provider.

That’s the solution my dad implemented after he was tired of my sister and I fighting all of the time, and it worked like a charm.

But for those of you who want to improve internet speed without upgrading, you’ll find a lot of value on this page.

What is a Good Internet Speed for Gaming?

According to Xfinity:

Most game console manufacturers recommend at least 3Mbps of download speed and .5 Mbps to 1Mbps of upload speed. Remember that those numbers are purely for gaming, meaning you should have more available if others are using the internet at the same time.

How to Speed Up Your Internet For Free

These 14 tips are tried and true tactics. Not all of them will work for you, but they’re all worth a shot.

Let’s dive in:

Check Your Internet Speed

internet speed test

The first thing you need to do is check your internet connection as it is, specifically when you’re lagging.

You need to have a baseline number in mind before you begin optimizing your internet - this way, you’ll know whether the changes are having an impact on your internet speed.

Internet Speed Test is a free and easy tool that’ll help you check your upload and download speed in seconds.

Write down your baseline numbers and test your internet speed again after each implementation of the tips below.

Restart your modem and router

router restart

Restarting your modem and/or router should always be the first fix on your list.

You’d be surprised how often a simple reset and restart can boost your internet speed.

Often when my grandma asks me to fix an issue with her computer or phone, I restart the device, cross my fingers, and the problem goes away.

The same is true for your router - try restarting it before taking more drastic action.

Move Your Router to a Central Location

central router location

Gaming far from your router is often a problem, especially if you’re in a big house with a bunch of walls (or floors) between you and your router.

The more between you and your router, the slower your internet speeds will be. This goes for both physical distance and things in the way.

Moving your gaming setup closer to your router is one way to alleviate this issue - but if you can’t move your setup, try moving your router.

If you place it in a central location in your home, it should distribute the WiFi signal evenly to the rooms in your house, creating a better overall experience for everyone.

Use a WiFi Extender

wifi extender

If your router is closer to your gaming setup and you’ve still not seen much of an impact on performance (or you can’t move closer), using a WiFi extender is another solution.

Kind of like redstone repeaters in Minecraft, WiFi extenders pick up your WiFi signal and broadcast them out again.

Quick Tip

Using a WiFi extender is a great way to improve your internet speed for gaming without having to move your router or gaming setup.

If you're interested in extending your WiFi's range, we recommend the Linksys AC1900 range extender.

It's powerful, easy to use, and pretty cheap. Click here to check its current price on Amazon.

Most of them are pretty easy to use - my grandmother has one that plugs into the wall and sends her WiFi signal to the farthest rooms in the house. They’re relatively inexpensive and can be a great solution.

Instead of connecting to your router, you’ll instead connect to the WiFi extender.

Use a Wired Connection

If at all possible, use a wired internet connection. No matter how close you are to your router, a direct wired connection will always be astronomically faster than a WiFi connection.

For example, my gaming setup is literally right next to my router, but for a while I was on WiFi. I figured since my PC was so close to the router, my internet connection would be fine.

And yes, I didn’t have any problems with WiFi nor did I lag, but after connecting with an Ethernet cable, my internet speed more than doubled, instantly.

use a wired connection

We have an entire page on our website about gaming Ethernet cables which you can check out by clicking that link.

Most of the cables we feature are great for the Xbox One and Xbox One X, but they’ll also work for any other gaming console (or PC) as well.

Shorten your Ethernet cable

Using a shorter Ethernet cable is ideal for two reasons:

  1. The longer your cable, the slower your connection
  2. Running an incredibly long Ethernet cable from one side of your home to the other is a huge pain in the ass

Even a long Ethernet cable is better than a wireless connection.The length of the cable isn’t going to have a tremendous impact on speed, but the shorter, the better.

Upgrade your Ethernet cable

In our article about gaming Ethernet cables, there’s a section about the different types of Ethernet cables.

There are seven types of Ethernet cables, and each generation is faster than the previous.

You don’t need the fastest Ethernet cable of all time for gaming, but you’ll definitely suffer slow speeds if you’re using one of the oldest variants.

Generally speaking, a Cat 5e or Cat 6 cable should be sufficient for gaming.

Use a Powerline adapter

powerline adapter

What if you can’t run an Ethernet cable from your router to your gaming setup?

Your setup might be too far away, you don’t want an ugly cable running along your floor, and hiding it can be a pain in the ass.

All valid problems that I’ve run into as well.

Enter Powerline adapters, your new best friend.

These bad boys make use of the existing electrical wiring in your home to send an internet signal.

Simply connect an Ethernet cable from your router to your Powerline adapter, and plug your Powerline adapter into the nearest power outlet.

powerline adapter in the wall

Next, plug the other Powerline adapter into an outlet near your PC, and run the other included Ethernet cable from the adapter to your PC.

The internet connection will go through your house’s electrical circuitry and act like a wired connection.

It’s important to note, however, that while this solution is better than a wireless alternative, it’s not a replacement for an actual Ethernet cable.

Ethernet cables are designed for the internet, and your home’s power lines are designed for electricity.

powerline diagram

Ethernet is more reliable than Powerline, and Ethernet cables can transmit faster internet speeds.

Still, it’s better than nothing. And just because it’s not as good as Ethernet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use one.

My Powerline adapter was awesome and I didn’t lag at all when I was using it.

Quick Tip

If you're thinking about getting a Powerline adapter to improve your internet connection, I'd recommend the TP-Link AV2000.

I've used it personally and it worked like a charm. It was easy to setup, reliable, fast, and pretty cheap too. Best of all, I didn't have to run an Ethernet cable across my house.

I got mine on Amazon for cheap with Prime shipping. You can click here to check the current price.

But there’s one caveat:

Your gaming setup needs to be using the same circuit as your router.

This shouldn’t be an issue for a small home or an apartment, but large houses may use several circuits, in which case a Powerline adapter won’t work.

Scan for viruses

If you’re gaming on a computer or have other computer users in the house, check them for viruses with a virus scanner.

Viruses can hide on your computer and drain precious resources away from what you’re doing, thus slowing down your internet connection across all devices.

virus scan

They’re annoying and hard to find, but eliminating a virus is a great way to improve speeds.

Once I may or may not have tried to download a pirated editing software. Karma is a biotch as they say, and I got my fair share of it.

The download had a virus which screwed up my internet connection for a few weeks.

It wasn’t until I identified and eliminated the virus (by wiping the drive it was on and losing all the data…) that I was able to recover my internet speeds.

If you don’t want to deal with a virus on your PC, I recommend getting an antivirus software like Norton. They’re cheap on Amazon and worth the investment.

Check for on-system interference

This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with the last.

Sometimes it’s not a virus that’s slowing you down, but your virus detection software (or another application on your computer).

Close them down one by one and test your internet connection speed to identify the culprit.

Make sure your firmware and software is up to date

router dashboard

Most people don’t know that their modem/router actually has its own software that needs to be updated on a regular basis, much like the drivers on your computer.

Without up-to-date software, your modem/router’s performance will suffer.

You can login to your router by following the model’s instructions.

To learn how to log in to your router, look at the label to find your model number.

Next, you guessed it, time to Google.

Search “how to login to insert router company name and model number”.

You should find the basic information you need to login. From there, you can make sure your router is updated, and a bunch of other cool stuff too.

Use your router/ISP’s best settings

As I just mentioned, logging into your router unlocks a whole new world of optimizations.

Each router ships with its default settings, but they may not be the best settings for gaming by default.

Logging into your router and tweaking the settings may have a good impact on gaming performance.

For example, my router limited my PC’s internet speed significantly (which I swiftly fixed). After removing the bottleneck, my internet speed soared high in the sky.

Don’t stress your network

If you live in a home with a ton of people all using the WiFi at the same time, you might be kinda screwed on this one.

That’s why I used to yell at my sister - as soon as I began lagging, I knew she was watching YouTube videos.

Some things use more WiFi than others. Try to avoid downloading and streaming videos while gaming, as they use a ton of bandwidth.

If possible, don’t use the internet for anything else, but that may be a stretch. Still, try to preserve as much bandwidth for gaming as possible.

Upgrade your internet package

router dashboard

I hate to say it, but at the end of the day, upgrading your internet package is the best way to reduce lag and improve your internet speed for gaming.

Sorry, but spending a bit of extra money each month is the best way to fix the problem. If you’re strapped for cash, the methods above will help. But again, upgrading your WiFi is almost always the best option.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here I’ll answer some of the most common questions I’m asked with regards to internet speed and gaming.

Is 100 Mbps Good for Gaming?

Yeah, 100Mbps is terrific for gaming. As long as your upload speeds are similar in strength, you shouldn’t have any issues with lag.

In fact, a 100 Mbps download speed should be sufficient for YouTube, TV, Hulu, Netflix, and gaming at the same time. You’re good bro!

What Internet is Best for Gaming?

Here are the best internet service providers for gaming:

Logo ISP Monthly Price Download Speeds Pricing
AT&T Logo AT&T $50 100-940 Mbps View Plans
Xfinity Logo Xfinity $30-$300 15-2000 Mbps View Plans
Verizon Logo Verizon $40-$80 200-940 Mbps View Plans

What is the Best Internet Speed for Gaming and Streaming?

Obviously the best internet speed is as fast as possible - but realistically speaking, anything above 20-30 Mbps and you’re fine.

You won’t experience any issues, you’ll have good ping and won’t need to worry about too many others using the network.

How do I Prioritize My Internet for Gaming?

First, identify your gaming console’s (or PC’s) MAC address. It’s a unique identifier number that all devices have.

Next, you’ll need to refer to the model number of your modem/router. This way you can login to your control panel and prioritize the MAC address of your device, and/or limit the bandwidth of others.