Internet speeds explained: What you need for gaming, streaming and more

08 May 2024


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It has been a question on everyone’s lips since the internet became more mainstream – “How fast does my internet need to be?”. Whether you’re battling it out in the latest online game, catching up on your favorite streaming series or just browsing the web, understanding internet speeds and how they impact your activities is crucial.

But choosing the right internet speed depends on your specific usage habits, so let’s have a look a what internet speed is, why it matters and exactly how much you need for various activities.

What is internet speed?

Before we get into specifics, let’s clarify what we mean by internet speed. Simply put, it refers to how much data can be sent and received over your internet connection in a given amount of time. It’s usually measured in megabits per second (Mbps) and higher numbers mean more data can move through your connection faster, leading to quicker downloads and smoother streaming.

Having said that, two aspects influence your experience:

  • Download speed: this refers to the rate at which data is downloaded from the internet to your device, affecting how you stream videos or download files.
  • Upload speed: this is the rate at which data is uploaded from your device to the internet, crucial for activities like video calling or online gaming.

How much speed do you really need?

Let’s break down the typical online activities and the speed required to enjoy them without a hitch:

Browsing, emails and social media

You’re trying to pay bills online, your partner is downloading an ebook and your kids are browsing for a school project. Even simple tasks can become sluggish if your speed doesn’t match up. Luckily, browsing the web and sending emails are the least demanding activities. Generally speaking, 1-5 Mbps is sufficient, but if you’re also playing music, downloading files or have multiple tabs open, 10 Mbps can keep things smooth.

On the other hand, social media platforms like Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter) or Instagram generally require a bit more speed, especially to load high-resolution images and videos. A stable speed of around 5 Mbps should keep your social scrolling smooth.


It’s movie night and everyone’s picked a different screen. Someone’s watching a documentary in 4K in the living room, another’s catching up on a sitcom in HD in their bedroom and suddenly, your movie starts buffering. Streaming platforms like Netflix and YouTube recommend a minimum of 5 Mbps for HD quality streaming, however, for better stability and to accommodate multiple devices, speeds around 15-25 Mbps would ensure everyone in the household can watch without buffering interruptions. Just bear in mind that the speed you may need also depends on the quality of the video.

  • Standard Definition (SD): For streaming in SD, speeds of about 3-4 Mbps work well.
  • High Definition (HD): HD content typically requires speeds of 5-8 Mbps to stream smoothly.
  • 4K Ultra HD: For the crystal-clear quality of 4K video, your best bet is to have at least 25 Mbps.

Video calls

Remote work and video conferencing have become staples in our daily lives. But as you’re presenting to a client over Zoom and just as you’re making your key point, your video freezes. Not exactly the impression you want to make, right? Whether it’s Zoom, Skype, Google Meet or Teams, video calls can vary in their speed needs. For high-quality video, 10 Mbps is typically enough. If you’re hosting large group calls or conducting webinars, bumping up to 20 Mbps is wise to avoid any awkward freezes mid-conversation.

Downloading and uploading large files

If you often find yourself waiting ages for large files to download or upload, your current speeds may not be sufficient. When it comes to personal use, a download speed of around 50-100Mbps and an upload speed of 10-50Mbps should be enough if you need to download or upload large files occasionally, such as high-resolutions videos, large datasets or extensive software packages. Professionals or home office users who frequently handle large files, including video editors, graphic designers or data analysts will benefit from download speeds of 100-500Mbps and upload speeds of 50-100Mbps for efficient work with minimal delays.

Man playing games on his mobile

Smart home devices

Imagine a typical smart home setup – you have smart bulbs in various rooms, a couple of security cameras outside and a voice assistant. While each device might use a small amount of bandwidth, collectively, they could strain your network if other activities like streaming or gaming are happening simultaneously. To avoid disruptions, a good rule of thumb is to have internet speeds of at least 25-50 Mbps. This ensures that all devices can operate smoothly and leaves room for leisure activities without noticeable lag.

Online gaming

Whether you’re a die-hard gamer who lives for the next epic battle in “Call of Duty” or someone who casually jumps into “Animal Crossing” to unwind, the internet speed you have can make or break your gaming experience. For most games, speeds of 10-25 Mbps are sufficient, but if you’re into high-speed racing or shooting games, aiming for 50 Mbps or higher can provide that extra edge. But for gamers, speed isn’t the only priority — stability and latency also play huge roles. Latency or ping, is the time it takes for your game to send a signal to the server and back. High latency means more lag and that can make all the difference between victory and defeat.

Read through this detailed guide about the ideal internet speeds for gaming.

So, how fast should your internet be? It all boils down to what you’re using it for. Solo activities might need less, but as the number of devices and intensity of internet use increases, so does the need for speed. Think about your specific needs, consider the activities you and your household enjoy, and choose a plan that will keep up with your digital lifestyle.