Best internet providers for gaming

Ari Howard

Jun 24, 2021 — 6 min read

Find out which internet provider and speed plan best suits your internet needs for the cheapest price.

Boy gaming on computer

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If you’re a gamer, you likely know that live-gaming requires a better internet connection and faster speeds than most other online tasks. Without a proper connection, you end-up enduring internet lag and buffering, which makes gaming impossible. 

Due to the high-demand of gaming, you need an internet provider and an internet plan that offers some of the best download speeds, upload speeds, reliability, data allowance and latency available. With these five criteria in mind, we have broken down the top 5 internet providers for gaming that are most widely available throughout the country. 

Top 5 providers for gaming

#1 internet provider for gaming: AT&T fiber 

Overall, AT&T received first place for best internet provider for gaming because it offers a reliable internet connection for some of the best prices around. The cheapest plan is only $35/mo. and you get up to 300 Mbps when both downloading and uploading. A symmetrical download/upload internet plan is key for a good gaming experience because otherwise there will be lags and buffering issues when interacting with other players online. AT&T also has some of the lowest latency (between 10.3 and 15.5 ms), which also helps prevent lags. 

Pros

  • Great starting price – For a starting price of $35/mo. for 300 Mbps, you can get the speeds you need without paying a fortune

  • Uses fiber optic technology – AT&T relies on a 100% fiber optic network, which is why it is able to offer latency that is so low and speeds that are so fast

  • No data caps – AT&T offers unlimited data so you never have to worry about overage fees while gaming

Cons

  • Fiber plans aren’t available everywhere – In some areas, AT&T only offers DSL internet, which is not going to provide as seamless a gaming experience as its fiber optic internet

  • Price increase after 12 months – Expect AT&T’s internet plans to increase by about $20/mo. after the first year

  • Additional fees – Expect to pay a $10/mo. equipment fee and potentially a $99 installation fee

Recommended plan: AT&T 300 unless you live in a larger household 

If you plan to live-game and stream from more than four devices at a time, then you will want to upgrade to the AT&T 500 or 1000 plan. However, for the average household, the 300 Mbps plan is more than sufficient for all of your gaming needs.

#2 Verizon Fios 

Verizon Fios is another great option for gaming but its prices are slightly higher in the first 12 months for speeds that are slightly slower. Verizon does not increase prices after the first year as much as AT&T, however, so the value of the two providers balances out over time. Additionally, Verizon offers exceptionally low latency scores of 7 ms and below for all of its fiber optic plans and symmetrical download/upload speeds. This means you will not have to worry about buffering and lagging with any of Verizon’s plans. 

Pros

  • Symmetrical download/upload speeds – Verizon offers symmetrical download/upload speeds for its 200 and 400 Mbps plan and nearly symmetrical download upload speeds for its Gig plan

  • Equipment included with Gig plan – Verizon doesn’t include any hidden fees in its billing, but its Gig plan is even better since equipment is included

  • Low latency – Verizon offers some of the lowest latency speeds out of any provider

Cons

  • Equipment fees – Verizon charges a high equipment fee of $15/mo. for a router

  • Limited availability – Verizon Fios is only available in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region throughout nine states, so its service may not be available to you

Recommended plan: Verizon internet 400 

The 400 Mbps Verizon plan will guarantee you and your family members are able to live-game from multiple devices at a time. If only one person in your household games or uses the internet heavily (live-streaming, working from home, etc.), the 200 Mbps plan is fine. You only need Verizon’s Gig plan if you have more than four devices at a time that are using the internet heavily.

#3 Frontier FiberOptic

Frontier FiberOptic offers three internet plans that range from 50 Mbps to 940 Mbps. Like AT&T and Verizon, Frontier also offers symmetrical download/upload speeds so that no matter what task you are performing online, you will have equally fast speeds. Plans start at $49.99/mo. and there is only a price increase of $10/mo. after the first year. 

Pros

  • Symmetrical download/upload speeds – Frontier offers symmetrical download/uploads for its 50 and 500 Mbps plans and nearly symmetrical for its Gig plan

  • Good value – Frontier offers a great value when you measure cost/Mbps. Frontier’s fastest internet plans, 500/500 and 1 Gig, will have you paying around $0.10 per Mbps or less

  • No hidden fees – Frontier internet plans require no contract, include your equipment rental and offer unlimited data, making pricing simple and straight-forward

Cons

  • Limited fiber optic availability – Frontier fiber optic service is only available to around a third of addresses eligible for Frontier internet. If only Frontier’s DSL service is available, you may want to look for a different provider

  • Low customer satisfaction ratings – Frontier has some of the lowest customer satisfaction ratings out of any internet provider. In 2021, Frontier received a 57/100 on the ACSI

Recommended plan: Frontier FiberOptic 500 Mbps plan 

Frontier’s 50 Mbps plan is likely not fast enough for gaming needs so you will want to go with Frontier’s 500 Mbps plan. The 500 plan is best for households that are using the internet heavily on more than four devices at a time. If you have more than 10 devices connected at a time, you will want to upgrade to Frontier’s Gig plan.

#4 Xfinity internet 

Xfinity is one of the most widely available internet providers in the country and offers the fastest speeds out of any provider. Xfinity is primarily a cable provider; however, its fastest plan uses fiber optic technology. Download speeds range from 25 to 2,000 Mbps and upload speeds range from 3 to 2,000 Mbps. Xfinity’s 2,000 plan is the only plan that offers symmetrical download/upload speeds. Max upload speeds with Xfinity’s cable plans only reach 35 Mbps, making live-gaming a lot less reliable.

Pros

  • Fastest max speeds available – At 2,000 Mbps download and upload, Xfinity offers the fastest internet speeds out of any provider listed

  • Multiple plan options – Xfinity tends to have up to seven plan options where serviceable, giving you exactly the speeds you need

  • High customer satisfaction – Xfinity ranks one of the highest in customer satisfaction. In 2021, Xfinity received a 67/100 on the ACSI

Cons

  • Slower upload speeds – Unless you are opting for Xfinity’s 2,000 Mbps plan, upload speeds will reach between 3 and 35 Mbps

  • Data caps – Unlike some of the other providers listed, Xfinity imposes a data cap of 1.2 TB/mo. on most plans. Although 1.2 TB is likely plenty, you will still want to monitor your data usage if you are a heavy gamer

  • Uses coaxial cables – Xfinity primarily uses coaxial instead of fiber optic cables for its service, which make it a slightly less reliable service

Recommended plan: Xfinity 400 Mbps internet 

Xfinity offers a 400 Mbps download speed and 10 Mbps upload speed plan for anywhere between $50/mo. and $64.99/mo., depending on your location. You will likely not want to go below this plan since you want at least 10 Mbps in upload speeds for live-gaming. Xfinity also offers a 800/25 Mbps plan and a 1,000/35 Mbps plan for $10/mo. if you are worried about not receiving the speeds you need. Although Xfinity offers a 2,000 Mbps plan, this is likely not worth the $299.95/mo. expense.

#5 Spectrum internet 

Spectrum is a major cable provider throughout the U.S. that offers plans between 200 and 1,000 Mbps. Its upload speeds are on the slower end, ranging between 10 and 35 Mbps, which makes live-gaming slightly less reliable. However, Spectrum ranks in the top 5 because it’s widely available, offers unlimited data, doesn’t require any long-term contracts and the equipment fee is only $5/mo.

Pros

  • Fast speed options – All three of Spectrum’s speed options are fast enough to handle gaming and other heavy internet use activities

  • No data caps – Spectrum offers unlimited data so you never have to worry about overage fees when gaming

  • Low equipment fees – Spectrum’s equipment fees are only $5/mo., which is lower than most

Cons

  • Price increase – After the first year, your price will increase from the initial promotional pricing to your new monthly price which is sometimes $20-$30/mo. more

  • Slow upload speeds – Spectrum’s upload speeds only reach 35 Mbps, creating more of a possibility for lagging and buffering when gaming

Recommended plan: Spectrum Internet Ultra (400 Mbps)

In order to get the best gaming experience possible, we would recommend going with Spectrum’s 400 Mbps or 1,000 Mbps internet plan. The 400/20 Mbps plan is likely sufficient for most households, but if you are connecting more than four devices at a time to game or to heavily use the internet, you may want to consider the 1,000/35 Mbps plan. The 200/10 Mbps plan will likely come with buffering and lagging.

Our methodology

In order to determine the top 5 internet providers for gaming, we assessed a total of 16 internet providers based on speeds, reliability, latency, data caps, number of plans, customer satisfaction, value, affordability and availability. The five providers chosen are some of the most widely available internet providers in the country that offer great speeds at an affordable rate. 

In order to determine the top 5 internet providers for gaming, we assessed a total of 16 internet providers based on speeds, reliability, latency, data caps, number of plans, customer satisfaction, value, affordability and availability. The five providers chosen are some of the most widely available internet providers in the country that offer great speeds at an affordable rate. 

Providers that offer symmetrical download/upload speeds and used fiber optic technology were ranked the highest since these two factors provide the greatest likelihood of a fast and reliable internet connection without any lags or buffering. We also didn’t include any providers that impose data caps lower than 1 TB/mo. or that didn’t offer a Gig speed internet plan. You can be sure, therefore, that whichever provider you pick from this list, you will have at least one plan available that meets your gaming needs.

Learn more about our methodology

Tips for choosing the best Wi-Fi plan for gaming 

When you are choosing an internet provider and Wi-Fi plan, you want to keep several factors in mind: speeds (download and upload), latency and data caps. These three factors will help you ensure that your internet plan has the speeds and reliability to give you a seamless gaming experience. You will then want to look at pricing to ensure you are selecting the best deal possible out of the plans that suit your needs. Make sure when considering pricing to factor in price increases (usually after 12 months), equipment fees and installation fees. 

Speeds 

The most important consideration when choosing the best internet plan for you is to determine what speeds you need. You will want to factor in both download and upload speeds because both are essential for preventing buffering and lagging. The speed internet providers advertise are the download speeds and upload speeds are often not as fast as the download speeds. The top providers will offer symmetrical download/upload speeds but many do not. If you do not live in an area with symmetrical download/upload speeds available, try to get a plan that offers at least 10 Mbps upload speeds. When it comes to download speeds, you will want a plan of at least 100 Mbps download speeds but likely higher. The speed you actually need will depend on how many devices you will have connected to the internet at a time.

How to choose an internet speed plan for gaming

A good rule of thumb to follow when selecting an internet plan is to divide the number of devices you will have connected to the internet at a time by the speed plan you are considering (speed plan/number of devices). For heavy gamers, you will want the result of that equation to be between 40 and 75 Mbps. Therefore, if you plan to have four devices connected to the internet, all performing heavy-bandwidth tasks, you will want a plan around 300 Mbps (300/4=75). 

Latency 

Another important consideration for gamers looking for the ideal internet plan is latency. Latency has to do with the amount of time it takes for data to travel from one point to another. If your latency time is too slow, you will experience lag when gaming. Although most providers do not advertise their latency speeds, looking into what cable technology your provider uses will provide you with a sufficient amount of information.

For instance, fiber optic internet providers tend to have the best (i.e. lowest) latency and satellite internet providers tend to have the worst (i.e. highest) latency. Cable internet providers are second best after fiber optic and fixed wireless and DSL are slightly better than satellite internet. 

Data caps 

Lastly, you will want to consider data caps when selecting a provider. All the providers listed here except for Xfinity offer unlimited data, but many providers place data caps on their plan. Live-gaming and live-streaming suck up a significant amount of data and overage fees can reach up to $50/mo., so you want to make sure you are choosing a plan that provides enough data for your gaming needs. A data cap of 1 TB/mo. or above is likely sufficient, but if you can find a plan that is unlimited, it is definitely the better choice. 

Expert tip: Some providers that say they offer unlimited data will still throttle your speeds

Before committing to an internet provider and plan, make sure you ask about internet throttling. A handful of providers, especially in more rural areas, will throttle (slow down) your internet speeds if you have reached a certain data limit for the month. It’s worth asking your internet provider if internet throttling is a possibility, therefore, even with an internet plan with unlimited data.

Ari Howard

Written by:

Ari Howard

Associate Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content

Ari is an Associate Writer for the Allconnect team, focusing on broadband and wireless news, as well as broadband and TV provider deals. She recently graduated from Davidson College with a bachelor’s degree in… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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