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Best broadband for gaming

Compare the best gaming broadband deals and offers. Best providers for gaming – BT and Virgin Media. April 2024 deals start from just £26.50 per month.

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Virgin Media Gig1 Fibre Broadband Virgin Media
order by phone
£45.00 per month(prices may change during contract)
New customers only104Mb upload speed99.86% network reliability
  • 1.1Gb Average Speed
  • Unlimited Monthly downloads
  • Zero One-off cost
  • 18 Month Contract
  • No phone line
£45.00 per month(prices may change during contract)
Visit Now
order by phone
Sky Ultrafast Sky
£50 Gift Card
£29.00 per month(prices may change during contract)
£50 Gift Card
  • £50 Gift Card
    You will be sent instructions on how to choose your Gift Card up to 120 days after your purchase. You will have 90 days to claim your Gift Card by sending it to your email or mobile phone.
  • Ends in 3 days
    This offer ends on 18/04/2024.
New customers only£5 fee refunded to first bill
  • 145Mb Average Speed
  • Unlimited Monthly downloads
  • £5.00 One-off cost
  • 18 Month Contract
  • Pay as you go calls
£50 Gift Card
£29.00 per month(prices may change during contract)
Visit Now
Virgin Media M500 Fibre Broadband Virgin Media
£65 Bill Credit
£38.50 per month(prices may change during contract)
£65 Bill Credit
  • £65 Bill Credit
    The Virgin Media bill credit will be applied to your first bill. Any remaining balance will be applied to subsequent bills until the credit is used.
  • No 2024 Price Rise
    No price rise in 2024 if you switch to Virgin Media. Monthly price shown will increase each April from April 2025 by the Retail Price Index rate at inflation announced in February each year plus 3.9%.
New customers only52Mb upload speed99.86% network reliability
  • 516Mb Average Speed
  • Unlimited Monthly downloads
  • Zero One-off cost
  • 18 Month Contract
  • No phone line
£65 Bill Credit
£38.50 per month(prices may change during contract)
Visit Now
BT Fibre 2 BT
£50 Reward Card
£36.99 per month(increases on the 31st March 2025 by CPI +3.9%)
£50 Reward Card
  • £50 Virtual Reward Card
    Claim your BT Reward Card within 3 months of placing your order by entering your details on www.bt.com/manage/bt-reward-card/. You must activate the card within 3 months of it being issued.
New customers only
  • 67Mb Average Speed
  • Unlimited Monthly downloads
  • £31.99 One-off cost
  • 24 Month Contract
  • No phone line
£50 Reward Card
£36.99 per month(increases on the 31st March 2025 by CPI +3.9%)
Visit Now
BT Full Fibre 500 BT
£50 Reward Card
was £49.99
£34.99 per month(increases on the 31st March 2025 by CPI +3.9%)
£50 Reward Card
  • £50 Virtual Reward Card
    Claim your BT Reward Card within 3 months of placing your order by entering your details on www.bt.com/manage/bt-reward-card/. You must activate the card within 3 months of it being issued.
New customers onlyPrices may vary depending on location
  • 500Mb Average Speed
  • Unlimited Monthly downloads
  • Zero One-off cost
  • 24 Month Contract
  • No phone line
£50 Reward Card
was £49.99
£34.99 per month(increases on the 31st March 2025 by CPI +3.9%)
Visit Now
Sky Broadband Superfast + Anytime Extra Calls Sky
order by phone
£43.00 per month(prices may change during contract)
New customers only
  • 61Mb Average Speed
  • Unlimited Monthly downloads
  • £5.00 One-off cost
  • 18 Month Contract
  • Inclusiveanytime calls
£43.00 per month(prices may change during contract)
Visit Now
order by phone
Sky Ultrafast Plus Sky
£90 Gift Card
£32.00 per month(prices may change during contract)
£90 Gift Card
  • £90 Gift Card
    You will be sent instructions on how to choose your Gift Card up to 120 days after your purchase. You will have 90 days to claim your Gift Card by sending it to your email or mobile phone.
  • Ends in 3 days
    This offer ends on 18/04/2024.
New customers only£5 fee refunded to first bill
  • 500Mb Average Speed
  • Unlimited Monthly downloads
  • £5.00 One-off cost
  • 18 Month Contract
  • Pay as you go calls
£90 Gift Card
£32.00 per month(prices may change during contract)
Visit Now
Virgin Media M125 Fibre Broadband Virgin Media
£50 Bill Credit
£26.50 per month(prices may change during contract)
£50 Bill Credit
  • £50 Bill Credit
    The Virgin Media bill credit will be applied to your first bill. Any remaining balance will be applied to subsequent bills until the credit is used.
  • No 2024 Price Rise
    No price rise in 2024 if you switch to Virgin Media. Monthly price shown will increase each April from April 2025 by the Retail Price Index rate at inflation announced in February each year plus 3.9%.
New customers only20Mb upload speed99.86% network reliability
  • 132Mb Average Speed
  • Unlimited Monthly downloads
  • Zero One-off cost
  • 18 Month Contract
  • No phone line
£50 Bill Credit
£26.50 per month(prices may change during contract)
Visit Now
BT Full Fibre 100 BT
£50 Reward Card
was £38.99
£29.99 per month(increases on the 31st March 2025 by CPI +3.9%)
£50 Reward Card
  • £50 Virtual Reward Card
    Claim your BT Reward Card within 3 months of placing your order by entering your details on www.bt.com/manage/bt-reward-card/. You must activate the card within 3 months of it being issued.
New customers onlyPersonal speed guaranteePrices may vary by location
  • 150Mb Average Speed
  • Unlimited Monthly downloads
  • Zero One-off cost
  • 24 Month Contract
  • No phone line
£50 Reward Card
was £38.99
£29.99 per month(increases on the 31st March 2025 by CPI +3.9%)
Visit Now
Sky Superfast Sky
£30 Gift Card
£27.00 per month(prices may change during contract)
£30 Gift Card
  • £30 Gift Card
    You will be sent instructions on how to choose your Gift Card up to 120 days after your purchase. You will have 90 days to claim your Gift Card by sending it to your email or mobile phone.
  • Ends in 3 days
    This offer ends on 18/04/2024.
New customers only£5 fee refunded to first bill
  • 61Mb Average Speed
  • Unlimited Monthly downloads
  • £5.00 One-off cost
  • 18 Month Contract
  • Pay as you go calls
£30 Gift Card
£27.00 per month(prices may change during contract)
Visit Now
29
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Cable.co.uk may earn a commission when you purchase via links on our site. The price you pay will always be equal to or often cheaper than the price you would pay by going direct to the provider. Broadband speeds are dependent on where you live and you may receive slower speeds than listed. Broadband is subject to availability. Please refer to individual broadband provider's terms and conditions before signing up. All prices are inclusive of VAT except business prices.

About broadband for gaming

In this guide

  1. Online multiplayer gaming
  2. Growing your digital library
  3. Live-streaming your gameplay
  4. Cloud gaming and on-demand
  5. Online broadband performance
  6. Overall

Broadband for online multiplayer gaming

From teaming up with friends to take on all manner of challenges to facing down random players from around the world in competitive modes, online play is a massive part of the gaming experience for many people. Speed isn't actually as important as you might think – as anyone who played the likes of Quake, Counter-Strike and Phantasy Star Online on dial-up connections back in the day will know, online gaming can work perfectly fine on a relatively modest data budget.

There are advantages to having faster speeds, but you're unlikely to notice much practical difference between, say, a 50Mbps connection and a 350Mbps one, especially when everyone else's speeds will affect overall performance as well.

More important things to look at are details that aren't typically so widely advertised as general speeds, such as packet loss, latency, and jitter. Ofcom reported almost universally low latency levels from all major providers tested; between 5 and 25 milliseconds. BT scored the best at between 6.4ms and 6.9ms.

Packet loss – where some data may not reach its destination, possibly manifesting in lag or other glitchy movement – is a somewhat different story, with much more variable results across the board and notable differences between general and peak time performance. BT also scored the best with an impressively low packet loss rate of just 0.0001%.

player unknown's battlegrounds

Virgin's faster packages come in at the weaker end of the spectrum and rising as high as just shy of 0.0005% – still not terrible, but statistically up to five times more likely than the stablest competitors to suffer data hiccups. Jitter too sees Virgin come out in last place, although there's little to choose from between the rest as they're all reassuringly low.

Conclusion

While superfast options like Virgin's VIVID bundles might seem like the best match for online gaming on paper, they actually came out among the weakest in tests across fields more important than pure speed. More casual players might not notice much practical difference, but enthusiast users will likely see slightly >better overall performance from BT and Sky.

Broadband for growing and maintaining a digital library

Games are getting bigger all the time. Massive patches are commonplace, while games themselves have even started to break the 100GB mark. If getting digital games downloaded to your device or seeing them updated as promptly as possible is your main gaming concern, then download speed will be more or less the only factor that really matters.

buying games online at the Playstation store

With this in mind, the clear front runners are Virgin and BT, whose high-speed packages outspeed the competition several times over. A file download of around 10GB would take over three minutes on an average broadband line (50.4Mbps according to Ofcom), compared to around ten seconds on BT’s fastest 900Mbps and Virgin Media’s 1Gbps plans.

You're unlikely to ever really get those top advertised speeds based on both provider traffic and that of services like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, but faster options will typically still outperform others. You'll also need an unlimited package to accommodate all those huge downloads – most services now offer uncapped data as standard.

Conclusion

If you're mainly concerned about getting your games fast, the best logical choice is an ultrafast line, so that means going with either BT or Virgin Media – the former appears to perform slightly better in other aspects of gaming while the latter offers faster raw speeds for quicker downloads, so weigh up the two based on your own needs.

If those options aren't available to you, most top-end fibre options will offer roughly comparable speeds to help keep you in your favourite games, with that same Ofcom report suggesting that BT and Sky are most likely to provide maximum speeds closest to those advertised.

Compare gaming broadband

Broadband for live-streaming your gameplay on Twitch etc.

Letting game fans around the globe watch you play has become popular to the point where the biggest names can make a great living from streaming, so naturally a whole generation of aspiring streamers wants a piece of that pie. If you're into live-streaming your gameplay, good upload speeds will be your main requirement – the faster the better, as you'll want to prevent your stream stuttering or struggling when speeds inevitably dip a little.

a player streaming fortnite on twitch

A stable 1080p broadcast requires a rough upload speed of 6Mbps or so, so you'll want to come in a fair bit higher than that. Bear in mind that using any online gaming functionality will also require some of your available bandwidth, so it's a good idea to give yourself as much headroom as possible.

Most entry-level fibre packages on the market offer upload speeds of 9-10Mbps, so any of those should meet the bare minimum requirements for streaming. Step up to the top-end fibre packages and those upload speeds top 100Mbps, making them the best for budding streamers. For example, Virgin's Gig1 fibre broadband offers an average upload speed of 52Mbps, and BT's Full fibre 900 plan offers an average upload speed of 100Mbps.

Conclusion

Upload speeds across providers using the Openreach network are pretty uniform, so there's not a lot to choose between the various top-end fibre options available – all major operators offer upload speeds here that comfortably offer the bandwidth necessary for streaming with plenty of room to spare. Note, however, that Virgin's upload-to-download speed ratio is significantly lower than other providers, meaning you'll need to take its most expensive packages to see upload speeds of up to 50Mbps.

Broadband for cloud gaming, game down-streaming, games on demand

This emerging sector of gaming is only likely to grow as digital infrastructures improve, and it's a real test of both upload and download performance. At its simplest, this uses remote hardware to run gaming content, sending pictures and audio to the user while relaying their inputs back to the host machine in order to action their commands. Sony's PlayStation Now service is a good example of this kind of streaming, with a stated minimum requirement of 5Mbps meaning that it's really only viable on a fibre line if you're looking for half-decent performance.

Sony's playstation now streaming service

Once again, the majority of major providers using the Openreach network means there's little in the way of difference between them for this kind of gaming usage – in fact, latency becomes a more important thing to factor in as there's an inherent latency to this kind of remote gaming solution, so layering too much extra on top of that can make some games pretty much unplayable. And so we refer back to those factors covered in the online gaming section earlier, as these will all affect the quality of streamed play.

Conclusion

Once again, it's BT and Sky who top the leaderboards here, although not by much over the rest in terms of practical usage. And again, Virgin turns in a weaker performance than its peers.

Best general online broadband performance

Another factor to consider when picking a provider for gaming is the quality of the router provided. BT's Smart Hub is regarded as one of the best out there in terms of wireless performance, but it has been known to not play nice with some gaming devices – including the Xbox One – without some fiddling. It's also worth noting that gamers looking to use their own hardware might not be able to do so with all providers – they each provide compatible hardware to new users, but not all existing routers will be compatible with all services, so do your research beforehand.

Reliability is also important, as there's little more frustrating than losing connection mid-game, especially since some competitive games will treat this as an early disconnection and punish it accordingly.

Every individual case will be different, based on the quality of your line, the distance from your local cabinet and numerous other small factors. As a result, it's impossible to draw a full conclusion as to which will be best for you and your individual gaming needs, so you'll also need to do a little research of your own if you're after something specific.

Overall

Strong performance in most fields means that BT and Sky come out as the best overall providers for general gaming purposes. If, however, quick access to content is most important to you, Virgin's faster speeds will get you your games faster than any other provider, but bear in mind that its performance for most other aspects of gaming tracks weaker than its competitors.

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