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Top 5 best broadband deals for online gaming

Top 5 best broadband deals for gaming

Whether it’s hanging out with friends in World of Warcraft, or grinding the League of Legends ladder with dreams of eSport stardom, multiplayer titles are played by millions of people every single day.

A bad connection can not only upset your team but also ruin your playing experience.

So whether you’re a fast, light sniper, or a melee-heavy tank, picking the best broadband deal for gaming is vital to having fun online and keeping frustrations at bay.

We’ve rounded up the best deals on the market to keep gamers happy – and we’ll even tell you which deals suit the most popular online games.

What’s really important for online gaming?

Price vs speed – Download speeds are not as important as you might think. Although they do significantly reduce the time spent downloading games, DLC and updates, they will not drastically affect your online multiplayer experience.

For the best performance, it is better to go with fibre broadband instead of copper-cable ADSL connections – higher speeds are an indication of connection quality, but they are not the end of the story.

Gaming lag/latency – Latency is the length of time it takes for data to be sent through an ISP’s network. Lower latency times means better gaming experiences – reducing lag and delays when playing online.

Low latency is especially important for reflex-intensive games and peer-to-peer multiplayer connections. Our numbers for latency times are from Ofcom’s data collected in November 2016.

Traffic Management – Some ISPs throttle their users’ connection at peak times, or limit the speed of specific traffic. This can severely reduce the online performance of multiplayer games, causing lag spikes and disconnections. That’s why we’ve only listed deals from ISPs that do not throttle connections with Traffic Management policies.

Unlimited Usage – Playing games nowadays, on both PC and consoles, involves downloading a lot of data – from content updates, large balance patches, free and paid DLC and even entire games through Steam, Origin and other digital retailers.

We’ve only listed unlimited usage plans in our top deals, so you can keep everything up-to-date with no worries about your bill.

The five best broadband deals for gaming

Plusnet Unlimited Broadband

Download Speed: up to 17Mbps
Usage Cap: Unlimited
Details: 18 month contract, no calls, no costs upfront for hardware and installation, free broadband and £18.99 for line rental.
Average Cost: £18.99 a month, £227.88 a year.

Pros

At just £18.99 a month and with no upfront costs in sight, Plusnet provide a very affordable option for unlimited broadband use.
A technical support team is available 365 days a year, so any problems you might encounter won’t keep you offline for long.
There are no traffic management policies with Plusnet, so your connection will never be restricted at peak times.
Although this is not a fibre broadband package, Plusnet provide the best latency for ADSL providers, clocking in at 20ms of delay and often getting as low as 15ms.

Good for

Although Plusnet sport above-average latency times, this is still a copper-cable connection and so you should expect to encounter some slowdown or instabilities, meaning this package is not ideal for intense, reaction-heavy games where every millisecond counts.

However, with year-round customer support, you can expect a very reliable service which is great for group-oriented MMORPGs. For games like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV, where a top-notch connection isn’t always required, this deal is perfect, as Plusnet’s customer support will ensure you never miss a raid because of connection troubles.

TalkTalk Faster Fibre 18 Month

Download Speed: up to 38Mbps
Usage Cap: Unlimited
Details: 18 month contract, no inclusive calls, no costs upfront for hardware and installation, £26.50 for broadband and free line rental.
Average Cost: £26.50 a month, £318.00 a year.

Pros

Although the speed is capped at 38Mbps, this is still fibre broadband, so you can be confident in getting a very stable and reliable connection at all times.
TalkTalk’s network has a decent latency at around 15ms.
As with the other listed deals, no traffic management is in effect.

Good for

This package will be more than adequate to play the majority of online games. Sports and racing games and faster-paced MMORPGs like Black Desert Online and Blade and Soul will perform optimally.

BT Unlimited Infinity 1 and Weekend Calls

Download Speed: up to 52Mbps
Usage Cap: Unlimited
Details: 12 month contract, free weekend calls, £59.99 upfront for hardware and installation, £11.00 broadband and £18.99 for line rental.
Average Cost: £29.99 a month, £359.88 a year.

Pros

A 52Mbps fibre connection will ensure high-performance gameplay for the majority of titles.
£80 prepaid reward card included to spend however you want.
100GB of free cloud storage is also available, which is perfect for archiving old games that are taking up space on your PC.
A shorter contract than most of the deals in this list, 12 months will suit those who know how to switch for better deals further down the line.
BT feature some of the best latency available – between 10ms and 15ms of delay.
No traffic management is used in BT’s network, so you’ll never have to worry about your connection being throttled.

Good for

A 52Mbps connection with exceptionally low latency is perfect for large-scale multiplayer games like Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, H1Z1, Battlefield 1 and Grand Theft Auto V. You will also get excellent performance for more competitive titles like Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch.

EE Unlimited Fibre Plus and Weekend Calls

Download Speed: up to 76Mbps
Usage Cap: Unlimited
Details: 18 month contract, free weekend calls, £32.00 upfront for hardware and installation, £14.00 for broadband and £18.50 for line rental.
Average Cost: £32.50 a month, £390.00 a year.

Pros

With 76Mbps speeds, this fast fibre connection makes for perfect performance across almost any multiplayer title.
A free router worth £175 is included, giving excellent WiFi gaming capabilities.
No traffic management policies are used within EE’s network.
EE also manage good latency times – less than 15ms.

Good for

You can achieve almost flawless performance for highly-competitive titles and connection-intensive gameplay from shooters, like Overwatch and Counter Strike, MOBAs, like League of Legends and Dota 2, and peer-to-peer fighting games like Tekken 7 and Injustice 2.
This package is also ideal for streaming cloud gameplay services like Playstation Now, giving a lag-free experience at all times of the day.

Virgin Media Vivid 300 Fibre with Talk Weekends

Download Speed: up to 300Mbps
Usage Cap: Unlimited
Details: 12 month contract, free weekend calls, £20.00 upfront for hardware and installation, £24.01 for broadband and £17.99 for line rental.
Average Cost: £42.00 a month, £504.00 a year.

Pros

Virgin Media’s lightning-fast 300Mbps speeds will have you downloading patches and updates in a flash.
This deal also offers unmatched 20Mbps upload speeds.
Includes free access to Virgin Media’s WiFi hotspot network – great for mobile gaming titles like Hearthstone and Clash Royale.
There is no traffic management for internet use on Virgin’s cable network.
Virgin also has good latency times, averaging around 15ms

Good for

This is a very high-performance connection, only beaten by exclusively available full-fibre broadband – so you will experience virtually flawless gameplay across almost any multiplayer title.

The massive 20Mbps upload speed is perfect if you’re looking to stream your gameplay on Twitch or Youtube, upload replays or share them with your friends. You could even host your own custom server at home for games like Arma 3 or Team Fortress 2.

By:

Samuel Newman is a consumer journalist and blogger based in Sheffield.
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