When it comes to online gaming and streaming, you’ve gotta have the right setup. But even with the highest-end PC build, a tactile mechanical keyboard, and incredibly responsive mouse, there’s still an element of your gaming station that can bring you down in an instant. I’m talking about the quality of your internet service provider (ISP). You’ve got fiber on one end and dial up on the other. Choose one of the best ISPs for gaming below to play without lag (and compete at the highest levels).

Why Your ISP Matters

The quality of your ISP matters even if you don’t plan on playing online. For instance, if you like to download games, stream while playing, or utilize cloud storage, you’ll have a rough time using a sub-par internet connection. 

Additionally, while most service providers state that a download speed of 12 Mbps is all that’s necessary for quality online gaming, you’ll probably want more than that. You’ll also need to consider data caps, upload and download speeds, simultaneous device support, latency, and price, among other things. 

That’s why it’s so vital that you carefully choose the best ISP option available in your area.

And yes I did say in your area. An unfortunate drawback to most ISPs is that their availability is limited. So while service provided by Google Fiber, for instance, would likely top this list, the lack of coverage severely limits its viability. 

Zoom In: 5 Best and Fastest ISPs for Gaming

With speed, availability, pricing, and several other factors in mind, here are the top 5 ISPs for gaming.

1. AT&T Fiber

ATT

The best ISP for gaming overall

Provider: AT&T | Speed: 1 Gbps | Latency: 18 ms | Availability: 22 States | Price: 💰

Fiber is the future of high-speed internet, and AT&T has made the most progress in that arena. How so? AT&T offers fiber to more people than any other network, at an affordable price to boot. While favoring the west and east coasts, the ISP is gradually expanding to more and more states.

And that’s what makes AT&T Fiber the top choice. Well, that and their consistent download speed. While their traditional DSL network is often spotty, their fiber network consistently hits their promoted speeds. Sure, some of this depends on your location, but on average, you’ll find yourself hovering reasonably close to that sweet, sweet 1 Gbps.

Now, there are some drawbacks to AT&T’s service that you’ll need to be aware of. For starters, their notoriously abhorrent customer service. There’s also the asymmetrical upload speed and decently high latency, with the upload speeds often running slower than advertised. And of course, it wouldn’t be an AT&T plan without a data cap, which you may find yourself butting up against fairly quickly.

But faults aside, AT&T Fiber simply is the best and most widely available fiber option out there. Hopefully, improvements will be made sooner rather than later. But in the meantime, it’s still the clear front-runner.

  • USERS LIKE
  • Fiber availability
  • Consistent download speeds
  • Reasonable pricing and no contract
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • 1 TB data cap
  • Asymmetrical upload speed
  • Lackluster customer service

2. Verizon FIOS

FIOS

The best ISP for online gaming

Provider: Verizon | Speed: 200 Mbps – 1 Gbps | Latency: 16 ms | Availability: 7 States | Price: 💰💰

It may sound like I’m doubling back here, but Verizon FIOS is currently the best internet service provider for gaming online. While this would typically garner it the top spot, the unfortunate reality is that FIOS is only available on the east coast.

Honestly, it might be the minimal availability that makes FIOS such an excellent service. Sure it hits download speeds comparable to AT&T, but you get more speed options at various price ranges, and consistently low latency to boot. Not to mention, the symmetric upload speed that reflects your download speed and the lack of a data cap.

Even their customer service is known to be great, with satisfaction and reliability scores far above the competition. And let’s be honest — having dependable customer service is a breath of fresh air when dealing with ISPs, especially when you’ve likely tried everything possible before reaching out.

Despite all those positives making FIOS the fastest ISP for streaming and gaming, the minimal availability is what holds it back. If Verizon does begin to roll out expansions to their fiber network and you’re looking to make a change, keep an eye out to see if it becomes available in your area. It has the potential to take your online gaming to the next level.

  • USERS LIKE
  • No data cap
  • Symmetric upload/download speeds
  • Personable and effective customer service
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • Limited availability
  • Priced higher than competitors

3. Xfinity

Xfinity

The best non-fiber ISP

Provider: Comcast | Speed: 25 – 1000 Mbps | Latency: 22 ms | Availability: 39 States | Price: 💰

If you’ve dealt with Xfinity in the past, it probably wasn’t a pleasant experience. Known for their less than stellar customer service, it’s taken this ISP a while to reinvent itself over the last few years. But one thing that didn’t need any changes was the availability of high-speed service across the entire country.

Yes, it’s not a fiber connection, but it is one of the highest performing cable networks available today. This means that you’ll consistently hit the download and upload speeds that you’re paying for. And as Xfinity improves its network, you’ll likely see a performance bump or free upgrade to higher speeds from time to time.

Now, there are some drawbacks to going with an ISP that is so widely available. As said before, their customer service isn’t great, even with recent in-store and online overhauls. But the real kicker is the need to bundle services to reach higher speeds that are then hampered by relatively low data caps. Xfinity is gradually moving away from the need to bundle and offering non-contract options, but for now, you’ll be shelling out a decent amount of cash if you don’t get a home phone or TV.

All that aside, as far as ISPs go, Xfinity is a reasonable choice that’s probably available in your area. The constant improvements to their network and availability of hotspots provide a glimmer of hope that Xfinity may actually be dedicated to better, faster, and higher quality internet service for its customers.

  • USERS LIKE
  • Widespread availability
  • Reliable and fast speeds
  • Access to WiFi hotspot network
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • Data caps
  • Lackluster customer service
  • Typically have to bundle for the fastest speeds

4. Frontier

Frontier

The best ISP with no data cap

Provider: Frontier | Speed: 6 – 1000 Mbps | Latency: 36 ms | Availability: 26 States | Price: 💰💰💰

Frontier is somewhat unique amongst ISPs, as it offers traditional cable internet and fiber-based internet. In both cases, the quality, speed, and pricing don’t quite hit the same highs as the other service providers on this list. But it does make up for that by having a widely available network and additional fiber location en route.

As it stands today, the fiber network is more limited than the cable offering. But they’re off to a great start, providing symmetrical download and upload speeds that often match Verizon’s FIOS network. All for a very comparable price.

But again, their fiber network is limited, and nothing showcases that more than the hits on latency. Unlike the top providers that bring it down below 20ms, Frontier often experiences delays closer to 30ms (or more) depending on your location. Additionally, the attractive pricing is wrapped within several add-ons and bundles that severely limit your actual choices.

Overall, Frontier is a quality ISP with the potential to be one of the better fiber providers. But as of right now, it does lag behind the more prominent players. So unless you’re dying to install a fiber connection — and Frontier Fiber is an option — you may want to stick with a high-quality cable provider for now.

  • USERS LIKE
  • No data caps
  • Consistently fast download speeds
  • Widely available network (fiber depends on region)
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • High latency
  • Limited options wrapped in bundles

5. Spectrum

Spectrum

The most widely available ISP

Provider: Spectrum | Speed: 200 – 940 Mbps | Latency: 24.5 ms | Availability: 44 States | Price: 💰💰💰

Sometimes the best network is simply the most available one. While being the only ISP around could easily lead to shotty service, Spectrum doesn’t take their widespread availability for granted. 

Similar to Xfinity, Spectrum operates as a traditional internet cable service provider. Providing lower download speeds than Xfinity, it does fall behind the cable giant in actual real-world performance. Moreover, the ISP often has difficulty maintaining consistent rates or lower latency depending on your region, and has been known to be slow at fixing issues.

However, it does make up for this quality issue with top-notch customer service. They’ll even go so far as to make concessions in pricing or provide free service due to broader concerns that they cannot alleviate. But keep in mind, you likely won’t have as much leverage if they are the only ISP available in your area (so don’t be too much of a jerk if you can’t consistently stream in 4K).

All in all, Spectrum is a reliable option, even if it is the only option in some areas. That said, if you can choose Xfinity or a fiber option over Spectrum, that is likely the better choice.

  • USERS LIKE
  • Excellent customer service
  • Most widely available network
  • Vast array of packages to choose from
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • High latency
  • Higher pricing
  • Spotty download/upload speeds

Buyers Guide: Internet Service Providers

It’s probably become pretty clear to you that not all ISPs are created equal. Even if stated speeds and service are the same, the actual results vary wildly. If you’re unsure which ISP is right for you, work through the following guide to help narrow down your search.

Gaming Routers

1. Availability

As I mentioned before, the unfortunate reality with current ISP offerings is that not every option is available nationwide. Some are specific to the east coast while others have a spattering of cities that they cover across the country. 

This should be the first thing you check out, as it significantly narrows down your search. In some cases, this step may even end your search as it becomes obvious which provider stands out due to speed and pricing.

2. Speed and Latency

If you’re lucky enough to have multiple high-level ISPs in your area, you’ll want to move onto a more thorough performance check. What’s the potential download speed, and does the upload speed equal it? Is latency relatively low or a consistent issue?

Ask yourself these questions and review your options. Maybe even run a speed test if possible. You’ll also want to go through user reviews to check if the reported speed and latency are accurate. In many cases, the top-level speeds are simply for show and don’t reflect most real-world scenarios. Be sure to check user reviews and look for any hints toward consistent drops in quality.

3. Price

Like with any part of your gaming setup, much of what you’re able to do is limited by cost. And in the case of an ISP, it doesn’t serve as just a one-time cost. This is a service you’ll need to pay for monthly, meaning that the highest quality option may not be feasible.

Weigh your options and the potential return on your investment. You can always upgrade later on if need be. Keep things within budget and actively test to make sure your connection does what you need. 

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Our Process: Rounding up the Best ISPs for Gaming

For this guide on ISPs, our writers spent 3 hours researching over 28 of the most popular options from brands big and small. After comparing this data, we then read over 60 user reviews and narrowed our list down to the top 5 ISPs on the market. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

We hope you’ve found the perfect option for your setup. Happy Gaming!

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