These are the best broadband deals for gamers in January 2018
In this era of 100GB+ download sizes, frequent sizeable patches and system updates and large-scale multiplayer titles dominating the headlines, it’s more important than ever for avid gamers to have the best broadband possible. If you want to stay competitive online and avoid downtime from your favourite games, it’s safe to say that copper isn’t going to cut it any more. Similarly, download limits are out of the question, so unlimited fibre is the way forward, and services are getting faster all the time.
Only this week, BT announced two new super-fast options, which come in at 152Mbps and 314Mbps. This pulls it alongside Virgin’s VIVID 300 package to give the two suppliers the fastest residential options among the major players, but they’re not the only ones in the game. Take Hyperoptic, for instance.
While coverage on its ridiculously fast service may be fairly slow to roll out, that’s because it’s growing its own network of pure fibre cables and free from the trappings of old networks, it’s able to offer speeds up to 1Gbps – a good 27 times faster than the UK’s average speed – and for surprisingly good prices, too. Its 150Mbps option is just GBP32 a month, while that crazy 1Gbps pipe is only GBP49, so cheaper right now than the big companies’ top-end packages and more than three times faster. Coverage will likely hold it back, but if nothing else, it shows where we’re headed in the coming months and years.
The first step is to check if you are among the chosen few able to get one of these super-pipes going. Check out Hyperoptic’s coverage map if it’s the 1Gbps madness you really want, but if you’re out of luck there, these next two options will still likely be a hell of a lot faster than your current line.
You can now get ultrafast broadband from BT
First, the aforementioned BT Ultrafast packages, which are GBP54.99 monthly for the 152Mbps version and GBP59.99 for up to 314Mbps. BT is so confident in its speeds on these packages that it’s putting its money where its mouth is and offering GBP20 cashback if speeds drop below 100Mbps (claimable up to four times a year).
As a result, coverage is limited to areas where this promise is a realistic one to make, so go ahead and check your area to see if you’re able to take Sonic’s advice and go fast. Next, give Virgin a go. Its ultra-fast options, the VIVID packages come in 100, 200 and 300Mbps variants, so check to see if you’re able to get on one of those.
They range from GBP32 to GBP42 monthly (plus a GBP20 set-up fee), and the two upper tiers offer no traffic management (bandwidth may be throttled on other packages if usage is deemed too high), but coverage might still be an issue.
Superfast is still, you know… super fast
If none of those speedy options work for you, you’ll have better luck with fibre deals on the existing network, all of which cap out at 76Mbps. While large downloads might still take a while on these, they’re more than fast enough for general gaming usage with minimal hiccups. Most providers offer packages at or around this top speed, but we’ll just quickly run through a few prominent ones.
First, BT’s Infinity 2 can be grabbed for as little as GBP39.99 a month all-in with GBP110 cashback if you move fast, or the slightly slower Infinity 1 option (52Mbps) if you’d rather save a little cash and take the hit. Even that’s plenty fast enough for gaming purposes, provided you’re not downloading a ton of huge files and streaming 4K media at the same time. Other suppliers come in at similar prices while matching that 76Mbps speed cap.
TalkTalk’s equivalent package, for instance, is GBP31.99 monthly right now (or GBP39.99 with an anytime call package, where BT’s is only weekend calls so it’s still technically a slightly better deal). Sky’s offering, Fibre Max, is a little dearer at GBP43.99 a month on its own, but existing customers may appreciate the convenience and likely saving of being able to roll TV and broadband into one outgoing. Being able to watch an on-demand HD movie mere seconds after starting the download makes for a great way to wind down after a tough gaming session, after all.
EE comes in a little cheaper at GBP31 per month (GBP35 with calls), while Vodafone’s top-end package is the cheapest on the market right now at just GBP24 a month if you’re just looking for the most affordable way to hit that 76Mbps sweet spot. The Post Office does offer a similar deal, but traffic management and fair use policies won’t sit well with the huge downloads and heavy bandwidth usage of modern gaming, so it’s probably best to give them a miss from a purely gaming perspective. Unless you want to post something, obviously.
Then you sort of need to go them.
Cheap and fast broadband is also a thing
You could also move away from the big players in favour of smaller ones tailoring their packages for the gaming crowd. The likes of IDNet have dedicated gaming deals that will kit you out with the best gear possible and promise traffic priority in order to guarantee the fastest speeds even at peak times, although there’s usually a fair premium to pay for such services – shop around all you like as some of them are indeed quite attractive, but expect to pay a lot more than with the above suppliers for what are, realistically, fairly slight benefits over the best providers and ones that only the hardcore packet-watcher is likely to pick up on. One final word: whatever option you pick for gaming, wire your console(s) or computer directly to your router.
You’ll see a noticeable uptick in your network speeds compared to going wireless, and there are discrete options that let you reroute the signal across power lines without losing speed if you’d rather do it without having cables trailing all over the place. Also note that for Switch, this will involve getting a USB ethernet adapter, but they’re cheap enough and again, the speed boost is totally worth it. So that’s it for this month – hopefully you’ve seen something you like to help you supercharge your gaming setup.
But if you’re still on the fence, the steady rollout of even quicker services may be on its way to a town near you soon, and you’ll hear about it here first. Okay, you can stop reading and go back to playing now.
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