Rise of Cloud Gaming
With the rise of cloud gaming services and online multiplayer games, gamers want to know if 5G WiFi is better for gaming than traditional WiFi standards.
5G promises faster speeds, lower latency, and increased bandwidth. But does that translate into a significantly better gaming experience?
In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of 5G WiFi for gaming and how it compares to 2.4GHz and 4G WiFi in terms of performance, latency, and compatibility.
5G WiFi Speed for Gaming
5G WiFi uses the 5GHz spectrum with wider channels and less interference than 2.4GHz WiFi. This allows for significantly faster speeds:
• 5G WiFi Speed: Up to 2.4 Gbps
• 4G WiFi Speed: Up to 1 Gbps
• 2.4G WiFi Speed: Up to 600 Mbps
For reference, online games typically require anywhere from 5 to 30 Mbps depending on the type of game.
So while 5G’s higher speeds are nice, they often far exceed what’s needed for smooth gaming. 4G WiFi speeds are often sufficient, though 5G can help accommodate multiple devices streaming video in your home while you game.
WiFi Latency – The Important Factor for Gaming
While speed is important, WiFi latency is the more critical factor for gaming. The delay between sending and receiving data packets is a key factor determining responsiveness and “lag” while gaming.
Here are the average latency times for different WiFi standards:
• 5G WiFi Latency: 20-30ms
• 4G WiFi Latency: 30-50ms
• 2.4G WiFi Latency: 50-100ms
As you can see, 5G WiFi offers the lowest latency, which can translate into a more responsive gaming experience with less input lag. For competitive online multiplayer games where fast reactions are critical, 5G WiFi’s lower latency is a definite benefit.
Compatibility & Range of 5G WiFi
Two potential downsides of 5G WiFi are its compatibility and range:
• Compatibility: Not all devices support 5G WiFi yet, particularly older laptops, tablets and game consoles. This could limit your options for gaming wirelessly.
• Range: 5G WiFi typically has a shorter range – around 100-150 feet – compared to 200-300 feet for 4G and 2.4G WiFi. This could cause issues if you game in an area further away from your router.
To remedy these potential issues, you can employ range extenders, mesh networks or powerline adapters to boost your 5G WiFi signal throughout the home. But this does add cost and complexity that 2.4G/4G WiFi does not require.
Here are some additional points regarding 5G WiFi and gaming:
• For cloud gaming services like Google Stadia, Microsoft Cloud, and Nvidia GeForce Now, 5G WiFi can improve latency and responsiveness. Since these services stream games over the internet, low latency is critical for a good experience.
• 5G networks are still being rolled out and have limited coverage currently. Home 5G WiFi routers are also more expensive than 4G routers. This limits the accessibility of 5G for most gamers today.
• 5G WiFi networks could accommodate more simultaneous users streaming video, gaming and using other bandwidth-intensive applications. This could benefit households with multiple gamers.
• To fully take advantage of 5G speeds for gaming, your router, internet connection and game servers all need to support 5G speeds. Many routers and internet plans still max out at 4G speeds.
• Newer game consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S support WiFi 6, the next-gen standard with 5G speeds. However, most PC gamers still rely on older WiFi standards for wireless connections.
• For most gamers today, a strong and reliable 4G WiFi connection is still sufficient for an excellent gaming experience. Fast internet speeds above 1 Gbps often provide diminishing returns for gaming performance.
How latency affects the gaming experience in more detail?
• Responsiveness – Higher latency means it takes longer for your controller or keyboard inputs to register on the game server. This makes controls feel sluggish and unresponsive. Low latency leads to controls feeling instant and tight.
• Movement – Enemies and other players may appear to lag or stutter as their movements are updated. With high latency, you may die around corners as enemies are shown in different locations on their screens.
• Shooting – Bullets and projectiles may not register immediately, leading to shooting enemies but not doing damage. Hit detection can feel inconsistent with high latency.
• Competitive gaming – Even millisecond differences in latency can be the difference between winning and losing in competitive games. The fastest reflexes and reactions require the lowest possible latency.
• Networked games – Multiplayer and massively multiplayer online games require constant communication between servers, game hosts, and clients. Higher latency means delayed communication and out-of-sync game states.
• Cloud gaming – Streaming games over the internet from cloud services requires extremely low latency to feel responsive. Even 20-30ms can be noticeable and hinder the experience.
Overall Verdict: Is 5G WiFi Better for Gaming?
In summary, 5G WiFi does offer benefits for gaming in the form of faster speeds and lower latency. However, 4G WiFi speeds are often adequate, while compatibility and range issues can still limit the experience.
I recommend a dual-band router with 4G and 5G WiFi connections for the best gaming performance. This allows you to take advantage of 5G’s low-latency gaming benefits while returning to a more compatible 4G connection when needed.
While 5G represents the future, 4G WiFi still works for most gamers. The compatibility and installation complexities of a full 5G WiFi setup often outweigh the moderate performance gains for gaming at this point.
Latency plays a significant role in the gaming experience, affecting responsiveness, movement synchronization, shooting accuracy, competitiveness, and overall fluidity. Lower latency results in more instantaneous and immersive gameplay, making it crucial for competitive gaming and cloud gaming services.