Between next-gen consoles, new GPUs and the covid pandemic, gaming has gone massive this year. At the same time, in the UK, our broadband speeds are finally getting decent (dependant on location). Many people now have access to 500Mbps or even synchronous 1Gbps connections.
However, if your home network is reliant on Wi-Fi it can be difficult to make the most of these speeds.
If you are forced to use Wi-Fi on a console or gaming PC, this can often introduce various issues while gaming online, often referred to lag. This is a catch-all term for high pings and latency.
Furthermore, most AAA games are now absolutely gigantic. Call of Duty caused a stir this year when it was revealed the install size of the game was 95GB on older consoles, 135GB on next-gen consoles and up to 250GB for the PC.
Many people like to question the need for gigabit Internet, but with the popularity of gaming, limited local storage, gaming downloads are one of the best arguments for it.
So, you have you PS5, a gigabit connection, but how do you make the most of it?
Table of Contents
Playstation 5 and XBox Series X Wi-Fi Specification (TLDR the Xbox is Wi-Fi 5 only)
I am a PC gamer so not upgraded to next-gen consoles, yet. However, the PS5 and Xbox have quite different specs.
Wi-Fi is surprisingly confusing, made worse by the way it is marketed.
Intel themselves state:
Wi-Fi 6 is capable of a maximum throughput of 9.6 Gbps across multiple channels, compared to 3.5 Gbps on Wi-Fi 5.
But you won’t achieve that. That’s the theoretical maximum throughput possible using two 5Ghz channels. So multiple users can push through that much data through a router, but a single user could never achieve that.
Sony doesn’t advertise detailed specs, but it appears they support Wi-Fi 6 using 2×2 with an 80Mhz channel width. You don’t need to understand that terminology, but it means it can theoretically achieve 1200Mbps.
The Xbox Series X uses the older Wi-Fi 5 standard, and I would assume t is also 2×2 at 80Mhz which then limits the speed to 866Mbps
How to improve your Internet connection to you PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and PC
Completely ignoring the title of this post, but wiring up your console to the router is 100% the best solution. If there is any possibility to do this, this is what I would strongly encourage. It should be a cheap solution too.
If you have to be a little creative with your cabling, that’s fine. I used to run ethernet under the carpet. I know others that run it up the edges and across walls, with this option you can paint over the cable to make it as discrete as possible.
There are also ultra-slim or flat cables you can use.
The Ugreen ultra slim is one option I used, but it only goes up to 10 metres. You can buy it from Amazon here.
Flat Ethernet cable is good for running under carpets and comes in sizes up to 50M.
Ethernet will not only be the best option but the cheapest. Just get permission from whoever you live with first. Partners or parents may not be so eager on this solution.
Power Line Adaptors
This one can be a bit hit or miss. If it works, it works really well. Powerline adaptors are plug sockets which turn your home electrical wiring into data cables. If the quality of your home wiring is good, it can often provide superior and more stable speeds than Wi-Fi.
I’d advise buying from someone like Amazon for easy returns if it does not work the way you would like.
Wi-Fi 6 Routers for smaller homes or consoles near the router
If you live in a smaller house, or your console or PC is relatively close to the main router (and you can’t wire it up), then a Wi-Fi 6 router is the best solution (for PS5 & PC).
If you are a hardcore online gamer then the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR1000 is a superb option, not only does this have Wi-Fi 6 but the router has a specialist operating system geared for gamers. Within the settings, you can filter out gaming servers or players than are not near you or have a high ping.
Alternatively, if you want the best Wi-Fi 6 speeds possible regardless of devices, and/or you have a lot of people using Wi-Fi in the house then the TP-Link Archer AX11000 or Netgear Nighthawk RAX200 offer the highest throughput possible for Wi-Fi 6.
These are tri-band Wi-Fi 6 routers which will accommodate more users at maximum speeds at once; they also have multi-gig Ethernet ports so they can transfer data at over gigabit speeds to Wi-Fi 6 equipped PCs.
Xbox users can still use Wi-Fi 6 routers, but you will be limited to the Wi-Fi 5 speeds, so you could save money by opting for more affordable Wi-Fi 5 routers. The older Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 offers similar features to the previously recommended XR1000 but for around £100 less
Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System for larger homes or when far from the router
A Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System is a Wi-Fi 6 router, but with additional satellite devices that you can place strategically around your home. You will have to plug them into the power, but apart from that, no wired are needed for the satellites, they transmit data back to the main router over what they call a backhaul channel.
If you want the best speeds possible on Wi-Fi 6, then it is not a very cheap solution. Sorry about that. Because they use one of the Wi-Fi bands as a backhaul channel, you ideally want a triband system; this will give you the two normal bands available to your devices plus the third band which acts as a backhaul channel.
The more affordable dual-band Wi-Fi mesh systems share a channel between the client devices such as the PS5 and the router. This effectively halves your speed.
I have not tested it yet, but the Netgear Orbi RBK752 looks to be one of the best choices on the market. It is a little bit more wallet-friendly than the Orbi RBK852 I previously reviewed.
I have also not reviewed this one, but the Asus ZenWiFi AX XT8 is a touch cheaper and well-reviewed.
For dual-band systems are good if you can locate the router in the most important place in the house, allowing your devices to connect at the same super-fast speeds as the above recommendation via the main router. Then the satellites still offer good speed, just not as good.
The Netgear MK63 is a three-piece system and is often one of the cheapest available. The two-pack dropped to £160 on Black Friday, so it is worth looking out for sales.
The TP-Link Deco X20 is a good alternative option for a similar price. I have not reviewed that one, but the TP-Link Deco X60 was good.
Wi-Fi 5 Tri-Band Mesh System – Good for the Xbox or an alternative to dual-band Wi-Fi 6
Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems are still incredibly expensive, and for many, it may be more than you need.
Opting for the older Wi-Fi 5 standard is a little more wallet-friendly. The excellent Netgear RBK23 (three pack) is under £300, or a new contender to the market is the TaoTronics Mesh Wi-Fi Router (two pack) for well under £200 on Amazon
Bonus Tip For PC Users: You may need to upgrade your PC with Wi-Fi 6
Most PCs don’t come with Wi-Fi out of the box, and if you are already using Wi-Fi and you PC is over a year old there is a good chance it is using the older, slower Wi-Fi 5.
At the moment, I am not aware of any USB Wi-Fi dongle that offers Wi-Fi 6, so if you are on a desktop PC, you will need to open it up to install an adapter. It is an easy process.
I now have a motherboard with Wi-Fi 6 built-in, but previously I was using the Fenvi PCIe Wi-Fi card, the aerial on the cable should give you a bit of flexibility to try and get the best signal.
With W-Fi 6 on the PC, if you have a router than supports it, you should be able to connect with 2×2 on 160Mhz offering 2400Mbps. When connecting at this speed, and using a multi-gig port I have seen transfer speeds over 180MB/s or around 1500Mbps
Ping Differences between Wired, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 5
I am writing a separate post about the differences with ping speeds between wired and Wi-Fi 6. However, a quick overview:
The British Esports association states an acceptable ping is around the 40ms-60ms mark or lower. A speed of over 100ms shows a noticeable delay and over 170 some games will reject your connection entirely.
If you have, say a 10ms ping (0.01 seconds), your gameplay will seem faster and smoother than playing with 100ms, for example.
During my testing, as you would expect, there is a difference in ping between wired and wireless.
Testing with a server close by, all my pings were well within acceptable speeds regardless of how I connected. To the point where most of use would not notice any difference. However, the difference could add up the further away the server is.
A wired connection provided me a 14.4% faster ping on average than Wi-Fi 6 with 10.1ms vs 11.8ms
Wi-fi 5 was 22% slower at 13ms.
The max ping is also important and could cause intermittent issues while gaming. For wired, it was 16ms which was 20% faster than the 20ms of Wi-Fi 6.
This rose to a 48% difference when comparing the wired and Wi-Fi 5 ping of 31ms.
So if you do use Wi-Fi for gaming, a Wi-Fi 6 router will offer the lowest pings.
Last update on 2020-12-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API