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SpaceX’s Starlink is a game changer for individuals living in remote locations lacking fast, reliable broadband internet access. Starlink’s advanced satellite network eliminates many of the issues associated with traditional satellite internet, like high latency and sluggish speeds. But, how good is it for gaming?

How Good Is Starlink for Gaming?

Starlink logo

Starlink satellite internet is in a class of its own. With an impressive user base of nearly 3 million individuals across the globe, Starlink has proven to be immensely popular in rural regions where broadband internet options are slim to none.

StarlinkCable InternetFiber InternetDSLLTE
Latency25-60 ms5-30 ms3-20 ms25-75 ms50-100 ms
Download Speed40-220 Mbps100-1000 Mbps250-1000 Mbps5-35 Mbps10-50 Mbps
Upload Speed8-25 Mbps5-50 Mbps100-500 Mbps1-10 Mbps5-25 Mbps
ReliabilityMediumHighVery HighMediumMedium
StabilityHighVery HighVery HighMediumMedium
Packet LossOccasionalRareVery RareCommonCommon
Jitter<2 ms<5 ms<3 ms5-30 ms10-40 ms

Starlink outperforms conventional satellite internet from providers like HughesNet and Viasat, which rely on single, geostationary satellites orbiting high above the Earth in space. By contrast, Starlink uses a network made up of thousands of satellites orbiting much closer to Earth. This results in significantly lower latency, making Starlink the first satellite internet service capable of supporting online gaming.

👉 Recommended reading: Is Starlink Worth It?

While Starlink still has some issues with reliability and slow speeds, especially compared to cable and fiber internet, it’s a solid option for gamers living in rural areas where local services commonly fall short of meeting the minimum requirements for online gaming.

What Gamers Are Saying About Starlink

cartoon image of gamers being interviewed by a news reporter

The consensus among gamers seems to be that Starlink is good for gaming – but, it’s not outstanding. There are a few issues with gaming on Starlink. However, it’s still significantly better than most other internet options gamers living in rural areas have.

Here are some real feedback from commenters on Starlink’s Reddit forum.

“Starlink is the only way I’m able to play MW3! I would say I have disconnects more often than my broadband friends, but not that often. It’s totally playable and definitely better than my alternative which would be nothing.”

Mesmerizingtheultra Reddit commenter

“Starlink is good enough to allow me to play Battlefield 2042 with a 40 ms response time while my wife watches Sportsnet games in 4K. It’s worth every penny if all you have is LTE.”

MrOdwin Reddit commenter

According to gamers, ping seems to be the biggest issue. It’s common to experience lag spikes when the service changes satellites, which can happen every few minutes during peak periods.

In a Reddit post, user T4thfavor says:

“I play plenty of online games using Starlink. Sometimes during peak times though, the ping is 120-300ms. which is terrible. Most of the other times it’s 20-50ms which is usable for games like World of Tanks or Deep Rock, etc.”

T4thfavor Reddit commenter

Inclement weather can also increase issues with lag. As Redditor DinosaurDumpling points out:

“Your ping might spike if the weather is bad, but it’s for such a short duration that you won’t even notice it.”

DinosaurDumpling Reddit commenter

Many gamers note that Starlink has gotten better for gaming in the last several months and that the service continues to improve.

“Gaming on Starlink is pretty great,” says Reddit user Mechnanc, “It was good when I first got it around [the] end of 2021, and it has improved in both speed, stability, and ping/latency. I think it will only continue to improve as they get newer gen satellites into the constellation.”

Mechnanc Reddit commenter

Nerdenb on Reddit added:

“The overall service has greatly improved over the years, especially in the last 6-8 months.”

Nerdenb Reddit commenter

Factors That Affect Online Gaming

There are several factors that can affect the quality of online gaming, including:

  • Download Speed
  • Upload Speed
  • Latency/Ping
  • Network Bandwidth
  • Reliability (how often does the internet go down)
  • Stability (does the speed fluctuate)
  • Packet Loss
  • Jitter
  • Data Caps

Download Speed

For online gaming, it’s best to have 100 Mbps download speeds or higher. But, unless you are playing competitively, you can usually get away with around 50 Mbps. This is right on par with Starlink’s download speeds, which usually fall in the range of 40-220 Mbps.

👉 Recommended reading: How Fast Is Starlink?

Keep in mind that actual speeds can vary, depending on your location, the weather, and how many other people use Starlink in your area. Some users can experience download speeds as low as 25 Mbps, while others get speeds around 250 Mbps, exceeding the company’s estimates.

Upload Speed

Upload speed affects online gaming more than other internet-related tasks, like browsing or watching videos. This is because while you are playing online, your computer is constantly sending data about your gameplay to the server hosting your game.

⚠️ Slow upload speeds can delay communication between your gaming device and the server. This can lead to input lag and embarrassing defeats.

Starlink’s upload speeds are somewhere in the range of 8-25 Mbps, which is sufficient for online gaming. For context, the minimum upload speed for most consoles is 1 Mbps, with the recommended being 5 Mbps.

Latency/Ping

Latency, also known as ping, is probably the single most important thing to consider when gaming. It is the measure, in milliseconds, of how long it takes data to travel from your device to the game server and back again.

Low ping is good and ensures a smooth gaming experience. High ping is bad and causes lag. In some online multiplayer games, users with too high latency can even be banned from certain servers because of how much it affects player performance.

🛰️ Starlink’s low Earth orbit satellite system is specifically designed to minimize high ping and lag spikes.

Starlink’s latency is fairly low, around 25-60ms; whereas, other satellite internet services have a ping rate of 600ms or more. For most games, latency under 50ms is considered ideal.

While Starlink’s ping is low and reliable enough for online gaming, there is one unavoidable flaw. Since satellites are in a constant orbit around Earth, one satellite will eventually move too far away to maintain a connection with the Starlink receiver, forcing the dish to reposition itself to establish communication with the next closest satellite.

The brief disruption as the Starlink dish switches satellites is not an issue for most internet activities, but it can create ping spikes and a noticeable lag in the middle of an online gaming match. So, even though Starlink has low latency, it still doesn’t live up to fiber and cable internet, which are more stable.

Network Bandwidth

Network bandwidth is often confused with internet speed, but the two are not directly related. Instead, network bandwidth refers to the maximum capacity at which data can be transferred over a network.

When you play games online, high amounts of data are transmitted over your internet connection. So, you need plenty of bandwidth to keep up.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👧 If Starlink is congested with local users, or if your home is congested by too many devices, it can negatively impact your gaming experience.

Even the fastest fiber internet connection can have in-home network bandwidth congestion issues if a large family or household is all using the network at the same time with a weak router. If network bandwidth is an issue, you likely need a better gaming router that can handle more connections and traffic.

Reliability

You can have the fastest internet connection with the lowest ping in the world, but if it goes out frequently, it’s useless for gaming.

A big downside to satellite internet is that it is affected by weather. Even though the Starlink dish was built to withstand light rain and snowfall, slower speeds and outages can occur during heavy rain, wind, or snowstorms. Since Starlink requires an unobstructed view of the sky to work, snow build-up around the dish can also impact reliability.

📡 While occasional disruptions may occur, Starlink is more reliable for gaming than other rural internet options.

Fiber and cable internet are typically more reliable because connectivity is delivered by wires buried deep underground that are not impacted by the elements.

Stability

A seamless gaming experience requires consistent speeds. If your internet speeds keep changing from slow to fast (for instance, back and forth between 5 Mbps and 75 Mbps), that’s bad for gaming.

Starlink’s speeds can vary depending on how many other users in your area are using its network at any one time and the weather. But, overall, they tend to stay pretty stable and do not fluctuate frequently enough to impact gaming.

Packet Loss

Packet loss refers to the loss of small chunks of data, or “packets”, somewhere along the journey from your device to the game server. In online gaming, packet loss can result in jerky, inconsistent motions and random disconnections. No matter what type of internet you have, packet loss can be caused by hardware or software issues, network congestion, or interference with the network.

🌍 Starlink’s vast satellite network significantly reduces latency and packet loss, making it a good option for online gaming in remote locations.

Starlink users can experience packet loss if bad weather or obstructions are interfering with the receiver’s communication with the satellite. Or, if too many Starlink users in your area are on the network at the same time, congestion can also cause packet loss.

Jitter

Jitter is also called Packet Delay Variation (PDV), and it measures, in milliseconds, the fluctuation in the delay of data packets sent from your device to the game server. Essentially, it tells you if your latency is stable.

When gaming, high jitter can cause frustrating interruptions, like stuttering, inconsistent movement, and buffering. Jitter below 30ms is best for gaming. Starlink users frequently report very low jitter, below 2ms in many cases.

Data Caps

Every online activity uses data, from browsing the web to streaming video, and online gaming is no exception. The good news is that online gaming does not use a whole lot of data. It uses roughly the same amount as streaming music (around 40-100 MB per hour.)

But, if you don’t want the burden of worrying about exceeding your data limit, it’s best to choose an internet provider that has no data caps. Technically, Starlink has unlimited data, but there are some caveats.

🎮 After your priority data is used, you can continue gaming at standard speeds with no data caps.

For residential users, Starlink offers a Standard plan with regular unlimited data and a more expensive Priority plan that gives you a set amount of network priority data every month. Users who pay the premium price for priority data will experience faster speeds. However, once you use up your data allotment, it will slow down to standard data and speeds for the rest of the month.

Is Starlink Good for Gaming?

photo of a group of friends playing video games in a remote log cabin
MinimumAverageMaximum
Download Speed40 Mbps130 Mbps220 Mbps
Upload Speed8 Mbps16.5 Mbps25 Mbps
Latency25 ms42.5 ms60 ms
Packet LossNot specifiedOccasionalMore during peak times
Jitter<1 ms1 ms2 ms

Overall, Starlink is a good option for gamers living in remote areas with limited access to dependable, high-speed internet. Starlink’s performance is better than other common types of rural internet, like traditional satellite internet or DSL. Services like T-Mobile 5G Home Internet may be comparable if it’s available in your area and you live close to a 5G tower.

💡 Starlink is a solid alternative for gamers in areas without access to fiber or cable, with speeds and latency that can support most online games.

Most games are playable, but you may face frustrations, especially with large multiplayer groups. Unless you participate in e-sports or serious competitive gaming, Starlink should be sufficient for your average gaming experience.

When it comes to wireless internet, Starlink may be the best choice for gaming. But, it’s not nearly as good as cable or fiber internet. Read the full Starlink review to learn more.

If fiber or cable internet is available where you live, our guide to the best internet providers can help you decide which ISP is ideal for your gaming needs and budget.