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Is your internet good enough for Google Stadia? It's complicated
Yesterday, Google revealed official details for Google Stadia, the search giant’s first major dip into the gaming industry. Google’s servers stream games to your TV or monitor, thus eliminating the need for you to own a console or high-end gaming PC.
One of the first questions gamers had when Google announced the service in March is what the Google Stadia internet speed requirements would be. Luckily, we finally got some answers on this yesterday.
However, your Google Stadia internet connection isn’t the only thing you’ll need to think about when it comes to this game-streaming service.
Google Stadia internet speed requirements
The bare minimum requirement for your Google Stadia internet connection is 10Mbps. The vast majority of people in the United States likely have an internet connection this fast, but if for some reason you do not, you will not be able to play Stadia games.
On the other end of the spectrum, to take full advantage of everything Stadia will have to offer in November when it launches, you’ll need an internet speed of 35Mbps.
Here’s what you get for each speed:
- Anything above 10Mbps: You can play any Stadia title at a resolution of 720p with stereo sound.
- Anything above 20Mbps: You can play any Stadia title at a resolution of 1080p with 5.1 surround sound.
- Anything above 35Mbps: You can play any Stadia title at a resolution of 4K (60fps) with HDR support and full surround sound.
Eventually, there will also be 8K support, but Google hasn’t said anything about when that will come nor what kind of speeds you’ll need for it.
Your internet speed isn’t everything
Although the speed list above might seem pretty straightforward, there are two other aspects to your Google Stadia internet connection you need to keep in mind.
The first is consistency. Although you could do a speed test right now and get something above 35Mbps, do you consistently get that speed if you do several speed tests in a row? Depending on your internet connection (as well as how you have your home network set up), you might get dips in speed here and there. If your internet dips repeatedly over time, you might have a problem getting the results listed above.
Until Google Stadia actually launches, we won’t know for sure how the service will handle fluctuations in data speeds. According to Google, if your speed drops below a certain point your game’s resolution will automatically compensate on the fly. How smooth this will be is anyone’s guess at this point.
You'll need to keep two things in mind with Google Stadia: the consistency of your internet speeds and your data caps.
The second thing to keep in mind — and this is a big one — is data caps. Many ISPs in the U.S. place data caps on in-home internet use, and gaming at a 4K resolution for a few hours a week could very well push you over that limit.
To give you an idea of how fast your data usage could pile up, consult our roundup of Netflix streaming data statistics. In our testing, we found that streaming a 4K video uses about 6.5 to 11.5GB of data per hour. If we assume that streaming gameplay is more data-hungry than video, 20 hours of Google Stadia gaming a month could easily push you close to your data cap, especially when you consider all the Netflix watching you’ll be doing on top of Stadia gaming.
With this in mind, Stadia players might be forced to game at lower resolutions even if their internet speeds are high simply to stay under those data caps.
What do you think? Do you have data caps to worry about? Is your internet speed good enough to take full advantage of Stadia? Let us know in the comments.