Is 5G good for gaming?

27 February 2024

5G Gaming

5G is great for gaming, as it offers much lower latency and faster downloads than 4G mobile networks. In fact, in many ways it’s a true rival to fibre broadband. It's also portable meaning you can game anywhere you have a network signal, which gives it a major advantage over fixed-line broadband connections.

5G will continue to get better and better in the coming years and will likely eventually eclipse even the fastest fibre connections. It will also help to accelerate the adoption of emerging gaming technologies, such as cloud-based gaming and virtual reality.

So yes, 5G is good for gaming, but it’s not a perfect solution. So for more details of the good and the not so good about it, read on.

Contents list

  1. Why 5G is good for gaming
    1. Low latency
    2. High speeds
    3. Portability and accessibility
  2. How can I get 5G?
  3. Exciting technology enhanced by 5G
    1. Cloud based game streaming
    2. Virtual reality

Why 5G is good for gaming

Low latency

5G networks are already delivering significantly lower pings than 4G mobile networks and are quickly catching up with fibre broadband.



Fibre broadband


Average Latency




Latency is particularly important with online gaming because it is a measure of how long it takes to send and receive requests to a server. Essentially, if you have a high ping it will take a long time for your actions to register in game.

We don’t have much data on 5G latency, but a late 2020 RootMetrics report showed Three’s 5G network was delivering average pings of 17 milliseconds (ms) in Central London, which compares to average pings of around 50ms on 4G networks.

In a slightly more recent 2021 Ookla report, the median 5G latency in the UK was found to range from 29ms to 33ms depending on the network, which is less impressive but still has 4G latency comfortably beat.

5G networks are set to continually evolve eventually leading to pings under 1ms per second, which is currently unheard of. This evolution will bring added realism to virtual reality and enable super-smooth cloud-based game streaming.

That said, this hasn’t happened yet, and as things stand, fibre broadband (with an average latency of 10-20ms) still has the edge over 5G here.

High speeds

5G network speeds are already hitting levels way beyond what was possible on previous mobile networks, and this is just the beginning, with speeds expected to exceed 1Gbps in the coming years.



Fibre broadband


Peak download speeds




Average download speeds




Current 5G networks delivered average speeds of between 77Mbps (in the case of O2) and 205.5Mbps (in the case of Three) according to a September 2023 report from Opensignal.

The report didn’t have 4G-only speeds, but when using a mix of all available mobile technologies the average ranged from 20.9-40.0Mbps. When looking at just 4G, previous studies suggest an average download speed of around 30Mbps.

So 5G speeds are well ahead, and already well above the 35Mbps minimum that RootMetrics recommends for a smooth online gaming experience. And peak 5G speeds are even higher, with a RootMetrics report from the second half of 2023 finding that Three’s 95th percentile 5G speed (meaning close to the highest recorded) was 853.4Mbps.

Ultrafast fibre broadband connections still deliver the highest available speeds with 1Gbps already available to some homes, but 5G is catching up, and may one day exceed that.

Download and upload speeds (the latter of which are also faster on 5G than 4G) are important when it comes to gaming because they enable you to download games and updates faster. They become even more key when you move into the realm of cloud gaming, which enables you to game on any device, even low-powered ones, by streaming games over the internet.

Portability and accessibility

One of the major selling points of 5G over fixed-line broadband is you can take your internet with you wherever you go (assuming network coverage is available).

Options for delivering internet on the move via 5G include using a personal hotspot on a 5G mobile phone, a 5G mobile broadband device, or a 5G home broadband router (the last of which requires mains power).

This has huge potential because you could be playing a game at home in your lounge and then continue the same game on the train to work on your mobile phone via cloud-based gaming.

At the moment, fibre broadband is often unavailable in rural areas, limiting the ability for some people to play online or streamed games, or even to download big games, but that's an issue that could be overcome by 5G, providing the networks install the appropriate infrastructure. 

As it’s plug and play, and doesn’t require a landline, it will also mean that users who don't want to deal with engineers and home visits can easily set up their own home broadband connection while benefiting from huge speed boosts.

How can I get 5G?

To get 5G you first need to have a device that supports 5G technology, which include the latest mobile phones, mobile broadband dongles, and home broadband routers.

For those looking to game primarily at home we would recommend a 5G home broadband router, such as Three’s 5G Broadband or Vodafone’s GigaCube.

All you need to do with a home broadband router is connect it to the mains and connect your devices. 5G routers have good range and enable you to connect many devices at the same time over Wi-Fi (typically up to 64), as well as having Ethernet ports for those looking to use a wired connection.

A good option for those looking for a truly portable 5G experience is a 5G mobile broadband (or mobile Wi-Fi) router, such as EE’s 5GEE WiFi.

Mobile broadband devices are battery-powered and charged via USB, so they can be taken anywhere on the go. They are perfect for using in the car for example, or on the journey to work in the train. However, they usually have less range than home broadband routers, can typically connect with less devices at once (often topping out at 32 or less) and tend not to have Ethernet ports.

The final choice is to simply get a 5G phone, which is ideal for those looking to primarily game on their smartphone. Powerful 5G smartphones include the iPhone 15 ProSamsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and the Google Pixel 8 Pro, among many others.

Smartphones do give you the option to tether 5G to other devices using your phone as a personal Wi-Fi hotspot. However, tethering is not the primary function of a phone and therefore it won’t perform as well as a dedicated router or dongle, particularly when it comes to speeds and range. Tethering also drains your smartphone battery very quickly, particularly when using 5G.

As well as a 5G device, you need to be in a 5G coverage area, and we recommended using our coverage checker to check 5G coverage on all networks in one place.

5G Coverage Checker

Find out which networks have launched 5G in your area, or when it is coming to your area.

Exciting technologies enhanced by 5G

Cloud-based game streaming

One key thing 5G could empower is game streaming. Whether that is through streaming specific assets as and when needed, or by streaming the whole game, it is a great way of making sure that none of us are solely dependent on our console or PC's hard drive. Less need for physical storage is always a useful thing for the average user and means no chance of a bottleneck situation via an older hard drive.

In recent times, we have seen game streaming grow in strength thanks to the likes of Xbox Cloud Gaming and GeForce Now. Both services mean you do not have to worry about buying the latest technology. Instead, you can stream games through your smartphone, tablet or PC, even if the device is relatively dated.

While both Xbox Cloud Gaming and GeForce Now are currently focused more on cloud gaming over Wi-Fi, they work with 5G too.

Services that rely on cloud-based gaming and streaming also tend to be subscription-based, making it far easier to budget for than trying to save up for the latest and greatest system. That is also without having to worry about hardware misconfigurations or the need to download patches that take a while. The concept of 'it just works' is always appealing and overcomes any issues of technical inexperience by the consumer.

Virtual reality

In a similar vein, VR technology would also benefit from cloud gaming. Currently, most VR experiences require expensive equipment to reap the full benefits. That is slowly changing with more affordable headsets from the likes of Meta changing the landscape, but it is still an expensive outlay for many consumers.

There are various suggestions of 5G being implemented within headsets in the future. Whether these come to light, it is hard to know right now, but they could change a lot for VR users. We have already seen devices like the Meta Quest line remove the need for a PC or Mac to connect to, and 5G could make things even easier and eventually propel VR to the mainstream.

If 5G did the heavy lifting via the cloud, it could lead to lighter, smaller, and comfier headsets than the bulky things we have currently. Massive VR game file sizes would also cease to be an issue – 5G could download them fast, but if you’re streaming from the cloud then no downloads would even be needed, saving you precious hard drive space.

Related to VR gaming, network lag has been found to be more stressful to players in VR gaming than regular gaming, so 5G could reduce such impairments. In other words, 5G could help ensure players feel immersed without any lag pulling them out of the experience.

Simon Thomas
About Simon Thomas

Company director for our 4 websites as follows: 


Simon has a first class honours degree in business management and has worked for our companies since 2008. He is responsible for the upkeep of the website, including the price comparison tools and for some editorial content across the site.

He has joint responsibility for and and is lead Director for

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