Can you Enjoy Cloud Gaming with Slow Internet?

We were recently asked in our YouTube Channel if it is possible to have a good Cloud Gaming experience with slow internet. Our first impulse was to say no. It seems obvious. Cloud Gaming is a completely internet-dependent technology. We then realized that we would be saying this based on an assumption rather than from experience. Time to experiment.

Our Test Setup

Our studio is supplied with an internet connection from AT&T Uverse. We have 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload. It’s not the fastest thing out there, but it exceeds the requirements of all current Cloud Gaming Providers. Even though 50 Mbps is slow compared to what many people have, it’s still considered to be a reasonably fast connection.

To simulate a slow internet connection, we turned to technology. We chose Snoost as our Cloud Gaming Provider. In order to have control over our stream, we added Parsec. In Parsec’s settings, we were able to choose our streaming bandwidth and put a cap on it. For our test, we set the bandwidth cap at 5 Mbps. This restricts the stream to a maximum of 5 Mbps (instead of the 50 Mbps that our internet connection is capable of). 

Let’s put that speed into perspective. DSL internet usually runs at about 5 Mbps. Most cell phones that use LTE can go much faster than 5 Mbps. Choosing this bandwidth is really scraping the bottom of the internet barrel.

To finish our test setup, we lowered the streaming resolution to 720p. This makes it easier to stream at lower speeds, but still provides a HD image.

The results were surprising

We began testing with low expectations. Remember that we are essentially streaming with a DSL connection. To our surprise, we didn’t encounter any game-breaking problems. There was a little more compression on the streaming video than there normally would be. But overall we found this setup to be very playable.

We played about an hour of Warhammer End Times Vermintide. Vermintide is a demanding cooperative FPS that requires fast reflexes and low input latency. The game ran at 60 fps through Snoost & Parsec. There was hardly any input latency at all. Overall it was a very enjoyable streaming experience. The only sign that we were streaming at 5 Mbps was video compression and lower resolution. Neither really hindered our gaming.

We could see this experience being even better on a device with a native 720p resolution. It could easily be ideal for playing on a mobile device. So the bottom line is that if you can maintain at least 5 Mbps for your download speed, then you can enjoy Cloud Gaming. It’s not going to be as sharp as it would be if you had 25 Mbps, but it’s still very playable. It’s important to emphasize that this may not be true for all Cloud Gaming Services. Snoost is already known for having low bandwidth requirements. Other services like GeForce Now and Shadow recommend a minimum of 25 Mbps.

What do you think? Have you tested Cloud Gaming with a slow internet connection? What were your results? Let us know in the comments!

Also published on Medium.

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