So you’re looking to upgrade your internet, and you’re wondering what internet speed you need to Stream in 4K without having to wait for the stream to buffer.
Maybe you made the jump from a 1080P TV to a 4K TV and you want to know if you’re internet speed can hold up.
Is there a minimum internet speed for streaming in 4K? Does every streaming platform have different internet speed requirements?
What Internet Speed Will You Need to Stream in 4K
To stream in 4K UHD 2160P on one device, your internet download speed needs to be 25 Mbps or higher.
According to Netflix, a stable internet connection speed of 15 MBPS is recommended to stream in 4K (UHD).
However, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus both require a minimum internet speed of 25 Mbps to stream 4K media.
To test your internet speed, head over to Fast.com, an internet speed tool designed by Netflix. It will test your internet speed to the closest server.
Most online streaming services will automatically raise or lower the quality of the stream depending on your internet speed.
Upgrading Internet Speed for 4K Streaming
If you’re looking to upgrade your internet for streaming in 4K, I recommend an internet speed of at least 100 Mbps.
The reason for that is internet speed can fluctuate from time to time, depending on a number of factors that are out of your control. Not to mention you’re sharing bandwidth with other users or devices in your home.
The connection type is important too: Wi-fi is significantly slower than a wired ethernet connection.
Even if you live alone, downloads or internet activity on your other devices can significantly cut into your available bandwidth. For example, if your PC, console, laptop, streaming sticks, set-top boxes, or phone are connected to the same Wi-fi network.
If you’re downloading or updating a game on your PC and console at the same time, the remaining internet bandwidth might not be enough to stream 4K on another device.
In short, you want an internet speed that provides plenty of wiggle room for other devices.
Remember, the internet speed an internet service provider advertises is the fastest possible speed with an ethernet cable. It’s not Wi-fi speed.
Measuring Internet Speed:
Note: Internet speed is generally measured in Mbps but downloads are often measured in MB/s. Mbps stands for megabits per second. MB/s is megabytes per second. There are 8 megabits in 1 megabyte. 25 Mbps is 3.125 MB/s.
Some media streaming platforms will give you a recommended speed in megabytes, instead of megabits. For example, Amazon Prime recommends an internet speed of 5 mb/s.
An easy way to calculate your expected download speed in mb/s is to divide your internet speed by 8. For example, a 100 Mbps internet connection should let you download at 12.5 mb/s.
There are also factors to consider, such as Wi-Fi issues. Unless you have a particularly new router, the internet speed of your Wi-fi will be much lower than the internet speed of a direct connection with an ethernet cable.
For example, your internet speed with a cable is 25 Mbps, on Wi-fi you might get 15 Mbps or less, depending on the strength of the signal. If you’re using an older router, the Wi-fi speed could be even slower.
The capabilities of your router will determine the Wi-fi internet speed. However, even the fastest routers won’t be able to match the internet speed that you’ll get through a wired connection.
To get the optimal internet speed on all your devices, you’ll need to tweak some settings.
2.4 GHz vs 5 GHz
If you have a dual-band router you can broadcast 2.4 GHz and a 5 GHz Wi-fi network at the same time. Generally, a 5 GHz Wi-fi network will get your Wi-fi speed closer to your home’s internet connection speed.
2.4 GHz is the standard Wi-fi frequency and it offers fast enough speeds. Local wireless frequencies might interfere with the 2.4 GHz network.
It’s not just other Wi-fi networks, many wireless devices like office phones, microwaves, and wireless accessories, can also create interference.
2.4 GHz Wifi is good for long distances. The maximum data transfer speed of 2.4 GHz is either 450 Mbps or 600 Mbps, depending on the wireless standard being used. Pretty much every wireless device supports 2.4 GHz Wi-fi.
5 GHz is a newer Wi-fi frequency and it offers much faster speeds. It’s also on a different wireless frequency band than the regular 2.4 GHz uses, so there’s less possible interference.
The downside to 5 GHz is the broadcast range is smaller, and the signal doesn’t penetrate walls or other objects as well as 2.4 GHz. The maximum data transfer speed of a 5 GHz Wifi network is 1300 Mbps. On that note, not all devices can connect to a 5 GHz Wi-fi network.
To see which frequency offers better speed, connect to one of the networks, and run the Fast.com internet speed test a few times. And then do the same on the other network.
Most of the time, the 5 GHz Wi-fi network will offer significantly faster internet speed, but it still won’t be as fast as the speed of a wired connection.
I recommend using a 5 GHz Wi-fi network for streaming 4K.
Can’t Stream 4K Media?
- Test your internet speed to make sure you’re reaching the minimum speed requirements.
- Use an ethernet cable. If ethernet works but Wi-fi does not, the problem is likely the router.
- Restart your router or modem (unplug for 30 seconds).
- Enable 5 GHz Wi-fi on your router and connect to it.
- Buy a new router. Old routers can be significantly slower.
- Contact your ISP for assistance (sometimes they may need to replace a splitter or cable in the building)
- Check if the platform is experiencing outages (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, etc).
The Bottom Line
To summarize, if you’re looking to upgrade your internet for streaming in 4K, 25 Mbps is the minimum internet speed.
However, need to consider other factors such as other devices sharing the network and your Wi-fi situation. I would enable 5 GHz if the option is available.
Generally, I recommend an internet speed of at least 100 Mbps. With 100 Mbps, every device using Wi-fi should be able to meet the minimum 25 Mbps requirement to stream 4K.