Investing a lot of money on an internet package that you can’t use to the fullest is a painful waste of money. Different bottlenecks in your home network and the devices you use to access the web determine the maximum bandwidth you can enjoy no matter your connection speeds.
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If you work at home or you’re an avid online gamer, you want to get the best connection speeds on your computer while spending the least possible on the package.
Since any node in a network consumes as much bandwidth as it can regardless of what is available, it is true that your computer could be hindering you from enjoying the high internet speeds you paid for.
Here are some of the things that affect how fast your computer can access the internet. In this piece, we are going to assume that you have access to a theoretical unlimited bandwidth and have a decent router that can support the bandwidth.
They Type of Network Interface Card on Your Computer
Your network interface card (NIC) is like the gate that controls how much bandwidth your computer can access at a go. They come in different specifications.
The most common are 10/100 cards that can handle anything up to 100 Mbps. These are more than enough for casual browsing and gaming. Gigabit NIC cards, on the other hand, can handle up to 1 Gbps. Very old computers might have inferior network cards that incapable of even hit 5 Mbps hence pushing your upper limit even lower.
If your computer has a 10/100, the chances of enjoying your 300 Mbps or Gigabit connections are non-existent. Very few people need Gigabit network cards on their personal computers as a 100 Mbps connection is often enough for most applications. You might need a better card on a server that handles more traffic at a go.
Your Random Access Memory (RAM)
RAM is the all-powerful virtual memory that always has a say on how fast any process on your computer will appear to be. Your web pages will load slower, videos will buffer and your online gaming will be a nightmare if you don’t have enough RAM.
Get a computer with at least 4 GB of RAM if you want to enjoy streaming 4K videos without perceiving lower connection speeds. If you are a gamer, you will definitely need more.
The Processor Speed
Your computer’s process can also affect your internet speeds. Even though your NIC handles the actual connections, it still has to wait for instructions from the processor. A very slow processor will have tough time analysing delivered data before making the next call in the connection.
Consequently, your computer will end up performing slower no matter how fast your internet connection might be. Most people will be fine with a basic dual core computer with a clock speed of at least 1.5 Ghz.
The Bottom Line
Investing in a decent computer should keep you from worrying if your machine is the bottleneck to faster internet or not. Most average users will be comfortable with the Network Card, RAM and Processor combination as long as they buy a computer that is fast enough to meet their other computing needs.
However, if you own an older computer, you should consider checking the network card specifications, your RAM and CPU. Upgrade these individual components if need there be and you don’t want to replace the computer. You should also refrain from using USB network dongles as they tend to perform less than a real Ethernet connection over a RJ45 dedicated RJ45 port.