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Computer Speed vs. ISP Speed

by amilliron / October 15, 2010 7:42 AM PDT

With all of the different services being offered in different speeds, choosing the right provider / service can be challenging.

How is the download speed affected by the computer speed? How fast can the computer process the download? Are we really seeing the difference when downloading 6Mbps compared to 20Mbps....if we can really only process in 2Mbps?? Every provider is overing more better faster, but is it something that we're actually using, or is it something our computer would never use anyway?

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The answer is not really that simple because...
by ahtoi / October 15, 2010 9:41 AM PDT

in most instance, the number that you quoted are max. number and in 99% of the time you won't get that speed. I would say to save money, I would start with a small number to see if it meet your need; if not then step up to the next number.

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Here's what I have . . .
by Coryphaeus / October 15, 2010 11:29 AM PDT

I have Road Runner cable, 30 Mb/s. My IBM ThinkCentre and three ThinkPads have no trouble downloading at that speed. My results from here:

Most modern PCs will write to the hard drive faster than this connect speed. What I have found is that my Gigabit home network is faster than my ISP connection, and therefore data transferred between my PCs does not approach Gigabit speed. Reason being no hard drive made can write at Gigabit speed. Taking into consideration overhead on the connection, Gigabit speed is faster than a standard 100 Mb/s LAN connection.

Since no ISP provides Gigabit (in the US) speed, your hard drive will write faster than any ISP offering.

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by amilliron / October 15, 2010 2:56 PM PDT

Okay, thanks! So what I'm seeing is that for right now my computer is going to be way faster than my download speed, so with a faster ISP (I know the limits etc) then theoretically faster is better.....

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Of course faster is better . . .
by Coryphaeus / October 15, 2010 10:38 PM PDT
In reply to: final

Ever been on dial up? Compare that to broadband.

Think about this. Your LAN/Ethernet connector on your PC is rated at 100 Mb/s. What is the fastest speed offered by any ISP? I'll let you research the write speed of your specific hard drive. But it will be faster than 100 Mb/s.

Get all you can get.

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by amilliron / October 16, 2010 12:41 AM PDT

Thanks for your info!!

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You download files at 30mbps?
by Noblepuker / November 2, 2010 6:36 PM PDT

Don't get mad,i'm just curious.I believe you believe what your saying,and i'm unfamiliar with thinkpads,or their performance...but i find those speeds hard to believe.
On cable,When downloading from various servers on the internet,you can't possibly get near those speeds.I've ran speedtests at various sites,and yes,the results reflect what i pay for...but i NEVER get a file at that speed.

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Of course I do . . .
by Coryphaeus / November 11, 2010 9:18 PM PST

Don't confuse bits and Bytes. Speed is rated in bits, downloads are measured in Bytes. Many times I download (from sites I'll not mention) files and my speed monitor will show 2.x MB/s. Which will relate to about 30 Mb/s. Remember that analog data (yes, cable, DSL and such are analog) contains 8 bits in a Byte, along with a start bit and a stop bit, for a total of 10 bits/Byte.

When you download, take note of the notation. Large B or small b.

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Speed is rated in bits, downloads are measured in Bytes.
by net2j / November 13, 2010 7:44 PM PST
In reply to: Of course I do . . .


"Speed is rated in bits, downloads are measured in Bytes."

That brightens up this issue enough for me to undersand.

Thanks, Coryphaeus.

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by Noblepuker / December 29, 2010 1:06 PM PST
In reply to: Of course I do . . .

I didn't know this...interesting.Bits(B) vs bytes(b).Thanks,im gonna read up on it.

I feel stupid someone sure the world was flat,and shown it's actually round.

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Speed is only one variable
by WaCableTech / October 16, 2010 8:22 PM PDT

as you stated if you subscribe to 0 MB provider and you have a 10 MB Ethernet connection, you are limiting yourself, Its like putting a 1 cylinder in a car you are not going to race it, you might mow grass with it but.

That said the internet itself is not likely going to make use of 20 MB connection anyway. Take downloading from for instance, for simplicity look up the quake2 demo and download it, see what your download speed is compared to the speed your ISP provides. The internet and the server download uses does not support you getting it at 20 MB, I'd imagine you'd be lucky to max a 1.5 DSL connection to be honest.

IN certain situations where the path on the internet and the server you connect to support that bandwidth you will be able to download that fast this is generally a speed test site though and not real useful for anything but bragging rights.

IN most cases your computer is fast enough to process the speed you buy, but can the rest of the equation support it or not is another story.

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A question of balance
by Zouch / October 23, 2010 12:28 AM PDT

In general, as others have said, your computer is almost certainly fast enough to deal with anything the ISPs are currently providing, though Virgin Media are trialing 200 Mb/s on cable in the UK. That apart, 100 Mb/s is the limit and any fast Ethernet card (100 Mb/s) will handle the incoming data.

One possible exeception is if you are using a wireless router, which these days will be 802.11G (54 Mb/s max) or 802.11n (150 or 300 Mb/s) and either of these will handle the typical download speed from your ISP. But, if you have, say a 20 Mb/s service from your ISP, connected to a G or N router and then you connect an older PC with an 802.11B NIC (11 Mb/s) you can (and do - personal experience!) get data overrun if the ISP happens to deliver more than 11 Mb/s. It's not supposed to happen, the NIC and the router negotiate a transmission speed on connection but the Dell 11B PCMCIA card and the Intel 2100 11B mini-PCI card can and do overrun. So keep the speed of your router and NIC above the theoretical speed from your ISP (though as others have said, you'll be lucky to see half this speed most of the time!).

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"Throughput" is the real download speed.
by net2j / November 2, 2010 2:56 PM PDT

Hi Everyone,

The ATT Yahoo DSL "throughput" download speed
of my Internet connection was 70Kbs. For years
that has been plenty, for an old guy that was
slowing down.

BUT, when trying to watch Youtube content,
I have to hit pause, let it load, and then watch.
OK, no problem, I used to do that with dial-up.

Recently my SpeedStream modem decided to use
"bridge mode", without telling me. I really
thought something was wrong when all I could
get was 23Kbs download. (I am using a Netgear
router [wired mode] and several computers.)
I called tech support, got the term 'bridge mode',
found out how to fix that, and was assured that
my 70Kbs "throughput" speed was legally within
my ATT Yahoo contract range.

I Googled, bought a commrcial POTS splitter, installed
it at the incomming line, and got no improvement,
still 70Kbs. When I tried to upgrade my DSL service,
a ?no upgrade possible? screen came up.

I researched more, and found that DSL Extreme now
offers a month to month contract, *without the $250
early cancellation fee, that scared me away a few
years ago when my ATT Yahoo DSL service jacked the
price up by 25%, and I wanted to pay less.

I switched ISPs last week. Now, with DSL Extreme,
for about $29 per month, I get 150Kbs throughput,
and I can watch Youtube without waiting to download

I think ATT Yahoo DSL wanted $35 or so for this
amount of "throughput". AND, now I can go get
the ice cream deal, ATT DSL offers only to new
customers; anytime I want; to pay more for the
same throughput speed.

Live, Learn, and $hare
Jay Allison

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Great question,your thinking
by Noblepuker / November 2, 2010 5:48 PM PDT

PC to PC on my 100mbps closed LAN is prob 16mbps or so...Definitely held back by processing speed.

Only a closed network can achieve 20mbps from what i've seen.
None of my friends,or i can achieve faster than 1mbps downloading on the web,and its allmost allways half that or worse.We run 1.5mbps cable.
I don't know anyone on's only $50 per month,but we're poor,lol.Anyone on 10mbps broadband?..i'm curious.Whats your fastest downloading speed?

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verizon dsl is slower then what its supposed to be
by nancy361 / November 10, 2010 10:02 PM PST

I try to watch youtube or espn video clips and it always stops to buffer...Something that takes 2 minutes to watch can take 5 or more minutes... I talked to verizon tech and did a speed test... I pay 23.99 for basic DSL, 768kbps, i get 430kbps for download speed. tested it several times at different times of day or nite...I thought about upgrading to the next level, 29.99 for 1.5- 3mbps..but why bother if i wont even get that...everything is hooked up properly, filters and all, westell 6100 modem. I dont lose connection just seems slow especially when trying to watch videos or live streaming anything....if a tech comes out, what does he think he will do? if all is ok then it has to be the line itself.. comcast is having a special for 6 months 19.99 a month for WAY faster speeds...wonder if its worth trying cable instead of DSL...23.99 for 768kbps and not even getting the full speed, but only half, as opposed to trying cable for 20 bucs a month for 6 months with supposedly WAY faster speeds, itll go back up to 45 bucs a month after 6 month trial... we dont have fios around here yet and cant even get the 2 faster DSl speeds, 4-7mbps or 10-15mbps. so i either stick with what i have and pay 24 bucs a month and get half the speed im supposed to get, or go up and pay 30 bucs a month for 1.5-3mbps, if thats what i get, which i probably wont, cause i cant even get the full 768kbps speed....or try the cable and wonder if thru cable, i will get the real speed im paying for....

anyone have any input on this?? not sure why i dont get the full speed i pay for...thanks

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No one gets what they pay for.
by Noblepuker / November 12, 2010 1:12 AM PST

...sure a test website will tell ya your close...but it's a lie.NO ONE gets the kbps they pay for,i mean no one.
I average 100kbps on most file downloads.All depends on the server many hops your packets take,etc.My speed can easily be as fast as someone with a better package....all depends.My record was 400kbps on a $40 cable bill (server must have been in town).I pay 14.99 now ! NO lag in games,some buffering required for vids on youtube etc..depends on resolution.I watch HULU all the time on 380dpi setting....buffer ONCE at start,whole movie plays fine....and i only have HALF the recommended speed there.

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thats all you get?
by nancy361 / November 12, 2010 2:59 AM PST

wow thats not very fast kbps is it? Thats what the verizon tech told me too, we would never get exact download speed of 768kbps, BUT we should get darn close to it at least.... I have DSL and you have cable, and its still slow even with cable? comcast cable boasts about their speeds being much faster then verizon dsl, but i wonder if its really true... YOU have cable and seems its not true... I have the lowest price price and slowest of DSL with verizon.. 2399 for 768kbps...and comcast has their lowest price on sale for 6 months at 1999 regularly 4500 and its supposed to be 2mbps up to 5, something like that... i have a verizon tech person coming out monday just to ck lines and my jack etc...its not my stuff i know that....From what i read here though about the buffering, i did what was suggested, click play then pause it right away and let it load up, then play it, and wow, no more buffering and plays all the way thru.... BUT this is where the download speed come in, right?? it took like 5-10 minutes it seemed anyways for the video clip to load up, so i guess with FASTER download speeds, it wouldve loaded much faster?? right? oh well....we shall see what they come up with ...if i decide to upgrade to 2999 and get the faster speed promo from verizon i should get close to at least, 1.5-3mbps...i dont know though if i want to try it and pay the 6-7 bucs more in hopes i get faster download speed....

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The big deals for ISP speed are
by Dango517 / November 12, 2010 9:42 PM PST

down load speed for programs and in some instances images (large down loads), video (FPS) and gaming (FPS). A too slow connection does not have time to cache video information or the real time speed to keep up with gaming well. Cut these three short and you'll be waiting for these functions. In fact you may be waiting a lot.

Use a graphics card not a graphics chip on your computer to allow for larger image caching and processing. More cores also speed up run times for many applications or will.

What you have not mention is ISP reliability another area of concern that effects us all. You might also consider the future possibility of computing that might use up any overage we currently have. More, better, cheaper is what we all need. This is not the time to put the brakes on computing advances for home users.

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Actual ISP speed vs promised speeds ........ the test
by Dango517 / November 12, 2010 9:47 PM PST
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Speed test
by Methman / April 9, 2013 2:04 AM PDT

my line is up to 105mbps and up to 20mbps
I speed test at 95 mbps Down 22mbp for up and I use many sites all test in same amounts
Yet the most I seen is 12mbps and I have very fast setup
So why? do they cap line?

i7 3770K 3.5@4.3
32GB DDR 1600
2 EVGA 680GTX Super Clocked stock 1084/3150
2 raid 0 SSD hd
gigabit lan
1200 watt big 12+ line

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