Let’s face it nobody likes slow downloads. That is especially true in the gaming community. With downloads of 100+ gigabytes becoming commonplace in 2022, the issue is only getting worse. Fortunately, there is a number of things that can be done to fix slow download speeds on your Xbox Series X console. Although none of these actions alone are the silver bullet, together they can make a huge impact and really increase your download speed on Xbox Series X. This can cut the time required to download games and updates greatly.
The Xbox Series X | S consoles offer faster downloads than the previous generation Xbox One.
Upgrade Your Internet Service
Let’s get this one out of the way first. This is the elephant in the room. If you want fast downloads you need a fast internet connection. All other tricks and tips make no difference if your internet service plan is slow as molasses. The first thing you need to do is set reasonable expectations. If you are paying for 25 Mbps of download speed you will not get blazing-fast downloads on an Xbox Series X console. It is just not possible. At 25 Mbps a 50-gigabyte download will take 4 hours 30 minutes under perfect ideal conditions with no other internet usage. Throw in a Netflix stream and some Windows updates downloading in the background and this can quickly jump up to 10+ hours.
If you want fast downloads, 100 Mbps is the lowest you will want to go. 300 Mbps is an ideal target for most people. If you have multiple people using the connection, you may want to go even higher. If you have multiple providers available in your region you will generally want either a cable or fiber internet service. DSL speeds are simply not competitive these days.
If you have DSL I would strongly recommend looking into other options. It may not be possible in all cases as some locations do not have access to these kinds of speeds. In some locations, you will have to stick with DSL. If that is the case unfortunately you will need to adjust your expectations. There are some other things you can do to optimize your download speed but ultimately you can’t go any faster than the speed you get from your internet service provider. Fortunately, Space X has launched Starlink satellite internet service which provides a great alternative to DSL for many.
Upgrading your internet service is the single best thing you can do to increase your download speed and is often the only solution.
Switch to a Wired Ethernet Connection
If you have the ability to connect your Xbox Series X via ethernet and are currently connected wirelessly, stop right now and make the switch. This is the second most important step to increasing your download speed in most cases and the most important in some.
If the router is in the same room as your console it is really easy. It is also straightforward if your home is already prewired for ethernet. If you fit into either of these scenarios, using ethernet is a no-brainer at all. You have the golden ticket and just need to make use of it.
If you have an existing ethernet connection near your console but another device is plugged into it, the best thing to do would be to purchase a small 5-port ethernet switch and then connect both devices. This is extremely simple and requires absolutely no configuration at all. For less than $30 you will be able to connect your Xbox Series X to ethernet without disconnecting your other device. In our internal tests we were able to get over 871 Mpbs over ethernet on the Xbox Series X.
Switch to Powerline Ethernet
If you are unable to get an ethernet cable ran between your Xbox Series X console and your router, a powerline ethernet adapter will often be the next best thing. Not only will you often get better speeds than over WiFi, you will also get a more stable consistent connection which is vital to multiplayer gaming.
Powerline ethernet is very simple to install. You simply purchase the powerline adapters, plug one end into a power outlet near your router and the other into a power outlet near your console. Then you plug ethernet cables into the powerline adapters from your router and console. That is it, the connection is made between the adapters automatically. From here you will configure your console to use a wired connection,
The speed you will get with powerline will vary depending on the quality of the wiring in your home. The newer the wiring generally the better the performance will be. It will also depend on the quality of the powerline adapter. You will want to stay away from cheaper generic brands and purchase a powerline kit from a reputable brand such as Netgear or TP-Link. You can expect speeds of at least 200 Mbps in most cases unless your building’s wiring is in really bad shape. You can also expect to get a much more stable ping vs using WiFi.
When using powerline the adapters must be plugged straight into the outlet and not into a surge protector. If you plug them into a surge protector they will either not work at all or at very reduced speeds. This is critical when using powerline ethernet.
Powerline adapters work out well in most cases. In some situations they unfortunately perform poorly or not at all. Buy them from somewhere where if they don’t work out you can easily return them. You will know within a few days if they are going to work out in your environment or not. Generally, they are the next best thing to proper ethernet wiring and are much faster than using WiFi.
Use the 5 Ghz WiFi Frequency Band
If you need to use WiFi to connect your Xbox Series X console make sure you are using the 5Ghz band. This is the most important thing you can do to improve your connection over WiFi. In many cases, it will double or even triple your download speeds when you move from the 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz WiFi band.
Most routers support the 5 GHz Band. It is likely a matter of simply changing a few settings. If your router does not support the 5 GHz band it is likely quite old and due for an upgrade anyways.
The only downside of using 5 GHz is the range is slightly lower. If you are really far from your router and there are many walls in the way you may not be able to maintain a steady connection on the 5 GHz band. It is still worth trying though because it can make such a difference. If you can’t get the 5 GHz signal to reach I would strongly recommend looking into the powerline ethernet option. That will likely be the best option in that situation.
Upgrade Your Router
If your router is on the older side or does not support the 5 GHz band you may want to consider replacing it. This can make a large difference in many cases. Avoid routers with gaming in the name. They are not necessary and generally cost substantially more for little to no benefit. There are 3 levels of setups regarding routers.
Level 1 is your average consumer-grade router from brands such as Netgear, Linksys, TP-Link, and Belkin. They will work well enough for a lot of people, particularly in a smaller homes with modest coverage needs. Generally, this is the least expensive option and the simplest to configure. It also generally offers the lowest performance and will not work optimally in a larger home.
Level 2 is a consumer-grade mesh WiFi system. Mesh has been a growing trend in the networking industry and has found its way into the consumer market. If you want a simple to set up solution that can cover a larger home, a mesh solution is likely a good fit for you. Generally, performance is better than with a basic router and the coverage is much larger. If you have a room that struggles with coverage switching to a mesh WiFi system will likely solve it. Generally, the cost is a bit higher than a basic router. However, if you have a larger home and need the coverage, this extra cost will be well worth it to most people, especially if they are gamers. Popular mesh WiFi systems include the Google Nest WiFI, Netgear Orbi, and Amplifi Alien.
Level 3 is a commercial grade router and accompanying access point(s). This is the optimal setup for anyone who wants the absolute best performance. Surprisingly the cost can be quite comparable to a quality mesh solution. This setup will give you the absolute fastest speeds and the most stable ping. It also allows for expanding the reach of the network by installing additional wireless access points. This is really the key with this setup. You are separating out the routing and wireless into separate devices. This means that you can put your router where it needs to be and put the wireless access point(s) closer to where you are going to use the WiFi. The biggest downside to this setup is also an upside. This is the complexity and customizability of the setup. You can configure things how you want them and the options are nearly limitless. That comes at the expense of a steeper learning curve. However, I would not let that get in the way. There are many articles and tutorial videos that show step by step how to set up a network from beginning to end. It is also a great opportunity to educate yourself a little deeper into the workings of the technology we use in our daily lives.
There are many brands that are available in this category. Some popular choices that represent a great value for the money include MikroTik, Ubiquiti, and pfSense. Ubiquiti in particular offer a great line of products for someone looking to get their feet wet into business grade networking products at an affordable price. Their Unifi line is relatively user friendly and there are many tutorials online showing how to configure them on a home network. The cost is actually similar to a mesh WiFi system and offers much greater flexibility and expandability.
Put Your Console into Instant On Mode
Okay this won’t actually speed up your downloads, but it will make it easier to download large updates and games overnight when you are not using the Xbox Series X console. This can make a slow download speed much more tolerable for most people. If you download things when you are sleeping or away from the home your downloads will be ready when you go to play a game on your console.
That is it. These are the best things you can do to maximize your download performance on an Xbox Series X console.
Enable Quality of Service on Your Router (QoS)
QoS works by identifying certain types of traffic or certain sources of traffic, and then prioritizing certain traffic over others. A good analogy would be a traffic light that switches to green early if it detects an emergency vehicle approaching with its lights on. QoS can reduce latency in applications that rely on real time communication. This is useful for software such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams where latency is paramount if you do not want your video conferences breaking up. Gaming is also particularly latency sensitive. If you want to game free from lag, and have other devices also connected to your network at the same time, you need a router with QoS enabled.
QoS will allow traffic such as gaming traffic or VoIP traffic to jump the line ahead of other traffic. It can also send certain latency insensitive traffic such as downloads to the back of the queue. This will make sure that real time communications work smoothly without having a noticeable negative impact on other traffic. In fact, sometimes QoS can actually make all of your traffic faster.