One day the title for this page will be incorrect. If you stream 4K 3D streams with high video bitrates, different rules will apply, but for the majority of current HD (be it 720 or 1080) streams, unless you’re connected to a private server, 25Mbit is more than enough. 5Mbps could be enough, if you were willing to sacrifice a little speed for the first playback to occur and were selective about the hosting companies’ servers that you use.
Tests carried out on a connection when 40-50Mbit transfers are normal with private servers. XBMC for Windows, build 13.2 (Aug 17th). A Windows platform was used for ease of recording both bandwidth and resource usage.
For carrying out these tests, I wanted to ensure that the hardware at my end did not create instances where playback would have otherwise been smooth, so the test rig was set to original OEM clockspeeds (so less likelihood of any issues being created after the server being tested had sent the data):
Asus P8Z77-V LE Plus
Intel i5 2500K CPU at stock speed
16Gb of RAM @ stock 1600 timings
Asus GTX 650Ti DC2 Top with stock timings
In short, if a stream still stutters on a powerful device then we can be reasonably certain the issue is not just found on devices with less horsepower.
The “VK” and “GVideo” hosts are normally more than fast enough on both PC and Android devices on my PlusNet connection.
You will sometimes find that depending on your ISP (internet service provider eg PlusNet, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin, BT and EE) different hosting companies will work better for you. Also worth taking into consideration is when the stream is being watched. A host may work brilliantly at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon, but be painfully slow Friday evening (as more people are online).
This list shows which hosting companies (the middle term) have a copy of this video, as well as the resolution (after the hosting company name).
Tusfiles has the only 1080p stream for this video, but is too slow to watch the film, even allowing for initial buffering to fill the cache.
23 seconds into the stream finally playing, the bandwidth available with this host was still too low for continuous playback. 800Kbit/sec nowhere near enough for this (or any) 1080p stream.
Switching to the GVideo-hosted stream, the resolution has dropped to 720, but the playback started instantly, with peaks of around 16Mbit/sec from the server when needed. No pausing, initial delay or buffering randomly waiting for the cache to fill.
I’ve included a quick shot comparing the two hosts and their available bandwidth. On the left was too slow with Tusfiles, GVideo’s transfer was fast enough for near-instant playback and around 2Mbit/sec was enough to keep it going.
Occasional further peaks as the cache needed topping up (just the GVideo connection shown in this shot).
As a quick contrast, here we have a similar 1080p video stream, but this time hosted with GVideo. You can see from the initial surge as it fills the cache, and the settled down figure afterwards that the hosting company was able to provide enough bandwidth for the 1080p stream to start almost instantly, and not have playback issues.