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Is Xfinity Speed Test Accurate?

Last Updated Jul 16, 2022
Looking at a Laptop

Many companies have come out with online tools designed to test the speed of a network connection. Xfinity is one of those companies, creating a tool that was originally designed for customers but can be accessed by everyone. With the plethora of tools out there, it can be hard to know if the Xfinity tool (or any of the other tools for that matter) accurately measures network speed.

The Xfinity Speed Test is accurate, particularly under ideal conditions. These ideal conditions can optimize the results and give a very accurate representation of the network under test.

Even though the Xfinity Speed Test is accurate, various conditions can affect the tool’s accuracy. Read on to discover what environmental conditions can affect the accuracy of this handy tool.

Make Sure You Have the Right Hardware Setup

Since the Xfinity Speed Test tests a device’s internet speed and not the network’s maximum speed, then the way the device is set up and the type of device matter very much in the utility’s accuracy. The setup can be divided into two basic types: the type of connection and the device hardware.

Connection Type

Oftentimes, users of the speed test will test out their network speed via wireless devices. Depending on the wireless setup you are connected to, this test can greatly affect the perceived accuracy.  

For example, if you have a fiber plan with gigabit speeds but are sending data over the air, then your results for the speed test will be lower than that gigabit speed you are paying for.

Wireless connections are, by nature, going to be slower than a hardwired connection. The most accurate Xfinity speed test utility results can be gained by using a hardwired connection with hardware that can support the network’s maximum speed.

Additionally, if you are using the test on a wireless device, then the distance from your router (or access point) can directly affect the results. The further you are away from the wireless network source, the worse your results can be. These results may be extremely poor if the network fades in and out of the connection.

Device Hardware

Since the Xfinity Speed Test measures the download/upload speed to the specific device under test, the device’s age, make, and quality could play a big role in the perceived accuracy of the utility.

If this test is being run from an older computer that has older processors, wifi chips, and the like, then it stands to reason that the speed test could be degraded as opposed to the internet plan speed.

A good analogy can be made with cars. If you take the old beat-up summer car for a drive, it shouldn’t be expected to have the top performance of a brand new Aston Martin. Such is the way with computer hardware as well. Some hardware will vastly outperform others depending on how they were made and how old each setup is.

Know How the Tool Works

Xfinity tests the speed of your network by checking the time it takes for data to move from your device to one of their servers. These servers are located in a variety of places around the country.

Choosing a server closest to your physical location will yield you a slightly higher speed result. However, if you choose a server much further away, then the data transfer will have much further to travel & will not be as reflective of the network’s speed capability.

Xfinity says that its speed test uses GeoIP data to determine your location and find the closest of their servers to transfer data to. This method works and can be correct most of the time. There are times, however, when this method can error.

One of the most common scenarios is when the device and/or network is using a VPN. Many VPNs natively spoof your geographical location. If this is the case, Xfinity could be using a server on the other side of the country!

Don’t Overtask Your Network

The more devices that are on a local network, the slower the speed results could become.

Depending on your Internet plan speed, too many devices could be connected at once. A TV streaming a 4k movie with a slower internet speed could make your network seem extremely slow. If you then try to run the speed test to confirm this, your results could look very poor indeed.

The best time to use the utility to get a much more accurate reflection of your Internet speed capability should be when the connected devices on the network are idle. You don’t have to go around disconnecting all the smart devices, but so long as they are not being tasked with a data-heavy operation, then the speed test should give a much better assessment.

Conclusion

The Xfinity speed test (and others like it) can be very accurate for the network speed on the device. However, you always have to keep in mind that there are caveats to this accuracy and reliability. Operating under the right conditions, this speed test can be a good benchmark of network speed. If operating under the wrong conditions though, the utility could falsely represent the true power of the tested network.

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