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How much data does online gaming on the Nintendo Switch use?

Fortnite Switch
Fortnite Switch (Image credit: iMore)

Online gaming can be a fun way to pass time, especially on a portable system like the Nintendo Switch. But data caps are an unfortunate reality for mobile — and even some home — Internet plans. That doesn't mean you can't game if you have a data cap, but it's good to do some research before having to pay a fee because you went over your month's data.

Fortunately, there are tools available to help you find out just how much data online gaming uses. Even better, we've done the tests on the most popular game today — Fortnite. Read on to find out how much data online gaming uses!

How we tested

If you want to verify our results — or just test this with your favorite game — the setup is simple:

  1. Download Wireshark for Windows or macOS. Wireshark is a free network monitoring tool that shows how much data each device on your network is using.
  2. Make sure your Nintendo Switch is connected to the same network as the computer running Wireshark.
  3. While this isn't a necessity, it doesn't hurt to unplug or disconnect other devices that would be using the same network as the Switch. It won't hurt anything to have those devices on, but less devices means less results to sort through.
  4. Find your Switch's IP address by going to System Settings > Internet. Scroll down until you see the IP address.
  5. With Wireshark open, start using the Switch. You should see a little bit of network traffic from the Switch's IP address as the system checks for system and game updates.
  6. Open Fortnite — or your game of choice — and start playing.

For this test, we played for an hour and recorded the data usage every 20 minutes. This didn't include downloading the game from the Nintendo eShop or setting up our Epic account. Keep this in mind if you've never played Fortnite before.

How much data does online gaming on the Switch use?

With the hows out of the way, it's time to get down to business and defeat the Huns play some games. I set my timer for 20 minutes to make sure I captured how much data I'd use for my games. Here were the results:

  • After the first 20 minutes, I use 17 megabytes of data.
  • After the next 20 minutes, I used 33 megabytes of data.
  • After the last 20 minutes, I used 52 megabytes of data.

I used 52 megabytes of data for the one-hour session, which is much less than I was anticipating. This won't add any stress for home users with a one terabyte cap, and it should even work well for mobile users. Most mobile "unlimited" plans have a soft cap of 22 gigabytes, meaning if you'd have to play 423 hours of Fortnite to hit that limit. Even if you have a smaller plan — two gigabytes in this example — you can play 38 hours of Fortnite in a month from your mobile plan. That's alongside using your phone for streaming music or navigation, but it's still a great amount of game time.

What say you?

How much data do you spend on your online games? Let us know down below!

9 Comments
  • 19 days is only 988MB. A terabyte is 1000GB. I think you have the size difference between MB and GB confused. You could play Fortnite all day every day on that plan.
  • I had my abbreviations incorrect. Wireshark is listing that as 17/33/52 million bytes, which equates to 17/33/52 gigabytes.
  • 17 million bytes = 16.21 MB
    33 million bytes = 31.47 MB
    52 million bytes = 49.59 MB I used my Switch to play Fortnite for a few hours using a hot spot and the hot spot displayed how much data was used. It was definitely around 20-30MB per match (depending on length of match). You need to update your article because this is way off.
  • A Terabyte is 1,024 GB (not trying to be a **** :()
  • Mike is correct. Mega means million in terms of Megabytes. Also if you google 17 million bytes google will verify that it is in fact megabytes, not gigabytes ;)
  • Hey, Tom! I think you’re off on your conversions. I’m getting 1/1000th what you’re showing. I’m averaging in the high teens of MB (not GB) per match. This is also seems to be verified by others doing the same tests (on reddit). https://www.reddit.com/r/NintendoSwitch/comments/8rhu14/fortnite_data_us... Hope this helps!
  • Hi Tom, please update the article as there is no way that Fortnite chews through that amount of data usage in an hour. You have confused MB and GB. Some people are on very small mobile plans, so it’s good to be aware of the usage as those Megabytes still add up, but if these games (especially Fortnite) chewed through Gigabytes like that we’d probably break the internet :)
  • VERY misleading. Adding all the numbers and it is indeed MB not GB. This needs to be changed ASAP. It could scare people into not playing the switch while away from home on a hotspot. This is not a good look for the author.
  • Yep, I miscounted my zeroes :) the article is all up to date with the correct numbers, and I appreciate everyone's input.