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How To Test Your Netflix Streaming Speed

Photo Illustration: WIRED

Netflix goes out of its way to help you to figure out what’s wrong when you get crappy, pixelated video despite that super-fast connection you’re paying for. In addition to calling out ISPs when it thinks they’re the problem, Netflix also provides a handy speed index that lets you see which providers offer the best streaming experience.

There’s even a way to test your Netflix performance in real time, thanks to a little-known 11-minute short on Netflix titled Example Short 23.976. Once launched, it will play back a series of unconnected clips—a gurgling fountain, a guy dressed in black moonwalking with a laptop, a time lapse of an evening sky, and a shot of the Netflix office in Los Gatos, among others.

Ignore the action and focus your attention on the top left of the screen, which will display the bit rate (the number of bits per second that can be transmitted along a digital network) and the resolution of the video in real time.

It should start out pretty low—my stream on the WIRED network, for instance, started out at a lowly 560 Kbps with a resolution of 512 x 384—but improve gradually as it buffers. Within a few seconds, my Netflix stream topped out at 3000 Kbps (3 Mbps) and a resolution of 1280 x 720. The higher these numbers, and the steadier they are, the better your Netflix performance is.

The highest speed in the U.S. is 3.03 Mbps, according to Netflix’s ISP Speed Index, so I guess we aren’t doing too badly.

What are your numbers? Post them in the comments below!

One comment

  1. That’s really cool. Mine tapped out at 5800 kpbs 1920×1080 on U-verse.

    That video has everything. Toy trains, moonwalking, something about Pompeii.

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