Get the Best Internet Speed for Max
Don’t let movie night be a buffering bust—get 25Mbps or faster.
You don’t need the fastest internet speeds to watch all the premium content on Max (formerly HBO Max). But it sure helps to have fast speeds.
Aim to get an internet plan that gives you 25Mbps per person if you plan to sign up for the streamer’s Ad-Free or Ultimate plans. Max is an expanded version of HBO Max, loaded with content from HBO, Warner Bros., and Discovery. Technically, you can get away with streaming movies and TV with slower speeds than that. But 25Mbps ensures you get an über-smooth connection and avoid buffering issues when you’re binging House of the Dragon or running HGTV’s home makeover shows on a constant loop.
Keep reading for our rundown of how to get the best streaming performance possible on Max.
Max speed basics
You need Wi-Fi speeds fast enough to cover not just your streaming needs, but also those of everyone else in your household. The more people streaming video on their own devices, the faster speeds you need to accommodate all these hungry content viewers. By the way, the same principles apply when you use other streaming services as well, including Netflix, Apple TV+, and many digital live TV options.
If you have an Ultimate account, you also need speeds that can handle the massive bandwidth demands of 4K resolution. That said, you can get away with much slower speeds if you’re signed up for one of Max’s lower-tier plans, such as the Ad-Free plan, which delivers max resolution of 1080p. You can also adjust the video settings in your Max app to stream content at a lower resolution.
Three golden rules for Max/HBO Max streaming:
- The more users and devices you have, the more internet speed you need.
- For 4K streaming, reduce buffering with a fiber-optic or cable internet plan.
- For slow connections and hotspots, save money and reduce buffering with the Ad-Free or With Ads plan.
Here are your minimum speed needs for Max
Max (which still goes by the name HBO Max outside the United States) officially recommends minimum speeds of just 5Mbps for its two basic plans, one with ads and the other ad-free. It recommends minimum speeds of 15Mbps for its Ultimate plan, which gives you the ability to stream video in 4K resolution.
You can probably steam video on your smart TV with those speeds, but those are lowball estimates. If you really had internet that slow, you’d likely experience a lot of buffering and slowdowns in 1080p resolution, and you would have to revert to a much lower video quality for a better viewing experience. Streaming 4K with 15Mbps would also be a struggle, since 4K takes up exponentially more bandwidth and data than 1080p does.
|Max plan||Max video resolution||Minimum required speed*||Minimum recommended speed for optimal Max streaming||Sign up online|
|With Ads||Full HD 1080p||5Mbps||100Mbps||Sign Up|
|Ad-Free||Full HD 1080p||5Mbps||100Mbps||Sign Up|
|Ultimate||4K UHD, Dolby Atmos on some titles||15Mbps||200Mbps||Sign Up|
Recommendations from Max’s speed requirements page.
Our experts say: Get 5Mbps per person at minimum for a better viewing experience
Although we don’t recommend speeds this slow generally, we also acknowledge that some users are on a budget and can’t afford the fastest Wi-Fi plans around. Still, these minimum speeds are much more accurate if you think of them as a per person recommendation.
For example, if you have three people in your household, ideally you would have at least 15Mbps speeds. If you have four people, the ideal would be 20Mbps speeds. That’s still not enough to truly accommodate 1080p viewing, but it’s solid enough to let you stream with a lower video quality.
What do you need to stream Ultra HD 4K movies on Max?
You should aim to get 200Mbps speeds or faster if you want to stream in Ultra HD 4K resolution.
Having a speed of 200Mbps allots 25Mbps per person (or streaming device) for up to eight people in your household. You can accommodate that many users without fear of endless buffering.
Ultra HD 4K resolution gives you stunning detail in every frame, making for awesome viewing as you settle in for a visual extravaganza like Avatar: The Way of Water. But that quality comes at a steep price, as 4K puts a much larger burden on your bandwidth and data usage.
Here’s a breakdown of the facts:
- 4K needs 15Mbps minimum speeds for a single user to stream Max smoothly—3X faster than what you need to stream video in Full HD 1080p resolution.
- Watching a two-hour film in 4K consumes a whopping 16GB per hour—4X the amount of data you use streaming video in HD.
Lots of people stream movies on Max while playing on their phones or tablets at the same time. There are also plenty of households where multiple people regularly stream content on separate devices in different rooms. You want to make sure you have enough bandwidth to cover all those bases.
Get fiber or cable internet for the best 4K performance
Fiber internet is the fastest and most reliable internet you can get, so it’s also the best for streaming. Outages and slowdowns are much less common on fiber connections, and even baseline fiber plans typically come with excellent minimum speeds of 200Mbps or faster. You don’t ever have to worry about a buffering blowout ruining your Sex and the City marathon when you have enough bandwidth and then some.
Most cable internet plans work excellently for streaming, too. Although cable gets slower upload speeds than fiber, download speeds are often just as fast—ensuring smooth viewing even on less expensive cable internet plans.
Best internet plans for 4K Max streaming
|AT&T Internet 300||$55.00/mo.*||300Mbps|
|Verizon Fios Internet 500/500||$69.99/mo.†||500Mbps|
|Xfinity Gigabit||$60.00–$70.00/mo.§||1,000Mbps||View Plan|
What if you have slow internet? Worry not—you can still enjoy Max
Although we usually recommend fast speeds, you don’t need to be the fastest to enjoy Max. You can have a budget cable or 5G internet plan (or even satellite internet) and still catch up on Succession or Euphoria. But you need to adjust your expectations.
Max’s With Ads and Ad-Free plans both give you video resolution of up to 1080p, but depending on your speed, the platform may adjust to a lower resolution—either HD (720p) or SD (420p). Lower video quality doesn’t look as good, but it comes with some advantages: it saves you a ton of bandwidth and doesn’t put as much of a dent in your data.
Can you manually change your video settings on Max?
Max doesn’t have an option to manually adjust video settings on its app. The platform automatically sets the resolution, giving you the best-quality image available based on your network bandwidth and internet speeds.
Pro tip: Avoid Max’s Ultimate plan with budget internet
Max’s Ultimate plan comes with some distinct advantages—you can stream on twice as many devices as once and download as many as 100 videos to watch on the Max app.
It also gives you 4K video quality. But it’s hard to stream video with that high of a resolution on an internet plan with speeds under 100Mbps. You have a higher chance of dealing with slowdowns and buffering issues, and you might not be able to enjoy streaming on multiple devices at once.
If you want Ultimate for the best video quality possible, consider investing in a faster internet plan. That, or stick to HBO’s basic ad-free plan to save your mun-muns.
Best internet plans for budget Max users
|Astound Broadband 300Mbps Internet||$20.00–$35.00/mo.*||300Mbps|
|Xfinity Connect More||$25.00/mo.†||200Mbps||View Plans|
|T-Mobile 5G Home Internet||$50.00/mo.‡ ($30.00/mo. w/ Go5G Plus or Magenta MAX)||72–245Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon 5G Home Internet||$50.00/mo.§ ($25.00/mo. w/ Verizon Unlimited Plus)||Up to 300Mbps|
Can you stream Max with satellite internet?
Yes, you can stream Max with satellite internet. However, satellite has much slower speeds and extremely limited data compared to other types of internet, so you may experience buffering issues on Max more often.
Pro tip—Get more streaming plan recommendations
Take a look at our guide to the best internet for streaming for a breakdown of top Wi-Fi plans to meet your streaming needs.
Choose the best Max plan
Max offers a few plan options. The basic Ad-Free plan is the best for most people because it lets users stream on two devices at once and offers excellent 1080p video quality without requiring you to break the bank.
The Ultimate Ad Free plan is the better option for big households and streaming buffs. You get access to 4K resolution, and you can stream on up to four devices at once—twice as many as you get with any other plan.
Max plan options
|Plan||Price||# of screens you can watch simultaneously||# of downloads you can watch on mobile app||Max video resolution||Sign up online|
|With Ads||$9.99/mo. or $99.99/yr.||2 devices at once||None||Full HD 1080p||Sign Up|
|Ad-Free||$15.99/mo. or $149.99/yr.||2 devices at once||30||Full HD 1080p||Sign Up|
|Ultimate||$19.99/mo. or $199.99/yr.||4 devices at once||100||4K UHD, Dolby Atmos on some titles||Sign Up|
Best internet plans for 4K Max streaming (return to table)
Data effective 6/30/23. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Price after $5/mo Autopay & Paperless bill discount (w/in 2 bills). Plus taxes & fees. Monthly State Cost Recovery Charge in TX, OH, NV applies. One time install chrg may apply. Ltd. avail/areas.
†Price per month with Auto Pay & without select 5G mobile plans. Fios plan prices include taxes & fees
‡Plus taxes and fees. Upload/download speed and device streaming claims are based on maximum wired speeds. Actual Internet speeds are not guaranteed and may vary based on factors such as hardware and software limitations, latency, packet loss, etc.
§For 24 months. No term contract. Includes $10/mo automatic payments and paperless billing discount. Taxes and equipment not included.
Best internet plans for budget Max users (return to table)
Data effective 6/30/23. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*24 Month Internet Pricing. No contract required. Equipment priced separately. Includes $5 discount for 12 months w/ ebill & autopay. Experienced speeds may vary. New residential customers only.
†For 24 months. No term contract. Taxes not included. Includes $10/mo automatic payments and paperless billing discount.
‡w/ Auto Pay. Regulatory fees included in monthly price for qualified accounts. See full terms.
§w/ Auto Pay. Available in select areas.
Author - Peter Holslin
Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.