Tips & Tricks

Throughput vs Latency: What’s the Difference?

11 min read
Throughput vs Latency

In network performance, two critical measures often come to the forefront – latency and throughput. Latency is the time to send a packet of information from the source to the destination. On the other hand, throughput is the actual rate at which the data can be transferred.

So, which one matters more for seamless video streaming? From differentiating between these two complex terms to identifying potential issues that can inhibit their effectiveness, this blog will address everything about latency vs. throughput in detail.

We will delve into the causes of high latency and poor network throughput. You will learn about the role of these two factors in ensuring a smooth video stream and discussing solutions to common network congestion issues. The aim is to equip you with knowledge on maintaining the right balance between latency and network throughput, significantly improving your network’s performance for a virtually lag-free streaming experience. So, whether you’re a network administrator, a video streamer, or a cloud service provider, this blog is for you.

Latency vs Throughput: Key Differences

Criteria Latency Throughput
Definition Time taken for a data packet to travel from the source to the destination. Amount of data that can be transferred over a network in a given period.
Unit of Measurement Measured in milliseconds (ms). Measured in bits per second (bps) or bytes per second (Bps).
Importance Critical for real-time applications like voice and video calls. Essential for data-intensive applications like video streaming or file downloads.
Impact High latency can cause delays in data delivery and slow response times. Low throughput can cause buffering, slower download speeds, and reduced data transfer rates.
Optimization Reducing the number of hops, optimizing routes, and using Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). Increasing bandwidth, optimizing network configurations, and using compression techniques.

What is Throughput?

Understanding network throughput is crucial for anyone streaming or managing network connections. But what exactly is throughput? Generally, throughput refers to the amount of data successfully transferred from one point to another within a given time frame.

When it comes to streaming, high throughput is highly desirable. The reason? It can effectively handle high data transmission volumes for seamless, high-quality video content viewing. For an ideal video streaming scenario, the throughput of a network connection needs to meet or exceed the transmitted data volume.

Understanding how much data your network can efficiently transfer can help identify potential network bottlenecks—strategizing towards optimum streaming quality. Furthermore, monitoring throughput adds value to managing overall network performance.

What causes poor network throughput?

Improving your network throughput can considerably enhance your streaming experience. However, to achieve this, it’s necessary to understand what factors might lead to poor network throughput.

One of the top culprits is network congestion. This occurs when the network becomes saturated with too much traffic, leading to slow data transmission. Another common issue is insufficient bandwidth. Bandwidth represents the maximum capacity of your network to transfer data. It can only keep up with the data needed for smooth streaming if it’s high.

Moreover, network infrastructure, particularly the hardware involved, can affect throughput. Older or slower devices can’t handle high volumes of data as effectively as newer, faster ones. Similarly, the quality of the network connection – including issues such as packet loss and jitter – can significantly influence the actual data transfer rate.

Low throughput can lead to buffering or lower-quality streams, so it’s imperative to identify potential issues early.

Role of Throughput in Seamless Video Streaming

In the realm of video streaming, throughput plays a significant role. Have you ever experienced grainy videos or the annoying buffering circle during a live stream? If yes, then you’ve likely encountered a scenario of low throughput.

Ideally, network throughput should be high enough to handle the volume of data transmission required for streaming. This means that the network must be capable of transferring a large amount of data per unit of time. Videos stream smoothly to keep the viewers engaged.

However, poor network performance resulting from inadequate throughput can disrupt your streaming experience. This disruption often results from bottlenecks in the network connection —where the data transfer rate becomes too slow to maintain the streaming of high-quality videos effectively.

Therefore, judiciously managing throughput is crucial for network administrators and streaming service providers to deliver a seamless and enjoyable video viewing experience. Remember, an optimized throughput not only impacts the quality of the stream but also reflects the network’s performance and stability. So, stake your claim in seamless video streaming by ensuring an efficient throughput process.

Why Optimal Throughput alone is not enough for Seamless Streaming?

High network throughput is desirable for streaming, no doubt. However, it’s important to understand that more than optimal throughput is needed to guarantee a seamless, buffering-free streaming experience. Yes, it ensures enough data packets can be transferred through the network, but what if there’s a significant delay in this transfer?

That’s where network latency comes in. Even with excellent throughput, users will still experience delays or buffering during streaming if the latency is high. Latency is the time taken to send a packet from source to destination. High latency measures can introduce a lag, affecting the streaming experience negatively.

For instance, imagine being in a video conference with high throughput but also high latency. You’ll hear every word clearly, but the visuals would be frustratingly out of sync because of the delay.

Hence, to achieve a perfect streaming experience, balancing throughput and latency is crucial. Network administrators must constantly monitor both aspects to avoid traffic bottlenecks and ensure the data packets flow smoothly and swiftly through the network.

What is Latency?

When discussing network performance, latency frequently pops up along with throughput. Understanding latency is crucial for a smooth streaming experience.

Latency, colloquially known as lag, represents the time it takes for a data packet to travel from its source to the destination. It’s the delay in the data transfer process. The lower the latency, the faster the data travels, enhancing the overall network’s performance for streaming or any other online activity.

In the context of streaming, low latency is crucial. For a simple example, imagine watching a live sports event online. High latency would mean that the action on your screen is delayed compared to the actual event. This lag can ruin the live-streaming experience, leading to opportunities for spoilers from other sources that may be ahead.

Therefore, just as we strive for high throughput for transferring more data, we should aim for low latency to ensure the data doesn’t face significant delays. A balance of these two elements is key for the best streaming experience.

What Causes High Latency?

For anyone aiming to optimize their streaming experience, understanding the potential causes of high latency is crucial. Several factors can contribute to the delay or lag in network data transmission.

Network congestion is a major contributor to high latency. Much like a congested highway, delays are bound to happen when many data packets are trying to move through the network simultaneously. As a result, the data transfer process takes significantly longer.

Distance also plays a role in latency. The further the data packet travels from the source to the destination device, the longer it takes, thereby increasing latency.

Another factor to consider is the hardware performance. Poor network performance due to older, slower devices can result in longer delays in transmitting data. The quality of your internet service provider’s infrastructure, including signal strength and stability, can also impact latency.

Lastly, issues such as packet loss—where data packets get lost or damaged in transit—and improper network setup can contribute to high latency.

Understanding these issues enables effective troubleshooting of streaming lags, helping to enhance your overall viewing experience.

Impacts of High Latency on Streaming

High latency can be a thorn in the side of any avid streamer or online gamer. Despite having strong network speed or excellent throughput, high latency can interrupt the viewer’s experience. But how does it do this?

High latency leads to significant delay or lag in data transmission. This delay may seem minor, but it can drastically impact the “real-time” requirement of live streaming. It’s akin to knowing the score of a sports game before you’ve witnessed it happen on your screen, an obvious spoiler no sports fan would appreciate.

Moreover, high latency can lead to jitter – inconsistent arrival times of data packets. This inconsistency can cause the video to freeze and buffer. Imagine watching an intense movie scene only to have it pause mid-action due to buffering – it’s a total mood-killer!

Not only does high latency disrupt the viewing experience, but it can also strain network resources and reduce the overall efficiency of the network’s performance.

Therefore, to enjoy seamless streaming, addressing and working towards reducing high latency is imperative. Whether you are a network operator, a streaming service provider, or a user, understanding the detriments of high latency can assist in optimizing the network infrastructure. This optimization aims to ensure data is delivered promptly, maintaining the continuity of the video stream, keeping viewers hooked, and enhancing overall viewer satisfaction. Besides, low latency also improves the performance of other online activities, making it a universal requirement for superior network performance.

How to measure network latency and throughput

To maintain optimal streaming quality, measuring latency and throughput is crucial. For latency, consider using the ‘ping’ command, which sends a request to a server and measures the time taken for the response. Latency is typically measured in milliseconds (ms). Conversely, you can use tools like a network bandwidth analyzer pack or NetFlow traffic analyzer to measure network throughput. These tools assess the actual data transfer rate by monitoring the volume of data flowing through the network. Throughput is generally measured in bits per second (bps) or multiples (e.g., Kbps, Mbps, Gbps). Regular evaluation of these performance metrics helps identify and address network congestion or traffic bottlenecks, enhancing the overall streaming experience.

How to Balance Throughput and Latency for Optimal Streaming

For an excellent streaming experience, balancing throughput and latency is key. But remember, improving one at the expense of the other might yield different results. The key is to manage them in tandem to ensure a steady, high-quality video stream.

Speeding up the data transfer is a viable strategy to enhance throughput. Upgrading your network infrastructure, using faster cables, or increasing network bandwidth could boost your throughput. However, don’t saturate the network with excessive data, leading to congestion.

Simultaneously, to reduce latency, consider minimizing the distance data packets need to cover. Geographically, closer servers can help reduce the time data takes to travel. Additionally, ensuring a well-optimized, congestion-free network can significantly lower delays.

Remember, high throughput measures and low latency are not mutually exclusive. Tools such as a network bandwidth analyzer pack or a NetFlow traffic analyzer can help monitor and maintain optimal levels. These tools provide real-time insights into your network’s performance, allowing you to spot performance anomalies and mitigate them promptly.

Remember that no two networks are the same. You’ll need to continually tweak and adapt your approach based on your specific network conditions and demands. A higher network capacity typically implies better throughput and low latency, but only with the right infrastructure and configuration.

Always monitor your network performance, and don’t hesitate to invest in improvements. Because, in the end, a balanced latency and throughput equate to seamless, high-quality streaming.

Consequences of Ignoring Latency and Throughput Balance

The importance of striking the right balance between latency and throughput, especially in video streaming, cannot be overstated. Ignoring this balance can have severe consequences for both streamers and users. Here’s a breakdown of the outcomes you may face if this balance is neglected:

1. Buffering and Lagging Issues

A streaming experience marred by frequent buffering or lags due to high latency or poor network throughput can be incredibly frustrating. Viewers are more likely to abandon the stream, reducing user satisfaction and negative feedback for the content provider.

2. Loss of Viewership or Customers

Continuous hiccups in streaming quality will harm your platform’s reputation. Users will likely switch to alternative platforms with better network performance, translating to a loss in viewership or subscription revenue for streaming service providers.

3. Inefficient Network Utilization

Ignoring the latency and throughput balance can translate into inefficient management of precious network resources. It leads to increased network delays, relentless bottlenecks, and suboptimal performance. This inefficiency can be costly and demands additional time and effort from network administrators to rectify issues.

4. Hindered Adoption of New Technologies

The ever-evolving world of streaming requires rapid adaptation to cutting-edge technology for enhanced viewer experiences. For example, 4K streaming or virtual reality relies heavily on low latency and high throughput. Failing to maintain this balance can prevent the adoption of advanced technologies, consequently diminishing your competitive edge.

Maintaining a harmonious balance between latency and throughput is essential for a seamless video streaming experience. Ignoring this balance can jeopardize customer satisfaction, viewership, and network efficiency, ultimately hindering the growth and reputation of your streaming platform. Regularly monitoring and optimizing network performance can improve your streaming service quality and ensure long-term success.


Mastering the balance between latency and throughput is integral to achieving an effortless video streaming experience, whether it’s for entertainment or business needs. If not managed effectively, they can bring about disruptive buffering and reduced video quality – causing unnecessary frustration.

Castr understands the importance of this intricate balance. Our comprehensive video streaming solutions are designed to ensure you experience high-quality streaming with low latency every time. Sink into a world of seamless, uninterrupted streaming; wave goodbye to endless buffering and say hello to high-definition videos. Don’t let network performance issues stand in the way of your streaming pleasures or business needs. You deserve a service that respects your time and values your experience. Choose Castr – where we make quality streaming a reality. Take the first step today – visit our website to understand more about our solutions and how we can elevate your streaming experience.

Join 200,000+ satisfied streamers

Still on the fence? Take a sneak peek and see what you can do with Castr.

No Castr Branding

No Castr Branding

We do not include our branding on your videos.

No Commitment

No Commitment

No contracts. Cancel or change your plans anytime.

24/7 Support

24/7 Support

Highly skilled in-house engineers ready to help.

  • Check Free 7-day trial
  • CheckCancel anytime
  • CheckNo credit card required

Related Articles