When it comes to playing video games with your friends, you need to know that your gaming server can handle all you can throw at it. So, to keep all players happy with low latency, quick map rendering and fantastic overall performance, you need a gaming server that’s powerful enough for your needs.

But how much will this gaming server cost? The cost of your gaming server will depend on many factors, including the type of game, the type of server hosting, your hosting provider, the number of players and your server’s specifications. Naturally, this means the price can vary from just a few pounds a month to a bit more than expected. In this article, we’ll dig into the details to figure out roughly how much your chosen gaming server will cost.

What is a gaming server?

A gaming server or game server is the authoritative source of events in a multiplayer video game. But how does it work? A gaming server works by hosting a session in a game that other players can connect to. The server then keeps track of all of the players, their locations, items and stats so that everyone can see the same information and sync their gameplay.

For games with very large maps or sessions with many players, the game server will have to work harder to host the game and keep all of the information up-to-date for all players. This means that these servers will need more processing power to work correctly, which makes them more expensive.

Having the right gaming server for your game is essential. If your server isn’t powerful enough to support your game and all of the players, this will cause issues such as lag, poor rendering, connectivity problems and crashes. Players will then look elsewhere for a gaming server that offers a better experience.

What factors affect the cost of a game server?

As mentioned earlier, the cost of a gaming server can vary widely depending on several factors. Here are the main factors that will affect the price:

1. RAM

Games with large, complex maps (e.g. Minecraft, Rust and CS:GO) require a lot more RAM (random access memory). This is because RAM temporarily stores data to allow it to be accessed and processed more quickly, which will ensure that all information in the game (such as the map) is up-to-date and properly rendered for each player. Gaming servers with a large amount of RAM (such as 16GB) will be more expensive than servers with just 1GB or 2GB of RAM.

2. CPU

Game servers that host a lot of players need a lot more processing power, which means you’ll need super-fast multi-threaded CPUs (central processing units) with higher clock speeds. These more powerful CPUs will require a larger budget.

3. Storage

Hard drives are a more economical option for storage, but if you’re serious about game hosting, you need to consider SSDs (solid-state drives). SSDs offer much faster read and write speeds and have become less expensive over the years, making them the standard option for many hosting companies.

4. Network

To strengthen network connections, your game server needs faster ports. 100Mbps ports are pretty standard, but you can get speeds of up to 1Gbps to ensure the best network speeds and performance for your game server. Of course, better server specifications will mean a higher price tag.

5. Security

Opting for a hosting plan with more security add-ons can increase the cost of your game server, but it’s definitely worth it if you want to repel DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks and protect against malware. These hosting plans will include features like firewalls, encryption and automated malware removal to keep everything up and running.

6. Operating system

Your choice of operating system (OS) can impact the overall cost of your game server. Most gaming servers use a Linux or Windows OS, with Windows being more expensive but more user-friendly for those familiar with Microsoft technologies. Some hosting companies have their own custom operating systems that may be more efficient for their products, but in general, the best OS for you is mostly down to preference.

7. Type of hosting

The type of hosting plan you choose will have a huge impact on both the performance and the cost of your gaming server. Most game servers use either dedicated servers or virtual private servers to ensure optimal performance – discover more about these hosting options below.

What type of game server hosting do you need?

Let’s look at the two most common hosting options for game server hosting: dedicated hosting and VPS hosting:

Dedicated hosting

A dedicated server is the most powerful (and most expensive) option. With a dedicated server, you get access to an entire server and all of its resources. Unlike shared web hosting, there will be no one else to hog resources and slow your server down, so you can offer players the best speeds and connectivity possible with your dedicated game server.

Plus, with a dedicated server, you get full root access to customise your server according to your needs. Therefore, you can customise the gaming experience to offer players what they want and attract more people to your server.

However, since dedicated hosting is more expensive, it only makes financial sense to opt for this server if you’re running a game that’s resource-intensive, or you're hosting many players at the same time. For example, if you’re hosting highly competitive games like CS:GO, a dedicated server may be the best option to ensure low latency at all times, as anything less will drive players away. For less demanding games, you can save money by choosing a shared or virtual server.

VPS hosting

Shared hosting typically won’t be powerful enough for anything but older, low-resource games, but if you want good performance without forking out on a dedicated server, VPS hosting is a great compromise.

With VPS hosting, a physical server is split into multiple virtual compartments for different customers. Each customer will have their own virtual compartment (or VPS) and their own allocated resources, which means you don’t have to worry about anyone else using up your resources like with shared hosting. And since your server is virtually isolated from others on the same physical server, you won’t have the same security issues as you would with a shared server. If security is something you really care about, then you can use a VPN with your VPS for added protection.

Overall, you can get many of the benefits of dedicated hosting for a fairer price with VPS hosting, but bear in mind that it can never offer you the top levels of performance you can expect from an entire dedicated server. So, VPS hosting could be perfect for most gaming servers used by a group of friends, but if you want to host a lot of players (e.g. for an MMO), dedicated hosting may be the way to go.

Can you run your own gaming server?

To rent a server for gaming, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee that’s calculated based on the hardware and features in your chosen hosting plan. You can reduce the amount you pay by opting for a less powerful server, but another option is to potentially run the server yourself and skip the monthly hosting fees.

However, if you decide to run your server yourself, you’ll need to buy the necessary hardware, maintain all of it yourself and also keep your server running 24 hours a day. This will dramatically increase your electricity bill, so use your current electricity costs to work out whether running your own server will be more cost-effective than just renting one from a hosting provider.

How much does an MMO gaming server cost?

Hosting a game server for an MMO (massively multiplayer online game) will be the most expensive option. This is because you’ll need a much more powerful server to host this many players – you could even have thousands of players relying on your server at the same time! You would also have to rent server equipment in multiple locations if you wanted to host players from around the world, and you would need to have the processing power to handle traffic at peak times (usually 6pm-1am).

As you can imagine, hosting a large server for an MMO can be expensive. Depending on your server’s specifications and the number of players, you could expect to pay hundreds or thousands of pounds per month.

How much does a Minecraft server cost?

A Minecraft server will be much less expensive than an MMO server, but the costs can add up depending on how many players join and the mods and plugins you install.

As explained earlier, you’ll need more RAM and CPU power to accommodate more players and run more complex games. So, for simple games with one group of friends, you can get away with 1GB or 2GB of RAM and go for a cheaper hosting plan. If you want to host large communities on Minecraft and mod the game extensively, you’ll need closer to 16GB of RAM and super-fast CPUs. Therefore, you can pay from a few pounds a month to over a hundred pounds a month depending on your needs.

Which gaming server should I choose?

Overall, it’s difficult to put a price tag on a private gaming server. For most people who want to host games for a few of their friends, a gaming VPS will cost just a few pounds a month. Larger communities will be more expensive and could cost up to a hundred pounds a month, and MMO servers could cost hundreds or thousands of pounds a month depending on how many players join.

So which gaming server should you choose? One option is to run a server yourself, but you’ll need to buy your own equipment. You could potentially use your gaming PC if it’s powerful enough, but if not, you’d need a separate PC with enough RAM, CPU power and storage to run your chosen game server.

The easier option is to choose a game server hosting plan from a hosting provider. At Fasthosts, we offer flexible and affordable gaming servers that are perfect for all your favourite games, including Minecraft, CS:GO and many more. Get full root access, 24/7 support and 99.999% uptime.