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Google Stadia is every bit the data hog that everyone was expecting. The service warns that it can use between 4.5GB and 20GB of data per hour. Where you’ll fall within that range depends on the quality of the video feed you get from Stadia. But I didn’t want to just take Google’s word for this, so I set up a quick test. At 4K and 60 frames per second, 20GB per hour seems right in line with my experience.

Tracking data use by device is more difficult than it should be. But I settled on connecting a Chromecast Ultra and Stadia controller to my phone as a hotspot. I could then use Android’s built-in data-usage tracker. The problem here is that I could only get 1080p quality from Stadia instead of 4K I get over my broadband connection. But the results still illustrate how much data Stadia eats.

Tracking Google Stadia data usage

Red Dead Redemption 2 at 1080p60 on Stadia:

  • Duration: 13 minutes
  • Data used total: 1.55GB
  • Data per minute: 119MB
  • Estimated data per hour: 7.14GB

I couldn’t track the use at 4K, but at four times the pixels of 1080p, Stadia should easily hit that 20GB/minute throughput.

Sticking with just my actual measurements, though. Stadia’s data use could end up extremely high. Red Dead Redemption 2 takes an average of 47 hours to beat, according to howlongtobeat.com.

That means just to play through the story of Red Dead Redemption 2, you will use more than 335GB of data on Stadia. Again, that’s at 1080p60. At 4K, you’re likely using at least twice that.

On PC, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an approximately 150GB download. So that’s significantly less than 47 hours on Stadia. And that doesn’t include any extra time put into Red Dead Online. Now, to be fair, you don’t need to download any updates for Stadia games. But streaming is still far more data intensive.

What this means is that if you have a data cap, Stadia is going to add up quickly. That’s especially true for 4K60. If you are consistently hitting that 20GB-per-hour mark. At that rate, you’ll go over a typical Xfinity 1TB cap after just 50 hours of Stadia alone.

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