I get a lot of questions about Roku buffering. As time progresses, buffering becomes the most annoying thing about them, for sure. But will a new Roku buffer less?
Replacing an older high-end Roku with a new low-end Roku won’t necessarily mean less buffering. But generally speaking, replacing an old Roku with a newer version from a comparable price point to the original probably will buffer less.
What causes Roku buffering
I’ve seen several things cause Roku buffering: Heat, network congestion, and inadequate CPU or memory power for today’s streaming apps. A new Roku addresses most or all of these problems, at least to some degree.
I’ve had some success reducing my problems by improving my Roku’s cooling. Sizing your Internet connection properly also helps, but your Roku can tell you if your problem is network speed. These are always two good places to start, before you spend $100 on new hardware that might not actually address the issue.
CPU, memory, and network speed
Newer Rokus generally have faster CPUs and more memory than earlier versions. While I’ve found Netflix and Hulu are generally pretty forgiving of older models, some streaming networks are not. MLB.tv is very unforgiving. It’s fine on a top-end Roku from five years ago, but basically unusable on a low-end Roku from the same period.
If you’re going to stream sports, I recommend you buy a top-end model, even if it’s a top-end model from the recent past, and be prepared to replace it about every five years. Networks like Netflix and Hulu are much nicer on a current or semi-current model, but they have cut-down versions of their apps that still work well on aging models.
Networking is another issue. I much prefer using a wired connection with my Roku when I can. If that’s not an option, a newer model can still help. Newer wireless chipsets and antennas can deal with wireless congestion and weak signal strength better than older ones did.
If you want to see if the problem is just signal strength, try your Roku in another room, closer to your wireless router. If it works better when it’s closer to your router, consider getting a signal booster instead of a new Roku. You may be happier with the signal booster instead.