Will a new Roku buffer less?

Last Updated on March 13, 2021 by Dave Farquhar

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

Will a new Roku buffer less?
Replacing an older Roku like this one with a newer, faster, bigger, beefier model can certainly reduce buffering. I found replacing this one with a newer one made streaming much nicer.

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.

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4 thoughts on “Will a new Roku buffer less?

  • October 23, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    Currently, I’ve got a first gen Roku Stick (circa 2014) and a 2018 version of the Roku Express. The only streaming service that I have ever had any buffering issues with is MLB TV (I currently do not have the service to test on my Express). The Roku Stick is slow as molasses to navigate through now (it quite literally takes up to 5 seconds to pause sometimes), but once you start a stream, it never hiccups.

  • December 12, 2019 at 8:08 am

    Unfortunately my ISP has a 250GB data cap per month and this truly sucks. I set my Roku Stick+ at 720p and still use about 5.9GB for a 1.5 hour episode of Midsomer Murders. I set my bitrate at 3.5Mbps but it didn’t help at all. Also, this rate has to be reset each and every time I use the Roku, it resets to Automatic after shutting down. I do not have the ratio settings you mentioned in another article so I am curious if you have any suggestions other than finding another ISP. I’m stuck with one sorry, sorry ISP.

    • December 13, 2019 at 1:55 pm

      Wow, that is a truly onerous limitation. 250 GB doesn’t go long these days. It means you can stream about two hours a night and not use your Internet connection for anything else. Newer Roku units may not have the ratio settings since there’s no way to connect HDMI-only units to the analog TVs that used those.

      Unless your ISP offers a higher tier, there isn’t a lot you can do. HD Video at any resolution is going to chew up a ton of bandwidth and 250 GB doesn’t stretch far. I think my ISP’s lowest tier may have a 250-gig cap as well, but its higher tiers of service raise the caps to levels someone can actually use. Fortunately I have the option to pay extra for no cap. It’s expensive, but this web site uses quite a bit of data and I work from home a lot. At least I have the option. My ISP may not be the best but I know it’s much better than some.

  • December 13, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    I forgot to mention that Roku Streaming Stick+ has not means of definitely setting the bitrate. It reverts to automatic as soon as your press the Home button on the remote. Also, if I am not mistaken, Roku has disabled this function and let stay in it’s OS for consolation purposes, I suppose.

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