Video slots are some of the most popular games to play at online casinos. All of these slot games come with unique themes, special features, and gameplay mechanics, and all slots have their own variance, a mechanic which determines how payouts are handled within the game. Discover the difference between low and high volatility slots and what the best high and low variance slots are in this article.
As we mentioned above, variance is a mechanic in both off and online slots which determines how payouts are handled within games. Video slots can either by low volatility or high volatility, and each changes the size and frequency of payouts, affecting how much and how often you can trigger wins. Luckily, the difference between low and high variance slots is easy to understand; wins in low variance slots are usually smaller in size but happen frequently while slots with high variance are bigger in size but happen less frequently.
A slot’s volatility is usually a key factor in determining what slot a player might want to play. The reason for this is because low volatility slots can provide you with more playtime on a smaller budget while making frequent small wins, making them great for anyone new to video slots.
Compare this with high variance slots which require more funds since you’re less likely to make wins and therefore need to wager more spins and spend more time playing. MegaWays games are usually of high variance, and slots of high volatility are generally deemed to be a bit more “risky” to play and aimed at more experienced players.
When people learn about slot variance, one of the first questions they ask is whether it’s possible to measure a slot’s volatility. Generally speaking, you can’t measure the variance of a slot, but many online casino game developers like NetEnt, Play’n GO, and many others share details about the variance of certain games. There are also many websites which detail a slot’s variance using information from developers, but you usually cannot find variance information within a game or at an online casino, unlike RTP rates.
As we mentioned above, low variance slots, also known as low volatility slots, are usually better for beginners or casual gamers since they are of low risk and offer low rewards. There are hundreds of low variance slots, some of which have gone on to become hugely successful. If you’re looking to play a low volatility slot, check out our recommendations below:
Starburst is one of the most successful video slots of all time. Developed by NetEnt, the space-themed game has low variance but is packed full of fun and excitement. It uses a 5×3 layout with 10 paylines that pay in both directions, and it has an RTP of 96.09%. For special features, Starburst benefits from Re-spins, Spreading Wilds, and Expanding Symbols to help you make more wins.
Thunderstruck II is a classic Microgaming slot of low variance. The Norse-themed game, which released in 2010 and uses a 5×3 layout with 243 paylines, remains popular among players for its gorgeous visuals and special features which include Multipliers, Wild Symbols, Scatter Symbols, Expanding Symbols, several Free Spins modes, and an Avalanche mechanic with Cascading Wins. You can take a look at our Thunderstruck II review here for more information on the game.
There are several Sherlock Holmes-themed online slots available in the UK gambling market, and Yggdrasil’s low variance slot Holmes And The Stolen Stones is one of the best around. This detective-themed game uses a 5×3 layout with 20 paylines, and it has an RTP of 96.8%. Special features in the slot include Wild Symbols, a Pick-an-Object Bonus Game, and Jackpot prizes too.
Red Tiger Gaming’s Dragon’s Luck is another low variance slot that can be played in the UK. Released in 2015, the Chinese-themed slot uses a 5×3 layout with 10 paylines that pay in both directions, and it has an RTP of 95.07%. When it comes to special features, the slot benefits from a Free Spins mode, Multipliers, and more.
Our final recommendation for a low variance slot is Rabcat’s Mining Fever which launched in 2020. The dwarf and mining-themed game uses a 5×3 layout with 253 paylines and an RTP of 96.13%. Some of the special features you can enjoy in this game include Expanding Symbols, a Free Spins mode, Scatter Symbols, Sticky Wilds, Random Wilds, and more to help trigger additional wins.
Anyone who is more experienced in video slots and wants to try making bigger wins should try high variance slots, also known as high volatility slots. As we’ve stated before, these video slots are much riskier to play. Some of the most popular high volatility slots are:
Immortal Romance is another hugely popular Microgaming slot, but one with high variance. Released in 2011, the slot is themed on vampires and romance, and it uses a 5×3 layout with 243 paylines and has an RTP of 96.86%. Some of the special features in the game include Wild Symbols, Scatter Symbols, Multipliers, Random Wilds, a Free Spins mode, and plenty more.
Book Of Dead is one of the most famous video slots of all time. The game, developed by Play’n GO, is a high volatility slot which follows a famous adventurer as he travels to Egypt in search of an ancient artefact. Book Of Dead uses a 5×3 layout with 10 paylines, and it has an RTP of 94.25%, it’s also jam-packed with special features such as a Free Spins mode, Wild Symbols, Scatter Symbols, Expanding Symbols, and a Gamble mechanic to boost all winnings.
Another high variance slot is Bonanza MegaWays by Big Time Gaming, one of the most popular MegaWays video slots. The game uses a 6×7 layout with 117,649 paylines and it has an RTP of 96%. It boasts a wide selection of special features including a Free Spins mode, Multipliers, Wild Symbols, an Avalanche mechanic with Cascading Wins, and since it’s on the MegaWays engine the number of active symbols and paylines changes with each spin.
Red Tiger Gaming’s Dynamite Riches is another popular high variance slot. A game which focuses on a fun TNT theme, Dynamite Riches uses a 5×4 layout with 20 paylines, and it has an RTP of 94.76%. It has plenty of special features too including a Free Spins mode, 3×3 Mega Symbols, Random Wilds, Scatter Symbols, and Wild Symbols too.
Another popular high variance slot is Diamond Mine MegaWays, another well-known MegaWays slot. Developed by Blueprint Gaming, Diamond Mine is another slot which is themed on mining, only this one benefits from more gameplay mechanics including an Avalanche mechanic, a Free Spins mode, Scatter Symbols, Wild Symbols, and plenty more. It also uses a 6×7 layout with 117,649 paylines and has a very high RTP of 96.43%.
Tip: All of the video slots we’ve recommended here are available at most online casinos in the UK. If you’re looking for a particular video slot or for games by a particular developer, we suggest you check our casino reviews to discover what content is available where.
When you search for information on slot variance, you’ll find that most websites only discuss high and low variance. However, there are hundreds of video slots which are of medium variance, which is essentially a mixture of both low and high volatility. These slots usually do not fit under the definition of low and high variance slots and generally balance the size and frequency of their wins to provide players with a more basic experience that can occasionally trigger bigger wins.
However, most people tend to opt for either low or high variance as they’re somewhat more predictable and easier to understand, offering either lots of small wins or a few big wins.
A new trend within the online gambling industry has seen some game developers launch mechanics which allow users to adjust the volatility of their games, allowing them to set the size and frequency of wins to their preferences. At the time of writing, Wazdan is one of the few developers to offer this customisation through its Unique Wazdan Features.
Wazdan’s Volatility Levels tool allows players to modify their win size and frequency at any time while playing a slot. As explained by the game developer, users will be able to choose between high and low volatility or use the game’s Standard mode, which balances out win size and frequency.
Volatility Levels is one of the many unique features Wazdan has launched for its game, allowing users to customise them to match their preferences. Other features include Ultra Fast Mode which boosts gameplay, Ultra Lite Mode which omits certain animations to decrease load time, Big Screen Mode which offers a wider look at the slot’s reels. There are plenty of others available and you can read all about the developer’s special features in our Wazdan slot guide here.
Now that you know about the different types of slot variance, you’ll need to think about whether or not you should play low or high variance slots. While both offer exciting gameplay and chances to make wins regardless of their size, you’ll need to have a think about what variance suits your needs and preferences, and this can change regularly.
If you’re on a tight budget and are looking to have some casual playtime, low variance slots will be better suited for you. But if you’ve got a wider budget and are looking for a chance to make bigger wins, you may want to try out high variance slots instead.
Regardless of variance, all video slots are fun to play and you shouldn’t only select a video slot based on its variance, it’s important that you also enjoy the theme and check reviews to find a slot with special features that you enjoy and, ultimately, a game that provides you with the most entertainment.