Using a Wi-Fi connection is obviously a lot more convenient than draping miles of Ethernet cables throughout your home but a wired connection still has plenty of advantages – faster speeds, lower latency and no interference. Deciding between Wi-Fi or Ethernet is entirely dependent upon the task at hand.
For instance, online games require a speedy but reliable internet connection, which makes Ethernet the perfect choice. However, a tablet needs a Wi-Fi connection to access the internet and be mobile.
How Much Faster is Ethernet?
Ethernet boasts a faster connection than any Wi-Fi signal but the actual difference is far less pronounced than you would expect. New standards in router design have created faster networks, capable of offering 866.7Mb/s and 150Mb/s. This is the maximum speed for all devices on the network to share. Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) do not offer speeds anywhere near a router’s own maximum speed, meaning most wireless connections are already running at the best possible performance level. A wired connection can in theory offer up to 10Gb/s but the true speed is entirely dependent on the type of cable you have. However, simply changing to an Ethernet connection will not improve your internet speed. Almost all wired internet connections are much slower than the maximum possible Wi-Fi speeds and cannot be sped up by simply switching the connection type.
Having an excellent connection is not just about speed, latency is also a big factor. Latency is a measure of how long it takes data to travel between its source and destination. It is always measured in milliseconds. In online gaming this is referred to as ‘ping’. Online gamers need to minimise latency as much as possible, which means an Ethernet cable is a far better option than Wi-Fi. However, if all you plan to do is stream Netflix and browse the internet, latency is not as important a consideration.
Wi-Fi is subject to much more interference than Ethernet. A properly established Ethernet network will not degrade or suffer seemingly random interruptions. Wi-Fi can be interrupted by a plethora of other signals. Your neighbour’s network, other devices using the Wi-Fi spectrum and objects blocking the signal can all interfere with your connection. You’ll notice that when you move around your Wi-Fi signal changes – this is due to interference.. Interference can increase latency and make a network appear slower. There are several ways to reduce it but if your network is suffering badly from interference, an Ethernet cable is the best fix.