This is a common question amongst gamers. While Wi-Fi is generally more convenient, using a wired Ethernet connection for gaming PCs or consoles offers significant advantages, such as:
- Faster speed
- Lower latency
- More reliability
- Better data security
Wi-Fi has become much faster as the technology develops, but connections are usually shared with other wireless devices, which can reduce speeds.
Ethernet speed depends on the type of cable you use. Cables are not shared amongst devices, so speeds tend to remain constant.
However, the real factor is your internet speed (how fast data or content travels from the web to your device). If you have a slow internet speed, both wireless or wired connections are also slow.
Testing internet speed
You can test your internet speed using your choice of tool. To find one, search the web for internet speed test and follow the provided instructions. For example, you can go to Speedtest.net and click Go to view your download and upload speeds online.
When playing online games, your device’s reaction time (latency) needs to be as quick as possible. Wi-Fi can be slower than Ethernet because the signal must travel back and forth between your wireless device and wireless router.
Higher latency occurs for both wireless and wired connections when the distances between devices and routers increases. However, greater distances affect Wi-Fi more due to local and external interference.
Internet performance can also affect latency between your device and the gaming server for both wireless and wired connections.
You can test latency by running a ping command at a command prompt or terminal application.
Ping your router’s IP address (default gateway) to view latency results. The lower the score the better. Run a ping while connected using Wi-Fi and while using Ethernet so that you can compare the results.
Reliability and Security
Ethernet is generally more reliable than Wi-Fi as it is less susceptible to environmental factors that directly affect its signal strength, speed, and connectivity. Such factors include, but are not limited to, home layout (ceilings, floors, walls) and electrical/electronic appliances (wireless keyboards, mice, cordless phones, microwaves). Other signals can also interfere with wireless connectivity, such as multiple wireless access points, Bluetooth, multiple devices accessing the same network, and the number of people or devices using the same channel.
All of these factors can disrupt Wi-Fi resulting in signal strength degradation and occasionally signal drop. Although a dropped signal is easily reacquired, it can have unintended results during gaming, like lost items or incomplete actions.
Ethernet connections are also more secure as they usually cannot be compromised without physical access to the system. Although Wi-Fi security continually improves, it is still more vulnerable due to the wireless transfer of data.
Wireless offers a good gaming experience that is super convenient. You can use portable devices anywhere there is a Wi-Fi signal without tripping over cables.
Wired connections offer the best possible gaming experience that is more consistently solid and easier to troubleshoot. It is the better choice for PCs (desktops or laptops) and consoles that have easy access to Ethernet cabling.
Ultimately though, the choice is whatever works best for you.