• Surely you have both connections at home, and you wonder when it makes sense to use Ethernet
  • WiFi may be convenient for small portable devices but fails in other situations
  • What are the factors to consider to opt for one type of network or another on a day-to-day basis?

Some time ago, we did an analysis in which we reviewed the different home connectivity options, more specifically Ethernet and WiFi, considering what the advantages and disadvantages of each of them were. After time, we want to go a little further and answer a very specific question from readers, related to when it makes sense to use Ethernet and not the prevailing networks, those of the WiFi type.

In general terms, We know that wired Ethernet connections are faster, more reliable, and have lower latency than wireless connections, but we still tend to use the latter more often. It is also true that the appearance of standards such as WiFi 6 has somewhat reduced the differences between the two.

On the other hand, Wi-Fi networks are suitable for small portable devices, which do not necessarily require high performance but rather small loads for specific content, such as when browsing the Internet.

The best of Ethernet connections

Yes, Ethernet connections may be faster than WiFi, especially if we incorporate Cat6A cables, rated to provide transfer speeds of about 10 GB per second almost constantly. WiFi 6E, the most advanced WiFi technology, can only offer transfers of few GB per second.

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Ethernet connections are also less prone to interference and their latency is lower than what the best WiFi networks can guarantee, so in terms of speed and reliability they are unrivaled.

The following table will make it easier for you to understand the maximum speeds achieved by each of the connections:

Connection type maximum transfer speed
Cat5 100Mbps
Cat5e 1Gbps
Cat6 1Gbps
Cat6a 10Gbps
Wi-Fi 5 3.5Gbps
Wi-Fi 6 9.6Gbps
Wi-Fi 6E 9.6Gbps

Now, it’s important to understand that the maximum speed for WiFi networks is the maximum bandwidth for all devices on the network, not an individual connection, so that closeness to ethernet is false. Meanwhile, if you use Ethernet cables, all connected equipment aspires to the speed of 10 GB/s.

Other important clarifications

While all that speed is more than you might expect, one thing you can’t forget is that the assumed speed represents only the bottleneck for Internet-related activitiesand there are other parameters.

The good news is that Ethernet positively affects speed between devices connected to the network. Whenever you want to transfer files between two home computers, you will do it faster over ethernet.

How much less latency does Ethernet have?

Connection speed and quality is not just about raw bandwidthand that is because latency is also a determining factor, understanding under this concept the delay in the time it takes for traffic to get from a device to its destination, also referred to as ping.

If you play video games online, you probably you’ll want to keep latency to a minimum, and Ethernet will help you do that. There will still be things that can raise your ping, but the overall experience will feel smoother.

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Beyond that, latency is not significant when listening to music, streaming videos or browsing the web.

Wireless interference and connection reliability

Ethernet offers a more reliable connection than WiFi. It is that simple and the explanation is that, being wireless, this second alternative It is vulnerable to various interferences such as from walls, other devices, etc..

The consequences of interference are multiple and negative, such as signal drop, higher latency, reduced browsing speeds and others that will ruin your attempt to take advantage of the Internet in some way.

conclusions

Our goal is not to be too hard on WiFi because, as we said, it is used in most cases. It is practical, easy to connect, and the truth is that it is enough for practically all Internet users. In addition, on some occasions we are directly unable to access Ethernet connections.

But if you have a desktop PC, and it’s not a bother to connect it via ethernet, you should do it. You will immediately notice an improvement in connection speed, a more solid network in all aspects.

To the question of when to use Ethernet, our answer is that you will have no choice if you usually play online. A fast and stable connection can be the difference between winning or losing your games, and it is not a minor thing.

The speed of your Internet and low latency are key for any gamer and their aspirations for success.. Having an Ethernet connection and a Cat6A cable is essential to take advantage of competitors.

In the end, Ethernet offers the benefits of better speed, lower latency, and more reliable connections. WiFi offers the advantage of convenience and being good enough for most uses. We could summarize that the former is a must for the most demanding online gamers.

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