No matter how many times we are setting up our home network, one question repeatedly comes to our minds:
What’s the best way to connect the gaming desktop/laptop with the home network?
Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that there are two main types of networking: Wired (Ethernet) networking and Wireless (Wi-Fi) networking.
So how both of them are different from each other.
Well, before going any further, let me explain what both these types mean.
In wired networking, we connect plug one end of an Ethernet cable into an Ethernet port of our PCs (or any other device you want to connect to) and another end into the LAN port of our WiFi router – in order to have internet access.
To have internet access through this method, a device should have an Ethernet port.
In WiFi networking, a WiFi router broadcast radio waves through which any device (within a specific range) can connect to. To enjoy internet access through this method, all a device needs is WiFi connectivity option. For devices with no built-in WiFi connectivity, such as your desktop, you’ll need a WiFi adapter.
Below are some quick pros and cons for each of them, and then we will go further in detail.
- Excellent Speed
- Reliable as compared to WiFi
- More secure than WiFi
- Cables are messy
- Difficult to set up if your router is away from the client device.
- Good Speed (but not as fast as Ethernet connections)
- Less Reliable than Wired connections
- Less secure than Wired connections
- More convenient
- Can be expensive to set up for the first time
- Interference can be an issue
WiFi vs Ethernet Connections for Gaming
OK, so now that you have read about pros/cons of both connection types, you may have realized is that it’s not as black and white as it seems. Both of them have advantages as well as disadvantages. Therefore, we will dive into a bit more detail for the factors that matters most in online gaming.
Speed is one of the most basic factors that make any connection good – or bad. In theory, Ethernet connection is way faster than any WiFi connection available.
Most of the Ethernet cables around us are of the Cat5e type that can transmit data up to the speed of 1 Gbps. Some Cat 6 cables can even do that at the rate of 10 GB per second.
On the other hand, Tri-band WiFi routers (such as Asus AC5300) can reach a top speed of 2166 Mbps.
Keep in mind though, that these speeds are just theoretical, whereas, in reality, most consumer-level internet connections are less than 100 Mbps. So both of these connections can provide you that speed if your ISP provides so.
Therefore, check your current setup stats before making any decision. You can use Speed test tool to check your current upload and download speed.
Do that for both connections one by one.
Although most people think of speed as the litmus test for any connection, in reality, it’s the latency that is most important.
Before discussing latency, let me remind you how online games works.
Online game is a type of PC game that is partially/fully hosted on a gaming server. In online gaming, a user have no real control over the game. All he/she can do is to provide input actions to the server. Then that server will change the state of that game according to his/her actions (and other’s).
As you can see, the time taken by data packets to move back and forth between client PCs and gaming server is very important. If your computer will take too much time to send its packets, you won’t get the latest state of that game, and will lose eventually. This is where latency comes into play.
In layman terms, latency is the time taken by data packets to transfer from their source to their destination. For example, if you have a 20 Mbps connection with 50 ms latency/ping, a data packet will take half a second (a lot if your look at the bigger picture) to reach its destination.
Just like in speed, Ethernet connections provide less latency (faster response) as compared to WiFi connections.
The last point here is interference.
Imagine you’re playing pubg on your WiFi connection and your signals goes out of nowhere. Trust me when I say that it’s one of the most annoying experiences.
WiFi connections are known for network interference because of the fact that they transmit signals through air, rather than any solid medium. There are many ways your WiFi network can be interfered such as your microwaves, your neighbors’ WiFi networks etc.
High interference also means higher latency, which is bad as we discussed earlier. On top of that, you may experience totally no signals and it would take some time for your PC to re-acquire them.
Therefore, use the Ethernet connection to avoid interference.
So now comes the conclusion part. If you haven’t skimmed this post, you’ll realize that Ethernet connections have better speed, low latency, as well as less interference.
That’s what makes them ideal for online gaming.
There are a number of devices on which using a WiFi connection makes sense but sadly your gaming PCs/consoles aren’t one of them.
If you ask me, I have implemented a mixed approach. If have connected my PC to the router through an Ethernet cable, and all of my other devices use WiFi connection.
Tell me what’s your approach in this regard.
William Johnson is the main editor of the gadgetsenthusiast website. He is a tech enthusiast since teens and his goal here is to help people know about more their gadgets, in an as easy way as possible.