Long Ethernet Cable vs WiFi Adapter: Which Is Best For Gaming?

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If you’re serious about gaming, you might already be aware of the improved network connectivity provided by an ethernet cable vs Wi-Fi; and especially when the Wi-Fi is delivered beyond the normal range of your router via an adapter.

Though WiFi adapters (also known as boosters) have seen vast improvements over recent years with dual channel now being the norm, utilizing them for competitive online gaming is still seen as self inflicted damage – for a number of reasons. 

Regardless of the improved capabilities of WiFi connectivity, using a long ethernet cable for gaming yields higher reliability, a more stable connection and less lag in your gameplay even when compared against a 5GHz wireless connection. 

The length of the ethernet cable itself whether it be 1ft or 100ft long has negligible influence on download speed with a hardwired connection always being at least several percentage points faster than WiFi, and several more again WiFi delivered via an adapter.

To try and quantify the true extent of lag experienced when gaming on WiFi delivered via a booster we compared the network connection available to own setup through an adapter and Cat8 ethernet cables of different lengths. 

Our little experiment showed that for our 802.11ac router and 5GHz fibre optic combination, download speeds were 10.6% faster when using a 100ft cat 8 ethernet cable vs WiFi delivered through an adapter. 

This was despite zero physical barriers presenting an obstacle to the WiFi signal, which is unlikely to be the case in your situation if the connection is weak enough to be considering a booster in the first place. 

Benefits of a long ethernet cable (100ft+) vs WiFi adapter

A long ethernet cable is better for gaming for the following reasons:

  • Low lag in gameplay
  • Simplicity of connectivity
  • Consistent data speeds
  • Higher level of information security

Ethernet cables reduce lag when compared to gaming on WiFi

Lag, or latency, measures the amount of time required for data to transmit from your gaming device, reach its desired destination, and return to your gaming device or console. The time elapsed for this process needs to be as short as possible for gaming purposes. 

When compared to a WiFi booster, shortened latency times are pretty much guaranteed when gaming with a long ethernet cable irrespective of its length. We opted to pit a 100ft KASIMO Cat 8 ethernet cable against a TP link AC1750 adapter and found download speeds to be 10.6% faster when measured using Speedtest.net.

Connection Ping (ms) Download (Mbps) Upload (Mbps)
WiFi (direct from router)
17
58.08
16.24
WiFi (via adapter)
18
56.56
16.21
Cat 8 Ethernet Cable (10ft length)
15
63.72
16.24
Cat 8 Ethernet Cable (100ft length)
15
62.58
16.23

With a WiFi adapter, lag is potentially introduced through a number of factors ranging from the frequency over which the network is broadcast, the booster’s location to neighboring network interference and the number of devices sharing access to your WiFi network. 

Consistent streaming data rates cannot be guaranteed with a WiFi adapter connection, and the signal can even be dropped entirely.

Ethernet cables are easier to connect to than WiFi adapters

Tapping into your network via ethernet is as simple as plugging one end into your router or modem and the other into your computer or console. There is no requirement to manually enter a passcode as there often is with a WiFi adapter connection.

Adapters have their own security separate to your router meaning that you’ll have to add this new network connection to all of your devices.

Long ethernet cables have more consistent data transfer speeds than WiFi 

The biggest plus of a network connection delivered by an ethernet is the consistency of transferred data. A hard-wired signal will not fluctuate like its counterpart WiFi. 

The flow of data, even through an extra long ethernet cable is a solid stream from beginning to end. It can only be hindered by your internet provider throttling connection or high network traffic.

 

Increased security

With a long ethernet cable, you have a direct, physical network connection. The chances of a hacker attempting to break into your connection and re-route your private information, such as emails or stored banking information, is slim to none.

Of course, a direct, hard-wired ethernet cable connection isn’t always 100% secure. Hackers can directly link into your network, but the chances of that happening are much lower than they are for a hacker breaking into a WiFi connection.

Benefits of a WiFi adapter over an ethernet connection

The downsides of course are that you will have to shell out for an ethernet that is presumably 15m (50ft) or longer to reach from your router to your battlestation.

For high level gaming Cat 8 cables with their maximum data transfer capabilities of up to 40Gbps are the only ones worthwhile picking up, and these can command a sizable chunk of change to buy.

Notably however not so much as a decent dual band Wi-Fi adapter would set you back – nullifying cost as a reason to side with the adapter option. 

If you are not the only one who would benefit from having a boosted WiFi signal, then this would count in favor of opting for a booster.

WiFi adapters reign supreme when it comes to connecting multiple devices at one time if you need super-fast download/upload rates, and you don’t want to clutter up your place with loose cables running amok.

Final thoughts

When it comes down to it, the long ethernet cable vs. WiFi adapter debate boils down to your specific needs. For online gaming, hard-wired long ethernet cable connections are going to be the better choice.

Of course, WiFi adapters reign supreme when it comes to connecting multiple devices at one time if you need super-fast download/upload rates, and you don’t want to clutter up your place with loose cables running amok. 

However, WiFi’s lack of signal reliability is definitely not what you want when in the middle of high-stakes gameplay.

The high connection speeds, increased security, decreased lag times, and ease of connectivity put the long ethernet cable connection above a WiFi adapter, primarily when used for gaming purposes.

However, regardless of how you choose to connect your gaming device or console to the Internet, the network provider and plan you choose will ultimately rule over the speeds at which you can play.

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