Wired or Wi-Fi connection for the best gaming

Anton P. | September 2, 2021

Running Ethernet cables through your house might not be the preferred choice for your interior design. However, if you want that high-speed internet connection, you will have to sacrifice some space and aesthetics. Of course, many of your gadgets connect to the internet wirelessly, which is a hassle-free solution. Battle-scarred gamers will understand the struggle to maintain a stable and robust internet connection. Frequently, Ethernet cables are the saving grace for many seasoned players. Let’s find out why wired connections have the edge over Wi-Fi, despite its seamless nature.

Set the scene: why Ethernet, not Wi-Fi?

Ethernet should be your best ally if you can genuinely appreciate the consistent speed and low latency. Typically, gamers are the people hungry for more balanced connectivity and performance boosts. And wired connections confidently satisfy their growling by filling in the gaps of Wi-Fi networks.

The main issues of Wi-Fi for gamers, or anyone performing bandwidth-heavy activities, include the following.

Wireless networks won’t reach the advertised speed

You can purchase the most expensive package from your Internet Service Provider. Sadly, Wi-Fi will not be capable of giving you the performance you expect after seeing those hefty numbers.

For instance, wireless devices get categorized according to their IEEE 802.11 “letter,” showcasing the theoretical aggregate throughput. It also indicates the frequency it sends to and the channel bandwidth.

Wi-Fi speed will unlikely reach those advertised limits. After all, wireless networks are not full-duplex. It means that data can only flow in one direction at a time.

Signal interference

If there is interference, it might take several retries before your data arrives at its destination. Unfortunately, wireless networks are more susceptible to such disruptions. And all the additional gadgets can hinder your signal.

For instance, wireless keyboards, mice, and headsets can enter the same frequency range as your Wi-Fi. Then, it will cause delays as particular requests will take longer to perform.

Physical distance

The interspace between your PC and router plays a role in how Wi-Fi performs. It is a factor that many might disregard and blame the speed drop on other circumstances.

However, all it takes is to put your device in another room, and the maximum theoretical transmitted bandwidth will drop significantly. Thus, if your PC connects to Wi-Fi, you need to be cautious of its placement.

Throttled bandwidth

Two significant factors influence the speed you receive via Wi-Fi: the wireless type and the number of devices sharing the network. The more devices require connection; the less robust performance might become.

Additionally, say you operate an 802.11g laptop that can go as fast as 54 Mbps. You connect to an 802.11n router, which can reach 300 Mbps. Naturally, your laptop dictates the speed it offers. Thus, you will not get any faster than 54 Mbps despite the routers’ capabilities.

How does Ethernet improve it all?

Gaming is a time-sensitive activity and every second counts. Of course, mobile gamers won’t turn to Ethernet cables anytime soon. However, PCs, some laptops, and consoles can reap the benefits of wired connections. Let your gaming forge ahead by relying on Ethernet.

Ethernet is always faster

New Wi-Fi standards (like 802.11ac and 802.11n) do put Ethernet to the test. After all, you can complete all daily tasks without any issues. However, Ethernet is unbeatable: who can conquer a 10Gb/s connection? Such maximum speeds are only available via cables transferring powerful signals directly into your device.

Here are some of the facts you should know on Ethernet speed:

  • The wired connection can be faster even if the Wi-Fi standards could theoretically outperform it. The reason for this is that Wi-Fi deals with many obstacles and interference, which diminish the final connection speed.
  • Ethernet cables insulate your connection from interference or the effects of various physical objects. Thus, nothing will block or disrupt your signal.
  • Gamers crave the lowest latency possible, and Ethernet makes it possible to achieve. Latency refers to the time necessary for the data to leave your device, reach its destination, and circle back to you. For online gaming, you need that data to return as soon as possible. Ethernet minimizes this time and ensures that fewer lags occur during bandwidth-heavy activities.
  • Wired connections can use more bandwidth than Wi-Fi. As a result, it will put out more robust speeds and handle activities requiring more bandwidth. Since it will consume a lot, Wi-Fi-connected devices will act slower than usual.

Ethernet is more secure

Wi-Fi is more susceptible to attacks or interception. After all, everything travels through the open air, and perpetrators can intercept your connection. With enough resources and determination, any Wi-Fi can become a target, especially if its managers do not adequately secure it.

Perpetrators can perform various attacks remotely, such as deauthenticating a device or cracking the encryption key. Also, there are specific vulnerabilities in Wi-Fi that simplify the route to a successful attack.

Krack is one of the well-known vulnerabilities, but the same researcher who discovered it recently found a bundle of new flaws. The latter set, dubbed as FragAttacks, could allow hackers to intercept sensitive data or lead users into fake websites. And using WPA2 or WPA3 does not help to minimize the danger.

Thus, issues with Wi-Fi persist, and the circle of updates and fixing never truly ends. It all relates to the more susceptible nature of Wi-Fi. As a result, more issues pop up to threaten wireless communications.

On the other hand, Ethernet does not carry the same burden as Wi-Fi. Quite a lot of resources and access privileges are necessary to implement a successful attack. In other words, a perpetrator would need physical access to the cable and the router. Thus, from the security point of view, Ethernet connections win all the way.

Why do gamers need Ethernet cables?

All these Wi-Fi pitfalls, vulnerabilities, and performance issues will make you lean towards an Ethernet connection. And, for the most part, Ethernet is the rational decision for achieving maximum speed, robust security, and stable connection. However, it is not always practical due to the layout of houses or apartments.

Sometimes it might not be possible to install Ethernet cables all over your residence. Thus, you will have no other option but to use Wi-Fi. Furthermore, restricting yourself to a cable might not be the best way if you like to move around the house with your laptop.

However, many gamers prefer desktop computers due to their flexibility in terms of improvements (like buying new parts). For consoles, it is also possible that they will have a dedicated spot in your home.

Thus, gamers should, if possible, invest time, space, and resources into Ethernet cables. It will ensure that internet connections are stable, unbroken, and high-speed around the clock. Ethernet brings the trio every gamer needs!

Why a VPN for gaming?

Of course, you will still likely use Wi-Fi to connect your mobile devices and laptops to the internet. If you worry about data interception and other attacks, we strongly recommend installing a VPN.

Atlas VPN is an expert at keeping your internet-connected devices secure. It encrypts all internet traffic, preventing data interception. Thus, it keeps Wi-Fi devices in check and gives you peace of mind whenever you use them.

Even gamers using Ethernet connections can significantly benefit from Atlas VPN. For instance, ISP throttling is an issue regardless of the connection method. It might slow down your experience, and when gaming, it is a significant downside.

Since a VPN encrypts internet traffic, your ISP won’t know when to throttle your connection. Thus, your gaming will remain as high-speed as it should be.

Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.

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