Much like wireless internet, gaming has come a long way in the last 20 years. Video games have evolved from the single player experience we all know and (still) love. One of the most enjoyable parts of gaming is being able to play with your friends, so multiplayer games quickly became the powerhouse of the gaming industry. Whether it be console or PC gaming, what gives players the ability to link up together? The internet, of course. So then, the question is begging to be asked:
Is a wired or wireless internet connection better for gaming? In the first of this two-part blog series, we'll take a look at the positives and negatives of going with a wired network configuration for gaming.
Positives of Gaming via Ethernet (wired)
Benefits of Ethernet Gaming
Accessing the internet via wired Ethernet cables has long been considered the gold standard for gaming. But does this still hold true as wifi technology continues to advance?
No one can deny that the advancements made in wifi speed have brought it to another level. However, they still cannot match the theoretical max speeds available via Ethernet. While wireless can provide roughly up to an amazing 450Mbps - 1Gbps (depending on if you're utilizing 802.11n or 802.11ac), wired connections can reach a whopping 10 Gbps depending on the wiring technology.
While you'll never need bandwidth this ridiculous for gaming (or even have it available as the large majority of the populace pays for between 5 and 100 Mbps), it's still very safe to say that gaming on a wired connection is the way to go for better speeds, if possible. Even if you pay your Internet Service Provider (ISP) for just enough bandwidth to game while on wifi, you'll always get more out of your connection if you can go wired.
Easy local setup & reliable connection
If your router/modem is in close proximity to where you game, typically all it takes to hook up your gaming console or PC via wired connection is just connecting an Ethernet cable from it to the back of your modem/router. Plug and play!
If you've done so properly, you'll often never run into issues in terms of hardware. Ethernet cables have secure hookups that click into place when pushed into an Ethernet port, so just make sure you hear that *pop* when connecting one.
No connection interference
Since wifi signals are transmitted over wireless channels that your PC or gaming console share with other devices, they inherently run into interference (or traffic) that degrade the signal's quality.
There are actually quite a few things that can interfere with a home wifi network. Competing wifi signals, other wireless electronics, and the materials that your home is built with are just a few examples of things that can have a negative effect on your wifi connection.
Going wired with Ethernet circumvents this problem as the connection is a physical one, no transmission required. Ethernet cables don't suffer from the same interference issues as wifi and it’s uncommon to encounter signal degradation with Ethernet.
Cost is relatively cheaper
As is the nature of bandwidth, you're going to get more out of what you pay for if you go wired versus going wireless. Therefore, you'll have to pay your ISP more for an equally utilized level of bandwidth if accessing the internet while gaming via wifi.
Another solution is running Ethernet throughout your entire home. While this often isn't inexpensive, the benefits of having a home with Ethernet available everywhere for all your connected devices is priceless to many gamers.
Negatives of Gaming via Ethernet (wired)
Disadvantages of Ethernet Gaming
While gaming on a wired connection typically provides increased reliability and speed, it's not all unicorns and rainbows. As you might expect, wires aren't always the prettiest or most flexible option.
Lack of flexibility
The biggest negative when it comes to gaming with a wired connection is essentially the same as the biggest positive: you're using a cable. There's a reason why technology is ever-advancing away from cords and that reason is flexibility and convenience.
If your router isn't in the same room as your gaming setup, you are essentially forced to go wireless, unless you truly want to go through the expense of running Ethernet throughout your entire home.
That tangle of wires is really pleasing to the eye, said no one ever. Again one of the main drawbacks of a wired gaming setup, the need to have physical cables (in addition to HDMIs, power cords, etc.) for your PC or gaming console(s) to access the internet can create a real eyesore. Did someone say unicorns and rainbows?
Just like the lack of flexibility that comes with hard-wiring an internet connection, this issue can be resolved by running Ethernet throughout the walls of your home. Just remember that this isn't easy to do on your own, and you'll probably have to bring in an expert.
So is wifi better than Ethernet when it comes to gaming?
Just like gaming via Ethernet, gaming on a wifi connection has its very own positives and negatives. In the second part of this blog series, we'll review wireless connection gaming so all you gamers can decide for yourselves which style is optimal for your setup.
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