If you’re only just setting up a gaming room at home and are deciding between ethernet or Wi-Fi, you’re in the right direction. Having a stable and high-quality internet connection is key to playing games online, whether you’re playing leisurely or competing. To know which one to use, I’ll explain factors to consider when you decide and when is Wi-Fi or ethernet the better choice.
Gaming Must-Haves: Bandwidth, Download Speed, and Low latency
Before we tackle your internet connection options, you should first understand the bandwidth, speed, and low latency in relation to gaming (since this is the standard you’d likely have to meet).
- Bandwidth: The bandwidth is measured in Mbits/s or Gbits/s and indicates how much data is being transferred per second. If you have two or more people using one network, it could slow your games down. As such, even if bandwidth shouldn’t technically affect your gaming experience (since most games use a small amount of data), it is still ideal for getting internet with high bandwidth.
- Download speed: Gamers know that even if you’ve fully downloaded and installed a particular game, it will still continuously download updates and other content released after launch. Because of this, you’ll need to look out for the download speed (the speed at which you download games and updates) and upload speed (the speed at which you upload files to game servers, etc.) when deciding on your internet connection.
- Latency: Latency is the amount of time it takes for a data packet to go from one place to another. Along with ping, latency is a measure of delay, so it is ideal to have both low ping and low latency to get the best gaming experience. This is particularly true if you’re playing fighting games with other gamers and participate in first-person shooting games competitively.
Now let’s zoom in on ethernet and Wi-Fi connections for gaming.
When to Pick Ethernet for Gaming
Ask any serious gamer, and they’ll immediately recommend wired or ethernet connection. This is simply the reality – wired internet provides faster, more reliable, more secured, and more stable connection than wireless internet. Compare Wi-Fi with ethernet that has the same internet plan, and ethernet will almost always win against Wi-Fi.
So pick ethernet for your gaming needs:
- If you’re competing professionally: If you’re going to join the world of esports, you simply cannot rely on Wi-Fi when you plan to win. Yes, there are competitive Wi-Fi plans available, but they’re usually pretty expensive and are available in city districts. For those just starting out competitively, ethernet internet would give you your best shot without breaking the bank. Despite high-quality ethernet cables not being expensive, they still provide the fastest bandwidth speeds.
- If you play all kinds of games: Some games would eat up more bandwidth and would require faster connection speeds to win. If you’re exploring all kinds of games, having a stable ethernet internet means you’ll be able to play any type of game your heart desires.
- If you’re the only one going to connect on the router: Ethernet connections are limited in that you can only plug in a handful of devices on the router. If you’re the only one going to use it for your games, then a wired connection should be fine. However, if you live with fellow gamers who require the same speedy and reliable internet as you, then you might have to invest in a higher Wi-Fi plan instead.
When to Pick Wi-Fi for Gaming
Here’s when you should pick Wi-Fi for your gaming needs:
- If you have no choice: Sometimes, we don’t have any control of the ISPs and type of internet connections available in our area. Other times, the landlord of the house you’re renting won’t allow you to install and run ethernet cables all over the house.
- If you’re playing games on consoles: Some gaming console brands, such as Nintendo Switch, are designed specifically for use on wireless connection.
Although the gaming world looks down on Wi-Fi and prefers wired internet, this isn’t the end of the world. Wi-Fi technology is continuously being upgraded as we speak. It has come a long way since the time you cannot compete if you’re against a gamer on a wired connection.
Your Internet is Just the Tip of the Iceberg
If you’re serious about playing games, your internet is just the first thing you’ll need to consider. Of course, it is an important consideration since having a stable connection with high transfer speeds, sufficient bandwidth, low latency, and good upload/download speeds will provide you with the best gaming experience you need.
Aside from this, you do have to invest in other things, including a high-quality router and modem, updated ethernet cables, a computer CPU that is equipped to handle your games and accommodate the internet connection you choose, and an ISP (internet service provider) that is reliable.