Wireless VS Ethernet: Which is better for online gaming?

Posted by Test Engineer at Netduma
17 Jan

Wifi vs Ethernet for online gaming

Wifi vs Ethernet – which connection is better for gaming? Let’s get straight to the answer. If you want the best connection for your online gaming, you must always play on a wired Ethernet connection. No question. The reliability of a physical Ethernet connection outstrips any of the convenience that Wifi can offer. So if you’re a gamer and serious about reducing your lag, a wired Ethernet connection is a must. Let’s take a look why.

wifi vs ethernet online gaming netduma

Why is a wired Ethernet connection better for online gaming than Wifi?

To send a Wifi connection around your home your router uses radio waves. The strength and consistency of these radio waves can be reduced by several factors:

  • Obstructions in your home, such as walls, doors and floors
  • Interference from other devices, such as your smartphone, or neighbouring routers using the same Wifi channel
  • The distance between your router and the connected device

These issues can cause your game’s data, which is sent in ‘packets’, to be dropped (packet loss) or delayed, (latency). Either of these will disrupt your online gaming experience.

On the other hand, Ethernet uses a physical cable to connect your router to your PS4, Xbox One or PC. This direct link means nothing can disrupt your connection, ensuring smoother gaming.

Ethernet wired gaming is better than Wi-Fi

Gaming on Ethernet be like…

Does this mean Wifi is bad for online gaming?

It means gaming over Wifi is less reliable and less stable than gaming on Ethernet, but it’s not necessarily awful.

If you are currently playing on Wifi because your router is in a different room to your gaming setup then look into Powerline adapters, which use the electrical wiring in your home to transport an Ethernet connection around your to any room. Here are some recommended Powerline Adapters:

Powerline Adapters (Amazon US)
Powerline Adapters (Amazon UK)

If you have no choice but to play on Wifi then try to place your console as close to your router as possible. You should also run a Wifi channel scanner to find the least congested channel for your router. You can see how to do this here.

Is Wifi ever better than Ethernet?

The main advantage of Wifi is convenience, especially for devices that regularly move around your home, such as your phone. But your gaming devices, like your PS4 or Xbox One, very rarely change position, so this flexibility is irrelevant.

Another advantage of Wifi is the theoretical maximum download or upload speeds it can reach, which on a modern router can often exceed 1000mbps per second (which is Ethernet’s maximum speed when using a Cat 6 cable).

But these high speeds are meaningless for gaming, which requires very little bandwidth to run effectively, usually no more than 1mb per second.  Plus your Internet connection is most likely no more than 100mbps, so buying a router for its high Wifi speeds to help your online gaming is pointless.

You can run a speed test for free here.

Does playing on an Ethernet connection mean I will have no more lag?

Playing on a wired connection is good practice, but it is just one small part in the war against lag. There are many other factors, particularly the distance from you to your game’s server and congestion on your network. The award-winning Netduma router is designed to minimize all causes of lag, so click here to learn more.