WiFi or Cable Which is Better? WLAN is convenient, but the network cable also has its advantages. We compare and come to a conclusion on the question: WiFi or cable which is better?
WiFi is over 20 years old. Much has happened in terms of security since then, but above all, today’s WLAN technologies are much faster than their predecessors. The current WLAN standard 802.11ac theoretically allows a speed of almost 7 Gbit / s, with commercially available devices the maximum is still between 867 and 1,299 Mbit / s. From a formal point of view, this corresponds roughly to what cable networks with Gigabit Ethernet (around 1,000 Mbit / s) can achieve at most today.
WiFi or Cable Which is Better?
In the near future, WLAN 6 and 2.5 gigabit LANs will also establish themselves. The new chips from Intel and AMD will probably bring this with them, with the Fritzbox 6660 Cable the first AVM router has long since started and has already brought more with it.
1. Cable Networks are Faster:
Despite formally identical data, the network cable is much faster in practice. It reaches its maximum speed over a distance of up to 100 meters. With WLAN, this is only possible under optimal reception conditions, which – to put it simply – corresponds to a line of sight between the access point and the computer. Even the first wall quickly reduces the speed by half, depending on the type of construction.
In addition, all devices connected to the access point share the power. With the network cable, however, the full speed is available to each individual directly connected device.
On the other hand, it is very possible that you do not need the advantages of the cable network at all. This is especially true if you use the network primarily for reading on the Internet. The bandwidth used by most Internet connections is more or less significantly below a speed of 100 Mbit / s and therefore does not even come close to exhausting current WLAN technologies. However, if you transfer a lot of data in the local network, for example for backups to the NAS or video streaming with Kodi or Plex, then it is best to shift as much traffic as possible to the network cable.
Tip: In order to assess the real speed difference, it is best to transfer a large file to the same computer via WLAN and cable. Compare the transmission time.
2. Cable Networks Offer Lower Latency:
Not only the transmission speed but also the reaction times of cable networks, the so-called latency, are lower. This is especially important if you play games online where the reaction time is decisive for (digital) life and death, for victory and defeat. If you see your opponent earlier, you have your finger on the trigger faster. High latencies can also have a negative impact on online telephony and video telephony. On the other hand, they do not play a significant role in surfing the net, chatting, listening to music or streaming videos.
Tip: You can use the ping program supplied with Windows to compare the latency of cable and WLAN. Open the command prompt from the menu that appears when you right-click the Start button. Type ipconfig followed by Enter. You will then find the IP address of your router under “Standard gateway”. Most Windows PCs have multiple network adapters. Make sure that you read the default gateway on the network adapter that you want to test. Then enter ping <IP address standard gateway>.
3. Cable Networks are Hardly Susceptible to Interference:
When transmitted in the cable network, your data is protected from disruptive environmental influences by a sheathing. It is different with radio transmission. This is where cordless telephones, microwaves and neighboring wireless networks can significantly interfere with communication between network devices. This in turn has a negative effect on the transmission speed and the latency of the wireless network and can even lead to disconnections. They’re particularly annoying, if you interrupt the playback of Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Spotify. Downloads often have to be restarted and you are thrown out of the running online game.
Tip: It is difficult to track down some disruptive factors. A good start is the display “Allocation of WLAN channels” on the widely used FRITZ! Box from AVM. You can access this via the FRITZ! Box’s web interface under “WLAN \> Radio Channel” (see figure above).
In terms of performance and susceptibility to interference, the network cable beats WLAN in every respect. In one decisive respect, however, it has a disadvantage – and that is comfort. You don’t have to pull any cables to get it working, you can just make yourself comfortable on the couch with your laptop without anyone tripping over the network cable and there are no plugs to break. And for the most important Internet device – the smartphone – the cable connection is out of the question anyway.