Gaming online means you need a stable and fast internet connection. If you don’t have the bandwidth for your favorite games and VOIP service, or your signal drops mid-game, that can be the difference between having a fun time with your friends, and not even being able to start your games up in extreme cases. But there are a few different ways you can get online, leading to the inevitable question of whether it’s better to be gaming on Ethernet vs. gaming on WiFi.
The answer to that question very much depends on your unique situation. You need to consider the types of games you want to play, whether you’ll play them locally or stream, what your house layout is like, how many people will be gaming at the same time, and more.
Here’s a look at all those factors and some universal truths about online gaming that will help you decide whether you want to start gaming on Ethernet vs. WiFi.
The Importance of Network Connectivity For Gaming
Gaming as a hobby doesn’t demand network connectivity. There are plenty of ways to enjoy playing games offline, whether that’s on older consoles, through games you’ve already downloaded, or using old disc-based PC games you’ve installed outside of more modern digital distribution platforms, like Steam and Epic Games Store.
However, modern gaming is very much linked with online connectivity. For the most up-to-date, streamlined modern gaming experience, you need to be online and logged in to Steam, Xbox Live, or PlayStation Network. That gives you access to downloadable games, the latest game updates, and crucially if you’re a competitive gamer, game servers with other players from around the world.
If you stream your games, you also need an internet connection to be able to stream from the remote PC.
For most of these activities, that internet connection needs to be maintained, too. If you’re downloading a game and you lose access, the download will stop. If you’re streaming a game and you lose internet access, then the stream will stop too. The same is true of any online multiplayer game.
Most single-player games can be played offline, or if your internet connection drops mid-game, you won’t be interrupted, but there are a number of single-player games that also require internet access for special connected features, or for digital rights management (DRM) purposes.
That makes your network connectivity for gaming especially important, which makes the gaming on Ethernet vs. WiFi debate one that needs to be had.
Overview of wireless and wired networks
The two kinds of networks you can use for online gaming are wired, and wireless. With a wired connection, you’ll have an Ethernet cable (with or without a USB to Ethernet adapter) that runs from your gaming PC, laptop, or console, to your router, which in turn gives you access to the internet. For a wireless setup, your device will connect to your router via a Wi-Fi band, be it 2.4 GHz, 5 Ghz, or 6 GHz. That gives it wireless internet access, as well as local network access.
For a wired connection, you need a device with an Ethernet port, an Ethernet cable – although most Ethernet cables will be just fine for gaming, there are some which could be considered the best Ethernet cables for gaming – and a router with a spare Ethernet port. As long as the router and device are set up correctly, all you need to do to get online is connect the cable at both ends. However, running the cable can be a little tricky, especially if you are trying to connect over long distances, between different rooms, or if you want to hide the cable away. Under carpets and around skirting boards are popular methods, but it’s not always easy to make the cable invisible.
For a wireless network, you’ll need a device with wireless support, or a Wi-Fi adapter of some kind. On desktop PCs, these can be USB drives or internal PCIexpress add-in-cards with an external aerial. You’ll also need a Wi-Fi-compatible router – the generation is only important for hitting specific speeds and both device and router will need to support them for maximum performance.
Once both devices are set up, you can connect to your wireless network from the device using its operating system’s tools. You will need to know the password the first time you connect.
Benefits of using WiFi for gaming