Is Ethernet Faster Than WiFi? (Latency vs Reliability)

When it comes to getting the best internet experience, the great debate between Ethernet and Wi-Fi is always a hot topic. Which one’s faster? More reliable? Better for gaming or streaming? To find, let’s get into it!

Is Ethernet Faster Than WiFi?

1. Speed Comparison

Is Ethernet Faster Than WiFi

Ethernet Speeds

When it comes to raw speed, Ethernet generally has the upper hand. Why? This is largely due to the physical connection that Ethernet uses, which reduces interference and ensures consistent speeds. Depending on the type of Ethernet you’re using, you can get speeds up to a whopping 10 Gbps.

Let’s break down the types of Ethernet you’ll encounter:

Types of Ethernet:

  • Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps): Offers a maximum speed of 100 megabits per second. Good for basic internet needs but not ideal for tasks requiring high bandwidth.
  • Gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mbps): Delivering speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, Gigabit Ethernet is a solid choice for most modern needs, including streaming and gaming.
  • 10 Gigabit Ethernet: This is where things get serious. With speeds up to 10 Gbps, it’s ideal for high-demand applications such as large file transfers, data centers, server farms, and professional video editing.

Wi-Fi Speeds

Wi-Fi has come a long way, but it still can’t quite keep up with Ethernet in terms of raw speed. Even the best Wi-Fi technologies can’t match the top speeds of their wired counterparts. Let’s break down the latest standards to understand this better:

Wi-Fi Standards:

  • Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac): This standard can theoretically deliver speeds around 3.5 Gbps, but real-world speeds are usually much lower.
  • Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax): The latest and greatest, with a maximum theoretical speed of 9.6 Gbps. One of its biggest advantages is improved performance in crowded environments, like apartment buildings or offices.

For more insights, check out the differences between Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6

However, Wi-Fi speeds can be significantly affected by various factors like interference from other electronic devices, physical obstacles (walls, furniture), and the distance from the router. In reality, you’re more likely to see speeds far below these theoretical maximums due to network congestion and interference.

Real-World Examples

Streaming HD Video:

  • Ethernet: Offers a smoother and uninterrupted experience for HD video streaming. So if you’re binge-watching Netflix or YouTube, Ethernet ensures you won’t be interrupted by a dreaded buffering circle.
  • Wi-Fi: While convenient, Wi-Fi may experience buffering and lower quality when streaming, especially if multiple devices are connected or there’s significant interference.

Smart TV:

  • Ethernet: If your modem is nearby, an Ethernet connection is recommended for your smart TV. You’ll get a stable connection for streaming services, reducing the risk of buffering and interruptions.
  • Wi-Fi: More convenient for smart TVs located away from the modem. However, you might need signal boosters or mesh systems for optimal performance, particularly in larger homes. While it’s more flexible, the trade-off is potential instability in the connection.

Tests have shown that wired Ethernet connections generally offer faster speeds compared to Wi-Fi. For example, one test revealed that over Wi-Fi, the download speed was around 126 Mbps, while with an Ethernet cable, it jumped to 395 Mbps.

Ethernet can theoretically provide up to 10 Gbps of speed with the right cable. This difference can be significant when streaming videos, as a stable and fast connection reduces lag and buffering times.

2. Latency Comparison

Latency, often referred to as “ping,” is the time delay between sending and receiving data. Lower latency is crucial for real-time applications like online gaming and video conferencing.

Ethernet Latency

Ethernet connections typically have lower latency than Wi-Fi because of the direct, physical connection.


  • Online Gaming: Ethernet is preferred for gaming due to its lower latency and more reliable connection. This reduces lag and disconnections, giving you a competitive edge in online games.
  • Video Conferencing: With Ethernet, lower latency ensures clear and timely communication without noticeable delays. This is vital for effective remote work and virtual meetings, making your calls a lot less awkward.
Life Without Internet

Wi-Fi Latency

Wi-Fi connections can experience higher latency due to interference and signal strength issues. The number of devices connected to the network and the distance from the router can also affect latency.


  • Online Gaming: Wi-Fi can be less reliable for gaming, with potential latency spikes and connection drops impacting gameplay and responsiveness.
  • Video Conferencing: Latency spikes on Wi-Fi can cause delays and poor communication quality, which can be disruptive during important meetings.

3. Stability and Interference

Ethernet Stability

Ethernet connections are less prone to interference and offer more stable performance. Consistent speeds and a solid data flow from end to end make Ethernet the go-to for anyone who values reliability.


  • Corporate Networks: Ethernet provides a reliable backbone for office networks, ensuring stable performance for multiple users.
  • Home Offices: Ideal for remote work setups where reliability is essential for productivity.

Wi-Fi Interference

Wi-Fi connections can be affected by interference from other devices and physical obstacles. Signal blocking can come from sources like microwaves, cordless phones, and neighboring Wi-Fi networks.

Is Ethernet Faster Than WiFi


  • Household Devices: Microwaves and cordless phones can disrupt Wi-Fi signals, causing temporary slowdowns or disconnections.
  • Neighboring Networks: In densely populated areas, overlapping Wi-Fi signals from neighboring networks can cause interference and reduce performance.

To mitigate these issues, you can use apps or tools like Wi-Fi analyzers to identify interference areas so you can adjust your setup accordingly.

Ethernet Cable Consideration

When setting up an Ethernet connection, the type of cable you use can make a big difference. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Cat5: Up to 100 Mbps
  • Cat5e: Up to 1 Gbps
  • Cat6: Up to 10 Gbps for short distances
  • Cat6a: Up to 10 Gbps over longer distances
  • Cat7: Up to 10 Gbps with improved shielding
  • Cat8: Up to 40 Gbps, primarily used in data centers

Using high-quality cables minimizes signal loss, maintaining signal strength and speed. And yes Ethernet cable’s length matter so get length of under 100 meters. Organizing your cables with raceways, conduits, and cable organizers can keep your setup neat and protect your cables from damage.

Labeling cables can also make them easier to identify, saving you time and hassle when troubleshooting or upgrading your network.


So, Ethernet or Wi-Fi? If you’re a gamer, streamer, or someone who relies on a speedy and stable connection for work, Ethernet is the clear winner. It offers faster speeds, lower latency, and more reliable performance. On the flip side, Wi-Fi provides the convenience of wireless connectivity, which is perfect for devices located away from your modem and for smart home setups.

So, if speed and reliability are your top priorities, Ethernet is the way to go.

A hybrid approach also work best. Use Ethernet for your primary workstation, gaming console, and smart TV, and rely on Wi-Fi for everything else. That way, you get the best of both worlds.

Got any questions or personal experiences to share? Drop them in the comments below.

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