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WiFi vs Ethernet – What’s the difference?

Dec 17, 2021  by Toktabek, Tim

WiFi vs Ethernet – What’s the difference?

WiFi is data transmission through wireless signals. Ethernet is data transmission through a cable.

Mobility and flexibility are the most significant advantages WiFi offers compared to Ethernet. Since no cables are required, users can use their devices without remaining in one place. However, if you choose Ethernet over WiFi, you’ll obtain a much better Internet connection, as a wired connection brings excellent reliability and security for your connected devices.

 

The Need For Speed | WiFi VS Ethernet for Speed

When it comes to speed, Ethernet is the winner. Ethernet speeds today top out at 10+ Gbps, whereas WiFi is currently maxed out at 6.9Gbps.

However, WiFi has gotten significantly faster over the last few years, thanks to new standards like 802.11n and 802.11ac, which offer maximum speeds of 150 Mb/s and 866.7 Mb/s, respectively. Even though these are the highest speed for all your wireless devices to share (and you’re unlikely to get those speeds in the real world), WiFi has become good enough to handle most of our daily tasks.

However, this might not be the case with the latest advancements in WiFi technology with WiFi 6, WiFi 6e and beyond. Keep reading to learn more 👇

WiFi VS Ethernet | Which provides less latency?

It’s important to note – connection speed and quality don’t just depend on bandwidth. Latency plays a significant role here.

Latency, often known as ping, is the delay caused by data traffic travelling from a device to its destination.

The gaming industry is usually always trying to reduce ping to improve reaction times and other gameplay mechanisms as much as possible. Ethernet would be a better choice for gaming, as latency increases with the number of obstacles present in the signal’s way. WiFi has to deal with several physical obstacles compared to Ethernet that goes through a physical wire, with no walls or furniture blocking your data’s path.

However, if you have meetings, streaming, listening to music, or simply browsing the web, latency between the two technologies, WiFi or Ethernet, is almost imperceptible no matter which choice you go with.

WiFi VS Ethernet Security | Which is better?

The short answer is that Ethernet still reigns supreme in security compared to WiFi. This is because the data running through an Ethernet wire can be accessed only via the physical terminals of the network, like hijacking your PC or the modem.  On the other hand, WiFi technology relies on the data travelling through the air, which is much easier to intercept by other users in the range of your WiFi router. To that end, Mercku’s WiFi routers feature the latest security advancements, including the WPA3 encryption protocol (and more next-gen security integrations underway). Want to see how Mercku keeps your data safe? Check out our blog on WPA3 Protocol here >

WiFi vs Ethernet | Which one can I depend on?

As WiFi relies on the radio waves that travel through the air, WiFi signals are naturally more susceptible to interference from electronics and physical objects in the environment. These factors can contribute to lower quality signal to the client devices. Here are examples of different factors the can cause interference.

Dropped signals

WiFi might sometimes lose signal and will have to reacquire it. This isn’t a problem for daily browsing or streaming video (which gets buffered on the local device) because the re-acquisition happens quickly. But if you play online games, it can get pretty irritating.

Higher latency

Higher signal interference, compared to a wired connection, can mean higher latency, which can be a problem for all the reasons outlined in the previous section.

Lowered speeds

More interference also means higher data packet loss, which might result in slower connection speeds.

 

However, this is not the case with a wired connection. There are no obstacles and a clear path through the cable, leaving it unaffected from external interferences.

WiFi VS Ethernet | Which is better for large files?

Ethernet takes the point for being the better solution to uploading large files, streaming video or working with bandwidth-hungry applications. It will provide lower latency and an overall faster data transfer.

For example, if you want to transfer files as fast as possible between two computers in the house, Ethernet will be faster than WiFi. Your Internet connection isn’t involved in device-to-device data transfers like this, so it’s all up to the maximum speeds your local network hardware can provide.

 

WiFi VS Ethernet | Which is the convenient choice?

 

Convenience is where the WiFi technology shines bright. Although Ethernet performs better overall, it requires a hardwired connection. It is much harder to take your laptop with an additional Ethernet cable along to work or a coffees shop and then find an Ethernet port to connect to. It is only a viable option if you’re working with a PC since a desktop PC is designed to remain in one place.

However, with WiFi-enabled devices, you work or browse the web, moving freely around the house or taking your devices anywhere else without needing a cable.

 

WiFi VS Ethernet | Mobile Use

Modern smartphones are designed for maximum portability and flexibility. To that end, they are made to be used with WiFi and Cellular connections, so no mobile phones have an Ethernet port. So even though WiFi may not provide extensive performance gains, it provides more than enough bandwidth and will give the flexibility and convenience you need in your day-to-day life.

 

WiFi VS Ethernet | The Final Verdict

Ethernet reigns supreme when it comes to sheer performance in all categories. Except one. Convenience. Convenience has become just as important as speed and other essential factors in today’s world. Not only that, but with WiFi 6 in the picture, WiFi has become a legitimate, reliable choice for most businesses and users out there. However, Ethernet is the go-to option for industries that require speed and reliability over anything, like the gaming industry. So the point is, what level of convenience do you or your team need?

 

Mercku WiFi Routers  | Next-Gen Connectivity

WiFi is ultimately the #1 choice for most people. With its convenience, support for multiple devices and hassle-free use, it’s no wonder your guests ask: “what’s the WiFi password” and not “where can I plug in my Ethernet cable.”

Mercku has set out to build the ultimate connectivity suite to power the next generation of WiFi for our homes. Our most popular M2 is an Award-Winning Mesh WiFi system that features phenomenal, proprietary WiFi tech and ultimate flexibility with M2 Bees.

Our latest development is a stunning WiFi 6 Powerhouse: The M6 router. With a beautiful design, powerful Qualcomm chipset and WiFi6 support, the M6 elevates WiFi beyond just convenience and provides unparalleled speed and reliability to all your connected devices.

 

Want to learn more about WiFi? Our team of experts has put together an eBook that explores the past, present and future of WiFi! Read our WiFi: The Definitive Guide eBook for ultimate WiFi mastery.

Also, check out our guide to WiFi 6 to learn more about the latest WiFi standard that will soon dominate the connectivity space.

For more information about Mercku’s Connectivity Suite, our hardware and how you can partner with Mercku, please reach out to the team at connect@mercku.com.

Thank you for reading our blog! Mercku Blogs covers the latest in wireless technology – subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss our newest releases!

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