WiFi gaming versus using Ethernet
No one wants a laggy online experience when knee-deep in a tournament or mission. If you're playing first person shooter or action games, half a second of latency (the time data takes to go to and from your gaming device and online server) is the last thing you need. When your rival has a 20 millisecond advantage, you’re getting blasted away unfairly. Prefer role playing games (RPG)? Latency tends not to be an issue when you're raiding and pillaging homesteads. But gamers, is plugging an Ethernet cable into your gaming computer the best fix?
Pros of WiFi gaming
The main advantage of WiFi gaming is freedom. Whether you’re in the bedroom or your living room, away from your router point, it may not be convenient to run an Ethernet cable to your computer or console. Also, with so many devices and screens in our lives these days, who has room for extra cabling?
Cons of WiFi gaming
If you have strong and stable broadband then a WiFi connection will be good enough for your gaming needs, most times. But there are potential drawbacks. For starters, you might have connection interference in your house and this can lead to lag or a slower response times in game. Also, you might find concrete walls or metal door frames can lead to slow or stop-start wireless connection. This is something to talk to your internet service provider about.
Pros of Ethernet-connected gaming
If you are able to grab yourself a direct, wired Ethernet connection to your router, then you’ll avoid wireless interference and have high-level security. Over a long period of gaming, a wired-up connection will help you avoid connectivity problems and will (in most homes) offer you a more reliable gaming experience; especially in fast-moving shooter and action games. If you are a heavy downloader of films or large music files, a wired set-up will give you a more significant leg-up.
Cons of Ethernet-connected gaming
Unsightly cables. It's sometimes tricky to get Ethernet cabling the right length to connect from your router position to your console or PC. And it could be a unnecessary faff, running cables throughout your home, because an Ethernet connection is mainly used to fix the rarer problems in gaming.
How to reduce latency on WiFi or Ethernet
Latency is the enemy of the pin-sharp gamer, delaying the time data takes to be sent from your sword (or computer) to the your online game server. How do we solve this and reduce disappointing results?
Latency (or high ping) on WiFi connections
Gameplay latency, let’s call it lag, can cause stuttering, freezing and perhaps even crash your game. There are a couple of things to check. Firstly, look at your location within your house. It can make a real difference to your WiFi connection. Make sure that you are close enough to the router to get a strong signal and also ensure nothing's blocking your router or interfering with signal – a wall, cupboard or large electronic equipment like a TV could lower your ping and put you off your game.
Do you have sufficient bandwidth? While less important than your connection and network efficiency, you need enough bandwidth to game. Internet service providers (ISPs) publish bandwidth measurements, but you don’t often find latency information because it's so difficult to declare consistent values for different setups and geographic regions. The figure to keep in mind is 1Mpbs. That’s what is considered okay for most online gaming.