Does an Ethernet Cable Connection Affect Wi-Fi Speed?

This is whether an Ethernet cable connection affects the speed of Wi-Fi connections.

Ethernet cables connect your router directly to a device.

Does the direct connection slow down Wi-Fi connection speed? Find out here.

Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

Does an Ethernet Cable Connection Decrease the Speed of Wi-Fi Connections?

Setting up an internet connection seems like a straightforward task, but the truth is there’s a lot of different factors that impact the connection speed.

Anything from the router’s location to the layout of your home can affect your Wi-Fi connection.

One way you can ensure a speedy connection is with an Ethernet cable.

Ethernet cables connect your router to a computer or appliance directly.

Close up view of young man connecting the internet cable into a router.

A direct connection provides you with a steady connection without any interruptions or drops in speed.

When you wire a computer to your router, you may wonder if the Ethernet cable affects Wi-Fi speed. 

This article outlines the main differences between wired and wireless connections.

Next, it explains how Ethernet interacts with Wi-Fi and what affects your internet speeds. Finally, we’ll conclude by answering some essential questions about connectivity.

Ethernet vs. Wi-Fi: What’re the Differences?

The internet connection you use in your home most likely comes from a router that turns it into a radio wave we call Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi is a super versatile wireless connection, giving you the freedom to move around without losing the internet. 

Ethernet is a direct connection from an appliance to your router. You are limited to whatever area your wire can reach with a direct link, although your connection will never disconnect or lose significant speed.

Both Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections have their benefits and downsides.

Some are obvious, like being able to move around more while using Wi-Fi, but some are less in your face.

Below are some of the main advantages of each connection and list the downsides. 

The Benefits of Wi-Fi

The main benefit of a Wi-Fi connection is the freedom it gives you.

A Wi-Fi connection is perfect for you if you need to move from one area to another without losing connection to the internet.  

Any internet connection over 25 Mbps is considered adequate for everyday use, such as watching videos or searching the web.

Wi-Fi speeds are capable of more than 100 Mbps, although that mainly relies on your internet service provider’s infrastructure.

One great benefit of Wi-Fi is that it’s easily expandable.

When you move into a new home or office, you may decide you need greater internet range or speed.

You can easily install Wi-Fi boosters or purchase faster internet speeds from your internet service provider.

The Downsides of Wi-Fi

  • Wireless connections are less secure
  • For proper coverage, you may need Wi-Fi boosters 
  • Interference from other Wi-Fi connections or devices
  • Connection speeds are often slower than wired connections

The Benefits of an Ethernet Connection

An Ethernet connection is best suited for stationary use. Ethernet connections are perfect for desktop computers or video game consoles.

These devices use large amounts of data and require a constant connection to avoid lagging or buffering.

Wired connections are capable of higher speeds than Wi-Fi. If your internet service provider has the proper infrastructure in place, Ethernet speeds can reach 1000 Mbps or 1 gigabit per second. These speeds are insane!

Another concern; is Ethernet safer than Wi-Fi?

One of the main upsides to an Ethernet connection is its security.

Wired connections send data in a secure packet so that a hacker or unwanted entity cannot access the information. 

The Downsides of an Ethernet Connection

  • Lack of mobility
  • The number of connections is limited to the number of ports on your router.
  • Installation and troubleshooting are intensive

Does Ethernet Cable Affect Internet Speed?

Although many things affect Wi-Fi speeds, an Ethernet connection is not one of them, at least directly.

All an Ethernet cable does is wire your device to the router to maintain high speeds and constant connectivity.

Close-up of internet cable connected to a laptop.

An Ethernet cable doesn’t steal speed away from other devices.

Wi-Fi, especially if rates are around 25 Mbps, can’t handle connecting to a large number of devices.

When you’ve connected a large number of devices to a Wi-Fi connection, slower speeds will follow.

Ethernet cables may trick you into thinking they steal speed from other devices because their speed is relatively constant.

When you have a computer wired through Ethernet and Wi-Fi simultaneously, the Ethernet connection remains at the same speed, even if the Wi-Fi slows down due to the number of devices. 

You may still be wondering, does Ethernet cable affect other devices, or is it merely the number of devices that matters?

Below is explained how the number of devices on your internet really slows down your speeds.

Number of Devices and Wi-Fi

Devices connected to Wi-Fi but aren’t actively using the internet have minimal effect on Wi-Fi speeds.

So, if you’re using your home connection and all of your family is connected to your Wi-FI, only the devices actively using the internet affect speeds.

That means anything from watching videos, playing games, or just searching the web.

Each time a connected device uses your Wi-Fi, it’s using part of your bandwidth.

Bandwidth refers to the maximum speed you can transfer data at. Your bandwidth remains constant, so the more devices using the internet, the less bandwidth there is for each device.

When there isn’t enough bandwidth for all connected devices, the internet will begin to slow down to keep up with all the demand. 

Number of Connections and Ethernet

Ethernet cables connect directly to your router, so instead of being limited by bandwidth, the number of ports limits the number of connections. 

Ethernet connections still use bandwidth, though just in a different way. By being directly connected to your router, Ethernet sends data directly to the internet.

So even if the bandwidth is filling up, the Ethernet connection will still send its data.

Ethernet connections are much faster if you’re using an internet connection full of devices.

The connection is so much quicker because the bandwidth processes data that arrives first.

If a wired connection sends an email at the same time as Wi-Fi, the wired connection comes first because the bandwidth receives it before anything else.

How Can You Maximize Your Connectivity and Data Usage?

If you’re questioning a switch to either Ethernet or Wi-Fi, you’re probably trying to find out how to get the most out of your internet connection.

Sometimes you want to know more than just how fast the connections are, like how steady or reliable the connection is.

You want to know how the Ethernet cable affects other devices or if Ethernet is prioritized over other connections, among other things.

Below, you can find answers to three common questions about wired and wireless connections.

Does Ethernet Take Priority Over Wi-Fi?

You may be wondering; does a wired connection override a wireless one?

Wired connections don’t override wireless connections entirely, although there are ways to prioritize Ethernet connections over Wi-Fi. 

There are two ways to prioritize Ethernet connections, although you can only do this for specific devices.

Most devices use the fastest and most reliable connection they can access. 

If you have a wired connection and a wireless connection, the fastest will always be the wired connection.

Most devices choose the most immediate connection as the default, which means prioritizing the wired connection.

The other way to prioritize the Ethernet connection is to do it manually on your device. In your network or connectivity settings, there is often a way to set a default connection.

A Google search should help you figure out how to do it for your specific device.

Does Ethernet Use More Data than Wi-Fi?

Ethernet doesn’t use more data than Wi-Fi, although that’s not the whole story!

The amount of data you use depends on what task you’re completing. If you watch a video twice, one on a wired connection and another on wireless, the amount of data you use is the same.

The amount of data only depends on the activity you’re completing.

All the Ethernet cable does is provide the medium that your data goes through to connect to the internet. It cannot use any more data than you direct it to. 

Wi-Fi acts in the same way, providing a medium of transport, just wirelessly.

Diverse millennials sitting in a row while using gadgets.

In the air, the radio waves detect a device trying to send data and direct it to the router.

The amount of data your router uses depends directly on the size of your file or activity.   

What Devices Should You Wire and Vice Versa?

The main thing to keep in mind about wired and wireless connections is how you’re going to use your device.

It makes no sense to connect an Ethernet cable to a laptop you bring back to work each morning.

You can easily say the opposite about other devices like game consoles, though.

Game consoles require constant connection because any lag could cause you a loss.

Wired connections prevent lag and buffering by always being connected.

Here’s a list of some devices best suited for each type of connection:

Wireless

  • Smart Phones
  • Laptops
  • Lifestyle Wear (Fitbit, AppleWatch, etc.)
  • Home Lighting Systems

Wired

  • Desktop Computers
  • Game Consoles
  • Smart TVs
  • Streaming Systems (Roku, AppleTV, etc.)