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WiFi 6 vs. Ethernet vs. WiFi 5

Wifi vs Ethernet
Wifi vs Ethernet

With the emergence of new wireless technologies like the WiFi 6, the era of cabled networking is in danger. How better is WiFi 6 compared to Ethernet or is it any better at all? Let’s find out here!

Ethernet is better than WiFi 6 if you want a consistent data transfer rate without external interference. WiFi 6 is better than Ethernet if you don’t have a problem with latency or you do not want to deal with cable management. To find out more, please take a detailed look at the following subtopics. 

Raw Specifications – WiFi 5 vs WiFi 6

  Wifi 5
(802.11ac)
Wifi 6
(802.11ax)
Max Data Transfer Rate 6.9 Gbps 9.6 Gbps
Frequency 5 Hz 2.4 Hz , 5 Hz
Communication Antena(MU-MIMO) 4 X 4 8 X 8
Number of Recievers Per Packet (OFDMA) One Many
Bandwidth(MHz) 20, 40, 80+80, 160 20, 40, 80+80, 160
Modulation 256 QAM 1024 QAM

Since WiFi 6 is the upgraded version of WiFi 5, it is no shock that it is better. It’s just a question of how much better did WiFi 6 get. The standout features of WiFi 6 are the Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO), data transfer rate, modulation and Orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA). The maximum data transfer rate has gone up by 2.7 Gbps. 

The MU-MIMO has increased from 4 to 8 which means more users will get equal data transfer rates due to more streams availability. This feature is optimal in crowded places with many users.

The modulation has changed from 256 QAM to 1024 QAM which uses 10 bits rather than 8 making the newer version 25% faster. 

OFDMA is how many users data can a single packet hold during transmission. Previous generations could only hold one user per packet leaving unused spaces but with WiFi 6 every space is used with multiple user data being transferred per packet. This will reduce latency and internet fluctuations. 

Other notable features are the security of WiFi 6 which needs to have WPA3 which is the latest most secure security available. The battery consumption of devices will also be lowered with Target Wake Time (TWT).

Types of Ethernet cable

  Max Data Transmission
(Mbps)
Max Bandwidth
(MHz)
Cable
CAT 3 10 16 Unshielded
CAT 5 100 100 Unshielded
CAT 5e 1000 100 Unshielded
CAT 6 1000 250 Unshielded or Sheilded
CAT 6a 10000 500 Shielded
CAT 7 10000 600 Screened Shielded
CAT 7a 10000+ 1000 Shielded
CAT 8 40000 2000 Shielded

WiFi vs Ethernet

Speed

In raw speed, wired connection wins if there is no bottleneck. Always. WiFi 6 has max speed of 1.2 Gbps per stream whereas Ethernet has max speed of 100 Gbps.

Latency

Ethernet wins in this department because it doesn’t have to deal with interference from other devices. The connection is consistent most of the time and doesn’t feature short period of high latency from time to time like WiFi.

Security

This topic is tricky as it depends on what you refer to as security. WiFi can be hacked into by some professionals but it is not as easy to connect to as an insecure Ethernet cable that is openly available.

Convenience

Nothing beats the convenience of wireless connection. You don’t have to deal with any hassle of cabling. Just turn on the WiFi on your device and you’re set. It’s easy and fast!

WiFi vs Ethernet For Gaming

Is it better to game on WiFi? Short answer is no. Long answer is Nooooooooooo.

In all seriousness, WiFi does encounter issues like high ping and packet loss occasionally while gaming. A little inconsistency in your ping can result in life and death in a match. If you’re playing competitively, you absolutely must use wired connection if it’s available.

WiFi 6 is a much improved tech over the previous generations but it won’t magically give u less latency. Hook up your PC directly to your modem and find out your best possible latency from ISP and then run it through with your current router to see how much latency you get.

Unless that second number is significantly higher, you have no need to worry and can stick with your current router.

Best WiFi 6 Card For PC

TP-Link WiFi 6 AX3000 PCIe WiFi Card | Up to 2400Mbps | Bluetooth 5.0 | 802.11AX Dual Band Wireless Adapter with MU-MIMO,OFDMA,Ultra-Low Latency | Supports Windows 10 (64bit) only (Archer TX3000E)

Ubit AX WiFi 6 Dual Band 2974 Mbps AX200 PCIE Wireless WiFi Card with Bluetooth 5.0 | MU-MIMO| OFDMA| Ultra-Low Latency

WiFi 6 Routers

TP-Link Wifi 6 AX1500 Smart WiFi Router – ax Router, Gigabit, Dual Band, OFDMA, MU-MIMO, Works with Alexa(Archer AX10)

TP-Link WiFi 6 AX3000 Smart WiFi Router – 802.11ax Router, Gigabit Router, Dual Band, OFDMA, MU-MIMO, Parental Controls, Works with Alexa(Archer AX50)

NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S Smart WiFi Router (R8000P) – AC4000 Tri-band Wireless Speed (up to 4000 Mbps) | Up to 3500 sq ft Coverage & 55 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 2 USB ports

Conclusion

In short, WiFi 6 may not be worth it if you’re trying to save some bucks but if you’re going for the top of the line wireless products in your household or in your office, it is an absolute buy!

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