Wifi speed vs Ethernet

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Cyndane, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

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    Mar 27, 2013
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    Australia
    #1
    I have a wifi T-Link ADSL2 modem/router. I'm currently using my late 2012 Mac mini on the wifi for downloading SD TV episodes from iTunes.

    Would an Ethernet connection be quicker for the downloads? Currently a 680 meg TV episode takes 40-60 minutes to complete.
     
  2. Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    #2
    I'd say that I've noticed a significant speed increase in using my ethernet connection over wifi. I'd say go wired if you can.
     
  3. simsaladimbamba

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    #3
    It depends on your internet connection speed, as most often, the speed of the internet connection is much slower than the available WiFi, unless you use an old standard. I have an ISP which provides with me with 1.2 MB/s download and 150 KB/s upload speeds, my WiFi is much faster than that (7 to 12 MB/s up/down), thus 680 MB (or "meg") will take around 10 minutes at constant full download speed. But often the server might not provide such speeds.

    Go to www.speedtest.net and test your internet speed. Also OPTION/Alt click on the WiFi/AirPort icon in the Menu Bar and tell us what it says after
    • Channel
    • PHY Mode
    • Transmit Rate
    .

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Cyndane, Apr 2, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013

    thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
  5. macrumors 68040

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    #5
    What simsaladimbamba stated....

    My internet connection is 7mb down and 1mb up. My wifi runs MUCH faster than that, so downloading stuff off the internet really wouldn't make any difference if ethernet or wifi. Now when doing file transfers within your own network, ethernet will smoke wifi. Generally speaking you lose about half your wifi bandwidth due to encryption and packet loss, so even if you are sitting 10 ft from your router, the fastest speeds you will see is 225mb/s (that's if you are using 3 antennas and wifi N since that maxes at 450mb/s). gigabit or better Ethernet will smoke the wifi for internal file transfers.

    But again, just discussing downloading files off the internet, then no wifi will not be any slower (might be a hair slower simply due to some packet loss, etc.).
     
  6. macrumors 68030

    zorinlynx

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    #6
    Always used wired connections when you can.

    In fact, for a device that will sit in one place, it's worth going through a lot of hassle to use a wired connection. Wireless is a shared medium; you're sharing the spectrum with every device and source of interference near you. Wired gives the device its own private gigabit path with no intereference.

    This is especially important for gaming, where a brief burst of interference can mangle packets and cause severe lag.
     
  7. macrumors 6502a

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    Rochester Hills, MI
    #7
    you're giving him advice to him for something so irrelevant.

    his download speed is 6.42 Mb/s.. that is say 7 megaBITS per second.. which is .875 megabytes or 875 kilobytes / second.

    Any modern day WiFi connection can handle that with ease so changing from wifi to Ethernet will not increase speeds. Most Internet users do not have connections faster than the 802.11g (54 Mbps theoretical) and this person is on N with a decent transmit rate of 143.

    To answer the original poster: No, whether you are on WiFi or Ethernet your download speeds will not change. if you want to download faster you need to call up your ISP (Telstra) and pay for faster speeds, if they are offered.
     
  8. macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Look at game specs. They say to NEVER use wireless and do not support it.

    In a nutshell, while they look similar wireless operates differently than wired. The speed can fluctuate, packets have to be resent all the time, and there can be lots of interference depending on where you have your stuff.

    Wireless has its uses. In a coffee shop surfing the web for example.
     
  9. macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    Wireless n @2.4ghz transmits data at 144mbit/s
    Wired non gigabit will be 100mbit/s
    Wired gigabit is 1000mbit/s, so if you can plug it straight into your router(which should be gigabit) otherwise Wifi, but then there's the risk of fluctuating signals.

    You could also go for a better router or a 500mb homeplug kit to wire it in.
     
  10. macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Not to mention it is a shared resource, like another poster said, so if you have a wireless xbox, phone, and/or other computers using the WiFi, the speed is divided between all of them, not true of wired.
     
  11. Menel, Apr 3, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013

    macrumors 603

    Menel

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    #11
    Due to protocol overhead, you can expect only about 40% of "advertised data" at the application layer you are operating at as a user.

    Transmit Rate of 143 Mbps... 40% of that is ~57 Mbps.

    Your speedtest is reporting 6.42 Mbps.

    Speedtest confirms your WIFI has plenty of bandwidth to spare for that link speed.

    I wouldn't expect any gains of switching to wired Ethernet. Maybe snappier feeling consistent lower latency if you were into high reactive FPS games, but for downloads, no.
     
  12. macrumors 68040

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    #12
    But ONLY if all are actually using the wifi. If they are just connected, they use very little bandwidth. For example: I would rarely be doing something like streaming videos to my phone and playing video games. Further, most of those things you listed would still be dependent, at least somewhat, on my internet connection which again is more of a bottleneck than anything else.

    ----------

    What's your point, OP is asking about downloading stuff off the internet which is less dependent upon packet loss and/or ping rates which is why games generally recommend ethernet. As previously stated, he will lose a little speed due to the occasional packet loss, but in the end the difference would be negligible. In gaming it isn't recommended because even a couple of lost packets could be the difference in "life or death"...
     
  13. macrumors 6502

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    #13
    My only point is, it is something to consider, since it was taking him 60 mins to download a file my guess is other devices were being used at some point during his downloads.
    In my case I had 7 wireless devices sharing a similar connect speed at any point at least half of them could be active during my uploads/downloads. Once I went to all but 4 devices on wires, uploads and downloads went much smoother. Less buffering with Hulu and Netflix, while I was uploading and downloading work files.
     
  14. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #14
    "Would an Ethernet connection be quicker for the downloads?"

    Yes.
    Ethernet is always faster.

    At some point in the future that may change as wireless technologies develop and improve.

    But for now, if you want pure speed, go ethernet.
     
  15. macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    You guys are forgetting the main point of the whole post. His ISP speed is not even close to saturating a WiFi connection.

    Yes Ethernet is faster than WiFi. But, his ISP speed isn't even close to maxing out his wifi network.

    Moving to Ethernet will not make a difference in downloading his files. If it takes 60 minutes on WiFi, it may take 59 minutes and 45 seconds over Ethernet.
     
  16. macrumors 68040

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    Dec 17, 2009
    #16
    Exactly the point I was making. Will ethernet be faster, marginally at best. His ISP speeds are the big bottleneck. Frankly if he loses even 5% of the packets over wifi, then instead of 60 minutes to download via ethernet, he would be looking at 63 minutes. 3 minutes is hardly enough to justify tying himself down by ethernet and/or running cables (he's literally wasted more time starting this thread and reading the responses than the 3 minutes worth of difference). I download a lot of stuff via wifi on my Macbook Pro and Air rather than my Mac Mini or Mac Pro simply because its easier just to sit in my living room and watch the progress on my macbook air than it is to either go to my office periodically or have to sign in using Screen Sharing. The time difference is negligible.
     
  17. macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Did you even READ my post? I stated that web surfing is a good use for wifi when you do not have an option.

    Still though, if I had the choice I would go with wired, even if speeds were equal and things like packet loss were not an issue. Why? Security on wifi is laughable.
     
  18. GimmeSlack12, Apr 3, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013

    macrumors 603

    GimmeSlack12

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    #18
    I completely agree with zorinlynx. I don't care what your wifi router states, a wired connection is always faster. Look at my attachments with my Linksys E2000 N router: same router using wired (left) and wireless (right), I have the same sort of results using my old G router too. I did these tests a few times to make sure I was getting consistent numbers.

    According to my results, the wired connection is almost twice as fast (4.5 Mbps vs. 2.4Mbps). Wired is the only way I go except for iOS stuff.
     

    Attached Files:

  19. troy14, Apr 3, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013

    macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    There's something wrong with your wireless connection then. We are not arguing that a wired connection is faster - it is. What WiFi channel are you on? How many other WiFi signals are around you and what channels are they on? What is your WiFi signal strength / interference? There are many factors that go into play here. You also tested on two different servers, you would be surprised how big of a difference that can make.

    What we are saying is that for the original poster, moving to wired will not benefit him in the way that he is thinking it will.

    ----------

    How is WPA2 laughable? If used with a strong key (13+ characters) it is anything but.

    WEP, sure.
     
  20. macrumors 68030

    zorinlynx

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    #20
    Wired connections have lower latency and less packet loss than wireless connections do. Sure, the local wifi may have more available bandwidth than your internet connection... but a lost packet is a lost packet, and a delayed packet is still a delayed packet.

    If it's not too hard to wire up a fixed system, you should wire it up. Not only that, but doing stuff like local time machine backups to a time capsule and transferring data within your local network will be much faster.

     
  21. macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 25, 2008
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    #21
    Good information, this will be my last post in this thread and it stands - the OP has stated nothing about time machine backups, transferring data across your network, or gaming. He simply wanted to know about downloading files (t.v shows) from iTunes. For this purpose, wiring up the network would not help in the way he is thinking it will. It could provide more consistent speeds, but, most likely not faster. He needs to contact his ISP to get a faster connection, THEN worry about ethernet.
     
  22. thread starter macrumors newbie

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  23. macrumors regular

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    Jun 25, 2012
    #23
    From my experience, Ethernet is much faster. I use Telstra too (Ultimate 100Mbps cable) and have found that Ethernet is much faster than wifi. On Ethernet I always see download speeds around the 112-115Mbps, whereas on wifi I see around 25-30Mbps. I'm using a 15" rMBP for both tests. So go Ethernet.
     
  24. macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    Something tells me the OP tested his internet on wireless...
     
  25. thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Australia
    #25
    I checked on the Telstra website. The ADSL service i get in regional Western Australia is up to 8Mb/s, but not guaranteed, so the test result i had of 6, with wifi connection is about the limit of the ADSL service.
     

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