1. Welcome to the new MacRumors forums. See our announcement and read our FAQ

Wired faster than Wireless?

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by JOD8FY, Nov 19, 2004.

  1. macrumors 6502a


    Hello Everyone,

    My friend and I recently tested the theory that a wireless connection is faster than a wired connection. According to Apple's site, the wireless G has a transfer rate of up to 54Mbps. According to my ISP, my wired connection has a transfer rate of 3Mbps. We conducted some tests with the following equipment:

    Airport Express
    PowerBook G4 with Airport Extreme

    The tests went as follows: we downloaded a 9.1MB file and on the wired connection and it took 26 sec. The wireless connection took 30 sec (the computer was within 10 feet of the basestation). Another test was conducted in the same manner with a 4.1MB file with the results for the wired and wireless connections being 14 and 16 seconds, respectively.

    According to Apple's site, and many other sites, a wireless connection is supposed to be faster than a wired connection. Any thoughts on what might have happened in these tests?

    We concluded that because the length of time that it takes for the data to travel to the computer through a wire is equal to the length of time it takes for the data to reach the basestation. While the signal is already at the computer in a wired connection, the data in a wireless connection still has to travel through the air to get to the computer.

    Any thoughts?
  2. macrumors 6502a


    It really says that the wireless is faster than wired? :confused:

    A typical LAN will net you up to 100Mbps... almost twice as fast as an Airport Express. Your Internet bandwidth is the same regardless of what router you use. Once the data leaves your modem, it will always travel faster on a wired 100Mbps connection than a wireless connection.
  3. macrumors 6502

    Since the bandwidth for either is limited by the ISP's speed, you should see similar results (3mbps) for both. A way to test your hypothesis would be to send a file over a network, not from the internet over wired and wireless. Wha you should find, since your wired network is most likely 100baseT, is that wired is faster.

  4. jsw
    Moderator emeritus


    Exactly. If you run enough tests, you'll likely see, everything else being equal, the same times for wired vs wireless downloads. I think by "faster than wired" you mean "faster than broadband", which is true. Both 802.11b and 802.11g are faster than the vast majority of broadband connections. However, if you use additional encryption, I suppose there might be a minor speed penalty for downloading wireless vs wired. As mentioned above, though, on any modern system, wired connections will themselves be at least twice as fast for intranet transfers (i.e., within your network).
  5. macrumors 68000


    theres always an extra step in transmiting data wirelessly. epsecially if your wireless data is encrypted. im surprised anyone would say wireless would be faster. when the theoretical speed of wired is 100mb/s vs 54mb/s wired it makes sense that wired would be faster. ive worked around computers a lot, more than 5 years in IT . . . and ive never seen wireless get close to the speed of wired, except with small files but the time is so small anyway.
  6. macrumors 603


    Wow. :rolleyes: This is news to you?

    You are comparing the wrong speeds.
  7. macrumors 6502a

    The problem with your test is the ISP. Wired, as others have noted is faster than a wireless connection.

  8. macrumors 603


    Let me just clarify, in case the other posts don't quite spell it out for you. BOTH your wired and wireless connections are connecting to the Internet via your 3 mbps connection from your ISP. Your wireless can transmit data at up to 54 mbps, and your wired (depending on your ethernet card and hub) can transmit data at up to 1000 mbps, or at a minimum 100 mbps. So the limiting factor is not wired or wireless, but rather, the connection speed from your ISP. The fact that wired is slightly faster is probably due to signal degradation, even at only 10 feet from your base station.
  9. macrumors 65816


    Metal is a very good conductor... intuitively you would expect a cable to be faster than air. But it's good that you did the experiment, it is the only way to know for sure.
  10. macrumors 603


    Your tests, my friend, (well, random person on the internet) are worth nothing. You did the wrong thing. But now you know... and BTW, with Gigabit Ethernet your wired AND wireless connection would be toast. :)

    Pretty much, next time you want to do some tests, make sure you compare the two numbers first, and don't use the internet to download stuff. Your transfer rates may vary from 100 Kbps to 500 Kbps. Or more depending on "their" servers and your bandwidth limits.
  11. macrumors 6502a


    It doesn't transmit electricity through the air...Only a Radio-type signal...(like a cordless phone)
  12. macrumors 6502a

    Just out of curiosity, what do you think these "signals" are? Magic?

  13. macrumors 65816


    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there a substantial difference between electromagnetic radiation (wireless transmissions, radio waves, visible light—involving the transmission of photons), and an electrical current (ethernet, household electrical—involving the transmission of electrons)?
  14. macrumors 6502

    Nice! LOL :D
  15. macrumors member

    you are very stupid, you should not breed.
  16. Wes
    macrumors 68020




    They are electromagnetic waves, not electricity.

    802.11b is runs at 2.4 Ghz, 2.4 x 10^9 which looking at that chart puts it in the microwave section, on the same spectrum as visible light, meaning they also travel at 300,000,000 m/s [roughly, in a vacuum, very close to the speed in air as the refractive index of air is 1.0008, 300,000,000/1.0008 = 299760191.847 m/s] . If we were transfering electricity in the air, why wouldn't your Airport zap you from around the house? Good luck getting electricity to conduct through the air.

    Big difference there.
  17. Moderator


    Staff Member

    The speed of light in vacuum is 299 792 458 m/s. 3.00*10^8 is too unprecise when divided by 1.0008... :D

    That said, wired networks will ALWAYS be faster than wireless, this has been common knowledge ever since Shannon published his "A Mathematical Theory of Communication" back in 1948.
  18. Wes
    macrumors 68020


    Okay, sorry 300,000,000 is 0.069% off :p.
  19. macrumors 6502a


    Well, from the tests and your responses, it obviously seems that wired is faster than wireless. However, then how does Apple explain this?


    Attached Files:

  20. macrumors 6502a

    You're being sarcastic, right? That is simply a graph of the maximum data transfer of wireless b, wireless g, and a typically data transfer from a broadband internet provider. I see no comparison of wired vs. wireless data transfer speeds...
  21. macrumors 65816


    The first line is not the speed of a wired network, it's the speed of a DSL modem.

    DSL Modem: 1.5
    Airport: 11
    Airport Extreme: 54
    Wired Network: 100

    Try the following experiment: FTP a file between two computers on your LAN.
    Since it is not using the modem, you will learn the true difference in speed.
  22. macrumors newbie

    I think you're right. Completely pointless!
  23. Moderator emeritus


    I really would hope you're joking...but it seems you're not :rolleyes:

    AP & APE are both for home networking, you cannot compare speeds from a wireless or wired WAN connection (the connection your ISP provides) with home LAN speeds (be it wired or wireless).
  24. macrumors 65816


    you're trying to make this more difficult than it really is...
    all apple is saying is that airport extreme is faster than airport which is faster than your average internet connection... when you say "wired" that doesn't mean anything... if you want to really compare speeds accurately (keep in mind there's also traffic on the internet), you need to send a file from computer A to computer B with an ethernet cable. the speed will be roughly 100mbps. then send the file again from computer A to computer B over wireless, preferably with no encryption. the speed will be 54mbps... of course, then you need to run your tests several times to find the average speed... "wired" is faster...

    then again, maybe i'm making this more difficult than it really is...

  25. macrumors 6502a


    Sorry for my ignorance everyone, I really wasn't being sarcastic :p. Thanks for the replies.


Share This Page