Is internet through Wifi is slower than Ethernet?

MacMan988

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 7, 2012
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Hi, I purchased a new internet connection (connecting via LTE) and the ISP gave me a huawei 4G modem that has both wifi and ethernet. The person who fixed it told me that connecting through ethernet port will give faster data transfer speeds compared to wifi. Is this true?


Internet connection is 100mbps. The computer I use is a late 2011 17" MBP.
 

Apple fanboy

macrumors Westmere
Feb 21, 2012
37,074
26,077
Behind the Lens, UK
Hi, I purchased a new internet connection (connecting via LTE) and the ISP gave me a huawei 4G modem that has both wifi and ethernet. The person who fixed it told me that connecting through ethernet port will give faster data transfer speeds compared to wifi. Is this true?


Internet connection is 100mbps. The computer I use is a late 2011 17" MBP.
It depends on the wifi, but generally yes. My iMac is plugged in by ethernet (because it lives next to the TimeCapsule).
You will also have less internet drop outs as WIFI is more buggy than a hardline.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
66,686
33,565
Boston
It all depends on the type of wifi and the how fast your internet connection is.

Its probably safe to assume you're not achieving gigabyte performance with your ISP. The best way to see what works best is to test it yourself.

Go to http://www.speedtest.net/ and run the test while on ethernet and then wifi and compare the results.

Here's my results (but I'm at work so its blazingly fast)
speed_net.png
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
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GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
Hi, I purchased a new internet connection (connecting via LTE) and the ISP gave me a huawei 4G modem that has both wifi and ethernet. The person who fixed it told me that connecting through ethernet port will give faster data transfer speeds compared to wifi. Is this true?


Internet connection is 100mbps. The computer I use is a late 2011 17" MBP.

I'd say Ethernet is more stable. And you also get less radiation, as insignificant as it may be, compared to using Wifi.

All my Macs use Ethernet because I want to keep my fertility :D
 

MacMan988

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 7, 2012
721
63
It all depends on the type of wifi and the how fast your internet connection is.

Its probably safe to assume you're not achieving gigabyte performance with your ISP. The best way to see what works best is to test it yourself.

Go to http://www.speedtest.net/ and run the test while on ethernet and then wifi and compare the results.

Here's my results (but I'm at work so its blazingly fast)
View attachment 453846
Thanks for all replies.

I did the speedtest from both wifi and ethernet and I always get roughly the same speed. I guess its something that I shouldn't worry about it seems?
 

richard13

macrumors 6502a
Aug 1, 2008
573
23
Sautee Nacoochee, GA
Thanks for all replies.

I did the speedtest from both wifi and ethernet and I always get roughly the same speed. I guess its something that I shouldn't worry about it seems?
Speedtest shows you the speed between your router/modem and a server close to your location. This is your "internet speed". It should be the same whether you using wireless or ethernet.

What the installer was talking about is the connection between your computer and the router/modem. This is your "LAN speed". In general, if you are connected via ethernet it will be a more stable connection with reliable throughput because it is a hardwired cable. Wireless is subject to interference from things such as walls, floors, furniture, etc. So the further away and the more obstacles between your computer and the router/modem the slower and less reliable your connection will be.

On wireless you can get a rough estimate of your LAN speed by holding down the alt/option key and clicking on the wireless symbol in the upper left of your screen. The number next to Transmit Rate is expressed in Mb/s.
 

thundersteele

macrumors 68030
Oct 19, 2011
2,984
7
Switzerland
Speedtest shows you the speed between your router/modem and a server close to your location. This is your "internet speed". It should be the same whether you using wireless or ethernet.
Speedtest measures the connection from the computer it is run on to the server. This should include the part from the laptop/desktop to the router.

@OP

It seems you don't loose any speed by using the WiFi. However there is also the possibility that your latency (i.e. your "ping") is higher. For most people this doesn't matter, but it can be relevant for some online games.
 

richard13

macrumors 6502a
Aug 1, 2008
573
23
Sautee Nacoochee, GA
Speedtest measures the connection from the computer it is run on to the server. This should include the part from the laptop/desktop to the router.
Technically speaking, yes. But for illustrative purposes I don't add this detail when explaining the difference between LAN/Internet speed as it tends to confuse the issue.

You bring up a good point about latency though. If the OP intends to game on this machine it should definitely be considered.
 

Brian Y

macrumors 68040
Oct 21, 2012
3,638
779
Bear in mind there's no flat "cable is faster than wireless" rule - it all depends.

A 100mbps NIC is going to be slower in real life than most Wireless-N connections, and all Wireless-AC connections. A gigabit connection will be faster than all Wireless-N connections. Wireless-AC will be faster than gigabit, in theory, but in practice, will be slower than gigabit.
 
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