wifi vs ethernet

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by penguy, Dec 5, 2011.

  1. penguy macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2007
    I've had my :apple:TV2 for about 2 or 3 weeks...always on wifi with somewhat mixed results. signal strength is always 4/5, so pretty good, but I have found a number of times that it will stop and buffer or simply stop and give a message like 'error, AppleTV is unable to ...'. I tried various fixes, including restarting the router, re-booting the computer serving the AppleTV, all to no avail.

    I was finally too frustrated to continue and decided to try the hard wire approach. So I disconnected the kids xbox from the ethernet and plugged it into the AppleTV.

    Everything worked great after that. No more buffering problems, no more errors, etc. In fact, I noticed that movies would buffer very quickly (the whole movie in a very short time).

    Is it the U-verse 2-wire router that is the bottleneck? I've tried changing channels, etc, but nothing gives a consistent result.
  2. tmagman macrumors 6502

    Nov 7, 2010
    Calgary AB
    probably is the router... I've never liked ISP provided routers, they're pieces of crap. If you call them and say you want their better model, they'll sometimes send you a better one, but nothing will compare to a D-Link or a Airport Extreme for overall performance and reliability
  3. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Skip it man, if you've got ethernet at your TV already, just spend $20 and buy a network switch with a few extra ports on it. Then you can connect the xbox and the ATV at the same time. Wireless is just not up to the job, even with 4/5 bars of signal.
  4. skasol macrumors 6502

    Sep 20, 2007
    I think it all depends on many different factors that can and will affect the performance of the connections. 1. How fast is your connection to begin with. 2. How fast is the router. 3 how is everything configured?

    For me I am unable to run wires a over my place so my best solution was to get the fastest Internet I could afford (30MB download 2MB upload) and the best router I could afford ( I have the netgear n900). I have my two tivos hooked up wirelessly , my Xbox hooked up wirelessly, my wdtv live hub plus and it works just fine.
  5. SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    WiFi in general is the bottleneck when it comes to streaming video. It's just not robust and throughput isn't quick enough to sustain the video streams at times.

    I always recommend using Ethernet for the ATV2 and other video streaming devices. The only thing I have on my WiFi is my iPhone 4S. The iMac, XBox and ATV2 are all hardwired with Ethernet and everything runs great.
  6. penguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2007
    Thanks...I just remodeled the house and I ran a coax, a CAT5 and a CAT6 line to this location...I think I will just terminate the CAT5 and run it to the Xbox for now until I need the switch. I've just been lazy. :roll eyes:

    The funny part is my Mac Mini is on the wifi and has no problem streaming the material...or at least, none that I have noticed.

    SandboxGeneral...I'm the opposite...nothing in the house is hardwired (I ran the wires, but have to get back to terminate the rest of them. We sometimes have the mini, 2 laptops, 3 iPhones and an iPod touch streaming...not always very well.

    We are about to switch from uverse to xfinity, so it may be time to get a better router.

    Thanks for all the replies
  7. fpnc macrumors 68000

    Oct 30, 2002
    San Diego, CA
    Wired ethernet will beat WiFi under almost all setups. Some will try to claim that they get 300Mbps over 802.11n but that isn't real, sustained data throughput (it's the link rate) and even the best WiFi will have trouble beating 100Mbps ethernet.

    That said, wireless is getting better every year and it is possible to run an Apple TV without wired ethernet.
  8. alexreich macrumors 6502a


    Jan 26, 2011
    Even older Ethernet like 100Base-T on a CAT5 cable is better and more reliable than Wireless-N. At all times use Ethernet if possible. Wired data transfers are always more reliable than wireless, regardless of the situation, and buffer time is little to nothing when it comes to video.

    +1 for a switch by the way. Very useful if you need to 'distribute' one Ethernet wire to more than one device.
  9. KeithJenner macrumors 6502a

    Sep 30, 2010
    That is a big generalisation. Of course wired is quicker and more reliable, but many people (I'd be surprised if it wasn't the majority) have absolutely no problem streaming video over wireless.

    We are fully wireless, and often have two video streams running at the same time, on top of normal activity (internet, backups etc), with no problem at all.

    Wireless does seem to be one of those things that you either have problems with or don't. As the OP is suffering from issues, I would recommend wired to him, but it is usually worth having a go with wireless first, because many people find it does the job perfectly well without the need for wires.
  10. Ingster macrumors 6502


    Apr 2, 2007
    Leeds, UK
    I agree go ethernet all the way, tried wifi but was sketchy connection to my n time capsule, now use a set of home plugs at 85mbps to connect from TC in office upstairs to homeplug connected to my 10/100/1000 4 port switch which has apple tv and sky + box connected to it, and it works really well.
  11. Kasalic macrumors regular

    Jan 20, 2011
    Another thing to factor in is how is the iTunes media connected. I found that having both on wireless gave me dropouts, whilst having the Apple TV wireless and the Mac Mini wired worked ok.

    For me the point is moot as I was playing around with the setup before I had finished the revamp of our living room. I will eventually have both the mac mini server and the apple TV connected by wired Ethernet to an Apple Extreme router.

    I think the moral of the story here is to wire if you can, if not get a decent router.
  12. penguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2007
    For the most part, I have never had a problem with wireless here, even since we purchased the :apple:TV, but the performance was spotty. One night I could watch an entire movie with no dropouts, another I'd get a few minutes. One thing that may be giving us troubles are that there are several 2 wire routers that can be seen from my computer...could they be interfering? I've changed channels a few times with a little success, but it wasn't consistent.

    Anyway, thanks for all the help. As I said before, I ran wires to every bedroom and the family room during our remodel...I just need to complete the terminations to have that as an option.
  13. vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Midlife, Midwest
    I've run wi-fi only from my second-flkoor router to my main floor AppleTV pretty much flawlessly for a year now.

    That said, my experience has been that there are all sorts of weird little issues that can crop up when dealing with wi-fi.

    Example: I recently upgraded to a Wireless N router, and as part of the upgrade I established a "Guest" wi-fi network that could be used by visitors, but without giving them access to my shared PCs and my NAS device.

    This worked fine for a day or so, but then I noticed that my Harmony Link IR blaster (which I use to control the half-dozen different devices in my A/V setup) would periodically "lose" the wi-fi signal.

    Some research indicated that this was related to my network settings (the suggestion was to adjust the Beacon Interval and the Fragment and RTS thresholds, whatever the heck those are..)

    While I decided against making those changes, I did discover that by simply turning off the "Guest" network, the Harmony Link now stays connected flawlessly.

    I guess the lesson to be learned is that there are literally hundreds of different settings and conditions involved in a wi-fi setup, some of which may cause various components to behave in unexpected ways. And that what "cures" one person's problem may not necessarily work for you.
  14. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    I'm glad to help. There's a reason businesses all run ethernet cables and don't just use wireless. It is much better than a few years ago, but its not quite to the point that ethernet's at for reliability.
  15. rayward macrumors 68000

    Mar 13, 2007
    Houston, TX
    Is someone using an older wifi device from time to time? If you have an n router, it drops the entire network to slower speeds when a slow device connects. If someone's firing up the wifi on a laptop that's b/g, that'll be the cause of your random slowdowns.

    FWIW, a switch is an incredibly cheap and incredibly easy way to solve your ATV/xBox situation. As was mentioned above, a 3-port switch costs about $20 and requires no set-up. You just plug it into your one ethernet socket and bingo! You've got 3 ethernet ports!

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