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As an avid gamer myself, I wanted to make sure I had the most optimal connection possible when gaming online, so did some research into whether using an ethernet cable instead of a wireless alternative really did lower ping response times.
Using an ethernet cable instead of a wireless connection will generally result in a lower ping. Unlike wireless methods, using ethernet is more reliable, offers lower latency and jitter, and is less likely to result in packet loss. All of these factors contribute towards achieving a lower ping.
If you are a gamer, or just want to optimize your network connection wherever possible, you should absolutely consider using an ethernet cable instead of continuing to rely on Wi-Fi. Here is how using ethernet can help lower your ping response times.
Using Ethernet to Lower Ping
It is widely accepted that using ethernet instead of a wireless alternative, with the most commonly used form being Wi-Fi, does provide a more optimal network connection and better overall experience for when you are gaming online.
Wi-Fi is simply unreliable. When you are gaming online, even if you don’t have the absolute fastest connection speeds possible, you at least want them to remain consistent.
This is all possible when using an ethernet cable to connect your gaming PC or console to your router or network switch.
Wireless signals are well known to fluctuate from time to time which can affect the integrity of the signal and overall download and upload speeds that you are able to achieve.
This is especially true when the walls in your home are particularly thick and made from solid materials, or you have other devices or appliances nearby that can interfere with the wireless signal.
One appliance that we will pretty much all have in our homes, a basic microwave, is notorious for interfering with wireless signals, which is why where you choose to place your wireless router in your home is paramount to get the best possible wireless connection.
There is one benefit to using a wireless alternative instead of ethernet, which is that the set up will be cleaner due to not having a need for any cables.
Many people will choose to accept having an ethernet cable on show if it means they can achieve a more reliable network connection and ultimately a lower ping.
That’s not to say the cables have to be left unsightly; with a bit of cable management, you can quite easily route the cables in such a way that they aren’t even visible.
Routing the cable through the wall or to the underside of your desk gives you the benefits of using ethernet whilst also keeping your gaming space clean and tidy.
Some people will argue that the difference in ping response times when using ethernet compared with Wi-Fi is so small that it isn’t really worth it, especially if you don’t already have an ethernet cable to hand or connecting your PC or console to your router or switch is particularly tricky.
I would suggest that it is definitely worth the time and effort to use ethernet over wireless wherever you can; even on the devices that access the internet but you don’t necessarily do any gaming on.
Using ethernet provides other benefits in addition to a lower ping which will improve your overall network connectivity and experience regardless of what you are using the device for.
How Does Ping Work?
From a technical point of view, ping works by using the echo request and echo reply messages within the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP).
When the ping command is used, an echo request packet is sent to the device you are trying to contact. When the echo request gets received and its destination, you should receive a response with an echo reply packet.
The ping command is an invaluable tool when it comes to troubleshooting network related issues, testing connectivity, and determining response times.
In a nutshell, using the ping command allows you to test whether you can contact another device that is connected to your local area network, or a device that is based out on the internet.
In terms of gaming, ping is measured in milliseconds and represents the time it takes for a packet of information to reach the server you are playing on and make its way back.
It is essentially a measurement of your connection speed to the server and largely influences how much lag, or latency, you experience in-game.
Will an Ethernet Cable Stop Lag?
I’m confident that everyone that has ever gamed online will have experienced lag at one point or another. You’ll appreciate how frustrating it can be, especially when it has a detrimental effect on your gaming experience and performance, so will using an ethernet cable be the magic bullet that solves all of your lag and latency issues?
Using an ethernet cable will not stop lag entirely. It will improve connection stability and result in less packet loss, others using the network affecting you less, and fewer lag spikes, but there is a chance that it can still occur. The likelihood of lag occurring does decrease, though.
Choosing to use ethernet as your connection method will largely have a positive effect on reducing the latency, or lag, between your PC or console and your router, but these are some factors that are out of your control that can cause lag to still occur when you are gaming online.
It’s just that the likelihood of lag occurring is decreased when using ethernet.
If you are fortunate to have a fast internet connection and the server you are connecting to when gaming is reasonably close, using ethernet over Wi-Fi will have a more noticeable difference compared with having a slower internet connection or the server being thousands of miles away.
Even if you fall into the camp of having a slower connection and gaming on servers that are located on the other side of the world, using an ethernet connection does provide other benefits, so is definitely worth using over Wi-Fi wherever possible.
Does a Longer Ethernet Cable Increase Ping?
Now you know that using ethernet offers a lower ping, you may be wondering if the length of the ethernet cable itself is a factor, especially if your PC or console is positioned far away from your router or switch.
The longer the ethernet cable, the higher the ping will be; however, the difference is so small it will likely be unnoticeable. Ping response times increase by around one nanosecond per foot of ethernet cable. Given that a single length of cable is limited to 328 feet, the increase is negligible.
You really don’t need to worry about using a longer ethernet cable in fear that it will increase your ping response times as chances are, you wouldn’t notice the difference between a cable that is 6 feet long and one that is 100 feet long.
Even a longer cable that has reached the limit in length before you start to experience issues (100 meters or 328 feet) will still likely provide lower ping times than if you were using Wi-Fi and sat relatively close to the router.
Again, it is the outside factors that, for the most part, are largely out of control that results in longer ping times when using Wi-Fi or another wireless connection method.
Best Ethernet Cable for Gaming
When choosing an ethernet cable to use for gaming, there are a few things you will want to check before making the purchase. These are:
- The category of the cable
- The length of cable that you need,
- Whether you want the cable to be shielded
Here are a variety of different cables which come recommended for when you are gaming online.
Best Cat5e Ethernet Cable: Cable Matters
Best Cat6 Ethernet Cable: AmazonBasics
Best Cat6a Ethernet Cable: Monoprice
Best Cat7 Ethernet Cable: Vandesail
Best Shielded Ethernet Cable: Cable Matters
Best Bulk Ethernet Cable: Fast Cat
|1 ft – 10 ft
|3 ft – 50 ft
|1 – 24
|0.5 ft – 50 ft
|5 or 10
|3 ft – 49 ft
|1 – 10
|1 ft – 200 ft
|1 – 5
If I were needing to buy just a few ethernet cables, I would go for the Monoprice Cat6a cable.
Monoprice offer a fantastic choice of cable lengths and colors, and the slim design makes installing the cable easier as well as making for cleaner looking setup.
As it is Cat6a cable, it is capable of speeds of up to 10 Gbps. Although most of us won’t be anywhere close to achieving these sorts of speeds, at least you won’t have to worry about having to upgrade the cable when these sorts of speeds become much more achievable in the future.
I would also encourage you to consider the bulk cable by Fast Cat.
If you are needing several cables all at different lengths, buying in bulk and making your own cables can save you a considerable amount of money.
Learning how to terminate your own ethernet cables, which will be needed when buying cable in bulk, is a very valuable skill that is worth learning if you are remotely interested in networking, in my opinion.