Does Using Ethernet Slow Down Wireless Devices?

Though it can cause slight slowdowns when plugged into a wired device that’s using a lot of bandwidth, an ethernet cable typically won’t affect other devices on its network.

I’ve spent almost all of my life working with or using different internet devices. That gave me great knowledge of all connection types (wireless and wired), as well as how such setups affect each other.

To expand on that topic, in the following guide I break down the differences between ethernet and wireless connections, how the two different connection types interact, as well as why some users prefer one over another.

Key Takeaways

  • Though they do come with certain drawbacks, ethernet cables don’t affect or impact wireless devices. As such, they don’t slow them down or negatively impact the network they’re on.
  • Ethernet cables create faster, more reliable, and incredibly secure connections when compared to purely wireless networks.
  • Ethernet cables are better for gamers due to their more stable connections, and they have a lot of stability that WiFi networks can’t quite match.

Ethernet Cables and Wireless Connections

Typically, internet users access the world wide web in one of two ways. They get on through a wireless connection via WiFi, or they plug in directly through an ethernet cable. Both have their merits, and many people try to avoid using both at once. However, there’s no reason for that.

Most users assume that ethernet cables aren’t compatible with WiFi because it is often incorrectly thought that the two cannot coexist. Despite that, there’s no evidence that ethernet slows down WiFi or any wireless devices on the same network. In fact, it typically helps them.

That’s because wireless internet speeds are mostly based on how many users connect at once. Moving a user from the wireless network and putting them on a wired connection takes strain off of the network and generates a more effective connection.

On top of that, the user hooked up to the ethernet connection will enjoy a similar speed boost. The only exception to that is if you’re using more devices than your bandwidth can handle. In that case, both your wired and wireless connections will slow down.

You can technically use so much bandwidth on the ethernet connection that it would negatively impact the WiFi, but that’s a rare scenario that almost never happens. Using an ethernet cable won’t directly slow down your WiFi. It takes a series of outside factors to impact the signal.

WiFi vs Ethernet: The Differences

In order to better understand how ethernet and WiFi work together, it’s important to see the differences between each setup. Both supply internet to your devices, but ethernet uses a physical cable and WiFi is purely wireless.

There’s a big trade-off to both. Ethernet cables provide a lot of speed and security as opposed to WiFi, but they come at the cost of being a bit more intrusive. They can also be a little more annoying to set up since they take up physical space.

Wireless networks are much more popular in today’s world, but there’s been a movement back towards ethernet as of late. A lot of that has to do with the more secure connection and increased power. It all comes down to what you want from your internet setup. 

Reasons to Use Ethernet

It may be surprising that users would choose to have more wires, even if they don’t have any impact on your wireless service. However, there are many specific scenarios where an ethernet connection is beneficial.

First, wired connections can make gaming much more enjoyable. That’s because many games require a lot of power and high upload/download speed. That can be a problem with certain ISPs who only offer so much or have a lower cap.

If you want to game and there are other people on the network, an ethernet cable will take pressure off of the connection. Not only that, but ethernet connections tend to generate much better performance for gaming than wireless ones.

Another reason so many people enjoy using ethernet connections despite their lack of portability is their stability. Cables are much more reliable than WiFi in that there’s a physical connection that directly does away with signal drops or random losses.

That’s why cables tend to be much faster as well. They can also support higher transfer speeds, which is a great bonus for those who need a lot of power. They cut down on latency too.


The following section goes over, and answers, some of the most common questions surrounding ethernet and wireless devices.

Does Ethernet Take Priority Over WiFi?

Not typically. As ethernet is a wired connection and WiFi runs wirelessly. As such, both networks or systems rarely interact with each other in a meaningful way. Each one stays in its own lane and doesn’t take priority one way or another.

How Much Slower is WiFi Compared to Ethernet?

Ethernet connections, as they are direct, tend to be faster than wireless ones. They support maximum speeds up to 10 Gbps, while current maximum WiFi speeds sit around 2.4. Ethernet has much less latency too, which gives it a nice boost.

Does Ethernet Have Better Security Than WiFi?

Though internet security typically depends on your setup, ethernet connections are typically more secure than wireless ones. That’s because data on an ethernet network needs to be accessed by a physical device rather than a wireless one, which makes it harder to hack.

Final Words

Ethernet cables tend to get a bad rap. While there are drawbacks to using them, including more wires, more setup, and a lack of portability, they don’t slow down wireless devices. In fact, they take pressure off of them a lot of the time. That’s a reason so many enjoy using them. 

Do you ever use an ethernet cable in conjunction with your WiFi? How has that experience been, and have they ever affected each other? Let us know below!

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