Should you use an Ethernet cable if you’re playing online games on your PS4? Yes, absolutely. If you can. That’s pretty much all you need to know, but here why – and one potentially useful purchase.
Why should I use an Ethernet cable with my PS4?
Two words: ‘latency’ and ‘stability’. While multiplayer games don’t need huge amounts of bandwidth, latency is all-important. It has a direct effect on your reaction times, which are obviously quite important in a first-person shooter.
Stability is also important, and given the sheer number of devices sharing the bandwidth in a given neighbourhood, the chances of interference are high.
Unfortunately, this is especially true if your router is in a different room to your PS4, as Wi-Fi signals often have trouble getting through walls and floors. Such obstacles also make running a cable from one to the other more difficult. However, you can try a Powerline adapter as a cheap, hassle-free alternative.
Are wired speeds faster than Wi-Fi?
While it’s more about reliability than speed, I’ve found that the PS4 is generally a lot nippier with a wired connection than with Wi-Fi.
My PS4 Pro sits no more than two metres away from a Virgin Media router, but I used the system’s built-in connection tester on both and the results were stark. With Wi-Fi, it was measuring around 40Mbits/sec, which is more than enough for online gaming. After I connected the Ethernet cable, that speed jumped to 80Mbits/sec, which makes a huge difference for download speeds, if little change in actual matches.
Does PS4 Wi-Fi have any advantages?
Yes, and it’s the main reason most people don’t bother with cables in 2020: convenience. Having to reach behind the TV to feel out the right port to use is nobody’s idea of fun – or at least nobody that I’ve ever met – and it’s far simpler just to use the on-board Wi-Fi chip that Sony considerately included from the outset.
Otherwise, no. Which is why it’s absolutely worth making the switch if you play games online. If you’re a single-player only gamer, then it’s probably not worth the hassle – even for the theoretical boost to download speeds for patches and the like.
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The WiFi antenna inside the PS4 is a simple wire that leads to a metal plate, located just under the front of the BD player. It is, without doubt, terrible and I can’t even get it to pick up a WiFi signal in its current location (and Amazon Dot next to it works just fine).
For this reason, I use a Powerline connection which has worked, without a hitch, for the last 5 years.