Wired VS wireless: a never-ending battle between quality and comfort. Choosing between the two can be a rather difficult task. After all, there are so many categories where one may be better than the other. Audio, peripherals, gaming, network, and so many others.
Being able to tell what’s the right choice for each one of them requires you to be a bit of a geek or a tech nerd. And as far as tech nerds are concerned, we’re probably the very definition of one. So, here is all you need to know about wired and wireless tech!
1: Wired vs Wireless Headphones, Headsets, and Speakers
Going from wired to wireless speakers is seriously not a big deal. After all, for the biggest part of their lifespan, speakers will sit in one place. Unless we’re talking about portable ones in which case, they are most likely wireless to begin with.
Headphones and headsets, on the other hand, are a whole different story.
Since they are resting right on our ears, any degradation in quality is so much more noticeable compared to speakers. And that’s especially true for budget options that tend to sacrifice more in both audio and build-quality.
Wireless headphones and headsets that come with a premium price tag tend to be just as good as their wired counterparts. But, do keep in mind that even then, it’s better to look at reviews first to make sure that your choice doesn’t sound bad while being used wirelessly (Lots of options with premium price tags can be used both wirelessly and with a cable).
In terms of comfort, wireless headphones give you more freedom of movement. But, at the same time, because of their battery, they do tend to be heavier as well.
Latency can be an issue for things like gaming or watching videos. But the truth is that it’s almost 2020. So, most decent headsets and headphones should be just as good as their wired counterparts – if not a bit more expensive.
Pros of Wireless Audio:
- Makes it much easier to move around and connect with devices since you no longer have to deal with cables
Cons of Wireless Audio:
- Degradation of audio quality is generally a bigger concern
- Wireless headphones tend to be a bit heavier compared to their wired counterparts which can be an issue for sensitive heads or necks
- Generally more expensive
Conclusion: No clear winner here. Both options have their own pros and cons. Choose whatever fits your personal needs and preferences.
2: Wired VS Wireless Peripherals
As far as mice and keyboards are concerned, there is no doubt that wireless options are much more comfortable. Especially mice. And if you can’t stand cable drag on your mouse, a wireless option may even increase your aiming skills.
That being said, when it comes to anything that works wirelessly, there is always the concern of latency/input delay. That can most certainly be a huge issue for competitive gamers who need every bit of advantage that they can get.
However, the truth is that for at least the last couple of years or so, wireless peripherals have been just as good as their wired counterparts.
And the same thing should technically apply to keyboards. Especially, keyboards, actually, because they don’t need to track motion or anything like that.
That’s not to say that wireless peripherals are superior in every way, though. For once, they are always more expensive while offering the same performance. Take the Logitech G203 and G305, for example. The two of them are more or less identical with the exception that the G305 uses a sensor that is specifically made for wireless mice. But, that sets you back at about $35 more on average.
Not to mention that wireless mice do tend to be heavier thanks to their battery. And that can actually be a huge deal for competitive FPS gamers who need something that weighs less than 100 grams.
Pros of Wireless Peripherals:
- Way more comfortable
- May make you aim better
Cons of Wireless Peripherals:
- Generally heavier
- More expensive
- Replacing or recharging the batteries can be annoying for some
Conclusion: Wireless peripherals are generally superior. But, only for as long as you are willing to pay a little extra and don’t mind the extra weight.
3: Wired VS Wireless Networking
The easiest way to trigger a serious competitive gamer is to tell him that you’re playing over Wi-Fi instead of using an ethernet cable. But, does it really make that much of a difference? Well, it really depends on a lot of factors – including the speeds that you can achieve and your “normal” ping.
The maximum theoretical limit of Wi-Fi is 3.5 Gbps while the next generation will be able to reach 9.6 Gbps. Of course, we’re highly unlikely to ever reach these speeds in the real world. Not only due to the crazy router specs that are required, but also because most of us wouldn’t even dream of using anything higher than 300 Mbps.
Ethernet, on the other hand, can go even higher. The theoretical limit at the moment is 100 Gigabits. But, again, these are speeds that we can only achieve in theory. We’re highly unlikely to ever use a 1 Gigabit connection – never mind 100. Unless you’re dealing with a large data center or something similar.
So, generally, as far as speed is concerned, all you need is a decent router and you shouldn’t notice a difference.
However, as far as reliability and latency are concerned, Ethernet will no doubt give you a small advantage.
First of all, using a wired connection means that you’re no longer susceptible to wireless interference from other nearby routers or devices. And while that’s not a big deal for watching Netflix or browsing social media, it can make a difference in situations where you can’t lose the connection for a moment – such as gaming.
Speaking of gaming, ethernet is actually recommended for competitive titles. The ping difference can be as big as 20-25ms, which isn’t a huge deal. But, when you add ping spikes, packet-loss, and jitter into the package, you can see how ethernet quickly becomes a more ideal option.
Pros of Wireless Connectivity:
- Very convenient
- Just as fast as ethernet in real-world usage
Cons of Wireless Connectivity:
- Relatively unstable
- Introduces jitter and slightly higher ping with ping spikes
Conclusion: Ethernet is slightly better for competitive gamers. But, for the rest of us, Wi-Fi wins!
4: Wired VS Wireless Gaming
We already talked about peripherals. So, this doesn’t have to do anything with mice, keyboards, and gamepads. This is about the uprising of cloud gaming services.
In case you’re not familiar with them, instead of using a “traditional” console or PC, you can rely on services such as Google Stadia to wirelessly use a remote gaming computer! At least if it’s available in your region.
The good thing about this idea is that you can play some of your favorite games without having to spend a lot of money on getting an expensive gaming console or PC. The bad thing is that it still doesn’t work as it should.
While things are not looking bad for casual gaming on smartphones and Chromecast, there is a ton of variable input lag to deal with on computers – even with a great internet connection. At least that’s the situation at the time of writing this article.
And it goes without saying that competitive gaming is out of the question. Even just playing on a monitor with high response times will negatively affect the competitive gaming experience – never mind switching from a console or PC to cloud/wireless gaming.
Pros of Cloud Services:
- Much cheaper in the short run
- Allow you to game with a potato PC or even a smartphone or TV
Cons of Cloud Services:
- The input delay can get horribly bad – even for casual gaming
- Will get just as expensive as the traditional alternatives if not more in the long run (Equipment, subscription, and games that sit at half or full price all stack up over time)
- Image degradation and compression can get noticeable in bigger displays (Some games like Red Dead Redemption have also seen a slight graphical downgrade – but Google says that this all comes down to the developers)
Conclusion: Cloud gaming is still not a viable solution – unless your standards are rather low and you need to play a game or two without having to buy a console or PC for them.
That’s all for now. At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preferences and needs. If you think that we forgot to mention an important category, feel free to let us know about it in the comments down below!
To wrap things up, here are our conclusions in a nutshell:
- Audio: Wired is better for budget options but wireless is superior in premium equipment thanks to its increased comfort (Unless you’re an audiophile who needs every tiny bit of detail)
- Peripherals: Wireless peripherals are superior in terms of comfiness while still offering the same performance – but they are also more expensive
- Networking: Wired wins for competitive gaming but wireless takes the crown for almost everything else
- Gaming: Wired wins. Cloud gaming is still a far cry from replacing consoles or gaming computers