Confused about WiFi versus Ethernet


Within another thread, there was a conversation about using WiFi versus Ethernet.

I am using Channels with an HDHR Prime and a 4th Gen Apple TV (which has 10/100BASE‑T ethernet). I typically use ethernet when it is an option. But is there any advantage to using WiFi (802.11ac) in this situation? I am less then clear on how much data is being passed around, and if in fact using ethernet with a 4th gen is actually reducing performance in some way.



If the bandwidth requirements are well within the the medium's capability, wired is always preferable to wireless. In this case: The maximum your ATV will ever try to consume is on the order of 25Mb/s or so. Usually a good deal less than that. So Ethernet, even only 100baseT, is better.

Btw: "Ethernet," like "Internet," is properly capitalized.

ETA: The 100Mb/s vs. whatever is your 802.11ac WiFi's theoretical maximum is a bit misleading. The Ethernet connection is undoubtedly full duplex, which means both ends can be talking and listening at the same time. So the aggregate is really, theoretically, 200Mb/s. Your WiFi is half duplex and it's performance is dependant upon a variety of factors, not the least of which are distance between AP and client, intervening RF-unfriendly obstacles, nearby RF noise sources, and other clients competing for the same available bandwidth.


It depends on your WiFi connection. If you have a really strong WiFi connection it can beat an Ethernet connection on the Apple TV 4 since it’s only Fast Ethernet. Initial video playback is the main area that can be faster since it’s getting the data faster. This is more obvious in other apps like MrMC or Infuse where you can play back videos with a lot higher bandwidth than what you’ll find with OTA/cable. But Ethernet is a lot more reliable and you know you’ll be getting that 100Mbps. With WiFi you can have random issues at times where it will be slower than 100Mbps, or if you’re too far away from the main router you’ll never get to 100Mbps. With the environmental factors it’s really only you that can make the decision on which is better.


I run a 802.11AC mesh network, and have 9 AppleTVs running. Out of the 9 only one is wired. Of the other 8 they all run at original speeds, and only the one on my patio and about 150 ft from the nearest Mesh point is set for a lower profile (720p).

I don't experience any stuttering resulting from wifi. You shouldn't have a problem.

The advantage. You can put your TV/Apple TV where ever there is power, and not worry about finding or running an ethernet cable...... It's just simple and it works..


WiFi is half-duplex (send OR receive),
Ethernet is full-duplex (send AND receive simultaneously).

In terms of streaming video, you are mostly receiving data (for an AppleTV, it is very rare that you would ever be sending data), so having a full-duplex connection is irrelevant in this case.

A disadvantage to WiFi is that all devices connected to the same access Access Point are considered a collision domain (an area in which packet-collisions can happen). On an Ethernet Switch, each port is its own collision domain, therefore there are no packet collisions at all.

So, the more devices you have on WiFi, the higher the chances are for collisions to happen, which slows communication down for all WiFi devices.

Putting the AppleTV on an Ethernet cable clears up some of your WiFi Spectrum for the devices that need it the most (such as your smart phone).

In terms of data throughout on your 4th gen AppleTV, is a full-duplex 100mbps (Ethernet) better than a half-duplex 1Gbps (802.11ac)? In terms of streaming video, I’d say yes, but mainly because uncompressed 1080p video streams at 25mbps, which is only 1/4 of what the Ethernet port is fully capable of. You would get none of the disadvantages that WiFi brings (such as interference and packet collisions).

It is also worth mentioning that live OTA TV is not 1080p, it is either 720p or 1080i. DVD (480p) quality video is 10mbps. Therefore, live TV falls somewhere between 10mb to 25mbps (lets call it 18mbps).

With that said, 100mbps is plenty sufficient in this case. The benefits an Ethernet cable would bring is overall stability in that there are no packet collisions or interference, as well as better quality WiFi for the other devices.

4K video uncompressed is 100mbps, hence why the 4K AppleTV box gets a 1Gbps port.


Thanks to everyone for their replies. I have a much better understanding of this.