WiFi is all around us. There will always that friend who ask for your WiFi password whenever he/she comes over your house to do a project (or just a gaming session) You must think that this is “backwards” by going wired (or the technical term Ethernet).
I took the leap of faith to switch most of my connection from WiFi to ethernet for a few simple reasons:
- Better latency/ping – My ping (or lag) is reduced quite a bit when playing online games
- It’s more stable – There are times when there is interference and your WiFi connection suddenly slows down or disconnects. Ethernet connection is a lot more stable.
- Better Speed – Download speed does not change much but my upload speed increases from 20Mbs to 50Mbs.
- No need for Password
- It’s cool – Servers are still using wired connection.
I listed some problems I faced while setting this up.
Problem 1: Distance from router to room
You might be screaming: Just get a 20m long cable! That’s the first thing that came to my mind. However, this will make my ugly house look even uglier with that ugly cable on the floor. Plus my family will be yelling at me all day. Even if I make an effort to tidy up things, there will be a need to get contractors to do some fittings to hide cables in the wall. This will take a lot of time and money and more scolding.
Powerline Adaptors is the solution! Nope it is not a special cable. It is just a plug. How this thing work is pure brilliance. One of the Powerline is to be plugged in near the router and the other should be at the place where you want your internet to be. After that, simply hook in Ethernet cables from the Powerline to the router and another from the Powerline to your computer (or whatever devices that can connect to). The internet is transferred via the electrical cables in your house. See the graphics below for a clearer picture.
This thing will not work well if the electrical wiring of your house is poorly done. For most cases in Singapore, I believe our HDB electrical wiring are good enough. And if you asking for the price, the most basic pair cost around $50.
Fun Fact: High-end powerline adaptors can also broadcast WiFi connections, acting as a range extender at the same time.
Problem 2: Type of Ethernet cable?
While shopping for some Ethernet cable I was shocked by different types of ethernet cable. There is Cat 5, Cat 5E, Cat 6, Cat 6a and Cat 7. Let me tell you what all these categories mean.
- 5 – One of the more ancient cable, with max speed of 100Mbs and a maximum Bandwidth of 100Mhz
- 5e – Most common in the market, max speed of 1000Mbs and maximum bandwidth of 100Mhz
- 6 – An even better cable, max speed of 1000Mbs and maximum bandwidth of 250Mhz
- 6a – More advanced version of Cat 6, max speed of 10000Mbs and maximum bandwidth of 500Mhz
- 7 – Super high-end cable you don’t need, max speed of 10000Mbs and maximum bandwidth of 600Mhz
Do not get a Cat 5 cable, because it simply sucks. For people on a budget a Cat 5e or 6 or good enough. For those who would like to future proof, I will recommend getting a Cat 6a or 7 if you are really rich. I bought some Cat 6 cables at around S$5 each. Not very expensive. Plus I have no complains about performance.
Problem 3: Not enough Ethernet Ports from the Powerline
The Powerline I purchased only has one ethernet port. That’s because I bought a budget one. Powerline with 3 ports or more will cost $100++. To avoid spending much, I looked around and found a few options. The first thing that came to my mind is a splitter (see picture below) , which is very cheap but complicated to set up. Additionally, it looks ugly and old-fashioned.
Then I stumbled upon the Ethernet switch. Nope there is no switches. It is a box that allows you to have multiple Ethernet connection (just like the back of your router). This is a slightly more expensive option (mine cost $30) but the one I bought has up to 5 ports.
All you have to do is to connect the Powerline to the Ethernet switch and the rest of the steps is self-explanatory.
And Voila! Now I’m able to enjoy very stable internet with little to zero (from my experience) random disconnection. By spending slightly less than $100, it is probably the best buy of the month for me due to lesser rage while gaming online. My personal recommendation is to get the powerline and Ethernet switch from more reputable brands. Also, please do some cable management to avoid making your house look like a mess. Below is a good video on how to tidy up your cables.