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My desktop PC is about 10 meters away from the DSL modem. What's the better way to connect it, buy 10 m of ethernet cable, or buy a WLAN USB adapter? I have a 7 Mbps connection and play MMORPGs on occasion, so I'd like ping and latency to stay as short as possible. If I go with the cable, how important is it that it be a properly shielded, expensive one?

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First, for the WLAN it is relevant to know if there are obstacles in the middle (mainly walls).

Anyway, I would go for the cable, 10m is not a long distance for CAT5e. Anyway, here is my reasoning:

Advantages of cable:

  • Less susceptible to noise (and if there is risk of EM noise, you can just ask it shielded) and position (there are no dead zones, as long as the cables reaches to it). No shielding for WLAN.
  • Fast
  • Safe and easy (no WPA2, no risk of the neighbour breaking your WPA2)
  • If you do not need installation, cheap (but DO NOT leave the cable laying on the floor, sooner or later someone will fall because of it).

Advantages of WLAN:

  • Flexible: You can move anywhere without planning, without even disconnecting.
  • Avoids the hassle of having to fix cables to the walls and so on.
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I almost agree but for the 'fast' point. The bottleneck will be the 7Mbps connection. Having gigabit ethernet to the modem will not help much. – Matteo Nov 20 '11 at 17:11
Having to encapsulate the frames over wifi (and encrypting and decrypting them) means some latency, and more sensitivity to noise means that even in good conditions some packets need to be repeated. And of course, the day you upgrade your DSL you already have the capacity available. – SJuan76 Nov 20 '11 at 22:16

Ethernet Cable will give you better latency and speeds. Since you're on a PC, I doubt you'll be moving around a lot. "Shielded cables (FTP/STP) are useful for environments where proximity or RF equipment, may introduce electromagnetic interference, and can also be used where eavesdropping likelihood should be minimized." Most ethernet cables are unshielded and rely on twisting. I'm not sure what you'll need shielded for. Even WLAN isn't interrupted too greatly by microwaves if you position your router correctly (and I doubt it's in between your PC and modem)

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So in short, I'd just get a regular ethernet cable--Less hassle if not moving around, and superiour performance – victoroux Nov 19 '11 at 20:21
Yes, wired is always better than wireless except for mobility. You can run a 100 meter cable at 1Gb speeds without issue. – Paul Nov 19 '11 at 22:57
A really good place to get cabling is monoprice. – Ampersand Nov 21 '11 at 19:26

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