Wii U: Wireless N vs. Ethernet Adapter

I originally posted this in September 2014 on a different site. With the impending release of Splatoon, I felt that now would be a good time to update it and post it again.

I had always believed that my Wireless N network was the superior way for the Wii U to connect to the Internet. Nintendo supports USB 2.0 to ethernet adapters, but I assumed that these would suffer from USB 2.0’s poor data speeds and therefore be inferior when Wireless N was available (though the Wii U is capable of dual-band Wireless N, it reserves the 5.0 GHz band for communication with the GamePad, so the network connection is limited to 2.4 GHz). But when my Monster Hunter 3U download failed twice, I ordered Monoprice’s Wii U ethernet adapter to give it a shot. My Wii U is very close to a wired switch, so running a cable isn’t an issue.

I got the adapter, ran some speed tests, and was surprised to find that the ethernet adapter provided nearly twice the download speed of my WiFi connection. With several tests via testmy.net, I found I was only getting ~9.1 Mbps (1.1 MB/s) down and ~5.1 Mbps (640 kB/s) up over Wireless N. When I plugged in the ethernet adapter, I was getting ~19.6 Mbps (or 2.5 MB/s) down, ~4.9 Mbps (611 kB/s) up. Multiple tests showed that there was some variation in the upload speed, but the ethernet had a more consistent download graph without the spikes and valleys of the WiFi connection.

Your mileage may vary so I recommend running your own test. Testmy.net has the only speed test that I can find so far that works in the Wii U’s browser. If your 2.4Ghz band is congested and you find your Wii U downloads over WiFi frequently failing like I did, you may find the USB adapter to be pretty useful. You’ll also notice a benefit in games like Super Smash Brothers and Mario Kart 8. This weekend I found that I had a silky smooth connection during the Splatoon Global Testfire stress tests with only a few hiccups. I imagine the servers will be in even better shape with the official release on May 29, 2015.