Ethernet card vs WiFi power consumption?

Knocks

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Mar 26, 2000
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Just ordered an Intel NUC (Haswell i5), which did not come with a WiFi card. I plan to do a lot of local streaming of high-bitrate 1080p content and just found an old 40-foot Ethernet cable lying around (saved from the college dorm days!), so I'm thinking about saving $40 and skipping WiFi altogether.

Will the NUC theoretically be staying a little cooler because it'll be using an integrated network card versus an add-on WiFi? I'm thinking at the very least there will be more ventilation because the SATA slot will be unobstructed, so more air can move around, but has anyone ever run a benchmark on power consumption of wired vs wireless networking?
 

azazel1024

Senior member
Jan 6, 2014
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These days integrated gigabit NICs typically consume around .6-1w active. A wifi card is going to typically use somewhat less power than that. All up maybe .3-.8w.

Negligible difference. You however will have a lot more throughput with wired and don't have to worry about pesky things like wireless interference or loading up your WLAN.

Always wire when you have the choice.
 

JackMDS

Elite Member
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Oct 25, 1999
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It is like thinking that emptying the ashtray in a car will make it faster.




:cool:
 

Knocks

Senior member
Mar 26, 2000
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These days integrated gigabit NICs typically consume around .6-1w active. A wifi card is going to typically use somewhat less power than that. All up maybe .3-.8w.

Negligible difference. You however will have a lot more throughput with wired and don't have to worry about pesky things like wireless interference or loading up your WLAN.

Always wire when you have the choice.

Very helpful, thanks! Do you mind telling where you're getting the wattage measurements from?
 

Red Squirrel

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May 24, 2003
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The wifi has to transmit RF, so that probably uses a bit more power than transmitting over wire. Probably a couple watts or so for the transmitter. I don't imagine it would be very high.
 

azazel1024

Senior member
Jan 6, 2014
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Very helpful, thanks! Do you mind telling where you're getting the wattage measurements from?

A variety of different technical specs for different gigabit chipsets and wifi chipsets that I have looked at.

For the 40mw, keep in mind that is RADIO power only, not actually the power consumed by the entire wifi chipset, amps, etc, etc. Radio is only one part of it.

Same thing with a LAN NIC. The actual Tx component is only sending a few dozen mw over the wire, but the chipset consumes a resonable amount of power.

Also, these are for integrated NICs/Wifi cards. Seperate ones consume more power (but also tend to have more powerful options, though not always).

For example, IIRC Intels current latest integrated gigabit NICs run in the half watt range or so, but the seperate PCI-e NICs run more in the 1-1.2w range or something like that.