Why Do Motherboards Have 2 Ethernet Ports?

Ethernet cables have been around since the 80s and are still used in a widespread fashion. These cables are available in various Category versions and offer reliable and fast transfer speeds. But why do some motherboards have two ethernet ports?

Motherboards have two Ethernet ports to allow multiple data transfers. Some older motherboards don’t have built-in Wi-Fi, making an additional Ethernet port essential. If one port fails, another connects to the internet or another device.

1. An Ethernet Cable is Faster than Wi-Fi

While Wi-Fi is reliably fast, Ethernet is on a different level, with virtually no latency. Latency is the time it takes for the signal from your computer to reach the router and then be on its way over the internet. 

Wi-Fi signals travel in the air from your router to your computer and back again. This signal can become blocked off or weakened when it passes through walls or other physical objects.

This can prevent a strong Wi-Fi connection from forming between your router and computer. On the other hand, an Ethernet cable provides safe and efficient passage to these same signals.

In addition, it allows for much faster speeds than traditional Wi-Fi connections because the data is transferred directly instead of through the air like Wi-Fi. As a result, there’s less interference and fewer chances of experiencing technical problems.

Using an Ethernet cable will make your online experience much smoother. Using Ethernet over Wi-Fi is especially beneficial for gamers who play competitive shooters or fast-paced multiplayer games. Even a few milliseconds in reaction time can make all the difference between a win and a loss. 

If you’ve been experiencing online lag, try using an Ethernet cable. It may help. 

2. There’s No Need to Worry About Router Placement

Ethernet connections are not only faster than wireless connections, but they also don’t require additional hardware or software. When using your Ethernet port for internet connectivity, you only need the cable and any compatible device to connect directly to your modem.

Because Wi-Fi router signals can’t travel very far, especially in a 5ghz setting, they’re prone to being blocked by physical objects such as walls and doors. Therefore, if your system is in another room far from the Wi-Fi router, you’ll likely experience latency and connectivity issues.

Ethernet cables solve this problem by directly taking the signals to and from the router. You’ll need an Ethernet cable that’s long enough, though. But that’s no problem because you can find Ethernet cables as long as 295 feet (90 meters).

3. Dual Ports Allow You to Connect Two Systems Without Wi-Fi

An ethernet cable is placed in front of a WiFi router.

If you have two Ethernet ports, you can use one for connecting to the internet and the other for various other purposes. For example, you can connect two computers directly without needing Wi-Fi. This setup is incredibly useful for transferring files between devices while the Wi-Fi is down. 

The Wi-Fi doesn’t have to be down for an Ethernet connection to be a useful application. Using your Ethernet port can save precious bandwidth with a slow internet connection or a limited package. An Ethernet connection will save you data and time if you need to transfer many files, especially if the files in question are unbearably large. 

The best part is that you can keep using the internet on your primary system at full speed while the data transfer occurs through the second Ethernet cable. 

4. Dual LAN Ports Provide Extra Connections to Older Motherboards that Lack Built-in Wi-Fi

Another reason many motherboards have two Ethernet ports is that many older motherboards often don’t have built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. Even today’s entry-level motherboards cut corners by skipping out on Wi-Fi and BlueTooth.

For these motherboards, having two Ethernet ports is essential. The first of the two ports will likely be used to connect to the internet via a cable.

A second Ethernet port is necessary for older motherboards, allowing the computer to communicate with other devices and connect to networks without adding extra peripherals. 

5. You Always Have a Backup Port

A backup Ethernet port is extremely useful, especially if your motherboard doesn’t have built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. If your primary port malfunctions, You cannot connect to the internet without a second Ethernet port.

And I’m sure you’ll agree that not having internet access in this day and age is simply out of the question. With a second port, you can back up your Ethernet cable and pick up where you left off. There’s no need to go through a lengthy repair process.

Similar to having multiple USB ports, having a second Ethernet port is a backup or replacement for when things go awry. Sometimes, compatibility with certain operating systems can render one of them useless. If you look at your PC casing, you’ll notice that it has more ports than you know what to do with, and there’s a good reason for that.

6. Dual Ethernet Ports Let You Utilize Teaming

Ethernet connectors are plugged into an ethernet network switch.

Some motherboards support “teaming,” a feature that allows you to connect two Ethernet cables for double the data throughput. However, a single Ethernet connection can already transmit such high bandwidths that this feature is practically useless in a home or work environment.

You may wonder, “Will double ethernet cables improve my transfer speeds?” We all want faster transfer speeds, so why not use double Ethernet cables? And it does seem intuitive, as two Ethernet cables should transfer data faster than one, right?

Unfortunately, in most cases, the answer is no. Your ISP limits your internet data transfer speeds. They’re defined by the package you purchase.

Most people have a download speed of 1 to 100 Mbps. In first-world countries, you can easily find faster Wi-Fi speeds. But you will seldom come across a Wi-Fi speed faster than 1 Gbps, the transfer speed for the standard Ethernet cable. 

Like other technologies, Ethernet connectivity has made huge leaps in recent decades. We now have Ethernet cables capable of transferring up to 10 Gbps, more than you’ll likely ever need in a home or office environment. 

Ethernet cables are sometimes combined to improve throughput, but something like that is usually only ever done in a server room. An Ethernet cable will likely never bottleneck your computer’s transfer speeds, so using two cables to connect to the same router won’t make a difference.

But what if you connect to two different routers?

7. Dual Ports Allow Load Balancing

Let’s say you have two Wi-Fi connections at your place. And you want to use both of them on the same system simultaneously. Can you connect to the two simultaneously using an Ethernet cable?

No, you can’t connect to two networks at the same time. You’ll be able to switch between the two connections at a moment’s notice, but you’ll only be able to transfer data over one connection at a time. 

You’ll need a specialized router capable of load balancing to benefit from both connections. A load-balancing router will utilize both networks to transfer your data via two IP addresses. 

Unfortunately, there are some caveats here, too. In cases where you’re communicating with a single server, you can only experience the faster of the two internets. 

So, for example, let’s say you connect to a 10+5 Mbps connection on a load-balancing router. You’ll only get a 10 Mbps download speed when downloading a regular application because the data comes from a single server. You can also only connect to the server with a single IP address. 

If you’re downloading torrent files, you can get an effective 15 Mbps download speed because you’ll be downloading simultaneously from multiple peers. However, you won’t be able to access secure websites, such as online banking platforms, while connected to a load-balancing router. 

What Should I Do with My Second Port?

2 Ethernet cable plugs.

Motherboards come with multiple Ethernet ports out of necessity. However, the scenarios in which you must use both Ethernet ports simultaneously are quite niche.

You’re unlikely to run into these situations in your regular day-to-day activities.

Assuming one of your Ethernet ports is occupied by a cable connecting to your router, you can use the second Ethernet port to:

  • Connect two computers to transfer files without relying on the internet. Doing so allows you to save data, which can be costly if you’re on a limited package. Ethernet also transfers data much faster than Wi-Fi, which makes this option a considerable time saver when working with large files. 
  • Create an offline network of computers. An offline data transfer system is a great backup for an internet blackout. You can transfer data without inserting USB drives all over the place.