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MoCA vs. Ethernet - Which Should You Use? (2022)

Which is faster or better? Which has more latency? Learn about the most important considerations when deciding between Ethernet cables and MoCA adapters.

MoCA Device - Actiontec by Screenbeam MoCA 2.5 Network Adapter for Ethernet Over Coax Kevin Jones / TechReviewer

Last Updated: December 30, 2021

Written by Kevin Jones

Ethernet cables offer the best throughput, reliability, and latency for home networking but may require additional wiring in your home.

The primary advantage of using MoCA adapters rather than traditional Ethernet cables is that they provide the convenience of using a home's existing coax cables for Ethernet communication. If you don't want to run Ethernet cables down your hallways or drill holes in your walls, then MoCA adapters may be a great solution.

MoCA adapters can create a high-speed, low-latency, and reliable network connection to any room in a home. The performance of MoCA adapters makes them perfect for gaming or streaming 4K content on your TV.

Actiontec ECB7250 Bonded MoCA 2.5 Network Adapter Actiontec ECB7250 Bonded MoCA 2.5 Network Adapter Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Powerline adapters offer a similar promise by using your home's AC wiring (power outlets) for Ethernet communication. We believe that MoCA is the clear winner (between MoCA and Powerline) due to the faster speeds and better signal quality. However, there are still some use cases where Powerline may be the best solution.

MoCA adapters can also help with extending Wi-Fi. Or perhaps they can help you avoid the latency of Wi-Fi altogether with a hard-wired network.

Use Cases for MoCA Adapters and Ethernet Cables

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  • Extend wireless coverage with wired connections to additional Wi-Fi access points.
  • Connect devices that don't support Wi-Fi.
  • Avoid the latency of Wi-Fi while playing games on consoles and computers.
  • Backhaul for a Mesh Wi-Fi System (i.e., a wired backbone for the Wi-Fi satellites).
  • Use wired connections to avoid Wi-Fi interference from neighbors.
  • A secure alternative to Wi-Fi.

Benefits of MoCA Adapters as a Substitute for Ethernet Cables

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  • Use existing home coax wiring as a replacement for Ethernet cables without drilling new holes in walls/floors.
  • Get Internet access into hard-to-reach places in your home.

MoCA vs. Alternatives

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Ethernet Cable & Alternatives Setup Complexity Supported Speeds Supported Distance Latency Reliability
Ethernet Cable - Ethernet over Twisted Pair (e.g., Cat 6a) Excellent Excellent Good Excellent Excellent
Powerline - Ethernet over Powerline Excellent Fair Good Fair Poor
MoCA - Ethernet over Coax Good Good Good Good Good
Wi-Fi - Wireless Good Fair Fair Poor Fair

Learn more about Powerline adapters in my article, MoCA vs. Powerline? Which You Should Buy.

MoCA vs. Ethernet

Ethernet over coax provides the same functionality as Ethernet over typical Ethernet cables (e.g., Cat 6a). The primary advantage of using a MoCA network rather than traditional Ethernet cables is that it provides the convenience of using a home's existing coax cables for Ethernet communication.

MoCA adapters will introduce a few milliseconds of latency to your network, but this is pretty insignificant.

MoCA vs. Wi-Fi

MoCA can be combined with Wi-Fi devices to create a fast wireless network. Alternatively, MoCA could create a high-speed wired network with higher throughput and lower latency than Wi-Fi communication.

The same communication which typically occurs over Ethernet cables (e.g., Cat 6a Ethernet cables) can also occur over a coax cable if you use MoCA adapters. Wi-FI, on the other hand, is the wireless sibling to Ethernet. While MoCA doesn't replace the Wi-Fi portions of a home network, it can work together with Wi-Fi devices. In particular, it can connect distributed wireless nodes across a home.

MoCA vs. Powerline

Powerline adapters offer a similar promise by using your home's AC wiring (power outlets) for Ethernet communication.

Suppose your Internet speed is less than 200 Mbps or your devices on the network do not support gigabit Ethernet. In these cases, Powerline adapters may be the best of the two options for you, as they offer a lower price point.

On the other hand, MoCA adapters are a better option when you want to fully utilize a higher-speed Internet connection and have existing coax cabling between rooms.

You could also consider using both! For example, MoCA adapters might work great for connecting an upstairs and downstairs via coax. At the same time, Powerline adapters would be great for getting Internet to a garage that has no coax line available.

Learn more about Powerline adapters in my article, MoCA vs. Powerline? Which You Should Buy.

What Is MoCA?

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A pair of MoCA adapters allows you to use a coax cable for Ethernet communication. MoCA adapters behave like an extension for an Ethernet cable. Multi-node configurations can also function as an Ethernet hub.

For example:

  • Suppose you have a cable modem downstairs and multiple computers in various rooms upstairs which need Internet access.
  • You can share the downstairs coax outlet with the cable modem by using a MoCA-compatible coax splitter. The MoCA adapter is then connected to the modem using an Ethernet cable.
  • Upstairs, you can provide Internet access to each computer by connecting MoCA adapters to nearby coax outlets. The computers connect to the MoCA adapters with Ethernet cables.
  • That's it! MoCA adapters are typically plug and play, meaning that no additional configuration is required.

Some modems may include built-in MoCA support, making it so that you only need a single adapter.

Example MoCA Home Network Example MoCA Home Network Kevin Jones / TechReviewer

Learn more about MoCA adapters in my article, Ethernet Over Coax?! A Complete Guide to MoCA Adapters.

Pros and Cons of MoCA

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Pros:

  • Fast throughput of up to 2.5 Gbps
  • Use a home's existing coax cables for wiring
  • Plug and play setup (no configuration required)
  • Relatively low latency of 3–6 ms
  • Up to a 91-meter range

Cons:

  • Requires a Point of Entry (POE) filter for improved security

Pros and Cons of Ethernet Cables

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Pros:

  • Low cost
  • Fastest speeds
  • Lowest latency (e.g., for gaming)
  • Secure
  • Up to a 100-meter range
  • Plug and play setup (no configuration required)

Cons:

  • May require new wiring for your home

MoCA vs. Ethernet Distance

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Both MoCA and Ethernet distances are more than long enough for most homes.

Max Speeds and Distances
Cable CategoryMax Speed and Distance
Cat 5e
  • 1 Gbps @ 100 meters
Cat 6a
  • 10 Gbps @ 100 meters
Cat 8
  • 40 Gbps @ 30 meters
  • 10 Gbps @ 100 meters
Coax (MoCA 2.5)
  • 2.5 Gbps @ 91 meters
Powerline
  • 2 Gbps @ 300 meters (actual speeds are often lower)

Do We Recommend MoCA or Ethernet Cables?

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MoCA is fast and provides a low-latency connection. Because of this, it is an excellent solution for distributing Internet throughout a home that already has coax wiring.

Ethernet cabling is ideal if you build a new home or don't mind running the new cables. Ethernet cables will provide the fastest connections and lowest latencies. However, the performance is so similar that the impact will likely not be noticeable. The convenience of MoCA adapters often outweighs any performance impact.

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Best MoCA 2.5 Adapter: Actiontec ECB7250 Bonded MoCA 2.5 Network Adapter

  • While older versions only use a 1 Gbps network port, the ECB7250 uses a 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port, allowing for maximum network utilization.

  • I own a pair of these adapters, and they work great!

  • Includes most of what you'll need, including two adapters and power supplies, two network cables, two coax cables, and a coax splitter.

  • The manufacturer could improve the instructions regarding using the MPS button for encryption, but that won't be needed for most installations.

  • Initial installation is very straightforward.

  • Check the latest price of the Actiontec ECB7250 Bonded MoCA 2.5 Network Adapter on Amazon (affiliate link).

    Actiontec ECB7250 Bonded MoCA 2.5 Network Adapter Actiontec ECB7250 Bonded MoCA 2.5 Network Adapter Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
  • You'll probably want also to buy a MoCA POE Filter if your ISP didn't already install one (for improved security): MoCA 'POE' Coax Filter MoCA 'POE' Coax Filter Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Runner-Up MoCA 2.5 Adapter (2.5 Gbps Port): GoCoax MoCA 2.5 Adapter

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  • The TL-SG108 is a well-known and reliable network switch.
  • I own this exact switch model and have been using it without any problems for many years.
  • It supports Ethernet speeds of up to 1 Gbps.
  • Due to the fanless design, it is silent.
  • It uses solid capacitors, which means that it should last a long time.
  • It's an unmanaged switch, meaning that it's plug and play, and no configuration is required. TP-Link TL-SG108 - 8 Port Gigabit Unmanaged Ethernet Network Switch TP-Link TL-SG108 - 8 Port Gigabit Unmanaged Ethernet Network Switch Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Ethernet Cable: Tripp Lite Cat 6a

  • Finding Ethernet cables that comply with their category rating can be tricky. Some manufacturers use misleading or incorrect naming, and their cables do not allow you to get the maximum expected speeds. I recommend Tripp Lite's Cat 6a cable. Tripp Lite Cat6a Cable 10G-Certified Tripp Lite Cat6a Cable 10G-Certified Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

More Alternatives to Ethernet Cables

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Suppose you're looking for a lower-cost alternative to MoCA adapters. In that case, another option is to use your home's power outlets/wiring. Learn more in my article MoCA vs. Powerline? Which You Should Buy.

For even more options, check out my article, The 6 Best Ethernet Cable Alternatives for Home Networks.