cat5 vs cat5e vs cat6 vs cat6a vs cat7 – Which Ethernet Cable to Use?.
We all use Ethernet cables in our homes and workplaces. And while an IT professional usually does this, if you have your own media server or just want to exchange files between two computers, the difference between popular LAN cables is a good thing.
Types of Ethernet cables
Ethernet cables can be divided into different categories, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Each category offers different baud rates, electromagnetic shielding, frequency range, and sensor size (SWG or AWG).
Each Ethernet cable category is numbered sequentially, and sometimes they are divided into sections using alphabets to indicate minor updates.
1. CAT 5 Ethernet Cable
Cat 5 Ethernet cable replaces Cat 3 and 4 cables and was designed to meet the need for a cable that could support higher speeds. Cat 5 cables support 10/100 Mbps, which means data transfer rates of 10 or 100 Mbps. Cat 5 cable, UTP, was the first Ethernet cable to also support video and telephone signals.
TIA / EIA does not recognize Cat 5, which is primarily used for 100Base-T and 1000Base-T networks. Category 5 is not used today and is outdated in most countries.
2. CAT 5e Ethernet cable
Cat 5e was introduced to address the shortcomings of Cat 5 and add some additional features to an already successful Ethernet cable. It has been improved to reduce unwanted data and signal transmission, and has increased the transmission speed to 1000 Mbps.
Unlike Cat 5, which uses only two of the four available twisted pairs, Cat 5e uses all four for better speed control. Cat 5e, which are backward compatible with Cat 5 installations but maintain 100 MHz bandwidth.
Cat 5e has been identified and recognized by TIA / EIA-568-B.
3. CAT 6 Ethernet Cable
Cat 6 has been designed with advances in technology and the need to transfer more data at higher speeds. Cat 5e already had gigabit speed, Cat 6 has been further enhanced to offer 250 MHz bandwidth. The wires are thinner than before, take up less space and have better insulation.
The rise in electromagnetic interference in the workplace also contributed to the success of the Cat 6, which was able to offer a better signal-to-noise ratio and deal more effectively with said interference.
Unlike previous versions, Ethernet Cat 6 cables are available in both UTP (Shielded Twisted Pair) and STP form. Cat 6 is backward compatible with Cat 5 and Cat 5e.
It should be noted here that Category 5e Ethernet cables are more suitable for most common work environments, while Category 6 cables are for special purposes. The Cat 5e is also much cheaper than the Cat 6, making it an obvious choice for households and small businesses.
Cat 6 Ethernet cables are 55 meters long only because they can only support high speed data transmission over the specified distance.
4. Cat 6a Ethernet cable
Cat 6a was introduced with some minor enhancements, such as bandwidth up to 500 MHz and data rates up to 10,000 Mbps. The letter “a” in cat. 6a means enlarged. Unlike Cat 6, using Cat 6a will require a dedicated connector as it is not available in UTP form. It supports STP.
5. CAT 7 Ethernet cable
Cat 7 or Class F (ISO / IEC 11801) offers the same speed as Cat 6a, 10,000 Mbps, but increases bandwidth to 600 MHz. Cat and Ethernet cables are fully shielded with SSTP (Shielded and Shielded Twisted Pair) wires and layers of insulation.
This makes Cat 7 Ethernet cables really thick, difficult to bend, and unwieldy. Keep in mind that if the shielding layers of the cables are not grounded, you will not notice any difference between Cat 6 and Cat 7. They will operate at almost the same speeds.
Although Cat 7 offers high speeds of 10 Gbps, they only work up to 15 meters. This is why they are more suitable for connecting your computers to a local area network and modems. The GigaGate45 connector used by Cat 7 Ethernet cables is backward compatible with all Ethernet ports.
How to choose an Ethernet cable
The choice of an Ethernet cable will largely depend on your internet connection. If you have a data plan for your Internet connection with gigabits, you will need to select a cable that will support those speeds.
If you want to install it at home, I think you don’t need to worry about this part, but if you are using it in a professional environment, you will need to consider the network speed. Imagine that large files such as movies and other content move frequently.
You will also have to choose your router carefully. An inexpensive router does not support speeds over 100 Mbps. Ideally, if you are a home user, Cat 5e should be good enough, and for office use, Cat 6 will do. You don’t need Cat 7. It’s not even a real standard yet.
Bypass: types of Ethernet cables
CAT5, CAT5e and CAT6 cornering difference. The maximum speed and length of CAT5 and CAT6 are almost the same. Generally, the higher you go, the more shielding you have, which means the cables are thicker and faster.
Here is a graphical representation of all types of Ethernet cables and their characteristics.
Choosing the right Ethernet cable will depend a lot on your needs and requirements. In addition, computers cannot distinguish between CAT5, CAT6, or CAT7, but only network cards (NICs). If your network speed is 100 Mbps, then no matter what type of cable you use, your network will remain at 100 Mbps.
Do you want to work in an area with high electromagnetic interference, do you need more speed, or do you want to cut costs?