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Cat5 vs Cat6 Cables: What are the Differences?

Cat5 vs Cat6 Cables: What are the Differences?

If you are reading this article, then you are the beneficiary of Cat5 and Cat6 cables. Although these cables are used for a variety of purposes, they are most commonly used as network cables, i.e. they connect computers and servers to modems and (ultimately) ISPs.
Like everything else in the technology sector, these cables have undergone significant development over the years, and the newest cables are capable of greater performance than previous cables.

Here are top 5 best ethernet cables to buy for increased internet speed and fast streaming.

The difference between a Cat5 vs Cat6 cable is not only higher speeds but reduced “crosstalk”.   

What is Crosstalk?

Electronic equipment (including cat cables) emits electromagnetic signals. When lots of cables are near one another, these cables can interfere with one another. This interference is referred to as “crosstalk”. Crosstalk increases errors and lost packets (among other issues). Newer versions of cat cables (i.e. Cat6 and Cat6A cables) reduce the impact of crosstalk through a variety of methods, including improved shielding and twisted cable design.

Cat5 Cable

Cat5 cable is broken into two separate categories: Cat5 and Cat5E cables. Cat5 has become obsolete in recent years, due to its limitations compared to Cat5E and Cat6 cables. Although the Cat5 cable can handle up to 10/100 Mbps at a 100MHz bandwidth (which was once considered quite efficient), the newer versions of Cat cables are faster.

Cat5E cable (which stands for “Cat5 Enhanced”) became the standard cable about 15 years ago and offers improved performance over the old Cat5 cable, including up to 10 times faster speeds and a significantly greater ability to traverse distances without being impacted by crosstalk.

Similarities Between Cat5 vs Cat6 Cables

It is worth noting that both Cat5 vs Cat6 cables use the same end piece, i.e. they can “plugin” to the same ports. The differences between each of these cables are in their capabilities, as well as the methods and materials used to create them. The “end” that all the cables have in common is known as RJ-45. It is capable of plugging into any Ethernet jack on a computer, router, or another similar device. Nobody in the industry expects this to change anytime soon.

Cat6 Cable

Cat6 cables have been around for only a few years less than Cat5E cables. However, they have been used as the backbone to networks, instead of being run to workstations themselves. The reason for this (beyond cost) is the fact that, while Cat6 cables can handle up to 10 Gigabits of data. That bandwidth is limited to 164 feet — anything beyond that will decay to only 1 Gigabit (the same as Cat5E).
Cat6A cable is the newest version and utilizes a thick plastic casing that helps further reduce crosstalk. The biggest difference between Cat6 and Cat6A cables is, Cat6A can maintain 10 Gigabit speeds for the full 328 feet of Ethernet cable. Those who want to have the most “future-proofed” cable will want to go with Cat6A. However, Cat5e and Cat6 are more than enough for residential and commercial use.

So What Do I Actually Need Cat5E or Cat6 Cables?

But all this demands the most important question of all - which one of these two cable types do you actually need, and why? The answer to that is a straightforward one, but not necessarily in the way you think. While Cat6 cables are clearly the "better" choice if you're only looking at technical specifications, the situation you're in isn't as cut and dried as that. There is no "one size fits all" approach to networking. However, this can be divided into two separate parts: such as residential and commercial use.

What is the best Ethernet cable for home use?

If you're a residential user, Cat5E Cable is going to be more than capable of meeting any need that you would have. In fact, the speeds supported by this type of cable are likely faster than what your residential Internet connection can provide anyway - at least for the next few years. When the time does come to upgrade it won't necessarily be difficult or even expensive to do so, which means that for the time being Cat5E is going to be just fine.

What is the best Ethernet cable for commercial use?

If you're a commercial user that has a high demand for not fast Internet speeds but fast internal speeds, on the other hand, you're talking about a different story altogether. If you do a lot of video and audio editing or processing on networked machines, for example, or if you depend heavily on your ability to quickly transfer files from one computer to another (as you would with applications like AutoCAD), for example, Cat 6 cables with high Gigabit networking are the way to go. Not only will they help better service your needs as they exist today, but you'll essentially be taking the step to future-proof yourself against the ways in which your needs will change over the next few years, too.

Cat5 or Cat6, FireFold Technology has all the qualities and lengths of ethernet cables available for home and commercial purposes.
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