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What’s the Difference Between Cat5 and Cat6 Cables | Detailed Comparison (2022)

   Are you confused between cat5 and cat6 cables, or don’t know what cable is right for your device? Cat5 and Cat6 are Ethernet cables that are widely used for networks. They contain twisted copper wires that allow faster data communication. The main difference between both cables is that Cat5 supports lower bandwidth, and Cat6 is faster.

   These cables look the same, but all matters are inside. Both cables have a significant difference that identifies them. Also, these cables are updated constantly to maximize the bandwidth speed, so it can be challenging to pick one. Thus, this article will discuss the difference between Cat5 and Cat6 Ethernet cables so you can decide and get the best solution for your device.

What is a Cat5 Ethernet Cable?

What Is A Cat5 Ethernet Cable

   Cat5 Ethernet cable, also known as fifth generation UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair), was introduced in 1995. It holds four sets of twisted copper wire that close with an RJ-45 connector. It connects to a standard Ethernet jack. This Ethernet cable is also available in STP (Shielded Twisted Pair variety) that is secure against signal interference and EMI.

   The Cat5 Ethernet cable offers high-speed Internet that can send 100Mbps of data. It has 100 MHz bandwidth but accumulates only 2.5GBASE-T at close range. These cables have a maximum length of 100 meters (328 feet). The Cat5 cable is best for your computer if it is hardwired because it will connect your network to the web.

Cat5e Cable

   Cat5e cable is called Category5 enhanced Ethernet cable that came out in 2001. It supports a Gigabit network and can send data up to 1000Mbps. It has 350 MHz bandwidth but at a short range of 5GB. These cables are ten times faster than standard Cat5 Ethernet cables. These cables cooperate with ANSI standards.

   You will not notice a speed difference if you use these cables for home or a small company. But it makes a notable difference for large IT companies that use extensive data. Cat5e cable looks like Cat5 physically, but Cat5e contains more copper wires than Cat5. Also, the Cat5e cable’s cover/wrapping has text that indicates it is an enhanced Ethernet cable.  

   These cables can bear more accurate testing to eradicate crosstalk than standard Cat5. Also, Cat5e is twisted more tightly than Cat5 cables.

What is Cat6 Ethernet Cable?

What Is Cat6 Ethernet Cable

   Cat6 Ethernet cables can send data up to 10GBps at 180 feet of range or distance. It consists of four twisted sets of copper wires and has a 250 MHz bandwidth. Cat6 Ethernet cables also use RJ-45 jack, same as Cat5 cables. In fact, Cat6 Ethernet cables are portable like Cat3 and Cat5/5e Ethernet cables.

   Using these cables at 328 feet, it can send data of almost 1GBps. These cables are designed for data transfer needs such as school, enterprise networking, and home setup. Also, these Ethernet cables are used globally.  

Cat6a Cable

   Cat6a cable is called Category6 augmented Ethernet cable that is heavy and thick than Cat6 cables. Also, it has metal shielding instead of copper to lessen signal interference more. It supports 10GBps internet at 328 feet range and has 500MHz bandwidth. These cables have rigorous termination needs and cooperate with ANSI/TIA-568 standards.

   These cables use an RJ-45 jack that makes them compatible with Cat6 and Cat6e Ethernet cables. Cat6a cables radiated when used with outside telephony and information such as physical security systems, CCTV, Automation, etc. Generally, these are used for heavy data, and also these cables are costly.


Difference Between Cat5 and Cat6 Cables

Difference Between Cat5 And Cat6 Cables

   The difference between Cat5 and Cat6 Ethernet cables are as follows:

Bandwidth

   Both Ethernet cables support 1000MBps speed, which is adequate for most internet connections. The main difference between both cables is the bandwidth that holds up the data transfer. Cat6 cables have 260MHz bandwidth while Cat5 supports 100MHz bandwidth. That means a Cat6 Ethernet cable holds more data than Cat5.

   For instance, if you drive on a two-lane and four-lane highway at the same speed, a four-lane highway still holds more traffic than two lanes. So, the Cat6 cable has more bandwidth than the Cat5 Ethernet cable.

Crosstalk

   Both cables contain twisted sets of copper wires. Cat6 cables are more adjustable than Cat5 cables. Cat6 does not even use spline but also has a more rigid spec for crosstalk and noise functioning. Cat6 provides low signal interference or NEXT (Near-End Crosstalk) in the communication than Cat5 Ethernet cables.

   Cat6 Ethernet cables also improve IL (Insertion Loss), ELFEXT (Equal-Level Far-End Crosstalk), and RL (Return Loss). So, cat6 has less noise, high data transfer, and fewer bugs. That means Cat6 is preferable to Cat5 cable.

Visual Difference

   The cables category is stamped on the wrapping of the cables. If the category is not printed on them, then it isn’t easy to recognize the cable with color or RJ-45 connector. But Cat6 Ethernet cables use thick copper wires and are more viscous than Cat5 Ethernet cables. So, you can identify them physically by width.

Speed

   Cat6 Ethernet cables have a 260MHz speed that is twice that of Cat5 cables (100MHz). So, Cat6 cables can transfer data up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet, whereas Cat5 cables can send data up to 1 Gigabit Ethernet.

Maximum Length

   Both cables have a 100m length for a network segment. This length is ideal for maximum speed. If the length is less than 100m, it will lead to a slow internet connection or even failure. The signals are boosted by switching or repeaters if the distance is more than 100m.

   If you want to transfer data at 10 Gigabit Ethernet, the cat6 length will decrease to 55m. If the length is reduced to 55m, the data will drop to 1 Gigabit Ethernet. Also, a Cat6a Ethernet cable is advisable for transferring data at 10 Gigabit Ethernet on 100m.

Cost

   The manufacturer, copper type, length, and quality impact the price of Ethernet cables. Cat6 Ethernet cables are more costly, 20% more than Cat5 Ethernet cables.


Comparison Table between Cat5 and Cat6 Ethernet cable

ParametersCat5 Ethernet CableCat6 Ethernet Cable
Bandwidth100MBps at 100MHz Bandwidth1000MBps (1 Gigabit Ethernet) at 250MHz bandwidth
CoverageIt Covers 100 meters in lengthMore speed and cover large distances than Cat5
WiresTwo twisted copper wires per cmFour twisted tight wound copper wires per cm
SpeedLess than Cat6Faster than Cat5
UsageClassic for small areaClassic for large area
Diameter of wireAlmost 0.204 inches narrowerAlmost 0.250 inches wider
CostModerate, less than Cat620% more costly than Cat5
CrosstalkDoes not confront crosstalk issuesIt contains a secured shield that decreases much crosstalk

Which Ethernet cable is suitable for you?

   The choice of cable depends on the density of Internet you use for your business. Cat6 is an excellent choice for faster Internet. It also lessens the crosstalk that disturbs the signal interference. If you are satisfied with your recent internet speed, then Cat5 is suitable for your needs. Also, Cat5 is low priced than Cat6.

   Nowadays, businesses are using cloud servers. If you are using a cloud server or have decided to use it in the future, then the Cat5 Ethernet cable is enough for you. Cat5 Ethernet cables are convenient, dependable, and suit your needs. If you want to enhance the performance of the Internet, Cat6 is best for you.

   Also, Cat6 Ethernet cables are wider than Cat5 cables. So, if you want a Cat6 cable, your office must have more space because these take up a lot of space.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the Best Ethernet cable for home use?

   Cat5 or Cat5e Ethernet cable is best for home use because less internet speed is needed in residential use. Also, these are not costly.

What is the Best Ethernet cable for commercial use?

   Cat6 Ethernet cables are suitable for commercial use because, in a large business, a high Internet speed is needed to avoid signal interference. Also, you need a heavy amount of Internet to send files.

Are Cat5 and Cat6 plug the same?

   Yes, both cables plug the same. Also, Cat5 and Cat6 Ethernet cables contain RJ-45 connectors.

How do I know if my cable is Cat5 or Cat6?

   The diameter of the Cat6 Ethernet cable is wider than the Cat5 cable. Cat6 is thicker, almost 0.250 inches, and Cat5 is 0.204 inches. Also, the main difference is the price. The price of both cables depends on the brand and length. Generally, Cat6 cables are 20% more expensive than Cat5 cables.

Will Cat6 work with my Router?

   There is no connection between Cat6 and the router. It is used for cabling and contains four twisted wires.

Can any computer use Cat6?

   Yes, any computer supports Cat6 Ethernet cable. Cat6 has an RJ-45 connector that is suitable for any Ethernet port. But if you have a LAN chip, it will work up to 1 Gigabit Ethernet. Also, Cat6 can run up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet.


Conclusion

   In the end, understanding the difference between both cables is necessary. Also, it will save your time, money, and effort. Ethernet cables are the veins of a network, so it is essential to understand the network configuration and architecture. Hopefully, you know the difference between Cat5 and Cat6 Ethernet cables after studying this article.

   Please share this article with your family and friends. If you have any suggestions, questions, or want in-depth needs, then comment below. I will respond as soon as I can. Thanks for reading!

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