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CAT6 vs CAT5e

CAT5e vs CAT6

While the cables might look exactly the same on the outside, they are very different on the inside. The most common standards for Ethernet cables are CAT5e and CAT6. CAT6 cables allow for 10 Gigabit speeds, unlike CAT5e's maximum of 1 Gigabit. However, the 10 Gigabit speeds for CAT6 are only for a distance of 180ft. Both cables can be run for 328ft with a speed of 1Gb/s. CAT6 also allows for two-way communication for each pair of wires, which leads to faster perceived speed. The differences can be summarized below.

CAT6CAT5E
CostApprox. 20% more expensiveLess expensive
Speed10 Gigabit1 Gigabit
Distance180ft for 10Gb, 328ft for 1Gb328ft for 1Gb

While CAT6 is newer and faster, CAT5e may do the job just as well. If your budget is limited, CAT5e is usually sufficient; 1Gb/s is usually fast enough for most networks. However, upgrading to CAT6 can be worthwhile for the sake of future-proofing or if you move a lot of data through your intranet. Ultimately, assess the needs of your network and make your choice from there. CAT6 CAT5e.

Here is our opinion on choosing the right category cable:

  • Cat5 = If you plan on running at most 100 Mbps
  • Cat5e = If you plan on running at 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps)
  • Cat6 = If you plan on running at 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps) or more. In addition, Cat6 is better if you are in areas that have lots of interference like near power lines, lights, manufacturing equipment, or long distance 1000 Mbps (Gigabit) run.
  • We advise that you run at least Cat5e or Cat6 cable in the walls
  • Cat5e are great for patch cables from the patch panel to the switch or from the computer to the wall jack
  • We very rarely use Cat5 cable anymore.

The above statements are the opinion of the Network Cables Online, LLC and do not represent the solution for every situation. There are exceptions to these statements and a professional should be consulting prior to making a major network cabling decision.

27th Sep 2018

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