Product Comparison: Cat 5e & Cat 6 Network Cable


Upload Time:

2022-06-28

XIAMEN SEEBEST WIRE & CABLE CO., LTD, it is a modern manufacturing company specializing in R&D, production, sales and service of various wire and cables for customers at home and abroad more than 13 years. Cat 5e Network Cable & Cat 6 Network Cable, is our company's best-selling products, ether net cables are upgraded continuously to increase bandwidth speeds and reduce noise, so knowing which to pick can be tricky. In this article we will break down the differences between Cat 5e and Cat 6, so you can make an informed decision and find the best solution for your application.

What’s the Difference between Cat 5e and Cat 6?

 

XIAMEN SEEBEST WIRE & CABLE CO., LTD, it is a modern manufacturing company specializing in R&D, production, sales and service of various wire and cables for customers at home and abroad more than 13 years.

Cat 5e Network Cable & Cat 6 Network Cable, is our company's best-selling products, ether net cables are upgraded continuously to increase bandwidth speeds and reduce noise, so knowing which to pick can be tricky. In this article we will break down the differences between Cat 5e and Cat 6, so you can make an informed decision and find the best solution for your application.

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What is Cat 5e Cable?

Cat 5e, also known as Category 5e or Category 5 Enhanced, is a network cable standard ratified in 1999. Cat 5e offers significantly improved performance over the old Cat 5 standard, including up to 10 times faster speeds and a significantly greater ability to traverse distances without being impacted by crosstalk. Cat 5e cables are typically 24 AWG twisted pair wires, which can support Gigabit networks at segment distances up to 100 meters.

Cat 5e UTP Network Cables

What is Cat 6 Cable?

 

Cat 6, derived from Category 6, came out only a few years after Cat 5e. Cat 6 is a standardised twisted pair cable for Ethernet that is backward compatible with Cat 5/5e and Cat 3 cable standards.
 
Like Cat 5e, Cat 6 cables support Gigabit Ethernet segments up to 100 meters, but they also allow for use in 10-Gigabit networks over a limited distance. At the beginning of this century, Cat 5e typically ran to the workstations, whereas Cat 6 was used as the backbone infrastructure from router to switches.

 

Cat 6 UTP Network Cable

Cat 5e vs. Cat 6 Bandwidth

 

Both Cat 5e and Cat 6 can handle speeds of up to 1000 Mbps, or a Gigabit per second. This is more than sufficient for the speed of by far the most internet connections. The chance is small that you currently have an internet connection with which you can achieve up to 500 Mbps speed.
 
The main difference between Cat 5e and Cat 6 cable lies within the bandwidth, the cable can support for data transfer. Cat 6 cables are designed for operating frequencies up to 250 MHz, compared to 100 Mhz for Cat 5e. This means that a Cat 6 cable can process more data at the same time. Think of it as the difference between a 2- and a 4-lane highway. On both you can drive the same speed, but a 4-lane highway can handle much more traffic at the same time.

 

Cat 5e & Cat 6 Speed

Because Cat 6 cables perform up to 250 MHz which is more than twice that of Cat 5e cables (100 Mhz), they offer speeds up to 10 GBASE-T or 10-Gigabit Ethernet, whereas Cat 5e cables can support up to 1GBASE-T or 1-Gigabit Ethernet.

Cat 5e & Cat 6 Crosstalk

 

Cat 5e and Cat 6 are both twisted pair cables. Both use copper wires, with typically 4 twisted pairs (8 wires) per cable. In the past, the 250 MHz performance provided by Cat 6 was often achieved by using a nylon spline in the wiring, which isolated each of the four twisted pairs, making the cable rigid. Nowadays, Cat 6 cables are more flexible, using other methods to reduce noise.
 
Regardless of whether a spline is used, Cat 6 features more stringent specifications for crosstalk and system noise. Not only does Cat 6 provide significantly lower interference or Near-End Crosstalk (NEXT) in the transmission compared to Cat 5e, it also improves Equal-Level Far-End Crosstalk (ELFEXT), Return Loss (RL) and Insertion Loss (IL). The result is less system noise, fewer errors and higher data transmission rates.

 

Cat 6 Network Cable

Cat 5e & Cat 6 Maximum Length

 

Both Cat 5e and Cat 6 offer lengths of up to 100 m per network segment. The maximum achievable speeds will never be met beyond this length. This can result in a slow or failing connection, or even no connection at all. If it is required to cover distances longer than 100 meters, the signal can be amplified with repeaters or switches.
 
When used for 10G BASE-T, the maximum length of a Cat 6 cable reduces to 55 m. After this distance the rate drops to 1G BASE-T. To be able to run 10G BASE-T over the full 100 m, it is advised to use CAT6A also called Augmented Category 6 cable.

 

Cat 5e & Cat 6 Visual Differences

Most of the times, the cable category is printed on the cable. If not, you won’t be able to identify the cable category by colour or RJ45 connector, but Cat 6 cables are often thicker than Cat 5e cables because it uses thicker copper wires.

Cat 5e & Cat 6 Cost

 

Multiple characteristics have an influence on the cost of Ethernet cables, the main elements being length, quality, copper content and manufacturer. In general, you will find that Cat 6 cables are priced 10-20% above Cat 5e cables.

Conclusion: Cat 5e & Cat 6 Cable

 

There are numerous considerations when choosing the right cable. What is the required network speed: 100 Mbps, 1000 Mbps or 10 Gbps? What is the amount of users? With a large amount of users, the frequency of the cable (MHz) becomes important. Is the cable for indoor or outdoor use? Does the cable have to be rigid or flexible? Are there possible sources of interference? And so on. In the end, the choice comes down to your application.
 
It is often argued that it is not worth investing in cables with a higher performance, such as Cat 6, since the current hardware in the network infrastructure does not require 10 Gbps speeds. But hardware gets upgraded over time; it is much easier to upgrade hardware than to lay in new cables. The price difference between Cat 5e and Cat 6 is not high and it is usually a good idea to opt for the better quality cable, thus preparing the network infrastructure and performance for the near future.

 

 

 

The most important consideration however, regardless of your choice for CAT5e or CAT6, is that you always opt for a 100% copper quality cable. The facts show that an inferior cabling system can cause up to 70 percent of network downtime even though it usually represents only 5 percent of an initial network investment. So don’t risk widespread failure by skimping on a cabling system that does not offer guaranteed performance. Always look for a supplier that provides a lifetime guarantee on independently ETL-Verified Cat 5e and Cat 6 cables, like Black Box.

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