When it comes to networks, there is always a variety of choices and there is no difference when it comes to network cabling. So when designing your network, how do you know which cable to choose for best performance and for best pricing? In this article, we will discuss three different standards options – Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6 – and their accompanying values. After reading, you will be much more acquainted with these cable specifications and have a better idea of what you would like to use in your network.
Cat5 – Difference Between Cat5 And Cat6
You will find that Cat5 or in it’s unabrievated name, Category 5, cable is one of the most common types of networking cable for Ethernet networks that you will find. It is the the predecessor of the Cat5e cable. You will often find this cable connected to patch panels, switches, routers, desktops, IP phones and many other networks and network devices that utilize the internet.
Maximum Run Length: The maximum length you will want to run a Cat5 cable is 328 feet (100 meters). In some instances, you will want to run a Cat5 cable over longer periods. To achieve this, you can use a hardware device such as a network repeater, or a switch, to extend the capabilities. Extending the cable beyond 100 meters may result in information loss as the cable strains to transmit over further distances.
Speed: The Cat5 standard calls for speeds up to 100Mbps. You may obtain higher speeds however most Cat5 standard cabling is not certified for this.
Cat5e – Difference Between Cat5 And Cat6
Cat5e is the Cat5 cable cable on steroids. As ethernet networks grow larger, transmit more data and need more reliable cabling to use, network operators turn to Cat5e. This cable was designed for less cross talk (interference inside the cable), and thus can carry much higher speeds consisting of even being ran in Gigabit networks. If you’re wanting to increase a network port above 100Mbps but yet at a gigabit or under, Cat5e is the ticket.
Maximum Run Length: This cable will still want to be run at the same distance as Cat5 speed. Up to 328 feet, or 100 meters, is recommended. As with Cat5 cable, a hardware repeater or switch may be used to extend this length if necessary.
Speed: Cat5e truly shines over it’s little cousin Cat5 with it’s sheer speed advantage. With a max run length of 328 feet, it is safe to say that Cat5e cabling can push an outstanding 1000Mbps or a full Gigabit! This is ten times more then the recommended max of Cat5 cable.
Cat6 – Difference Between Cat5 And Cat6
As networks grow larger, ISPs add more users, hundreds of network devices join a network where only a few were previously, you may end up seeing Cat6 cabling. Cat6 is more expensive than Cat and Cat5e, but offers a multitude more than Cat5 or Cat5e can. Cat6 is the most expensive of all three of these cables, but is also the fastest and can future proof your network.
Maximum Run Length: The same as Cat5 and Cat5e. For best results, keep the run length under 328 feet or 100 meters unless using a repeater or network switch.
Speed: This is where Cat6 shines, and also why you see such a stark contrast in the price difference between the previous cable types. This is because Cat6 can indeed push 10,000Mbps or 10 Gigabits of data per second over an ethernet network. Most businesses will not require this, however, it is a great way to future proof your network as data streams are ever increasing with wide spread VoIP adoption and streaming your favorite music, movies and shows.