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Cat 5 Patch Cables - The Difference Between Cat 5e and Cat 6 Patch Cables

does cat6 supersede cat5e?

For the average computer user, there is a great deal of confusion over the difference between Cat 5e and Cat 6 patch cables. Much of this has to do with marketing centered on all-gigabit networks. However, the truth is that all Cat 5e patch cables run at or near gigabit speeds, but the companies that make them cannot rate them at those speeds or market them as such. Therefore, the simple answer is that most users will be better off buying Cat 5e cables. For a more comprehensive look at the differences, consider these frequently asked questions.

What is the difference between category 5e and category 6?

Cat6 provides up to double (200 MHz) the bandwidth that cat5e provides. There is also additional error correction in place that results in a greater signal-to-noise ratio. This means greater data reliability overall for future applications that will be able to take advantage of that throughput.

What is the difference between enhanced cat5e and cat6?

The cat5e specification calls for 100 MHz bandwidth, but companies make and rate cat5e cables as high as 400 MHz. Likewise, the cat6 specification calls for 200 MHz, but there are cables as high as 250 MHz. These do provide better theoretical performance, but there is no noticeable difference unless one is using hardware or software specifically designed to take advantage of them.

Does cat6 supersede cat5e?

Yes, technically, and on most new installations cat6 cabling is used for future proofing. The great benefit to cat6 is that it’s completely backward compatible with cat5e. Therefore, there is little drawback to using it in business environments because even cost difference is kept low due to buying in bulk.

Does cat6 provide any benefit over cate5e to a network now?

Yes. The additional error correction provided by cat6 comes into play now. This means a higher level of reliability, at least theoretically. In actuality, the benefit is only tangible in very specific, high-volume scenarios. The home or small business network would certainly not experience any tangible benefits.

Should I use a cat5e or cat6 patch cable?

For future proofing, it is always best to use the best available cable, but cost should be the deciding factor. The large business has cabling installed, and upgrading later is an expensive proposition. However, for the homeowner and small business, upgrading is simply a matter of swapping out a cable.

Will cate6e ever have a use in the residential market?

Yes, eventually it will become a necessity to support high-speed Internet and meet EMC and FCC regulations. At that point, it will make sense to use cat6 cabling throughout a wired home network.

Is it possible that they go straight to optical fiber?

Yes, it is possible that ISPs are ready to use optical fiber rather than cat6 when it comes time to upgrade. However, at this point, there is far much uncertainty to make a decision based on either possibly.

Is there a difference between cables with and without spines?

This is a design decision by the manufacturer, and it has no real bearing on the end-users. Patch cables with spines are becoming less prevalent, but those with spines are not inherently inferior.

Is it necessary to use a manufacturer-specific cat5e or cat6 patch cable?

Technically, no, because any cable rated at cat5e or cat6 performs at the level of those standards. However, some hardware manufacturers develop their equipment to operate at better rates than the specification, and they design their patch cables to meet that additional demand. In such cases, although not necessary, you should use the manufacturer’s cable to take full advantage of the hardware.

Are cate5e and cat6 connectors different?

Yes. Although cat5e and cat6 connectors look quite similar, they are quite different internally. Those internals are what allow the cat6 patch cable to provide better transmission performance.

Why are cat6 patch cables more expensive than cat5e cables?

Not only are cat6 connectors more sophisticated, the way they connect to the cable itself is more complex. This is the reason that installers cannot create cat6 cables in the field. Therefore, there are several factors at play making them more expensive, but the most important ones are that they are simply more expensive to make, and the manufacturer must complete them in the factory.

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over 1 year ago

I’m glad you mentioned in your article that despite the fact that Cat6 is far more superior to cat5e - that Cat6 is ideally more suitable for commercial purposes (and that Cat5e would do well if it is for your own personal use - especially if you consider that cat6 is roughly 30% more expensive than cat 5e). In case any of your readers are interested to know more about the types of cables that they can purchase (and which ones would be the most suitable one for them), then it would be good to check the link below. Cheers! :)

http://www.4cabling.com.au/cable/computer-cables.html