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The Difference Between Cat5e & Cat6 Ethernet Cable

The Difference Between Cat5e & Cat6 Ethernet Cable

Cat5e and Cat6 Ethernet Cable: When it comes to Ethernet cable, do you get a little bit puzzled about the Cat5e and Cat6 differences? Well, you are not the only one dealing with it. Knowing which Ethernet cable to choose might be difficult because bandwidth speeds and reduction of noise levels are always growing. To add to the confusion, they also look identical in many aspects and have similar performance properties as well. Today, we’ll explain the differences that Cat 5e network cables and Cat 6 Ethernet cables possess between them, so you can come to a more informed selection and find the ideal solution for your requirements.

What is CAT5e Cable?

CAT5 e (Category 5 Enhanced) cable or Category 5e is a standard network cable that got approved in the year 1999. CAT5e surpasses the existing CAT5 standard by up to ten times in terms of speed and distance traversed without crosstalk, offering significantly improved performance. CAT5e network cables are usually twisted pair wires (24-gauge) that can handle Gigabit type networks at 100-meter segment distances. Due to its capacity to provide Gigabit speeds at a very cost-effective price, Cat5e is the most frequent type of cabling used for deployments. For all new installations, Cat5e or superior cabling is always suggested.

What is CAT6 Cable?

Just a few years after the introduction of CAT5e, CAT6, a variant of Category 6 Or CAT6, was introduced. CAT6 is an Ethernet-specific backward compatible twisted pair cable with CAT5/5e and CAT3 cable standards. CAT6 cables, like Cat5e network cables, support segments of Gigabit Ethernet up to 100 meters, but they also permit restricted use in 10-Gigabit networks. CAT5e was commonly used to connect workstations at the beginning of the era, whereas CAT6 was implemented as the backbone support connecting routers and switches. Through the characterization of component balance, the Cat 6 cabling specification development procedure revealed the requirement to restrict the conversion of differential mode signals to usual mode signals and vice versa, leading to cabling systems with enhanced EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) performance.

Cat6 vs. Cat5e Differences:

  1. Copper conductors in Cat 6 Ethernet cables (generally 23 AWG) tend to be thicker. Cat5e uses 24 AWG conductors (the copper is thinner when the AWG number increases)
  2. Cat5e handles 2.5GBASE-T Ethernet up to 100 meters in distance. Cat6 handles 5GBASE-T Ethernet up to 100 meters in distance.
  3. As a plus point and under certain conditions, Cat6 perfectly handles 10,000 Mb/s network speeds up to 33.5 meters and often up to 50 meters during low alien crosstalk (ANEXT). If you’ll be using 10GBASE-T, it doesn’t mean you should instantly switch to Cat6. When it is about using 10GBASE-T over using Cat6, there are various alternatives.
  4. Generally, Cat6 tends to be thicker than Cat5e.
  5. In contrast to Cat6, Cat 5e network cables do not utilize a “spline.” The spline is a component made of plastic that distinguishes the conductor pairs in the cable assembly. It is intended to separate the twisted pair to improve performance by reducing pair to pair cross-talk within the cable internally. It becomes more difficult for splines to terminate the cable for the uninitiated, because of the extra preparation steps taken to eliminate it.

Cost of CAT5e vs. CAT6 cables

Ethernet cable prices are influenced and determined by several factors, the most important of which are length, quality, copper content, and manufacturer. In general, it is seen that CAT6 cables are often 10-20% more expensive than Cat5e network cables.

Where and Which One to Use?

As both of them are utilized in several applications, It’s quite critical to answer the above question. We offer the following broad points to assist you to come to a conclusion. 

  1. If cost is the most important factor, and if you don’t need connections faster than 2.5GBASE-T, Cat 5e network cables are the way to go. Cat6 is the superior option for further growth and adaptability if you are ready to invest a little extra for something really good.
  2. Cat 6 Ethernet cables, due to their bulky copper conductors, are a preferable choice in case of power over Ethernet (PoE) because it permits more dissipation of heat. This good side is most noticeable in bundled wires like in higher-powered PoE applications, mostly in conduit. 
  3. However, being lighter and thinner and its ease and convenience of installation in compact spaces, Cat5e may be the ideal choice for certain applications. Cat5e is also usually easy to terminate.

The Ideal One For Your Requirement

When picking the most suitable cable for you, there are various factors to consider. What network speed is preferable for you? How many users are there? With an increasing amount of usage, the cable’s frequency (MHz) becomes quite crucial to consider. Will, the cable be intended to be used indoors or outdoors? Is it necessary for the cable to be hard or flexible? Is there any possibility of obstruction? After every consideration, the decision is completely based on your application.

It is often claimed that investing in higher-performance cables (CAT 6 Ethernet cables), is unnecessary because existing network infrastructure hardware does not necessitate 10 Gbps speeds. However, hardware is upgraded by the passing time; upgrading hardware is considerably easier than installing some new cables. The cost difference between Cat 5e network cables and Cat 6 Ethernet cables isn’t significant, so it’s usually a smart deal to choose the higher-quality cable to ensure that the network support and performance are ready for the upcoming days.

The ultimate crucial consideration, regardless of whether you use Cat 5e network cables or CAT 6 Ethernet cables, is that you always choose a cable that is 100 percent copper. Facts demonstrate that a poor cabling infrastructure can cause up to 70% of network downtime, despite accounting for only 5% of the primary network investment. So don’t take chances of failure by sticking to a cabling system that doesn’t provide assured performance. Always go for a supplier, like Cables.com that offers a lifetime warranty on quality CAT5e and CAT6 cables. Visit today.

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