How to Choose the Right Ethernet Cable for Your Network?

To build your Ethernet network, the transmission media Ethernet cable is indispensable. And there are a variety of choices for Ethernet cables, such as Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a and so on. If you are familiar with the differences between these different types of Ethernet cables, you may think it’s very simple to choose the right Ethernet cable for your network. However, is this really enough to help you make the decision? Are there any other factors you have to take into consideration? This article will give you the answer.

Overview of Different Types of Ethernet Cables

First, let’s have a quick review of the basic knowledge of these different types of Ethernet cables. For data speed, Cat5e is designed to support 1 Gigabit Ethernet with bandwidth up to 100MHz; Cat6 can support higher data rate of 10 Gigabit Ethernet with bandwidth up to 250 MHz; Cat6a is defined at frequencies up to 500MHz among 10G Ethernet applications. For transmission distance, Cat5e can reach 100 meters at the speed of 1Gbps; Cat6 is able to run 100 meters with data speed up to 1Gbps and only 55 meters at the speed of 10Gbps; Cat6a can support the distance over 100 meters at the speed of 10Gbps. Which types of Ethernet cables to choose depends on your requirement for transmission speed and distance. After you make a decision on this, there are some other factors you have to consider—straight-through or crossover cable, UTP (unshielded twisted pair) or STP (shielded twisted pair) cable, length and color. The following part will focus on these factors.

Straight-Through or Crossover Cable?

Ethernet cable terminated with RJ45 connector contains eight color-coded wires. The color-coded wiring sequences exist as a cabling industry standard. When linking RJ45 connector to a cable, there are two wiring standards—T-568A and T-568B. The two wiring standards are used to create a straight-through cable (T-568A or T-568B on both ends), or a crossover cable (T-568A on one end and T-568B on the other end). To choose a straight-through cable, you have to use either T-568A or T-568B on both ends of the cable; to choose a crossover cable, you need to wire T-568A on one end and T-568B on the other end of the cable. Here is a figure of T-568A and T-568B, from which you can see the difference between these two wiring standards.

T-568A and T-568B

UTP or STP Cable?

STP cable has a metal shield around each twisted pair which is composed of copper tape, a layer of conducting polymer or a braid (mostly made of copper or aluminum). With the shield, EMI (electromagnetic interference) and crosstalk can be greatly reduced, which enables the high performance of data transmission between different devices. While UTP cable has no shielding. It is designed to cancel electromagnetic interference through the way the pairs are twisted inside the cable. If the Ethernet cable runs in the environment where the interference or crosstalk is not the main concern, it is suggested to choose UTP cables which are lower in cost. But if the environment is full of powerful magnetic fields which may have an influence on the performance of network, STP cable is absolutely the optimal choice. To have a better understanding of the difference between UTP cable and STP cable, here is figure of the inner structure of UTP cable and STP cable.

the inner structure of UTP cable and STP cable

Length and Color

When choosing Ether cable for your network, you also need to consider length and color. Ethernet cable comes in standard lengths such as 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10 meter. Longer lengths are available, such as bulk Cat5e cable 305m. The distance between your various network devices and your network switch or router will determine the length you need. In addition, Ethernet cable is designed in all sorts of colors, such as blue, gray, red and some other color. This decision can be based purely on your individual taste and preference.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that choosing the right Ethernet cable can make your network work at a high performance level. I hope this article can help you know more about Ethernet cable and make the right choice for your network application. There are different types of Ethernet cables available in FS.COM, such as UTP Cat5e bulk cable, STP Cat6 bulk cable and so on. Also, they have different types of RJ45 couplers which can be a convenient way to combine two short Ethernet cables into a longer one, such as Cat6 coupler and Cat5e coupler.

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What Is The Difference Between Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6 Cable?

00ftWhen it comes to network cabling, there are always a variety of choices. And there is no doubt that people prefer the cable with high performance and low price. In this article, we will discuss three different copper cable options—Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6. 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.

Overview of Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6

First, let’s come to the overview of Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6 cables. Cat5, or Category 5, is an Ethernet network cable standard defined by the Electronic Industries Association and Telecommunications Industry Association (commonly known as EIA/TIA). Cat5 cable uses the fifth generation of twisted pair Ethernet technology and contains four pairs of copper wire supporting Fast Ethernet. Cat5e, or Cat5 enhanced, is designed to better support Gigabit Ethernet by utilizing all four wire pairs. And Cat5e cable additionally preserves backward compatibility with Fast Ethernet equipment. As the sixth generation of twisted pair Ethernet cable, Cat6 contains four pairs of copper wire and utilizes all of these pairs for signaling in order to obtain the higher level of performance—supporting 10G Ethernet. Here is a figure of the inner structure of Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6.

Inner Structure of Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6

Differences Between Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6

This part will discuss the differences between Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6 from four aspects: speed, length, cost and application.

Speed

Data speed is important for cable selections. You have to choose the cable that is equivalent to what is running on it. As for Cat5 cable, it can handle 10/100 Mbps speed (Fast Ethernet) with bandwidth up to 100 MHz; for Cat5e cable, it can support 1 Gigabit Ethernet with bandwidth up to 100MHz; while Cat6 can support higher data rate of 10 Gigabit Ethernet with bandwidth up to 250 MHz.

Length

The common ground for Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6 cable is that they are all designed for short distance data transmission, because they are made of copper wires. Their cable runs are limited to a maximum recommended length of 100 meters (328 feet) for their nominal connection speeds—Fast Ethernet speed for Cat5, 1 Gigabit Ethernet speed for Cat5e and Cat6. At present, Cat5 cable 1000ft (305m), Cat5e cable 1000ft (305m) and Cat6 cable 1000ft (305m) are available on the market, and both of them can support 1000Mbps maximum data rate with 100MHz bandwidth.

Cost

Compared with Cat5e cables, the cost of Cat6 cables is typically 10 to 20% more expensive because of higher transmission speed. However, the cost of these cables are comparatively low, which only takes up a very small portion of the total budget once you consider all the other equipment (racks, servers, switches, routers, etc). For the consideration of your application, Cat6 might be a better choice if higher data rate is required. The additional cost can save you more money in the long run.

Application

Cat5 is often connected to patch panels, switches, routers, desktops, IP phones and many other networks and network devices that utilize the internet. And traditionally, Cat 5e cable is run for the business telephones. Cat 6 is suited for broadband video and digital video applications because of the lower signal losses and better transmission performance at higher frequency.

Conclusion

Be sure to make clear of these three types of Ethernet cables and select the suitable one for your home or business project. I hope the information in this article could be helpful or a guide for you when you are confused about which Ethernet cable to choose.