Since the Ethernet cable is characterized with the advantages, such as affordable price, fast transmission speed and good reliability, it becomes more and more popular with people. As technology continues to progress, Ethernet cable also has been improved over time to meet the increasing demand of bandwidth. Cat6 and Cat7 are two kinds of Ethernet cables for 10G Ethernet applications. Do you know the differences between them? Now, this passage will focus on the comparison between Cat6 and Cat7 from five aspects: frequency, transmission distance, wiring, cost and lifespan. First, let’s go to the overview of Cat6 and Cat7.
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. In addition, it is backward compatible with the Cat3, Cat5 and Cat5e cable standards. With even more stricter specifications for crosstalk and system noise, Cat7 is designed to allow 10G Ethernet over longer distance. It also contains four twisted copper wire pairs, just like the earlier standards. And Cat7 is backward compatible with Cat5e and Cat6. Here is a figure of Cat6 cable reel and Cat7 cable reel.
It is obvious that Cat7 greatly improves the capacity and reliability of Cat6. So what is the difference between Cat6 and Cat7? This part will focus on five aspects—frequency, transmission distance, wiring, cost and lifespan.
Cat6 can perform at a frequency of up to 250 MHz and works fine for normal speeds—10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T, and 10GBASE-T standards. While the frequency of Cat7 is higher and up to 600 MHz, which is 2.4 times as fast as Cat6. And this makes Cat7 suitable for high-speed data rate transmission.
Cat6 can reach 100 meters for slower network speeds (up to 1,000 Mbps) and higher network speeds over short transmission distance—it can achieve only 55 meters at the speed of 10 Gbps and 33 meters in high crosstalk conditions. While Cat7 can operate at the speed of 10 Gbps with transmission distance up to 100 meters.
Cat6 is available in both STP (Shielded Twisted Pair) forms and UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) forms. While Cat7 uses Screen Shielded twisted wire that not only reduces the chances of crosstalk, but also reduces the noise and enhances performance.
Cat7 costs more than Cat6. Take Fiberstore’s cables as an example, 100m Cat6 cable is 54.00 US$, while 100m Cat7 cable is 200.00 US$. The more cables you purchase, the bigger the price difference will be. Therefore, if your network needs 10 Gbps, maybe Cat6 is a more cost-effective choice.
Cat6 has an estimated lifespan of ten years. While for Cat7, shielding has been added for individual wire pairs and the cable as a whole. Because of this shielding, Cat7 is thicker, more bulky, and more difficult to bend. Cat7 is regarded as the most durable cable and has a longer lifespan of fifteen years than Cat 6.
Careful planning and product selection will be the key to a successful installation. Transmission speed, distance, cost and lifespan are the important factors that you should consider when choosing a transmission media. For 10G Ethernet applications, both Cat6 and Cat7 can be used. However, Cat7 is really high in cost when providing wider bandwidth with longer transmission distance. So you have to think carefully before making a decision. When it comes to make a choice between Cat6 and Cat7, I hope this passage can be helpful for you.