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CAT5 vs. CAT5e vs. CAT6

December 3 2014 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Networking

What is the difference between CAT5, CAT5E and CAT6 cable? Most people may be familiar with them. Because they are often used in computer networks, and also can be used to move data in home theatre applications. Category 5 (CAT5), Category 5E (CAT5E) and Category 6 (CAT6) cables are all twisted pair cables, available in solid and stranded varieties. What are their own features? In the following part, we will talk about the main difference between CAT5, CAT5e and CAT6.

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CAT5 cable is the most common, and comes in two types—Unshielded Twisted Pair, known as UTP, and Screened Twisted Pair, called SCTP. The SCTP cable has an extra shield to limit outside interference, and is generally only used in Europe. UTP cables are used all over the states and come either solid or stranded. Solid CAT5 cables are stiff and the best choice for long distance transmissions. Stranded CAT5 is bendier and is often used as patch cable. The standard amount a CAT5 cable can handle is 100MHz, with the option for 10 or 100 Mbps Ethernet. A CAT5 cable can also carry more than one signal—such as two phone lines and a single 100BASE-T channel in one cable.

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CAT5e is very similar to CAT5,the ‘e’ standing for enhanced. This cable has more ability for data transmission, with the option to transfer data at 1000 Mbps. Cat5e can also be used with Gigabit Ethernet and generally has less near-end crosstalk, or NEXT than standard CAT5 cables. When installing a new system, CAT5e cables are almost always used over CAT5, though most existing installations are still CAT5.

The most sophisticated of the three cables is CAT6. Although it is also comprised of four pieces of twisted pair copper wire, it has a longitudinal separator. This allows the cables to be separated from each other and, in turn, allows not only for an increased data transfer speed, but less crosstalk and double the bandwidth. CAT6 cabling is a good choice for most new systems, especially those that are evolving and might need more options in the future. CAT6 is perfect for 10 Gigabit Ethernet and can work at up to 250 MHz. The really intelligent aspect of CAT6 is that it is compatible with already installed CAT5 and CAT5e cabling.

With the ever-changing landscape of technology, when you are installing a new system, the best choice for an easily adaptable future is CAT6. However, CAT6 is more expensive, and often some companies just don’t need anything quite that sophisticated. If you are just wanting to expand your network a bit, CAT5e is a more cost-effective and the simpler choice. CAT5, though perfectly adequate for many existing systems, will just not be able to keep up with the speed and performance needs of tomorrow.

Category 5 Network Cable

Bandwidth up to 100MHz

Supports 10/100 Ethernet (Ethernet and Fast Ethernet)

Category 5E Network Cable

Bandwidth up to 350MHz

Supports 10/100/1000 Ethernet (Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, and Gigabit Ethernet)

Backwards compatible with CAT5 cable

Reduced crosstalk compared to CAT5

Category 6 Network Cable

Bandwidth up to 550MHz

Supports 10/100/1000 Ethernet (Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, and Gigabit Ethernet)

Backwards compatible with CAT5/CAT5E cable

Reduced crosstalk compared to CAT5/CAT5E

CAT5E supports Gigabit networking, but CAT6 is certified for Gigabit networking and will perform better over longer distances. Keep in mind that your network is only as fast as your slowest component, so unless every piece of your network (routers, cables, etc.) supports Gigabit Ethernet, you will not be able to reach those speeds.

 

More Related Network Cable Topics

Cat5e and Cat6 Cabling for More Bandwidth? CAT5 vs. CAT5e vs. CAT6

Cat5e vs. Cat6 Cables

Cat5 vs. Cat5e

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