What is The Difference Between CAT5, CAT5e and CAT6?

Finding the appropriate Ethernet cable for your network requires a lot of understanding and study about the matter itself. Ethernet cables are responsible for the communication in a network. It links the PCs, switches and routers to make a group of networks. However, an Ethernet cable has its own limitations in distance because of their electrical transmission capability. Ethernet cables have different types, the CAT5, CAT5e and CAT6.

To fully understand the function and capability of each cable, you must first learn its basic usage.

  • CAT5 Cable

This cable may come in UTP or Unshielded Twisted Pair, which is typically used on computer networking for short and medium length connections because it is cheaper than coaxial cable and optical fiber. CAT5 allows up to 100 Mbps of Ethernet in 100 meters. Cat5 is used for standard patch cable and is flexible which does not affect the transmission of data and voice.

CAT5 Cable

  • CAT5e Cable

CAT5e is an improved version of Cat5. It has greater support for the Ethernet transmission which is up to 1000 Mbps that is very useful for gigabit Ethernet. Since it is an improved version of Cat5, the issue of interference in the previous version was reduced in CAT5e. Its resistance from interference or near-end crosstalk is developed into a better version.

CAT5e Cable

  • CAT6 Cable

CAT6 is structured differently from the past types of cabling. It is composed copper wire in four twisted sets that has longer separators that protects each twisted pair from each set making it more resistant from possible crosstalk and it allows faster data transfer.

CAT6 Cable

CAT 5 vs CAT 6

Upon understanding the differences of each cable, you are able to identify its weaknesses and strong points. One of the advantages of CAT 6 with Cat 5 is its rated frequency of bandwidth capability. Category 5 and 5e supports 100 MHz or frequency bandwidth while the Category 6 supports up to 250 MHz which makes it faster when it comes to delivering data.

Category 6 has more than doubled bandwidth of category 5. Bandwidth can be compared to a road. Bigger size of road means lesser possibility of traffic. In transferring data on the internet or computer networks, traffic may occur especially in today’s technology. A lot of people are now watching video streams online which is in need of higher bandwidths or you will experience annoying lagging of your video.

Cat6 Ethernet cable has greater immunity from noises which means loss of data packets is lesser in possibility than category 5. This will make the delivery of your data faster by the speed of the cat 6 that the cat 5 doesn’t possess. It is also known that category 6 is suitable for 10GBASE-T (10 – Gigabit Ethernet) while category 5e only supports 100BASE-T (Gigabit Ethernet). Identifying which cable is which by its physical appearance is through its thickness, even though they are both made with four twisted copper wires. Cat6 are thicker than Cat5 or Cat5e because it requires thicker copper wires for the shield.

Cat 5 wiring diagram is composed of twisted pairs to reduce the interruption in signals. Its cabling can come in either solid or stranded cores. Solid core wires are composed of twenty four (24) gauge wire, while the Stranded core is made up of several thin strands of copper wire. Cat 6 wiring diagram is usually composed of 568-B wiring, white and blue, white and orange, white and green, and white and brown, or 568-A wiring, white and blue, white and green, white and orange, and white and brown. For crossover cables, you must put the two ends of the cable in different wiring styles. If two endpoints are synonymous with each other, it is then called a straight through.

If you are setting up a data center for a bigger area, you must consider the latest type of network cable. Smaller area can be equipped with cat5 since it would not require longer distance. Cat 6 is applicable for urban residential areas that require longer distance of voice and data transfer. However, in today’s generation, the technology is developing fast and continuously which may require you to have higher standards of network cabling.

CAT 5 vs CAT 6