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Which Ethernet cable?

The most frequent question we get asked: “what’s the difference between Cat 5, Cat 6 and Cat 7 Ethernet cable, and which should I use?”

Cat 5 vs. Cat 6 vs. Cat 7

Just so you know, Cat stands for category. The big difference between these Ethernet cables is the speed and frequency. The higher the category, the faster the network cable. In the overview below you can see the differences:

Cat5e – Has a speed to 1.000 Mbit/s, 100mhz
Cat6 – Has a speed to 1.000 Mbit/s, 250mhz
Cat6a – Has a speed to 10.000 Mbit/s, 500mhz
Cat7 – Has a speed to 10.000 Mbit/s, 1.000mhz

Cat 6 is a cable that’s more reliable at higher speeds than Cat 5 or Cat 5e. They look pretty much the same; in fact, Cat 6 is backward compatible with Cat 4, so you can mix and match. But they’re labeled differently and they’re different on the inside.

The old-fashioned Cat 5 cable is no longer a recognised standard, but it technically supports gigabit speeds, just not well. Cat 5e cable is enhanced to reduce interference so that it can reliably deliver gigabit speeds. However, Gigabit Ethernet still pushes the cable to its limits.

Cat 6 cable is full-on certified to handle Gigabit speeds, it’s meant to handle it and it does it the best. Cat 6a is suitable for 10 Gigabit, although at that point, you’re pushing the limits of Cat 6a.

As you may have already seen, a Cat 7 cable has a max. speed of 10.000 Mbit/s and a Cat 6 cable has a max. of 1.000 Mbit/s. Also, the Cat 7 has a higher frequency than the Cat 6. The frequency indicates how often the signal can pass through the cable. At a frequency of 1,000 MHz, 10,000 Mbit / s can therefore be transferred 10,000 times per second 10,000 Mbit / s. A Cat 7 cable will therefore be able to transfer data faster than a Cat 6 cable.

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