Almost everyone is quite familiar with the Ethernet cables. Ethernet cables are one of the most common types of networking cables that are used for local wired networks in home and other places. Though these cables are limited by the distances because of its small length, they are durable enough to carry proper signals to the devices attached to them. Anyway, some people are still unaware of these cables and to be honest, the majority of users become totally blind when it comes to purchasing a new cable. They just can’t get the terms like Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 7 etc. which are printed on the packages of the cables. If you are also one of them, don’t worry. Read the full article to know in detail about what is Ethernet cable, what do these terms mean and what Ethernet cable you should choose.
Standards of Ethernet Cables
Guys, the terms that I mentioned earlier are actually the different categories of Ethernet Cables & that means, not each and every type of Ethernet cable comes with the same specifications and prices. Each type of cable has different specifications and prices than the other. The later the versions are, the higher their features and prices will be. Cat 5, Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6A and Cat 7 are some of the most popular categories of Ethernet cables.
Cat 5 is the oldest type of Ethernet cable whereas Cat 7 is the latest and that’s why Cat 5 is the cheapest standard of Ethernet Cable & without any doubt, Cat 7 is the most precious one but, the interesting fact is; these Cables are comfortable with one another of different standards. You can see RJ45 connector in all Ethernet Cables from Cat 5 to Cat 7. And this RJ45 connector was made in 1987 only for Ethernet Cables. This connector is still used for those cables. So, you can use the proverb “Old Is Gold” here. Now, let’s know more about all of these different versions of Ethernet cable one by one so that you can choose the right one for yours.
Difference Between the Standards of Ethernet Cables
The different types of Ethernet cables are named as ‘Category’ just like Category 5, Category 6 etc. (In short, Cat 5, Cat 6). Let’s see what specifications each and every Ethernet Cable offer and what are the differences between them.
Cat 5, just like the extinct species!
Cat 5 Ethernet Cables are the oldest one and almost of no use in today’s world. That’s why these cables are the rarest of all. Nowadays no people use this type of Ethernet Cables.
Cat 5 has the minimum speed of 100Mb/S which is not so fast actually. You can extend the Cable with the maximum length of 100 metres. Its maximum bandwidth is 100 MHz.
Cat 5e or Cat 5 Enhanced, A Decent One
Cat 5e is the enhanced version of the previous one which is Cat 5. That’s why it comes with better specifications than its predecessor. Even now, it is very popular and most of the people use it for the usages required at the home. This cable is a low cost & very useful. The speed that Cat 5e provides is enough for any types of usages at home like connecting your router with your Laptop or Smart TV.
Cat 5e comes with minimum 1 Gb/S speed which is ten times extra speed than Cat 5. You can extend the Cat 5e Cable with the maximum length of 100 metres & it has a maximum bandwidth of 100 MHz.
Now, some have a query about the fact that how Cat 5e comes with so much “Enhanced” speed compared to Cat 5.
Basically, Cat 5 is made of two twisted wire pairs whereas Cat 5e has four twisted wire pairs. As the wire pairs are double in Cat 5e, so the significant amount of speed increases in that Cable. In addition, Cat 5e has less ‘cross-talking’ or ‘interfering’ than Cat 5 so this is another reason that Cat 5e comes with much better speed than Cat 5.
Cat 6, a Good Choice!
Cat 6 is a better and more advanced version of Ethernet Cable then the previous ones and comes with a decent price. Normally, Cat 6 should be used in internal wirings. This cable comes with a minimum speed of 10 Gb/S but its maximum extension is only about 55 metre which is not that much profitable at all though Cat 6 Cable’s maximum Bandwidth is 260 MHz which is much better than Cat 5 & Cat 5e. In a nutshell, Cat 6 really offers some great specifications and is enough for every type of usages.
Cat 6A Can Do Almost Everything!
Cat 6A is a costly Ethernet Cable and also comes with great features. Astonishingly, Cat 6A comes with a minimum speed of 100 Gb/S. You can extend the Cable with the maximum length of 100 metres & Cat 6A also comes with 500 MHz bandwidth which is also surprising to know.
Here is the same reason that makes Cat 6A much better than Cat 6. Increased numbers of twisted wire pairs produce increased speed in Cat 6A as compare to Cat 6 just like the matter of Cat 5e and Cat 5.
Another reason is the ‘metal shielding’ that means the twisted wire pairs of Cat 6A Ethernet Cables are shielded with metal to decrease interference or cross-talking with other external wires. Actually, the metal shielding on the wires works as a “Faraday cage”. Though mostly premium Cables may have the metal shielding. That’s why Cat 6A comes with greater benefits.
Another thing is that all the Category 6 & 6A Cables have a plastic core to separate the twisted wire pairs to decrease cross-talking as much as possible. For these kinds of reasons, Cat 6 & Cat 6A has much more beneficial features than Cat 5 & Cat 5e. And that’s why They are costly enough.
Cat 7 is Beyond Perfect!
Cat 7 is the best Ethernet Cable of all. It’s the most expensive as well as comes with much more quality features than others. This Cable has the minimum speed of 10 Gb/S. One can extend the Cable with the maximum length of 100 metres & Cat 7 has the best Bandwidth than its other versions. Its maximum bandwidth is 600 MHz!
Cat 7 Ethernet Cable is most advanced of all. This cable has “multiple metal shielding” which means every twisted wire pairs are shielded as well as all the four wire pairs are also shielded together so that the interference becomes almost zero. For Cat 7, RJ45 connector should be premium & expensive, as we already learned that Cat 7 is very costly Ethernet Cable.
For My Busy Readers…
To the visitors and readers who are busy and don’t have enough time to read the full article to know about the Ethernet cables and to decide what to choose, I present to you the following table from where you can know about all those categories of Ethernet cables by just glancing at this:
|Features||Cat 5||Cat 5E||Cat 6||Cat 6A||Cat 7|
|Speed||100 MB/S||1 GB/S||10 GB/S||100 GB/S||10 GB/S|
|Length||100 metre||100 metre||100 metre||100 metre||100 metre|
|Bandwidth||100 MHz||100 MHz||260 MHz||500 MHz||600 MHz|
Your Pick Depends on Your Requirement
I can suggest that if you want to connect your router with a desktop or your laptop then Cat 5e will be enough & if you have to do any internal wirings than Cat 6 or Cat 6A will be more than enough. There is no need to purchase any Cat 7 cable for these types of usages. So, before you go to market & buy any Cable, you should check the specifications and category of the Ethernet Cable on the packages. Lastly, my recommendation is that Cat 5e or Cat 6 will be absolutely enough for your any kind of usages.
Want to understand about ethernet cables in Hindi, watch the video below.
Hope, you guys understand “What is an Ethernet Cable? Cat 5, Cat 5e, Cat 6, & Cat 7 Explained!” and now, you have to just choose wisely before purchasing any. If this article really helpful to you then don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Thanks for visiting and appreciating my work.