Comparison of Cat5, Cat6 and Cat7 Ethernet Cable

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Comparison of Cat5, Cat6 and Cat7 Ethernet Cable

Which one should you choose?

About Ethernet Cables

Ethernet is used connect devices within a Local Area Networksuch as in PC, routers and switches. There is no doubt that it is one of the most important assets of any business today for its promising network capabilities.

Why You Should Care About Ethernet Cable and Its Categories

Hard Wired Ethernet connection is the popular network solution for those requiring secure internet connection and demanding bandwidth requirements. Network Installations for home, office or gaming consoles require an integrated level of knowledge on Ethernet Categories.

Do you know that getting the wrong Ethernet cable can slow down your internet connection, communications and your business procedure and process?

Ahh…If that caught you off-guard, then read on. This blog will save you a lot of trouble in ending up with the wrong category cable for your specific intended application.

What is Category Cable?

Let’s start off with the basics of Ethernet Category. Category Cable, or “Cat” cables, are standardized cables for ethernet, set by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), to define standards for installations on telecommunications. This standard was released in 1991, named as the TIA/EIA-568-A standard, which is now revised as TIA/EIA-568-C.

Different Ethernet Cable Types

Ethernet Cables are like the pipes of your water system and they function pretty much like them as well. Different types of Ethernet cables have certain speed capabilities, in that a lower Cat cable will not keep up with the speed of the higher Cat cable. So in the event that you installed a Cat5 cable with a Cat6 cable for a Cat6 supported device, you’d end up slowing down your network from a speed grading of 250MHz to 100 MHz.

Category Cables: Ethernet Cables Classified According to Speed Grading

Ethernet cables are categorized according to the speed or bandwidth capability it can provide at a certain length. Standards states that the Ethernet cable lengths should be able deliver data up to 100m or 328ft feet without losing its signal.

Solid and Stranded Copper: Ethernet Cable Classification According to Where and the Manner It Would Be Installed

Ethernet CAT cables can be classified by its form as either solid or stranded.

Solid CAT Cable

Solid cable is composed of a single bare solid copper. For installation requirements needing stronghold protection against electrical interference, Solid Ethernet cables are preferred.

Their built is a lot more rigid but stronger, making them ideal for permanent installations such as underneath floorboards, behind walls or other fixed locations. That is why it’s a common preference for business networks.

Stranded CAT Cable

Stranded Cable is made of several thinly-built copper conductors, twisted together. Stranded Ethernet cables are manufactured with a more flexible stature for purposes of frequent connection and disconnection from devices.

Patch cables are often stranded cables. These types of Cat Ethernet cables are more suitable for home network connections and people who are frequently traveling.

What is Category 5?

Category 5 cables or Cat5, are the ethernet cables which can deliver speeds up to 100Mb/s at 100 MHz frequency. This variety of category cable contains four pairs of copper wire and can deliver its optimum performance up to its maximum recommended length of 100 meters.

Today, the Cat5 cable is still usable in most networks, however, they are considered obsolete and replaced by Cat5e cables.

Unshielded Category 5 Cable

Most Cat5 cables come as unshielded. An Unshielded Twisted Pair, or UTP, does not include any shielding and is good for most LAN environments only.


Category 5e is considered as one of the most common cables alive and in use in many homes and small offices. This cable has replaced Cat5. Cat5e can deliver an enhanced 100 MHz bandwidth at a better distance than Cat5 cables.

What is Category 6?

Category 6 or Cat6 Cables is set to deliver higher standards than Cat5 cables. Cat6 supports high speed requirements for 10G-BaseT (10Gig) ethernet standard. The optimum distance of bandwidth delivery is set at 100 meters at the most.

Compared with Cat5, this enhanced cable further minimizes crosstalks and noise. Ethernet Cat6 is backwards compatible with category 5 cables and equipment. It is offered as either unshielded or shielded Cat6 cable.

Category 6A

An Augmented version of Cat6 delivers higher performance and is usually sought after by data center owners or anyone needing better speed than Cat6. This cable is also called Class F cable. It can deliver frequencies up to 600 MHz.

Unshielded Category 6 Cable

Cat6 UTP is an unshielded Cat6 cable delivering faster network speed than Cat5 and is used for voice, security and data transfers. Because it is not shielded, this cable is mostly preferred to be installed indoors, where it’s not susceptible to the unstable outdoor conditions.

Shielded Category 6 Cable

Shielded Cat6 can be either Cat6 FTP or Cat6 SFTP. Cat6 FTP has a foil shielding over its entire conductor area. This kind of shielding is needed for enhancing noise-cancellation and elimination of crosstalks from EMI.

Cat6 SFTP, on the other hand, is used when the highest cable performance is needed such as in military devices, medical applications and other applications where a high degree of EMI is present.The twisted pairs are not only foiled, but also has an overall heavy-duty PVC jacket shielding.

What is Category 7?

The Category 7, or Cat7, sets the most reliable performance for all cables, as it can transmit up to 10 gigabits per second at a higher frequency of 600 MHz and 100 meters maximum distance. It is built with four individually shielded pairs inside another overall shield. It is aimed at applications where transmission of frequencies up to 600 Mbps is required.

The Cat7 Patch Cable is backward compatible with Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat6A cables. This would work with the same performance of Cat6a, but with GG45 ports, Cat7 can provide higher performance.

Cat7 is the best choice for future- proofing your networks, and is best in data center companies and huge enterprise networks.

Shielded Category 7 Cable

Shielded Cat7 patch cables are available. This features a fully braided, shielded and covered with cable sheath cable, intended for reliable and heavy protection against EMI and harsh conditions.

Limitations of Ethernet Category Cables

Basically, any cable, cord or pipe loses its “driving force/power” as the medium travels further away from the source. This is the same with Ethernet cables. There is a limit as to how long these Ethernet Cables run before signal loss or attenuation totally affect cable performance.

Cable ends are situated at a certain distance to receive signals rapidly but only up to a point where interference should be avoided. This precaution, however, doesn’t necessarily limit the volume of occupied space of the network as the hardware (routers) can accommodate many cables in the same network. The so called network diameter is this length between two hardwares we are talking about.

The maximum distance of Ethernet cables, according to standards, is 324 feet or 100 meters. This is the optimum distance before attenuation occurs. For Cat6, an uninterrupted distance of 700 feet can be allowed, but signal loss may occur if it’s stretched this far.

Another limitation would be the connectors used to terminate the ends of the cables. For Cat5, and Cat6 cables, the modular RJ45 connector can be used. However, for Cat7, a special type of connector is utilized – it’s GG45 or you can use TERA. There is also a variation of RJ45 connectors for stranded and solid cables, but other RJ45 connectors can be used for both.

Which Cable is Best for What Application?

Best Gaming Cable

A reliable network is a priority in gaming. Gaming demands both speed and reliability. Generally, Cat6 cable can do the job. Cat5e cable can work in several networks, but when network improvements are , opt for a Cat6 or Cat6a. Common applications for LAN cables in gaming are PS4 LAN cables.

New House Cable Installations

For a new home cable installation, you can consider Cat7 cable if finances allow you as the demand for better network technology increases over time, while house cable installations cannot be easily replaced once cables will be phased out. If Cat7 may be a bit much for your budget, work with Cat6 and Cat5e will be good choices.

Not one cable fits all applications…

The commonly used Ethernet cables that we discussed were Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat7. All of these cables deliver different performance in terms of speed and bandwidth. Before buying Ethernet cables, you should be able to know the differences between these to suit your specific application.

We hope this blog has helped you on your decision-making stage of choosing the right cable. Need further assistance? Don’t hesitate to leave us a message. At OTS Cables, we have stock a variety of cables many of our customers love. We can easily direct you to the best cable and cabling solution. We have Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6A and Cat7 cables offered in bulk spools. We also have patch cables, for outdoor or indoor application and whether stranded or solid.

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