Difference Between Cat5 vs Cat5e vs Cat6 vs Cat6a Cables

Difference Between Cat5 vs Cat5e vs Cat6 vs Cat6a Cables

Cat5 vs Cat5e vs Cat6 vs Cat6aCabling is a vital part of any network and choosing the right cables to connect to your network can be stressful considering the variety of cables available on the market.

There are so many factors to consider such as application, cost, compatibility, length, flexibility, durability, convergence, among other factors.

Our cat x head to head will help you gain a better understanding of the UTP cables along with their specifications to put you in a better position to select the right cable for yourself.



What is a Cat X Cable?

For starters, â€cat’ in full is â€category’ and the cat x cables are a form of Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cables which are the most popular network cables globally. Some people refer to the cat x cables as Ethernet cables, patch cables or network cables. So far, there are seven types of UTP cables ranging from cat1 to cat7. These different categories have their unique qualities, and therefore you need to pick an appropriate cable for your intended use.The â€x’ in cat x represents the grade of the UTP cable. Naturally, cat7 is the newest and therefore the highest grade of the bunch. Although the cat6 and cat6a cables are catching up to the cat5e cable in terms of popularity, the cat5e is still the most popular UTP cable used globally to date. The cat5e’s superior cable termination coupled with its fast speeds allowed it to replace the old and unreliable coaxial cables.


Cat5 vs Cat5e vs Cat6 vs Cat6a : What is the difference?

As seen above, there are seven types of UTP cables, and they differ in so many ways. In terms of physical properties, the cables differ in size, the amount of copper wire used in the build, number of twists in the copper wire and shielding materials, etc.

In terms of capabilities, the cables differ in their ability to cancel out crosstalk and EMI as well as the distance and bandwidth they can support. Below is a more detailed difference between the cables.

  • Cat5 Cable: Supports bandwidths of up to 100 Mbps at a maximum distance of 100 meters. The cat5 cable can support frequencies ranging between 0-100 Mhz.
  • Cat5e Cable: Same as the Cat5 cable but with a more advanced data rate exchange of up to 1Gbps at 100 meters compared to the 100Mbps of the cat5 cable.
  • Cat6 Cable: Supports bandwidths of up to 10,000 Mbps or 10Gbps at a maximum distance of 100 meters. The cat6 standard cable can support frequencies ranging between 0-250 Mhz. The cat6 cable also supports 10GE bandwidth over 55 meters.
  • Cat6a Cable: Similar to the cat6 in terms of the data exchange rates and distance supported on the 10GE bandwidth. The only difference is that the cat6a cable has a more superior frequency range of 0-500 MHz.


1. Cat5 cable

Like the cat3 and cat4 cables, the cat5 cable includes four pairs of twisted copper wires. However, the cat5 cable features more twists per inch than both the cat3 and cat4 cables and so runs at greater lengths and higher speeds. The â€twist’ effect in the cables help eliminate all interferences that may have been picked up transferring data.

Best cat5 cable to buy

Cables4PC Cat5 RJ45 100′ Patch Ethernet Network Cable

Cables4PC Cat5 RJ45The Cables4PC RJ45 is one of the best cat5 cables to buy. The 100 inch cat5 cable is super flexible and therefore easy to install. The cable comes fitted with 50-micron gold plated connectors that produce clean and clear transmissions.

What’s more, the RJ45 is compatible with all sorts of computing devices such as gaming consoles, laptops, PCs, Macs, etc.



2. Cat 5e cable

The cat5e cable is an upgrade on the popular cat5 cable. The upgrade on the cat5 cable comes in the form of improved crosstalk specification that allows the cat5e cable to support speeds of up to 1Gbps, a significant improvement on the 100Mbps afforded by the cat5 cable. Currently, the cat5e cable is the most popular Ethernet cable used in the globe due to its inclusive cable termination.

Best cat5e cable to buy

Mediabridge Ethernet Cable

Cable Matters Cat6 SnaglessThe Mediabridge cable is all about performance and distance. This durable cat5e cable comes with three length variations of 25ft, 50ft, and 100ft.

The long length combined with the cable’s flexibility means you can extend your Wi-Fi router from where the cable modem router sits and move it to the center of your house or office.



3. Cat6 cable

The cat6 cable is very similar to the cat5e in terms of its physical properties. The only difference between the two cables is the physical separator included in the cat6 cable to help reduce electromagnetic interference. Just like the cat5e cable, the cat6 cable can support speeds of up to 1Gbps at 100 meters but much faster speeds of up to 10Gbps at 55 meters.

Best cat6 cable to buy

Cat 6 Ethernet Cable Internet Network Cable

Cat 6 Ethernet Cable 50The Jadaol cat6 cable is made from 100% copper wire for minimum noise and interference. This UTP patch cable comes with RJ45 connectors for universal connectivity to all computing devices as well as 15 cable clips for better mounting on walls or under desks.

The Jadaol provides a standard performance of up to 250MHz and can reach speeds of up to 10Gbps.



4. Cat6a cable

The cat6a cable was introduced back in 2009 as a higher specification cable to the cat6. While both cables are similar in terms of physical qualities and performance capabilities, the cat6a is better equipped to block electromagnetic interference and crosstalk within the network thanks to the foil wraps. Just like the cat6 cable, the cat6a cable can support speeds of up to 1Gbps at 100 meters and speeds of up to 10Gbps at 55 meters.

Best cat6a cable to buy

Cable Matters Cat6a Snagless Ethernet Patch Cable

Cable Matters Cat6aFor starters, the Cable Matters cat6a cable provides a high-bandwidth capacity of up 550MHz for high-speed data transfer. The cable is made from tough but flexible material to provide durability as well as allow its user to bend the cable around desks, walls, etc.

This cat6a cable is SSTP/SFTP ready to minimize crosstalk and curb electromagnetic interference. The cat6a’s universally compatible RJ45 connectors are gold plated for durability and resist corrosion.



Cat7 (7a) Cable

So far, the cat7 or cat7a cable is the latest and newest Ethernet cable on the market. Unlike the both the cat6 and cat6a cables which sustain 10Gbps at 55 meters, the cat7 cable has been designed to sustain speeds of up to 10Gbps at 100 meters. These mindboggling speeds are made possible by the individually shielded quartet of interior cables plus an additional outer shield that curbs crosstalk as well as electromagnetic interference.

Best cat7 cable to buy

Ethernet Cable, Vandesail CAT7 LAN Network Cable

CAT7 LAN Network CableAs a cat7 cable, the Vandesail supports bandwidths of up to 1,000MHz that can transfer data at super-fast speeds of up to 10Gbps at 100 meters. The copper wires inside the cat7 cable are STP shielded to curb crosstalk as well as electromagnetic interferences for enhanced data transfer.

Both of the RJ45 connectors at each end of the cat7 cable are equipped with more shielding to provide protection from all noises and interferences that work to degrade the signal quality



Which cable is best?

The cat6a cable is without a doubt the best UTP cable in this head to head. For starters, it has more twists per inch than both the cat5 and cat5e meaning it runs at greater lengths and faster speeds. Like the cat6, the cat6a supports transfer rates of up to 1Gbps at 100 meters and up to 10Gbps at 55 meters.

But the reason why the cat6a is superior to the cat6 cable is that it has more shielding on its copper wires. The extra shielding provides better immunization to electromagnetic interference and crosstalk within the network.


Final Verdict

  • The requirements of cabling infrastructure grow as networks evolve. As network systems advance, they need improved cable structures to support them. Thus, new standards are continuously being introduced as guidelines to cabling professionals when installing these cables. We hope you enjoyed this review and that it will help you select the best UTP cable for your needs.

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