If you are looking to buy Ethernet cable for your personal or commercial networking setup, then don’t be so astonished when you hear the equipment sellers telling you a huge list of different kinds of Ethernet cables you can buy for your use. But be smart and do some research before buying a particular Ethernet cable because it can be either too improved that it supersedes your setup requirement, or it is too low in technology that it does not meet your requirements.
In addition to the various other intricate details with different types of Ethernet cables, they are generally divided into two major categories, i.e. CAT 5 & 5e and CAT 6. The lines below discuss a brief difference between the two categories so that you have a better understanding of which kind of cable meets your requirements.
CAT5 & Cat5e5e:
Although CAT 5e is the most commonly used of the two, however, the supremacy of it cannot be understood without knowing how slow and how ineffective CAT 5 is and was in its initial days. CAT 5 is what is regarded as ‘slowpoke’ Ethernet cable, although to a non-technical person, a 10/100 Mbps and 100 MHz bandwidth might seem something with great quality, but the fact of the matter is that these figures are obsolete. With these counts, CAT 5 is the slowest of all the cables that are there in the market, therefore, if you are inclined towards buying it, no matter whatever your purpose is, you need to reconsider your choice.
On the other hand, the more generally used Ethernet cable is CAT 5 enhanced or commonly known as CAT 5e. This cable is superior to its predecessor and offers greater bandwidth and data transfer speed. The main reason behind this superiority in speed is the fact that it minimizes the ‘crosstalk’. For those who don’t know what cross talk is, it is actually the ability of cable to prevent the signals of different cables from interfering with each other. Therefore, with 100 MHz bandwidth and 1GB speed, CAT 5e will suffice most of your networking needs.
Your intuition is right, CAT 6 is superior to the CAT 5 group. With its 250 MHz bandwidth and up to 10GB of data transfer speed, it stands as the best you can get when it comes to Ethernet cables at present. You thought CAT 5e was better in minimizing cross talking? Wait till you hear what CAT 6 does to prevent it. With CAT 6 the cross talking issue is significantly tackled in the form of the internal separators that exist within the wires that isolates one pair from the other. Due to the separation the signals do not intermingle or cross with each other, ensuring fast and effective data transfer. Therefore, if your personal or commercial personal needs need to evolve in the future, then CAT 6 is a good option for all your foreseeable networking needs.
The Thing to Remember:
Now that you know the major difference between the two cables and from the look of it you seem inclined towards buying CAT 6 for your networking needs because you expect from it to provide you 10GB transfer speed. The thing that you need to keep in mind is the fact that the chain is as strong as its weakest link. What it means is that in order to get a 10GB transfer rate, every equipment within your network needs to support a 10GB transfer rate. You cannot expect the cable to give you a 10GB transfer rate, when the other equipment in the network does not support such a transfer rate. Therefore, before raising your expectations from CAT 6, know your limitations.
So Which Cable Should You Buy?
You must not buy CAT 5 even if you find it in scrap and for free because this cable is going obsolete. If your networking needs are normal and they are expected to be the same in the years to come, then you should opt for CAT 5e. On the other hand, if you expect your feature networking needs to grow and want to make your network future proof, then the cable that you need to buy is CAT 6 because it supports and guarantees fulfilment of greater network requirements.