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Ethernet vs. Patch Cables: What’s the Difference ?

Ethernet cable and patch cable are very common in our daily life. However, confusions about Ethernet cable vs patch cable is common too. Ethernet is a protocol that describes how information travels through a cable. Ethernet cables are simply wires that comply with Ethernet protocols. These cables are made of copper or optical fiber. Patch cables are simply ethernet cables which have connectors at both ends. So, when comparing Ethernet cables vs. patch cables, what’s the difference?

What Is Ethernet Cable?

Ethernet is a protocol type that defines how the bits of information will travel over a specific medium.
The cables such as fiber optic, coaxial or twisted pair belong to the category of the ethernet. The two most common ethernet types are the optical network cable and fiber optic cable. And the two common types of Ethernet cables are copper network cable and fiber optic cable. Usually, to simplify the appellation, people get used to calling category Ethernet cables as Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6 as Ethernet cable.

What Is Patch Cable?

Typically, the term patch has been derived from “patch-in,” which means this cable patches a signal from one switch, hub, another hub or the router. It is a type of cable that has two ends which are used to connect an end device to something such as the power source. Similar to Ethernet cables, there are fiber patch cable and Ethernet patch cable, like LC fiber patch cable or Cat6 RJ45 patch cable. And patch cables are often used for short distances in offices and wiring closets. Ethernet patch cable can link a computer to a network hub, router or Ethernet switch, which is useful for constructing home computer networks.
Therefore, shortly, Ethernet cable refers to types of cable. While patch cable has connectors at both ends and belongs to a part of Ethernet cable. That’s the difference between them.

Ethernet Cable vs Patch Cable: What’s the Difference?

The patch cables are widely employed for short-distance connections, typically in corporate offices. On the flip side, ethernet network cables are perfect for connecting a computer to a network hub or the ethernet switch. Patch Cable Can Be Used As An Ethernet Cable
Yes, a patch cable can be employed as the ethernet cable, since both are the same thing in copper networks. But, one thing to note here is that the patch cables are best suited for smaller distances, from the patch to the switch.
More often than not, the ethernet and patch cables are more or less the same thing.
But, when it comes to ethernet, it refers to the flow of information across the diverse locations, while the latter ones are the best option for shorter distance connections as they are supported by the patch cables that lack flexibility.
The biggest shortcoming associated with the patch cables is that the attenuation is on the higher sides.
Another difference between the patch and the ethernet cable is the former has two connectors at both of the ends, while ethernet cable may not have two connectors and often terminate directly to the device interface directly.

Are All Ethernet Cables the Same?

No. According to the explanations above, there are various types of Ethernet cables such as optical fiber cable, Ethernet crossover cable and category copper cable. Correspondingly, each type has different specifications and applications. For example, optical fiber cable is used for long distances or applications requiring high bandwidth or electrical isolation. While Ethernet crossover cables are used in buildings.

Is Patch Cable a Straight Through Cable?

Straight-through wired cables are most commonly used to connect a host for a client. Here, take cat5e patch cable as an example. The straight-through wired cat5e patch cable can connect computers, printers and other network client devices with the router switch or hub (the host device in this instance). However, when it comes to fiber patch cable, they don’t have the straight-through cable type.

Can I Use Patch Cable as an Ethernet Cable?

Yes. In most cases, the Ethernet cable and patch cable are the same things in copper networks. But the latter is usually shorter to “patch” from your patch panel to your switch. For example, there is a need to use 100ft Cat6 cable to wiring home network. In this situation, the 100ft Cat6 patch cable can be used as Ethernet cable.


This article was about the differences between patch cables and Ethernet cables. They all have similar working functionality with minimal differences. All types of these cords can be used for a variety of different applications.
Every type has its own advantages and drawbacks. So, it is best to choose the perfect cord according to your needs when you are using it for your specific network and data transfer needs.