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What is Cat5 Cat5e Cat6 Cat6a Cat7 Cat7a vs Cat8 Ethernet Cable?

What is Cat5 Cat5e Cat6 Cat6a Cat7 Cat7a vs Cat8 Ethernet Cable?

You may have heard about Ethernet cables in relation to an Internet connection, but you might be scratching your head about what they are, what they do, and why they are useful in the first place. Ethernet is a way of connecting computers and other network devices in a physical space. This is often referred to as a local area network or LAN. The idea of an Ethernet network is that computers and other devices can share files, information and data between each other efficiently.

In short, an Ethernet cable is something that will connect your electronic device (computer, tablet, gaming console, etc.) to a network, which, in turn, will allow you to have internet access and interact with shared network resources. Think of it like getting Wi-Fi to your device by manually connecting to the network instead of connecting wirelessly.

One of the great things about Ethernet is that it is an internationally recognized standard in internet technology. Thus, it is supported by all manufacturers of network equipment and it can be used with any piece of hardware.  

The different types of Ethernet cables-Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a, Cat7, Cat7a, and Cat8-differ in their specifications. Each of these cables is designed to match different Internet speeds and network standards.

Cat5 Ethernet Cable

Also known as an Ethernet cable or LAN cable, Cat 5 or Category 5 is a network cable consisting of four pairs of twisted copper wires terminated by RJ-45 connectors. cat 5 cables are used in home and business networks and provide data transfer speeds of up to 100 Mbps. the maximum recommended length of a Cat 5 cable is 100 meters. While some offices set up “a long time ago” may still use Cat 5, Cat 5 Ethernet cables are obsolete and have actually been replaced by Cat 5e Ethernet cables, a more powerful and enhanced upgrade cable.

In terms of performance, the Cat5 Ethernet cable has a standard bandwidth of 100 MHz and a maximum length of 100 meters, providing connection speeds of up to 100 Mbps. By modern standards, this is quite low, usually starting at 1 Gbps. After all, the point of a hard-wired connection is not only reliability but also speed.

Cat5 Ethernet cables consist of two twisted-pair, color-coded copper pairs. They are less durable and less resistant to interference than other categories of Ethernet cables because Cat5 cables do not have insulation to provide better protection.

Cat5 Ethernet Cable

Also known as an Ethernet cable or LAN cable, Cat 5 or Category 5 is a network cable consisting of four pairs of twisted copper wires terminated by RJ-45 connectors. cat 5 cables are used in home and business networks and provide data transfer speeds of up to 100 Mbps. the maximum recommended length of a Cat 5 cable is 100 meters. While some offices set up “a long time ago” may still use Cat 5, Cat 5 Ethernet cables are obsolete and have actually been replaced by Cat 5e Ethernet cables, a more powerful and enhanced upgrade cable.

In terms of performance, the Cat5 Ethernet cable has a standard bandwidth of 100 MHz and a maximum length of 100 meters, providing connection speeds of up to 100 Mbps. By modern standards, this is quite low, usually starting at 1 Gbps. After all, the point of a hard-wired connection is not only reliability but also speed.

Cat5 Ethernet cables consist of two twisted-pair, color-coded copper pairs. They are less durable and less resistant to interference than other categories of Ethernet cables because Cat5 cables do not have insulation to provide better protection.

Cat5e Ethernet Cable 

Cat5e (Cat5 enhanced) is the cheapest, but it is also the slowest. It supports data transmission speeds of one gigabit per second (Gbps), a frequency of 100 MHz, and a maximum length of 328 feet. The crosstalk between the wires in the cable is reduced, thereby reducing the chance of interference and transmission errors. Of course, it will provide capable performance for most applications today, but Cat5e also leaves fewer opportunities for future upgrades.

Cat6 Ethernet Cable

Cat6 cable is also called “Category 6” Ethernet cable. Cat6 is another improvement of the previous version of Cat5e. It consists of four pairs of copper wires and supports Ethernet connections up to 10Gbps. Under normal circumstances, within a range of 100 meters, it supports a maximum transmission speed of up to 1 Gbps. The Cat6 cable supports 37-55 meters (depending on crosstalk) when transmitting at 10Gbps. It can transmit signals with frequencies up to 250MHz, which indicates the frequency at which the signal can pass through the cable. More importantly, it uses RJ-45 standard connectors and is backward compatible with its previous versions, such as Cat5 and Cat5e. Cat6 cables are generally very affordable, and their speed is 10 times that of Cat5e cables. However, their prices are higher than Cat5e cables, and they are also relatively short.

Some upgrades in the design of the Cat6 Ethernet cable also make it an improvement over the previous version. First, the wire pairs are wound tighter, including more twists per centimeter (two or more twists per centimeter-the exact number varies depending on the model). This can further reduce crosstalk and interference.

In addition, Cat6 Ethernet cables may include a plastic core in the middle for better separation of wires, which is expected to obtain clearer signals, and aluminum foil insulation. Cat6 cables have a thicker sheath than Cat5e cables. The thicker sheath reduces the chance of alien crosstalk (AXT) and near-end crosstalk (NEXT).

Most Cat6 cables are flat, so if you need to stick them on the wall, guide them through narrow corners, or just let them blend into the background as much as possible, they are quite convenient. After all, one of the most visual headaches with Cat5e cables is that it is just there.

Cat6a Ethernet Cable

Cat6a cable is an enhanced version of the Cat6 Ethernet cable. This enhanced Cat6 cable includes a higher standard bandwidth, starting at 500 MHz and going up to 550 MHz. this standard bandwidth is twice that of Cat6, which carries important consequences. Chief among them is that Cat6A can maintain a data rate of 10 Gbps over distances of up to 100 meters. That’s about twice the difference of Cat6.

If you want to set yourself up for a successful long-term Gigabit Ethernet network, Cat6a (Category 6 Enhanced) is the right choice. Yes, it’s more expensive than Cat5e or Cat6, but as the technology evolves, the hardware you’ll connect to your network will only get more complex, not less. cat6a supports the same 10Gbps transmission speed as Cat6, but up to 328 feet and at 500MHz. of course, there’s less crosstalk compared to Cat6.

Cat6a Ethernet cables also come with a stronger jacket that not only reduces but completely eliminates AXT (extraneous crosstalk) and improves the quality of the SNR (signal-to-noise ratio). Basically, Cat6a cables have reduced crosstalk and are more likely to give you the maximum possible speed of 10Gbps.

Cat7 Ethernet Cable

Cat7 cables stand for Category 7 cables that are used to provide cables for Gigabit Ethernet infrastructure. It provides frequencies up to 600MHz. It is the perfect choice for wiring your smart home. After wiring, you can even check automation ideas. It supports high-speed Ethernet communications up to 10Gbps. These are backward compatible with Cat6, Cat5, and Cat5e. It provides a 100-meter 4 connection channel with shielded wiring. They require twisted pair wires to become a fully shielded system. This system is called shielded twisted pair (SSTP) or shielded foil twisted pair (SFTP) cabling. It eliminates foreign cross-talk and has better noise immunity. It allows users to obtain higher speeds with longer cables.

Cat7a Ethernet Cable

Cat7a Ethernet cable refers to “Category 7 Enhanced”, or Category F enhanced products. This was introduced by ISO 11801 Edition 2 Amendment 2 (2010) and defines frequencies up to 1000 MHz.

Category 7a cables may have been initially introduced as a future-proof step to meet the expected widespread adoption of the 40 Gbps Ethernet standard. -However, in 2016, a new approval meant that this responsibility was effectively handed over to Cat8 cables designated for 2000 MHz. As a result, cable Cat7a is not officially supported by very many devices as a standalone revision.

Cat7a Ethernet cables are typically slightly thicker because of the additional shielding designed to increase the speed at which they deliver 1000 MHz. Even so, Cat7a is not technically recognized by most of today’s standards and therefore has very limited applications. This is because it offers similar speeds and distances to Cat7 in most everyday applications and environments. Both standards are considered suitable for demanding usage scenarios, such as high-performance data center applications.

Cat8 Ethernet Cable

Cat8 Ethernet cables have made great leaps in performance and speed. Cat8 Ethernet cable can support frequencies up to 2GHz (or 2000Mhz), which is more than twice that of Cat7.

More importantly, Cat8 Ethernet cable can achieve the speed of Cat8.1 up to 25Gbps and Cat8.2 up to 40Gbps. This is a huge upgrade to the speed of its predecessors–especially it can even support higher data transmission rates within a short distance of 30 meters.

Cat8 Ethernet cable is also designed as shielded wiring to reduce interference. This is achieved through the use of S/FTP, which refers to shielding with foiled twisted pair cables. The working method of this shielding is that the twisted pair is first wrapped in aluminum foil, and then covered by a sturdy 4-pair woven net, which is flexible and highly durable. The braided screen design enables better grounding and usually achieves the highest performance of copper cables. Like all other Ethernet cables, Cat8 uses RJ45 connectors and is backward compatible.

Finally, at its extreme speed, Cat 8 is not really designed for home use. At least not yet. To take full advantage of the speed of Cat 8, you need not only a suitable Cat 8 cable, but also compatible switches, routers, and network cards to support it. So similar to Cat7, it is most suitable for industrial use.

Cat5 vs Cat5e vs Cat6 vs Cat7 vs Cat8 Cable: Which to choose?

How to choose Cat5 vs Cat5e vs Cat6 vs Cat7 vs Cat8 cable? The above focuses on the main factors that you need to consider when choosing the right Ethernet cable.

In terms of speed and bandwidth, the later version of network cable performs better than the former one, but one more important point you should keep in mind is that network cables support different speeds over different distances. Take Cat6 cable for example, the max transmission speed is 1 Gbps at 100 meters, while 10 Gbps at 37-55 meters. Cat6a Ethernet cable can reach 10 Gbps over a distance of up to 100 meters. So you can choose the suitable network cable according to the cabling length and network speed you need.

After taking these key factors into consideration, then you can pay more attention to the shielding type of Ethernet cables as well as their applications. In addition, the price might be a factor that you need to consider when choosing the right Ethernet cable. Cat6a can perform just about the same as Cat7 but at a lower price point, and Cat 8 cable is generally more expensive than the older versions like Cat 6, or even Cat 7.

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