The internet boom has brought a demand for Ethernet CAT cables. People rely on them for a simple LAN or WAN connection to distribute TV signals in the areas. They have replaced the traditional coaxial cables. However, figuring out which cable is suitable remains a question. There are several factors to consider, including data transfer speed, connection distance, shielding and foil wrapping, and cost.
So which category should you choose and why?
Let us have a look:
Types of CAT Cables
Generally, people prefer choosing from three types of CAT cable. That includes CAT5E Cable, CAT 6 Patch Cable, and CAT6A ethernet cable. Perhaps they do not know about the different types of cables available in the market. Let us compare and see the variations between them.
1. CAT 3 and CAT 5 Cable
Fifteen to twenty years back, when hardware networking came in, category 5 cabling was in demand. As of now, CAT 3 and CAT 5 cables are obsolete. You can think of them as the first version in the category line. They have a transmission speed of 10 to 100 Mbps.
Though CAT 5 is available and still in use, avoid using both.
2. CAT5E Cable
CAT5E is an updated version of 5, unveiled in 2001. The ‘e’ symbolizes the ‘enhanced’ version. There are no material differences between the two, but performance-wise, 5E cabling can support a data transfer speed of one Gbps at 100 MHz up to 328 feet. Moreover, its stringent testing standards eliminate unwanted signal transfers between communication channels.
3. CAT 6 Cable
CAT 6 cabling is the backbone of all networks owing to its performance and transmission speed. It has higher bandwidth than 5 and 5E types. Unlike the entire cabling category, CAT 6 patch cable is tightly wound and has a shield over its twisted pairs to prevent crosstalk and noise interference.
Talking about its specs, it has a 500Hz of frequency and can reach the speed of 10 Gbps for up to 55 meters. And as better quality demands more price, it is more expensive than its previous variants.
4. CAT 6A Ethernet Cable
The ‘a’ in the CAT 6A stands for ‘augmented,’ representing the advanced version of all data cables. 6A is a level up of its predecessor, i.e. 6 and supports the double frequency. The presence of extra copper and 23 gauge makes it thicker than cables 5E and 6. This thickness helps in eliminating crosstalk.
The CAT6A Ethernet cables have a higher transmission speed, i.e., 10Gbps over a distance of 328 feet.
5. CAT 7 Cable
If you are looking for a data cable with a transmission speed of around 100Gbps,type 7 is the most capable in the category line. Besides, it uses a modified GG45 connector, which, to a certain extent, helps with backward compatibility. Despite all this, manufacturers avoid it because of its previous Ethernet standards, and that no popularity further creates confusion that 6A is nothing else but 7, which is not. So if you are going for it, double-check the specs.
6. CAT 7A Cable
An Ethernet cable with the highest specifications is CAT7A. However, it is not widely used and supports a few hardware options. But considering the speed, it supports 40 Gbps upto 50 meters, which is more like CAT 7. The bandwidth is 50% more than its previous one. Overall, its usage is niche-specific, and you would want to avoid it because it is the most expensive of them all.
7. CAT 8 Cable
CAT 8 is the future of data cables. They are the only cables that meet the IEEE standards, i.e., have a frequency of 2000MHz with a 40Gbps speed over 30 meters. The high frequency denotes that these cables will have a shield. All these high specifications are the reason why it is an excellent choice for prospective buyers.
The Right Choice?
In our opinion, the answer would be 6 or 6E cabling. Though, the final answer depends on your needs. If you are looking for high bandwidth, CAT 8 can be the best. However, the price can be a challenge. CAT5E is enough for a small cloud-based network. CAT 6 and 6A have added efficiencies, and so on.
Decide what you need, list your requirements, and choose wisely!