Cat5 vs. Cat6 Cables – What are the Differences

Cat5 and Cat6 cables are installed in thousands of Canadian households, although few homeowners precisely how they work or what they’re capable of. Homes that need an upgrade may not even know they require one.


Cat5 and Cat6 Ethernet cables are used to connect computers, servers, and other Internet devices to modems and ISPs. As Internet speeds have progressed in the last decade and a half, Ethernet cables have come a long way as well to accommodate the need for greater performance.


Although Cat5 cable has become obsolete, the standard has an alternative in Cat5e which stands for ‘Cat5 Enhanced’. Released roughly 15 years ago, the Cat5e cable provides stronger performance with speeds up to 10 times faster and the ability to travel over longer distances without crosstalk.


Comparatively, Cat6 network cables have been around for over a decade and are used throughout numerous networks. Cat6 cables can process 10 Gigabits of data at a time with bandwidth limited to 164 feet. It’s about ten times faster than Cat5e cable. If you’re looking for improvements on distance, there’s also the Cat6a cable which keeps up the same speed over longer distances of up to 328 feet.


There are many similarities between Cat5 and Cat6 cables. They utilized a lot of the same hardware, including the RJ-45 Ethernet jack. They plug into the same ports and can easily be switched out one for the other. The materials used to manufacture them is sometimes different. Their capabilities certainly vary. That said, there is a standard for all Ethernet cables out there ensuring that no matter what you’re using, it’s compatible with every Ethernet port.


Once a consumer understands the difference between Cat5 and Cat6 cables, their next question’s typically which one do you use – well, it depends. Cat6 cables have better, more advanced technology however if you’re looking to install Ethernet cables in a residential home, you can get by with Cat5e easy. Cat5e cables will meet every need you have, with a capacity to handle speeds your Internet connection won’t even be able to provide.


If you’re a small business, office, or commercial enterprise, you’re going to require faster Internet, faster internal speeds, and may have a lot of processing requirements. In most cases, Cat6 Ethernet cables are going to be the way you want to go. They’ll service your commercial needs better and you also won’t need to replace them five or six years down the road when the Internet’s expanded to the point where you need a faster cable.


Shop Cat5 cables, Cat5e cables, and Cat6 cables as well as all your network Ethernet cable accessories at Canada’s own PrimeCables.

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