Cat5 vs Cat6 – What is the difference

Cable wires are used for a number of purposes including networking and data transmission. The most appropriate cable for this use is known as the UTP or Unshielded Twisted Pair. These cables are also very applicable to telephone lines. However, there are a number of categories within the UTP cables. You can choose from almost 6 different types of UTP cables depending on the usage. Cat5 and Cat6 are the most popular ones. These have an edge over the traditional co-axial cables and offer more versatility. Unlike the coaxial cables, these are compatible with faster growth and more trustworthy when it comes to transmitting communication data. And that is exactly why these cables are gaining more popularity over the days.

What is crosstalk?

Like every other electronic equipment, cat cables, too, emit electromagnetic waves. If the cable wires are placed too close to one another or bundled together, this can cause significant disruption in data transmission, including lost packets of information and several other issues. This has been dealt with in the newer versions of cat cables like the cat6A, which use heavy insulation and twisted shapes in order to reduce crosstalk.

What are Cat5 cables?

Cat5 cables are subdivided into two categories, the Cat5 and the Cat5 E cables. Cat5E may be considered to be the upgraded of cat5 cables. Although cat5 give a decent speed of 10/100 Mbps at 100 MHz bandwidth and were considered decent enough till some time ago, currently cat5E has become the standard cable. These are much faster and allow convenient transmissions over long distances. These are almost 10 times faster as compared to the cat5 cables and are also more resistant to crosstalks.

What are Cat6 cables?

Although Cat6 cables are not directly used in the workstations, they are the most reliable and popular cables serving as backbones to networks. This is mainly because the bandwidth of cat6 cables is limited to only 164 feet. Although they can take up to 10 gigabits of data, bandwidth more than 164 feet is impractical as it will immediately decay to around 1 gigabit. Cat6A is an upgradation of the Cat6 and come with very thick plastic casings to reduce the crosstalk. They also offer a greater bandwidth of 328 feet. Although cat6A cables are more appropriate for high-end devices, for commercial and domestic use, cat5E and cat6 are also good enough.

Although the cat5 and cat6 cables offer a wide range of uses, they are exceptionally great as network cables. This article is entirely centered on the properties of these two cables separately and their study on a comparative basis. You would most likely see these cables used for connecting the computer to servers and modems. Also, like every other technological device, UTP cables, too, have undergone a lot of upgradations and currently offer better performances as compared to their earlier counterparts. The main difference between cat5 and cat6 wires is in terms of speed and crosstalk.

Cat5 vs Cat6

Similarities

The greatest similarity between the cat5 and the cat6 cables is that they have the same end pieces. End pieces are that part of the cable which is inserted or plugged into the computer, router or any such device. So the differences arise only in the performance and built of the two cables. Both the cat5 and the cat6 are constructed using different methods and different materials. The end used by both, however, is known as RJ-45, which can be plugged into any Ethernet jack. This has been the usual system in the hardware industry and little change is expected.

Comparison Table

Product NameCat5Cat6
Product NameCat5Cat6
Speed10 BASE – T
100 BASE – T Fast Ethernet
1000 BASE – T Gigabit Ethernet



10 BASE – T
100 BASE – T Fast Ethernet
1000 BASE – T Gigabit Ethernet
10G BASE – T 10 Gigabit Ethernet



Frequency100MHz



250MHz



Conclusion

So when it comes to making a choice between the cat5 vs cat6 cables, the decision entirely rests upon how fast you want your data transfers to be. Cat6 gives optimized transmissions, but you may have to compromise on the bandwidth. Cat5, on the other hand, can be used for long distances and are great for 1 GB links.

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