Zedan IT Blog

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Which to use, CAT5 or CAT6 LAN cables?

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When you make a new LAN either small or big,  for home or office,  with long distances or relatively short   you may come to a choice between CAT5  or CAT6 cables (Category 5 and Category 6).

CAT5 cables was designed to handle speed of 10/100 Mbps (Fast Ethernet) and it is obsolete and we advise you to not using it, even if you find with low prices.

There is a new enhancement for CAT5 cables which is CAT5e ( ‘e’ stands for enhanced).  This enhanced type can handle speeds of 1000 Mbps (gigabit Ethernet) and designed to reduce crosstalk which means better at keeping signals on different circuits or channels from interfering with each other.

CAT6 cables suitable for speeds up to 10 gigabits Ethernet and even better tackle the issue of crosstalk.   CAT6 cable has an internal separator that isolates pairs from one another.  If you want to “future-proof” your commercial network as much as possible without a significant cost increase, CAT6 is a great choice.

CAT6 cables cost more than CAT5e, and you are building a large network this will be an important factor for cost calculations, and you need to make a proper selection between CAT5e and CAT6.   BUT when you make the selection remember the following:

  • Both types has maximum length of 100 meters
  • If you network mainly depend on applications on the internet, then CAT6 is not the best choice as speeds of download/upload data from the internet these days are limited by tenth of Mbps.
  • There is a considerable difference of cost between CAT5e and CAT6
  • Network devices these days ( and in my believe for some considerable time more ) which are used in business and servers do not exceed speed of a Gbps, and in all residential network do not exceed 10 Mbps,  which means CAT5e is enough.

Conclusion:  in most cases CAT5e is enough, unless you have special requirements and you budget allows.

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