Difference between Cat5e and Cat6 Cable?

Posted by Tom Niswander on

There are over 5 different cable categories in the world today. Those range from Cat5e to the newly added Cat8 cable. You might even still see cat3 cable but with the advances in today's technology, it is unlikely. In this article we are going to go over information regarding the differences between cat5e and Cat6 Cable.

What types of differences are their between Cat5e and Cat6 Cables?

Cat5e and Cat6 cables come in multiple different forms. Some of the most common cables types you will see them in are:

CM rated cables are (stranded) general use cables which you are probably most familiar with. These are the cables that you see around the office connecting your ethernet ports to your computers or printers. These cables mostly come in patch cord form. Patch cords cables come in multiple shapes and sizes and give you the option for customization

CMR Rated cables are known as riser rated cables. These cables mostly come in bulk sizes ranging from 250 feet to 1000 feet. CMR rated cables have a higher fire retardant rating because they are made for in the walls of your home, office or building. Riser are areas connecting floors in building and this cable is great for this. Because this rated cable is meant for in the walls of your home and up to floors more cable is needed and that is why you see it in larger rolls.

CMP rated cables are known as plenum rated cables. Plenum areas are sections in your home or building where air flow is current. Areas that would circulate the air such as AC systems would be an example of plenum areas.This cable is constructed with the highest fire retardant rating and materials making it suitable for home, office and buildings. Generally the most expensive cable because of its ability to reduce the amount of smoke emitted and spread of fire.

Quality is definitely important when it comes to these cables and that is why we always recommend to go with certified and tested cables. If only there was a place to get those kind of cables :)

What is the speed difference of Cat5e and Cat6?

The difference in speed for these cables comes in the maximum frequencies they can deliver. Cat5e cable has a rating of up to 100 MHz and Cat6 cable can do up to 250 MHz. However, these cables can be tested using higher frequencies and that is why you see some cables labeled so. These ratings are the speed standards set by the telecommunications industry association.

What is the maximum distance you can run Cat5e and Cat6 cable?

For cat5e and cat6 cable the recommended distance stays the same at 100 meters or 328 feet. You might be able to get away with going a little longer but it is not recommend to go over 100 meters. The shorter the better when it comes to your runs.

What is the difference in data rates?

Both of these cables are rated for 1GB data rates.

Cat6 cable is an advancement on cat5e cable and is constructed with a high twist rate. This cable has been developed to be able to achieve up to 10GB at shorter distances with the maximum distance for the 10GB at 55m. This does hinder on certain factors such as cable quality, your connectors, gear and how you terminated your cable. If you're looking for long runs and consistent 10 gigabits it is recommended to look at cat6a cable.

Do cat5e and cat6 cables use different connectors?

An RJ45 or Keystone jack will be your go to here for these cables. You will be able to connect these using the 4 twisted pairs that are in the cable. You can choose between the two different cabling schemes and wire the connectors accordingly. When it comes to cable structure if you use an unshielded cable you use unshielded connectors and if you use shielded connectors you must use shielded connectors to get the full benefits of shielded cable.


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