Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Cat5e and Cat6

cat6Cat5e vs Cat6
Category 5e and Category 6 are two kinds of cabling that is used to connect network elements together. These are the conduits upon which data travels from one location to another. Bad cabling can often result to degraded network performance and inferior cables can also become a bottleneck for your entire network.

Cat6 cables operate at a much higher frequency of 200Mhz minimum which is double to what Cat5e cables are rated for. This means that Cat6 cable can allow faster data transfer speeds given that all the hardware in the network also operates at that given speed. But performance often comes with a literal price. Cat6 cables are more expensive compared to Cat5e cables, that is why Cat5e cables are still used predominantly in networks.

Cat6 cables also offer no significant advantage to most networks when it comes to the total speed at which the network runs since the hardware has not yet caught up. This situation is comparable to adding additional lanes to a road that isn’t congested. It costs more but doesn’t really solve any problem. With that said, it should also be noted that there are no adverse effects to using Cat6 cables since it is backwards compatible.

Even if Cat6 cables do not have any significant advantage today, the need for better and faster networks is inevitable and it is only a matter of time before Cat5e cables become too slow for most applications. Just like with the road metaphor that we used above, all roads get congested after some time.

The best use of Cat6 cables today is to future proof your equipment so that once you upgrade, you would no longer need to replace your cables to achieve the full benefit. Future proofing is especially important in scenarios where the cables become very difficult to reach after installation like in-wall cabling.

Summary:
1. Category 6 cables is the successor to Category 5e
2. Cat6 operates at 200MHz minimum while Cat5e only operates at 100MHz minimum
3. Cat6 cables are more expensive than Cat5e
4. There is actually no significant performance that can be achieved today by using Cat6 cables instead of Cat5e
5. Cat6 cables are backwards compatible with Cat5e cables
6. Cat6 is best for future proofing your network especially with cables that are difficult to replace


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1 Comment

  1. I like your analogy to cat6 cable and lanes on the road. I’ll have to use that when explaining cat5e vs cat6 to customers.
    Check out this cool video showing how Cat5e and Cat6 cable is made:
    How Low Voltage Cable is Made

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