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Most companies have started realizing the benefits of adapting to a cloud-based business solution. The onset of video calling, file transfers, and online databases are further pushing the boundaries. 

The overall performance of such an ecosystem depends solely on the internet speed. The more sophisticated your ethernet cable is, the more efficient your workforce gets. 

This makes it even more important for you to know the types, cost, efficiency, and speed of such cables that are currently available. 

This blog post will explain everything you need to know about the differences in network switches and cabling between CAT 5e vs CAT 6.

Tight Twisted Cables

In terms of wiring, both CAT 5e and CAT6 cables are not so different as they both have 4 twisted pairs per cable. 

They are both copper-based. But CAT6 cables can offer you a huge reduction in signal-to-noise ratio and still manage to perform up to 250 MHz. On the other hand, 100 MHz is the most that you can expect out of a CAT5e cable. 

Before getting twisted, a spline (or separator) gets placed in between those wires. This makes CAT6 cables a lot more rigid and keeps those twisted wires isolated from one another. This is also why using CAT6 cables will help you achieve higher data rates.

Ability To Limit Crosstalk

Any medium (including CAT cables) that conducts digital data emits electromagnetic signals. When these cables are so close to each other, their signals tend to interrupt. 

This interference could lead to a lot of different issues but notably a huge loss in packets and an increase in errors. 

This phenomenon gets labeled under the term “crosstalk”. CAT5 cables have no means to prevent this from happening whereas CAT6 cables have a significant advantage. 

The improved shielding and the impressive cable designs that CAT6 cables have restricts crosstalk to a huge extent. 

Among all the differences in network switches and cabling (CAT 5e & CAT6), limiting crosstalk has the most significance.

Optimized For The Future

CAT6 cables are still pretty new when compared to CAT5e cables which could get outdated anytime now. CAT5e cables can only handle up to one gigabit of data whereas CAT6 cables can handle ten folds more. 

As long as the bandwidth stays within 164 feet, CAT6 will pump up to 10 gigabits of data without any problem. They are now evolving into a completely new league of cables named CAT6A. 

These can handle 10 gigabits of data and can extend the bandwidth up to 328 feet. If your goal is to be “future-proofed”, CAT6 cables are the best way to go.

Cost & Speed Of The Cables

Owing to their impressive performance (250 MHz), CAT6 cables can power 10GBASE-T. Whereas CAT5e cables can only power 1GBASE-T (1 gigabit Ethernet). The performance of CAT6 cables is more than twice that of the CAT5e category. 

Their price, on the other hand, completely depends on the seller and the cable length that you need. In general, you might see CAT6 cables being 10%-20% more expensive than CAT5e cables. 

The speed that CAT6 cables allow you to experience totally justifies the slight increase in cost.

The Maximum Length Of The Cables

You can lay both CAT5e and CAT6 cables for lengths up to 100 meters. But it is better to limit the length to 55 meters if you are planning to make use of the 10GBASE-T support. 

If you still want your cables to offer you a 10-gigabit performance, you have to opt for the CAT6A category. 

They can boost up your performance from 250 MHz to 500 MHz. You will also need repeaters in order to amplify your signal over such long distances. 

With all their differences in network switches and cabling (CAT 5e vs. CAT 6), they are still so easy to identify. The copper wires used in the CAT6 cables are thicker than the ones used in the CAT5e which is a clear indicator.

Conclusion

In reviewing the information provided above, you can see that CAT6 is clearly a superior cable. Another major advantage of choosing CAT6 cables is that they are backward-compatible. This means that you can continue using CAT6 cables with pieces of equipment that belong to older versions (CAT5e & CAT5). 

While making a choice between these two options, it all comes down to your needs and requirements. CAT6 is clearly superior to CAT5e in terms of technical specifications but priced a little higher than the rest. 

If you need help in choosing what’s best for your business, schedule a Free 15-minute consultation with a CTS rep.