Although the copper-based patch cable performs not so well as the fiber patch cable in Ethernet network, it is still popularly used due to its advantages of low cost, high flexibility, easy installation and operation. So far, there are various kinds of copper-based patch cables that were published and came into the market in succession, such as, cat5/cat5e, cat6/cat6a and cat7 Ethernet cable, etc. Among these copper-based patch cables, Cat5e and Cat6 Ethernet cable are two of the most commonly applied types that have similar features and functions, which may be a little hard to distinguish. Do you also feel confused? Let’s study the knowledge of these two patch cables and acquire which one is more suitable and cost effective to be used.
Introduction to Cat5e and Cat6 Ethernet Cable
Cat5e Ethernet cable is an improved version of Cat5 Ethernet cable, published in early 2001. In comparison with Cat5 Ethernet cable, it has a very similar appearance, but composed of four pairs of copper wires rather than the two pairs that cat5 Ethernet cable features. Furthermore, the pairs of copper wires in the Cat5e Ethernet cable are twisted more tightly, reducing or eliminating the crosstalk when working in Ethernet network. After the upgrades, it has become the most common type of Ethernet cabling applied in modern homes and offices, offering much faster transmission rate, wider bandwidth and higher performance. From the following figure, you can see a blue Ethernet cable on the left side which is just an example of the Cat5e Ethernet cable.
The one on the right side of the figure is a Cat6 Ethernet cable, which was introduced to the market a year later than the Cat5 Ethernet cable. It is usually made up of four unshielded twisted pairs (UTP) and terminated with RJ45 jacks, capable of supporting the 10Base-T (Ethernet), 100Base-TX (Fast Ethernet), 1000Base-T (Gigabit Ethernet) and 10GBase-T networks. Compared to the Cat5 Ethernet cable, the Cat6 Ethernet cable increases the frequency responses, tightens the crosstalk specifications and introduces more comprehensive crosstalk specifications, for a greatly enhanced performance.
Cat5e vs. Cat6 Ethernet Cable
After knowing the basic information of cat5e and cat6 Ethernet cable, you must recognize that these two Ethernet cables feature different characteristics and perform differently, even if they seem to have common in appearance and function. Then what’s the detailed information about the differences between cat5e and cat6 Ethernet cable?
Different Transmission Speed
There is no doubt that the transmission speed is always the priority if you are considering making the upgrades for your Ethernet network, so does the upgrades from cat5e to cat6 Ethernet cable. As the cat5e Ethernet cable is able to used in 1GBase-T network at most and can only performs up to 100 MHz, the cat6 Ethernet cable is improved to support 10GBase-T network with data rate of up to 250 MHz that is more than twice that of the cat5e Ethernet cable.
Different Transmission Distance
As we all know, cat5e and cat6 Ethernet cable are copper-based patch cables which are only able to transmit signals for very short distances. What’s more, the data rate also affects the transmission distance. In simple words, the higher the data rate is, the shorter the transmission distance will be. Hence, when the signals are only need to be transmitted in a low data rate, both cat5e and cat6 Ethernet cable have the ability to transmit them at lengths up to 100 meters. But if the data rate is required to be the maximum speed, the cat5e and cat6 Ethernet cable can only reach 37 meters and 50 meters, separately. If transmission distance is longer than 100 meters, you are suggested to use the repeaters or switches to amplify the signals.
The network reliability is also an important factor that you should take into account when deploying your network. Because if there are serious electrical interference in your network, the network reliability may be not so good and negatively influence the performance of your network, thereby the data transmission in your network would be in a wrong way or failed. To ensure a more reliable and stable network, the reliability upgrades is also done from cat5e to cat6 Ethernet cable, with the improvement of deterring signal interference from affecting your network. By using the advanced cat6 Ethernet cable, you’ll be able to have a longer and more reliable period of uptime, regardless of how close your network is to other surrounding networks.
The upgrades always occur with improved features swiftly, like the copper cable upgrades, to face the increasing requirements of the Ethernet network. Since the cat6 Ethernet cable is designed with the improved features of faster transmission speed, longer transmission distance and higher reliability, it is much more commonly used than cat5e Ethernet cable that can be available at a little expensive cost. Hence, you are strongly recommended to use cat6 Ethernet cable to deploy your network with higher performance.