Cat5, Cat5e or Cat6? What's the difference?
Choosing the right type of cabling can be a critical decision for your new or existing business. In this post we'll talk about the differences and hopefully give you a better idea and help you make an educated choice when the need arises.
Cat5 is the slowest of the bunch and is basically phased out in today's world. It's capable of 10/100 Mbps speeds and up to 100 MHz of bandwidth. New installations do not use this type of cable anymore but it's a good baseline to know.
Cat5e (e is for enhanced) is still the standard for most new installs today. It is enhanced because it takes great lengths to reduce crosstalk in it's creation. Crosstalk is signals from each wire interfering with each other and can cause network problems. Big, sometimes unidentifiable ones. A step up from Cat5, it can handle gigabit speeds, 1000 Mbps at 100-350 MHz bandwidth.
Cat6 is moving closer and closer to being the standard in modern installs. In fact, I'd say we do 60/40 Cat5e to Cat6 installs recently. It can handle 10 gigabit speeds in some situations and 250-550 MHz bandwidth, a major step up from Cat5e. It also has a separator between pairs which makes it even more reliable in regards to eliminating crosstalk than Cat5e as well. If you want to have optimal speed and be future prepared, Cat6 is the logical choice for you.
Please note that network equipment such as switches, network cards, etc are necessary to reach high speeds and bandwidth while using Cat5e or Cat6. When all are properly installed, your local network will fly with the best of them!