FAQ Section

CAT 6 VS. CAT 5e

[Q] What is the difference between CAT 6 and CAT 5e cable?

[A] Currently there is a great deal of confusion among Ethernet cable buyers concerning whether to purchase Cat5e, or to use Cat6. Most of this confusion comes from a misunderstanding by the buyer that buying Cat6 cable will give them an "all gigabit" network. This is not the case. Unless every single component in the network is gigabit rated, then you will never have a gigabit network, because your network will always run at the speed of your slowest device. Cat5e cable of good quality can run near or at gigabit speeds, it just cannot be "certified" for this use. By comparison, Cat6 is designed especially for gigabit use, and is certified to operate at said speed. It becomes a matter of whether or not you want to pay all that extra money, for little or no noticeable improvement in the performance of you network. In most cases, it makes more sense to go with Cat5e. It is for this reason that most of your new installations in the private sector are going with Cat5e. It is more economical, performs well, and is readily available in many colors. Many IT professionals when asked about why they specified Cat6 for a specific job, often responded stated that they "wanted the best they could get." This is the line of thought behind many purchases of cable. The average consumer often is not aware that there is no real benefit to them to use Cat6, so they let someone talk them in to buying it. Cabling4less.co.uk is committed to helping people make good decisions about cable purchases and we are always standing by to help you.

[Q] What's the difference between CAT 5 cable and CAT 5e cable?

[A] CAT 5 cable and CAT 5e cable have several differences, the most important are as follows:

Network support - CAT 5 cable will support 10/100 Ethernet. That is, Ethernet and Fast Ethernet. CAT 5e cable will support Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, and Gigabit Ethernet. CAT 5e Cable is completely backwards compatible, and can be used in any application in which you would normally use CAT 5 cable.

Less cross talk - Cross talk is the electrical interference that results when one wire's signal affects another wire's signal. CAT 5e cable has been improved over CAT 5 cable in this respect, and cross talk has been greatly reduced.

Bandwidth - This is directly related to network support, in the sense that the bandwidth is the information-carrying capacity of a system. The greater the bandwidth, the greater the information-carrying capacity in a given period of time. CAT 5e cable is rated at 350 megahertz, and it is this increased bandwidth (compared to CAT 5 cable) that allows it to support Gigabit Ethernet.

If you are unsure whether to order CAT 5 OR CAT 5e, we recommend ordering CAT 5e. CAT 5e is completely backwards compatible and we do not charge any additional amount for it. The improvements made in CAT 5e over the original CAT 5 Cable are astonishing, so it will always be the right choice between the two.

CAT 5 Cable will still be sufficient for many applications. In fact, there are still companies operating today that have special requirements for CAT 5. These will be the exceptions of course, because almost all new installations are being done with CAT 5e. The improved signal carrying capacity of the cable is the primary reason.

CAT 5e Cable also has improved durability, due to improvements in the quality and thickness of the PVC protective jacket. It is more than suitable for most data cabling requirements.