What Is The Difference Between Cat 5, Cat 5e, and Cat 6 Cable?

Untangling the Mystery!

BY: Shane Weaver

cat crazy

So, let's say you want to play one of those new-fangled gaming console devices I've heard so much about, or you just want to connect to that Interweb.net that all the hip youngsters can't stop gabbing about. Well, you'll need some type of cable, right? (Spoiler alert: Right.)

In your magical Quest to Find the Right Cable (soon to be a trilogy directed by Peter Jackson), you'll likely come across Cat 5, Cat 5e, and Cat 6 cables with no clue as to what these designations mean. Perhaps these cables are the tails of felines, and the number denotes how many of their nine lives remain? Nonsense, why would you even think that? The truth is that any of these cables will hook you up with a connection, but there are important distinctions to keep in mind when choosing which one may be right for you. So here's the lowdown...

plugging cables into wall outlet

CAT5

Cat 5 is the slowpoke of the bunch. It can handle 10/100 Mbps speeds (Fast Ethernet) at up to 100 MHz bandwidth. That's a lot of numbers, but what it means is "slow and obsolete". New installations don't even use it, and it's on its way out, sadly...that's sadly for the cable, not for you. For the savvy cable connoisseur there are newer, better, faster, stronger options out there. That's why we at CableOrganizer.com do not sell Cat 5 cable and we don't advise you to buy them. That is, if you can even find any...like at a garage sale or something, maybe.

a network router with network cables

CAT5e

Cat 5e (Cat 5 enhanced) is currently the most commonly used in new installations. Itís designed to greatly reduce crosstalk. If you just read that and then nodded while slowly saying "Yeah...crosstalk..." don't worry, that's why you're here: to learn! It basically means the Cat 5e is better at keeping signals on different circuits or channels from interfering with each other. A step above Cat 5, it can handle 1000 Mbps speeds (gigabit Ethernet) at 100 MHz.

a pair of CAT6 cables

CAT6

Category 6 is a major improvement over Cat 5e. It's really just the bee's knees. It's suitable for up to 10 gigabit Ethernet at 250 MHz. To even better tackle the issue of that pesky crosstalkin', Cat 6 cable has an internal separator that isolates pairs from one another. For those who want to "future-proof" their residential or commercial network as much as possible without a significant cost increase, Cat 6 is a great choice. That doesn't mean it'll protect your network from cyborgs from the future or anything, it just means it will keep it up to date for longer when the "next big thing" comes along

Hopefully, this brief guide helped you get to know your Cat cables. If you'd like to thank us, just go ahead and check out our selection of products. After all, we're one of the largest cabling, cable management, and networking resellers in the world! If you require further assistance, please feel free to give us a call at 1-866-222-0030. We have a friendly and highly knowledgeable staff standing by!

morpheus eyeing grumpy cat

 

Now that you know about those Cat cables, let's take it one step further. Read on to learn about the difference between Cat6 and Cat6a.

 

©2015 CableOrganizer.com, LLC. This article may not be reproduced in part or in full without the written permission of CableOrganizer.com.
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REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

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5.0

(based on 11 reviews)

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    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Casual user (5), Enthusiast (4)
    • Primary use:
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Reviewed by 11 customers

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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

What is the difference between CAT 5, 5e, and 6?

By Farkle

from Ft. Myers, FL

About Me Casual User

Pros

    Cons

      Best Uses

        Would have wired my new home with CAT 5. Not anymore - CAT 6 is it.

        • Primary use:
        • Personal

        (33 of 35 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Straight Forward and Helpful

        By Simple Minded

        from Brampton ON

        About Me Casual User

        Pros

        • Just The Facts

        Cons

        • Eyes Not On Camera

        Best Uses

          For the money and the future, CAT 6 is the best way to go regardless of home or office. Tomorrow brings with it new advances so be prepared.

          • Primary use:
          • Personal

          (31 of 31 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Cat cable article

          By Rayxor

          from Victoria,TX

          About Me Casual User

          Pros

            Cons

              Best Uses

                Well written, brief and to the point. Keep up the good work and when I need a new cable. First stop.

                (18 of 18 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                Very useful and humorous guide.

                By Alex

                from England

                About Me Casual User

                Pros

                • Funny
                • Very helpful

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Upgrade

                  Very helpful guide indeed, glad I purchased a Cat6

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                  • Personal
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                  • No

                  (19 of 19 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  Best review i've read on the subject

                  By Steve-0

                  from omaha NE

                  About Me Enthusiast

                  Verified Reviewer

                  Pros

                  • Straight Talk

                  Cons

                  • None

                  Best Uses

                  • Replacement
                  • Upgrade
                  • When Chosing Cable Option

                  Best straight forward review on the net. Extremely helpful for novice to average users.

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                  • Personal
                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

                  (19 of 19 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  Just the information I was looking for

                  By Toneloc427

                  from DE

                  About Me Enthusiast

                  Pros

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                        Perfect balance of detail and brevity for making a quick decision - I will be using Cat5e for my current project, but I'll also know when to pick Cat6 in the future. Enjoyed the writing style as well - I know most tech people have a hard time writing this kind of article.

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                        • Personal
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                        • No

                        (17 of 20 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        5.0

                        very helpful

                        By bigddaddye

                        from Toledo, Ohio

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                              Knowledge is power

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                              (12 of 15 customers found this review helpful)

                               
                              5.0

                              Cable choice

                              By pegasus

                              from Javea, Spain

                              About Me Enthusiast

                              Pros

                                Cons

                                  Best Uses

                                  • Replacement

                                  I knew nothing about network cables. now I can choose Cat 6 with confidence.

                                  • Primary use:
                                  • Personal
                                  • Was this a gift?:
                                  • No

                                  (10 of 12 customers found this review helpful)

                                   
                                  5.0

                                  Very Helpful!

                                  By tsoemvs

                                  from `NY

                                  About Me Power User

                                  Pros

                                  • Quality Construction

                                  Cons

                                    Best Uses

                                      This information was concise, quick to digest, and extremely helpful! TY!

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                                      • Was this a gift?:
                                      • No

                                      (13 of 16 customers found this review helpful)

                                       
                                      5.0

                                      Excellent Information

                                      By matt

                                      from austin texas

                                      About Me Enthusiast

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                                      • Quality Construction

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                                          Provided me with the information i was looking for very detailed

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