Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6 explained

If you are planning to connect your shiny new console or computer to the Internet you will need a Ethernet cable or a wireless adapter. Sure, many devices now have wireless technology though a wired connection is often more reliable and faster, especially if you get poor wireless signal in your home. There are a few types of cables about with the most common being Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6. Each of these categories are a little different which is important to take into consideration when shopping for a new cable to connect you to the Internet.


Cat5 is a slow and retiring cable. It’s capable of 10/100Mbps speeds with a frequency of 100MHz, which is nothing special in comparison to other Ethernet cables such as Cat6. If you are installing a whole new network, or simply connecting an device to your router, Cat5 Ethernet cables should be avoided as there are better alternatives available.


Cat5e (category 5 enhanced) is an improved version of Cat5. It features speeds of 1000Mbps (Gigabit Ethernet) with a frequency of 100MHz. In addition to this, Cat5e has a lower crosstalk than Cat5 which means it has less interference from other circuits which could impact performance.


Cat6 is an big improvement over Cat5e. For home users, it does not provide much of a difference over Cat5e and is slightly more expensive. It has speeds of 1Gbps with a frequency of 250MHz. It has an even lower crosstalk than Cat5e which makes it ideal to use in areas where interference from other circuits could be a problem. This type of Ethernet cable is the best choice if you wanted to future proof your network as much as possible on a budget.

On almost all cables the category is printed on the rubber coating which makes it easy to identify. In addition to this, Cat6 cables are generally thicker than Cat5 or Cat5e to help them further reduce interference. If you are planning a new network installation in your home, Cat5e and Cat6 are worthy contenders. Cat5e offers good speeds and little crosstalk however, for a little more money Cat6 can offer even greater speeds and even less crosstalk. Most home users wont notice a difference between these two cables though Cat6 is a slightly more future proof solution because of it’s increased capable speed.

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