What separates the old computer cabling from the latest thing? Each generation of technology has greater speed and reliability, while the old technology costs less. If you are trying to make sense between Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6, the main thing to remember is that each one is better and faster than the last.
Cat5 computer cabling has been sufficient for high-speed internet and networking for years, but technology has started to outpace it. Cat5e doubles the speed of Cat5, while Cat6 jumps ahead to extreme speeds.
Any of the three types of computer cabling might make great sense for your home or business depending on your budget and networking needs. Here’s what you should know about each:
Cat5 Computer Cabling
Category 5 cable has been the standard in years past. The cable installed by your cable TV provider in the 2000s was most likely Cat5.
Cat5 is your cheapest option in computer cabling and it still suffices for most internet and networking needs today. Moving forward, however, we are seeing faster and better cable speeds offered by service providers and a growing need for more bandwidth to handle all our voice, video and data needs.
That means Cat5 is quickly becoming obsolete. It handles up to 500 Mbps speeds — light years faster than where we were years ago, but slower than what is now possible.
Cat5 is best for… computer cabling with the lowest cost materials. Cat5 can handle all your basic home networking needs. The biggest issue is that you may regret installing Cat5 now if you soon want to redo your computer cabling in a few years.
Cat5e Computer Cabling
The “e” in Cat5e stands for “enhanced.” Compared to Cat5, Cat5e offers faster speeds of up to 1000 Mbps. If you want Gigabit Internet, you need at least Cat5e computer cabling.
Cat5e also offers greater resistance to crosstalk. You may have never realized it, but network speeds can get slowed down or stopped altogether by signals getting crossed — just like static on old television sets, crosstalk slows down Ethernet speeds. Cat5e computer cabling prevents this a great deal more than Cat5.
Cat5e is best for… a cost-effective upgrade over Cat5 that lets you access 1 Gbps speeds and enjoy clearer and more reliable data transmission. For many businesses and virtually all residential needs, Cat5e cabling will be enough to power your needs for years and years to come.
Cat6 Computer Cabling
Category 6 cable was designed and built differently than either Cat5 or Cat 5e. An advanced insulation system protects of the wiring inside of Cat6 cable from crosstalk even better than Cat5e. The end result is that Cat6 computer cabling can handle speeds up to 10 Gbps — which is truly as fast as possible.
Cat6 costs more than the other options, but won’t need to be replaced anytime soon. When the next revolution changes the way individuals and businesses use the Internet, we will all need Cat6 computer cabling to enjoy it.
Cat6 is best for… investing in a solution that will give you the fastest speeds now and long into the future. For businesses, Cat6 is definitely the wisest choice. Homeowners may be happy with Cat5e to power Gigabit Internet.
Your electrician can help you judge the costs of wiring your property with each kind of computer cabling. Think about the costs and benefits of each one, and consider how long you want your network cabling to last.