Cat5 Ethernet Cables vs. Cat6: Similarities and Differences Analyzed (2023)

About Cat5 vs Cat6 Ethernet Cable Choosing an Ethernet cable can be difficult as it is constantly being upgraded to increase bandwidth.

Your Internet speed can change significantly depending on the Ethernet cable you choose. When shopping for an Ethernet cable, the difference between Cat5 and Cat6 cables leaves most people perplexed.

Although Cat6 cables are comparatively better than Cat5, that doesn't mean they will meet your needs. This article will help you identify the Ethernet cable that suits your needs.


  • What is Cat5 Ethernet Cable?
    • What is a Cat5e cable?
  • What is a CAT6 cable?
    • Cloak CAT6A
  • Cat5 versus Cat6: Similarities
  • Cat5 vs Cat6: differences
  • Cat5 vs Cat6: Which Should I Use?
    • When to choose Cat5e?
    • When should you choose Cat6
    • Cat5e is good for most, but Cat6a is even better
  • Diploma

What is Cat5 Ethernet Cable?

A Cat5 or Category 5 network cable is an Ethernet cable that consists of four twisted pairs of copper wires connected by an RJ45 connector.

Home and business networks can use Cat5 cables, which offer data transfer speeds of up to 100Mbps.

You will find two types of Cat5 cable: solid and stranded. Solid is used in professional buildings because it supports longer Ethernet usage distances.

Stranded cables are more flexible and preferable for shorter distances, so you can use them to connect two electronic devices.

A Cat5 cable should not be longer than 100 meters, which can cause network problems such as datapackage lostand slow data transfer.

Also, over long distances, Cat5 is often prone to signal interference due to the loose construction of copper wiring within the cable.

The trick to using Cat5 cabling for Gigabit Ethernet is to only span short distances.

(Video) What Ethernet Cable to Use? Cat5? Cat6? Cat7?

What is a Cat5e cable?

These cables have some additional advantages over Cat5 cables. They are an upgrade from older Cat5 cables, with the "e" standing for "improved".

They were the first Ethernet cables to support speeds of 1 Gbps, a minimum for any network today.

Cat5e cables have four twisted copper wires to reduce electromagnetic interference and enable a gigabit network with distances of 100 meters between segments.

Compared to the Cat5 standard, Cat5e has more twisted pair cabling. So you get ten times faster speeds and more ways to bridge distances without crosstalk.

It also allows for faster data transfer speeds and less interference from other connections.

Cat5 Ethernet Cables vs. Cat6: Similarities and Differences Analyzed (1)


What is a CAT6 cable?

Cat6 cables emerged a few years after the release of Cat5e and became the industry standard for network cabling.

This standardized twisted cable for Ethernet is the 6th generation used in home and commercial networks. They mainly use it in Gigabit Ethernet based computer networks because it is compatible with Cat5 cables.

Computer networks that send data at 1000 Mbit/s or more use Cat6 cables. It has four sets of copper wires that are used for data transmission.

The cable can be stretched up to 100 meters and achieves speeds of up to 10 Gbps at a length of less than 55 m. It also has improved crosstalk protection and attenuation than previous versions of twisted pair cables.

(Video) Cat5 VS Cat6 - What's the difference?

It is an upgraded version of Cat5e cables, which can transfer data up to 250MHz at the highest speed.

You can terminate the Cat6 ethernet cable with a keystone jack or an RJ45 jack.

Cloak CAT6A

CAT6A has high performance parameters and a maximum length of 100 meters for 10GBASE-t. It's the latest iteration of gigabyte ethernet cabling, with the letter a standing for bigger.

This standard cable increases data transmission bandwidth from 250 to 500 MHz, providing higher reliability and transmission speeds over longer cable runs. It also reduces the possibility of crosstalk interference.

Unlike most Cat6 cables, CAT6A cable is typically insulated, making it perfect for industrial applications where additional interference can be an issue.

Cat5e and Cat6 cables are compatible with CAT6A Ethernet cables.

Cat5 Ethernet Cables vs. Cat6: Similarities and Differences Analyzed (2)

Kat 6a Kabel

Cat5 versus Cat6: Similarities

Cat5 and Cat6 cables often confuse people when using a cabling system as they share many similarities.

performance standardsThe first similarity between Cat5 and Cat6 cables is that they meet the performance requirements for each ANSI/TIA category. Each cable meets performance standards at the maximum length that determine cable performance. You'll find that both cables work well with a maximum length of 328 feet. However, Cat6 has to meet more strict performance than Cat5.
functionThey have functions similar to those you use to connect devices such as printers, routers, network switches, and computers.
PoE supportEach cap allows up to 90W 802.3af/at/bt PoE/PoE+/PoE++
jacket classificationIn terms of jacket classification, Cat5 and Cat6 cables have outer jacket designs. They differ only depending on where you want to install the cable. For example, you get a CMR or elevator-related performance rating for regular indoor use. When you need outdoor UV protection and direct burial, there's the CMX rating. For more information on the coating values ​​for each cable, look at the cable.
Shield typeYou can find Cat5 and Cat6 cables in shielded or unshielded form. Use shielded cable where environmental influences can be a problem when using general purpose unshielded cable.
driverA Cat5 or Cat6 cable has four color-coded twisted pairs of eight conductors.
completionWith common LAN applications, you can terminate Cat5e and Cat6 for theT568A or T568BColor Coding Standards.
Cat5 Ethernet Cables vs. Cat6: Similarities and Differences Analyzed (3)

Wiring diagram for the network cable connection

Cat5 vs Cat6: differences

Each cable meets the ANSI/TIA category of performance standards. However, the maximum network speed of each cable may vary based on construction.

(Video) What's the Difference between CAT5 and CAT6 Cables?

The table outlines the differences between Cat5 and Cat6 cables to help determine the best option for your application.

PricesCat5 will be around 30% cheaper than CAT5e.Depending on the manufacturer, this cable costs between $0.20 and $0.30 per foot.According to the manufacturer, it costs around 20% more than Cat5e cables. The average cost is $0.40 to $0.60 per foot.Prices vary by manufacturer and are approximately 30% higher than Cat6 cable, averaging $0.50 to $0.85 per foot.
maximum frequency11 MHz100MHz250 MHz500MHz
DiafonieCat5 has no slot to reduce internal crosstalk between pairs.Cat5e has tighter stranded cabling to reduce crosstalk.Cat6 has a plastic slot in the middle of the cable structure that separates the pairs of wires, reducing internal crosstalk in the cable.The more durable coating on CAT6A reduces alien crosstalk and increases signal-to-noise ratio compared to Cat6.
Theoretical data transfer speeds10 BASE-T100 BASE-T for Fast Ethernet10 BASE-T100 BASE-T for Fast Ethernet1000 BASE-T for Gigabit Ethernet10 BASE-T100 BASE-T for Fast Ethernet1000 BASE-T for Gigabit Ethernet10G BASE-T for 10 Gigabit Ethernet10 BASE-T100 BASE-T for Fast Ethernet1000 BASE-T for Gigabit Ethernet10G BASE-T for 10 Gigabit Ethernet
Maximum speed100 Mbps up to 100 meters or 328 feet1 Gbps up to 100 meters or 328 feet1 Gbit/s (up to 100 meters) / 10 Gbit/s (up to 55 meters)10 Gbps up to 100 meters/328 feet
Standard dimensions in ladders24-26 AWG24-26 AWG22-24 AWG22-24 AWG
Cat5 Ethernet Cables vs. Cat6: Similarities and Differences Analyzed (4)

Rows of connected network cables

Cat5 vs Cat6: Which Should I Use?

When deciding between Cat5 and Cat6 cables, there are several factors to consider.

When to choose Cat5e?

Choose a Cat5e cable if you intend to use it in home and small office networks. It's an ideal choice if you don't expect Ethernet to be faster than2.5 GBASE-T.

Compared to Cat6, you will find that Cat5e Ethernet cables are lighter and thinner due to the loose kinks in the cable and the lack of plastic insulation around it.

The wave-free design also makes finishing easy. Also go for Cat5 if price is your top priority.

When should you choose Cat6

On the other hand, choose Cat6 cables if you intend to use them in large enterprise networks and heavy-duty applications.

You can use them for normal home network needs, e.g. For example, playing video games or watching a high-definition movie without interruptions.

They are the ideal cables for applications that require higher speeds and large capacities. Also, Cat6 is a superior option over Cat5 due to its versatility and future development.

Cat6 cables are also a better option if you don't mind spending more on an Ethernet cable.

(Video) Cat5e Cat6 Cat7 and Cat8 Cabling - (Understanding the Differences )

Cat5e is good for most, but Cat6a is even better

Cat5e has advantages when used for home networks. You can easily install it in narrow places. Nowadays, almost all network devices like routers, switches and modems are equipped with Cat5e cables by default.

So if you are happy with your internet speed, you can use Cat5e cables for your network needs.

Still, Cat6a cables are better overall when it comes to wiring your home or office network. It's a great option if you want better internet connections as it offers faster speeds.

A shielded Cat6 cable has stronger insulation, which reduces crosstalk. As the insulation makes the wire thicker, it decreasesElectromagnetic Interferencewith their communication channels.

but lessDiafonie, enjoy more bandwidth with Cat6a cables. It has a bandwidth capacity of up to 500MHz, operating incredibly fast over long distances of up to 100 meters.

They will transfer data speeds of up to 10 Gbps for business.

Cat5 Ethernet Cables vs. Cat6: Similarities and Differences Analyzed (5)

Yellow Ethernet wire cable patch


There are several factors to consider when choosing between Cat5 and Cat6 Ethernet cables. We explain the main performance and cover the similarities and differences between the two cables.

And you can better decide which one is right for you. In general, Cat6 offers better network performance than Cat5 and is a better choice for your home. Please don't hesitate to ask us any questions about the differences or our products.


What is the difference between CAT5 and CAT6 Ethernet cables? ›

The main difference between CAT5e and CAT6 cable lies within the bandwidth, the cable can support for data transfer. CAT6 cables are designed for operating frequencies up to 250 MHz, compared to 100 Mhz for CAT5e. This means that a CAT6 cable can process more data at the same time.

What is the difference between CAT5 Cat5e and CAT6? ›

CAT5 / CAT5e / CAT6

The number designation describes how much data the cable can handle: the cat 5 tops out at 10/100 Mbps speeds at up to 100 MHz bandwidth, the cat 5e at 1000 Mbps speeds, and cat 6 at 10 gigabits for up to 250 MHz. The cable has RJ45 tips on both ends.

How can you tell the difference between Cat5e and CAT6 cable? ›

CAT6 cable has a thicker diameter around 0.250-inches maximum while CAT5e cable has a smaller diameter around 0.204-inches. Finally, another major difference is their cost. The price varies by length and brand. In general, CAT6 cables are about 10% to 20% more expensive compared to CAT5e cables.

What are the main differences between CAT5 and Cat5e cabling? ›

The difference between Cat5 and Cat5e is that the Cat5e has a higher throughput speed of 1,000 Mbit / s. Also called Gbit / s. This is 10 times faster than the throughput speed of a Cat5 cable. When in doubt about either choosing a Cat5 or Cat5e cable, we can advise you to go for the Cat5e cable.

Are Cat5 and Cat6 connectors wired the same? ›

Cat6 cables use the same RJ-45 jack as Cat5 cables and previous generations of Ethernet cables. In fact, Cat6 cables have backwards compatibility with Cat5/5e and Cat3 cables. When used at 328 feet, the maximum data transfer speed drops to approximately 1 Gbps.

What is the difference between Ethernet and Cat6? ›

Category 6

Though standard Ethernet supports distances of up to 100 meters, CAT6 cable only supports 37-55 meters (depending on crosstalk) when transmitting 10 Gbps speeds. Its thicker sheath protects against Near End Crosstalk (NEXT) and Alien Crosstalk (AXT).

Can I use Cat5 instead of Cat6? ›

Both cat5E and Cat6 cables are backwards compatible, meaning cat6 cables can be used in conjunction with Cat5, Cat5E, and even older Cat3 cables and equipment. Cat5E and Cat6 cables both typically use 4 twisted pairs in each cable, and incorporate copper wires.

How long is Cat5 vs Cat6? ›

The Cat 5e operates with a 100 MHz bandwidth with an ethernet cable speed of 1 Gbps for 100 meters of cable length. A Cat 6 operates with a 250MHz bandwidth with an ethernet cable speed of 10 Gbps for 55 meters of cable length, 1 Gbps for 55-100 meters of cable length.

What's the difference between Cat5 Cat5e Cat6 and Cat7? ›

Cat5e – Has a speed up to 1.000 Mbit/s, 100MHz. Cat6 – Has a speed up to 1.000 Mbit/s, 250MHz. Cat6a – Has a speed up to 10.000 Mbit/s, 500MHz. Cat7 – Has a speed up to 10.000 Mbit/s, 1.000MHz.

Is CAT6 faster than Cat5e? ›

Cat 6 Speed (Up to 10 Gbps Max.)

Cat 6 is pricier and faster than Cat 5e, but also limited by distance. Cat 6 supports data transfer speeds up to 10 Gbps at 250 MHz with even less (or no) crosstalk interference, due to the cable's improved insulation. However, its 10 Gbps speed is effective only up to 164 feet.

What is the distance limit for CAT6? ›

What is the maximum allowed length for a Cat 5e / Cat 6 cable? For Ethernet copper cabling when used for 10/100/1000BASE-T, the maximum allowed length of a Cat 5e / Cat 6 cable is 100 meters (328 ft).

What is the difference between Cat5e CAT6 and Cat6A? ›

Cat5e - Up to 1Gbps speed,100 MHz bandwidth, 100 meters distance. Cat6 - Up to 10Gbps speed, 250 MHz bandwidth, 55 meters distance. Cat6A - Up to 10Gbps speed, 500 MHz bandwidth, 100 meters distance. Cat7 - Up to 10Gbps speed, 600 MHz bandwidth, 100 meters distance.

Is a CAT5e network cable the same as an Ethernet cable? ›

Different Twisted Pair Ethernet Categories

Many earlier Ethernet generation cables have become obsolete as the CAT3 and CAT5. However, CAT5e is now the default Ethernet category of choice thanks to its ability to support faster speeds and frequencies.

Is it worth upgrading from CAT5e to Cat6? ›

Cat5e is fine for most, but Cat6 is still better

They can support faster data transfers, are typically more durable, and offer better options for insulation against crosstalk and internal noise.

What type of connector is used with Cat5e and Cat6 cables? ›

Although Cat6 solid conductor cables usually contain 23 AWG wire, Cat5e cables with 24 AWG conductors should seat and connect properly in the Cat6 connector.

Which type of wiring is used in CAT5 Cat6 cable? ›

Category 6 cabling is another variation of twisted pair cabling. Similar to CAT5, it uses four pairs of copper wire ending in an RJ-45 jack. However, unlike CAT5, CAT6 uses all four pairs of copper wire to produce faster internet speeds.

Should I run Cat5 or Cat6 in my house? ›

So, if you're wondering which to buy, Cat5e vs. Cat6, Cat6 is the better choice, especially if you want to future-proof your network. Even if your network can't support above Gigabit speeds now, it may in the future.

Can I plug a Cat6 cable into a Cat5 jack? ›

They can be plugged in to the same ports. Therefore, Cat6 cable works on Cat5 Network. However, Cat5 cable can't be used on Cat6 network since Cat6 network has more requirements on cabling performances and capabilities, which Cat5 cable can not reach.

Can you connect a Cat5 to Cat6? ›

The answer to the question would be, “Yes, you can!" As stated before, it's preferential to match cable types; however, it is possible to mix and match Cat5e and Cat6 if necessary. If you're unsure of the wiring of the building, you may also want to go with Cat6.

Is a CAT 5 cable the same as an Ethernet cable? ›

Cat5 Ethernet, introduced 10/100 Mbps Ethernet over distances of up to 100 meters, also known as Fast Ethernet. Even though some older deployments still use CAT5 cable, it is now considered obsolete and has since been replaced by Cat5e.


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