Cat6 vs Cat6a: What is the difference? (2023)

People often ask about the difference between Cat6 and Cat6a. Are Cat6a cables better than Cat6 cables? Of course, the answer is yes, but that doesn't mean Cat6a cables are any better for you. It depends on the actual circumstances. We come to Cat6 and Cat6a in this article.

What is Cat6 Ethernet Cable?

Cat6 Ethernet cables, also known as Category 6 cables, are the enhanced version of Cat5e cables. Category 6 is the network cabling standard defined by the EIA (Electronic Industries Alliance) and the TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association). Category 6 was formalized in 2001 and then became general. The maximum data transmission can reach up to 250MHz. With four twisted pairs, Cat6 Ethernet cables can be terminated with either an RJ45 connector or a Keystone jack.

Cat6 vs Cat6a: What is the difference? (1)

What is Cat6a Ethernet Cable?

Cat6a ethernet cable means extended category 6 ethernet cable. Cat6a cable, the form of gigabit ethernet cabling, was defined in 2018. Cat6a cables are made up of tighter twisted pairs to avoid crosstalk interference. It has a transmission bandwidth in the frequency range from 250 to 500 MHz. The Cat6a ethernet cable is compatible with Cat6 and Cat5e cables.

Cat6 vs Cat6a: What is the difference? (2)

Cat6 and Cat6a cable types

In general, there are two different types of Cat6 and Cat6a cables: shielded and unshielded. Shielded cables typically have an outer shield structure around each twisted pair or all pairs. Depending on the application, there are different levels of shielding such as F/UTP, U/FTP, F/FTP, SF/FTP, S/FTP, etc. Here are some technical terms you should know before learning more about Cat6 and Cat6a cable types .

  • U/UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pairs): U/UTP is the most common on the market, also called UTP. UTP is widely accepted by most people. UTP consists of four twisted pairs and has no shielding structure. But it usually comes with balanced pairs and a balanced design to reduce NEXT (New-End Crosstalk).
  • F/UTP (Foiled with Unshielded Twisted Pairs): F/UTP means that the cable has four unshielded twisted pairs wrapped around an entire outer foil shield.
  • U/FTP (Unshielded with Foiled Twisted Pairs): U/FTP has no external shielding, but each twisted pair has an individual metal shielding to avoid crosstalk interference.
  • F/FTP (Foiled with Foiled Twisted Pairs): F/FTP has four shielded twisted pairs with an outer shield structure for better protection.
  • S/FTP (Shielded Foiled Twisted Pairs) - This type of shielded cable has four shielded twisted pairs with an overall outer twisted shield.
  • SF/FTP (Shielded and Shielded with Shielded Twisted Pairs): SF/FTP provides maximum protection for cables from interference. It comes with a twisted shield structure and with twisted pairs.

Cat6 vs Cat6a: What is the difference? (3)

(Video) Cat6 vs Cat6A Ethernet Cable - What's the Difference?

In fact, as a breakthrough in Cat6 cables, most Cat6a cables on the market are shielded. Unshielded cables are very popular and sufficient for home networking, while the shielding structure can help block electromagnetic interference (EMI) effectively. But after choosing shielded cables, you need to pair them with shielded RJ45 jacks, keystone jacks and patch panels, otherwise the data transfer speed may suffer.

Cat6 vs Cat6a: the similarities

Cat6 and Cat6a cables are commonly used in a modern system. Cat6a is the upgraded version of Cat6 cables, so they actually share many characteristics.

  1. Cat6 and Cat6a cables can be unshielded twisted pairs or shielded twisted pairs
  2. Supports 1000 Mbps at 100 meters (328 feet)
  3. Cat6 and Cat6a Ethernet cables have 8 twisted copper wires in 4 pairs
  4. Both can be terminated according to the T568A or T568B wiring scheme
  5. Most Cat6 and Cat6a cables on the market typically use 23 AWG conductors.
  6. Cable jackets are designed for different applications (e.g. outdoor use or full room applications)
Cat6 vs Cat6a: What is the difference? (4)

What is the difference between Cat6 and Cat6a?

Cat6 and Cat6a cables differ in cable structure and performance, and when applied to a cabling system, they may also differ in required equipment, installation cost, etc. Want to know more information about the difference between Cat6 and Cat6a, please scroll down what you want to know.


The most noticeable difference between Cat6 and Cat6a is the data transfer speed. Both Cat6 and Cat6a cables can support data transfer rates up to 10Gbps. But Cat6 cable can only sustain 10Gbps up to 37 to 55 meters (121 to 180 feet), and Cat6a cable can transmit 10Gbps up to 100 meters (328 feet).


In general, Cat6a cables can be thicker than Cat6 cables, so they also have thicker copper conductors and cable jackets. Compared to Cat6 cables, Cat6a cables require higher quality Keystone connectors and RJ45 connectors. Also, Cat6a cables have tighter twisted pairs than Cat6 cables.


Cat6a has a major upgrade as it has twice the bandwidth frequency of Cat6. The frequency bandwidth of Cat6a cable can reach 500MHz, which enables more stable data transmission and longer distance.

(Video) Cat6 vs Cat6a — Which is Better?

radius of curvature

Normally you should not bend the cable too much, otherwise the wiring will be damaged and the performance will be affected. Bend radius is the minimum radius that a cable can be bent without damaging it. The radius of curvature mainly depends on the structure and materials of the cable. In general, the radius of curvature is directly proportional to the diameter of the cable. Because of the thickness and bulk, Cat6a cables have a larger bending radius than Cat6 cables and can take up more space.

installation costs

Compared to Cat6, Cat6a enables higher speed, higher frequency bandwidth and longer life because Cat6a cable use high quality material, so the cost of Cat6a can be higher than Cat6a cable. Even if you want to upgrade your network installation to Cat6a, you not only have to replace the cable, but also use more powerful switches and other network devices. Cat6a cabling can be more difficult and complex to install than Cat6 cabling, so a network cabling specialist is recommended.

Cat6 vs Cat6a: What is the difference? (5)

CAT6 and CAT6A comparison table


gat 6

gato 6a

data transmission

1000 BASE-TX


bandwidth frequency



Maximum distance

100 meters (328 feet)

100 meters (328 feet)

distance for 1G

100 Metros

100 Metros

distance to 10G

37~55 Metros

100 Metros

common meters in ladders



cable jacket



connector types

connector rj45

connector rj45

Cat6 vs Cat6a: Which Should I Use?

When deciding whatEthernet cablingWhen installing, you need to consider many factors. For example, what are your projected costs? What app are you currently using and what apps will you be using in the future? Do you need a particularly high network speed?

Cat6 network cables are currently sufficient for normal home network use. For example, you can watch HD movies and play computer games undisturbed. Cat6 cables are ideal for 60W and 90W PoE (Power over Ethernet). However, if you expect to need 10Gbps in the future, it is better to install Cat6a.

(Video) TOP NETWORK CABLE 2022 - Which CAT Cable Do YOU Need?Cat5, Cat6, Cat7?

Cat6a is very suitable for large networks that require large amounts of data, so it is more recommended for new buildings, office networks and data centers due to its higher network speed and 10 Gbit/s up to 100 meters. Cat6a is also backward compatible with Cat6, Cat5e and Cat5, which is a good solution for future network upgrades.

Cat6 vs Cat6a: What is the difference? (6)

By explaining the difference between Cat6 and Cat6a, you can better understand how to choose Cat6 and Cat6a cable. If you want to know more about the difference and the products, please feel free to contact our team.

You can find more information on this topic in ourBlogs🇧🇷 While VCELINK provides general and basic information for our customers and other website visitors, this is not professional advice.

  • 10 Gbit/s
  • CAT6
  • CAT6 × CAT6A
(Video) What Ethernet Cable to Use? Cat5E? Cat6? Cat6A? Cat7?

21. September 2022

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can CAT6 handle 10Gbps?

    Yes, but Cat6 only supports 10 Gbps data rates over a distance of 120-185 feet.

  • Is Cat6a compatible with Cat6?

    Cat6a cables still use RJ45 connectors and are backward compatible with Cat6 and Cat5e cables.

  • Is it worth upgrading from Cat6 to Cat6a?

    (Video) Cat6 vs Cat6A Ethernet Cable: What's the difference?

    It depends on your need, but Cat6a outperforms Cat6 and has proven to be the great solution for future applications.

  • Is Cat6a good for home networks?

    Cat6 cables are widely used in home network installation, which is enough for most people. However, if you have special or higher network speed requirements, you should install Cat6a at home.


What is the real difference between Cat6 and Cat6a? ›

As well as being able to easily support 1 Gbps network speeds, CAT6 can also support higher data rates of 10Gbps. However, 10Gbps is only supported over shorter distances of 37-55 metres. CAT6A is capable of supporting data transfer rates of up to 10Gbps at a maximum bandwidth of 500MHz.

Is there a big difference between Cat6 and Cat6a? ›

Cat6A is fully compatible with Cat6, but it escalates performance in three key areas. First, Cat6A can operate at up to 500 MHz. The extra bandwidth doubles the effective distance at which the cable can maintain 10 Gbps — up to 100 meters. The second upgrade is in cable twists.

Is it worth upgrading from Cat6 to Cat6a? ›

CAT6A Benefits

One key benefit of CAT6A over CAT6 is speed. A CAT6 cable can run 10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet at speeds up to 1000 Mbps and a maximum length of 100 meters. The same is also true for 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T running at 2.5 and 5 Gbps, respectively.

What is difference between Cat6 Cat6a and Cat7? ›

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 there any reason to buy a CAT6 cable for home use? ›

If you want faster internet speeds, Cat6 is a good choice. It reduces something called “crosstalk” — signal transfers that disrupt your communication channels. If you are happy with your current internet speeds, however, Cat5 might be all you need. Besides, Cat5 cables tend to be cheaper than Cat6.

What is the distance limit for CAT6A? ›

Regardless of the standard, all Cat 6A cabling will provide 10 Gb/s data rates, operate at a maximum frequency of 500 MHz, and have a maximum distance of 100 meters.

Can you mix CAT6 and 6a? ›

Can Cat6 and Cat6a cables be mixed used together? Yes, Cat6 and Cat6a can be used together in the same setup, but the bandwidth that cat6a can support can be bottlenecked by using a cable that supports lower bandwidth which will effect your speeds.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of CAT6A? ›

CAT6A is backward compatible with CAT6 and 5E; and EA networks use some of its components. Although initially expensive, these cables are now the most cost-effective solution for cable systems. The only disadvantage of CAT6A cables is its size and weight.

What are the benefits of CAT6A? ›

Why is CAT6A the best choice for Wi-Fi cables?
  • Increased Bandwidth. CAT6A supports bandwidth that is twice the amount of CAT6. ...
  • Backwards Compatibility. CAT6A is backwards compatible with both CAT6 and CAT5E. ...
  • Built For Industrial Use. ...
  • Reduced Crosstalk. ...
  • Cost Effective.

Should I buy Cat6 or CAT6A cable? ›

6 network cable already allows a bandwidth of 1 Gigabit per second, so 1000 Mbit/s, the Cat. 6a cable can achieve a much higher speed. In terms of speed, the Cat. 6a cable is therefore superior to the Cat.

Is CAT6A good for home network? ›

Cat6a is very suitable for large networks that need large data, so it is more recommended for new buildings, office networks, and data centers for its higher network speed and 10Gbps up to 100 meters. Cat6a is also backwards compatible with Cat6, Cat5e, and Cat5, which is a good solution for future network upgrading.

Do Cat6 and CAT6A use the same connectors? ›

The CAT 6A is an improvement on the CAT 6 in that it is able to accommodate 10 Gigabit Ethernet data rates up to 328 feet on a single cable. This means that it is twice as fast as the CAT 6. They are thicker than the CAT 6 cable but they still use the same RJ-45 connectors.


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