The difference between shielded and unshielded Cat6 cables (2023)

What is the go-to Ethernet cable for all types of wired networking applications? The Cat6 cable, right? Do you know what it is and how diverse its species are? Well, the cable is made in up to 5 different variants such as: shielded Cat6, unshielded Cat6, solid/stranded, etc.

Shielded Cat6 and unshielded Cat6 cables are the most common differentiated cables. They are also the most common variant ofCabo-Ethernet Cat6. Its shielded variant is known to keep electromagnetic interference to a minimum and various types of crosstalk in saturated networks. Likewise, unshielded Cat6 cable is known for its affordability, ease of installation and high performance.

Cat6 shielded cables differ from unshielded cables due to many factors.

Let's look at these differences in detail.

This blog is about the difference between shielded and unshielded Cat6 cables. Make sure you read to the end.

Kabel Cat6

Before we start explaining the differences between shielded and unshielded Cat6 cable, let's take a moment to understand or summarize what Cat6 cable is.

So this is the sixth category ofcabo ethernetwhich was made available to the public after Cat5e. This cable had more twists per unit length in the conductors of the cable. Additionally, a slot, also known as a cable splitter, is installed between the wires in the cable. This cable splitter keeps the wire pairs separate, which directly translates to better performance in terms of low (electromagnetic) interference.

This cable is EIA/TIA certified and manufactured in accordance with RoHS standards. In addition, the cable can be used for all kinds of high-speed Ethernet applications, such as B. Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, audio/video applications, online gaming/streaming, PoE, PoE+/++ etc. .

(Video) Shielded and Unshielded Cable. What's the difference.

Cat6 cable has 4 tightly twisted pairs of 23 AWG conductors in its core. Conductor sizes are the same for shielded and unshielded cables. And also the number of conductor pairs is the same.

The only difference between shielded Cat6 (STP) and unshielded Cat6 (UTP) is that STP cables have wire braid or metal foil around the conductors. UTP cables do not have this additional protection against EMI and crosstalk, they just have twisted pairs and cable insulation.

Note, however, that there are other differences between STP and UTP cable due to this additional shielding or lack thereof. From cable performance to price and ease of installation, shielding affects you.

Cat6 unshielded cable

Cat6 unshielded cableis more or less the basic definition of Cat6 cable. With its unshielded conductors and a variety of cable jackets to choose from, the cable is just any Cat6 cable.

So by definition you have 4 twisted pairs of 23 AWG unshielded conductors. These conductors can be bare copper or copper clad aluminum. Conductors can also be solid or stranded. More on driver type in later parts.

Unshielded Cat6 cable is designed for use in networks with relatively low cable density. Whether at home or in the office, the number of parallel cables is crucial.

For example, if your network has more than three cables connected in parallel and you run the unshielded cable next to it. You will have some crashes. Therefore, avoid using this cable in places with a lot of cables.

Note that unshielded cables are not completely susceptible to interference/crosstalk. It has a built-in resource in the form of twisted pairs. This is responsible for keeping the unwanted signals at bay.

(Video) Q&A: Do I need a Shielded Ethernet Cable? Cat 6a, Cat6, Cat5e

Cable Cat6 armored

The shielding of shielded Cat6 Ethernet cable is its main highlight. This shielding can take three forms: 1. It can be metal foil, 2. It can be wire mesh, and 3. It can be wire mesh or metal foil wrapped around the cable conductor.

As mentioned earlier, the function of shielding is to protect the cable conductor from receiving unwanted signals.

What happens in wired data networks is that signals leak from their medium (conductor) to other means (conductors of other cables). When signals deviate from an Ethernet cable, the cable next to it is more likely to receive and transmit them. This is called crosstalk or external noise.

Wired data networks must thereforearmored cat6if enough wires run parallel to each other.

Shielded Ethernet cables also have some disadvantages. First of all, they are more complicated to install. And second, they are more expensive due to the obvious extra features. Shielded Ethernet cables are more rigid than unshielded ones, making them quite difficult to install. And as mentioned earlier, as the features improve, so does the price. As a result, these cables cost slightly more than their unshielded counterparts.

Difference between shielded and unshielded Cat6

Shielded and unshielded Cat6 cables have the same core. But armored ones have an extra layer or two to protect against interference. Although shielding is the only difference between the cables, it causes differences in cable performance. Let's take a detailed look at each difference caused by shielding in Cat6 cables.


On unshielded cables, EMI and interference can cause actual signals to travel more slowly. But on shielded cables, speeds can be maintained reasonably well due to less interference.

In general, shielded cables maintain speed better compared to unshielded Cat6 cables. So if speed is a big concern for you, you might want to get the unshielded cable.

(Video) Shielded vs Unshielded Ethernet Cable

long band

Bandwidth is the total amount of data that can be transmitted over the cable in one unit of time (one second). It also holds up very well on shielded cables, as does the speed. However, with unshielded cables, some of the bandwidth is consumed by interference and unwanted signals that take up the space your cables should.

Note that although unshielded cables are less bandwidth efficient,Kabel cat6It has enough capacity to support almost any type of requirement. Simply put, you'll rarely, if ever, run out of bandwidth.


First, let's find out how efficient Ethernet cables are. The cable can meet your specifications. In other words, it is the measure of how much a cable promises to deliver and how much it delivers.

Cat6 cable has a data transfer rate of 1 GBit/s with a maximum length of 100 meters. If the cable can now deliver exactly 1 GBit/s or more over a length of 100 meters, it is considered highly efficient. If not, it means the cable is not as efficient.

We just discussed the impact of shielding on the speed and bandwidth of Cat6 cable. And he concluded that having the shield means better speed and bandwidth efficiency than not having the shield. This is the general overall efficiency of shielded and unshielded Cat6 cables.

EMI and crosstalk

Electromagnetic interference in a cable is the signals radiated by the surrounding cables. If the Cat6 cable is shielded, this interference is less likely to interfere with signal transmission. It will be completely blocked or mirrored.

However, with unshielded cables, EMI and various types of crosstalk are more likely to degrade cable performance.


How STP and UTP Cat6 cables differ in cost is an easy question to answer.
As the shield is an additional material, the cable costs extra.

(Video) difference between unshielded twisted pair cable and shielded twisted pair cable

Also remember that these additional one-time costs pay off in the long run. The cost of shielded cable is worth it.

solid/stranded conductor

Shielded and unshielded cablesThey have the same drivers. Any shielded cable can have the same conductor as any unshielded Cat6 cable.

Conductors can also be solid or stranded. Solid conductors are made from a single piece of material, while flexible conductors are made from multiple strands of the material.

Solid Cat6 cables are best for outdoor runs, while stranded cables are best for indoor runs.

Ease of installation

Well, the performance of Cat6 cable is an important factor, and also the ease of installation cannot be ignored.

Cat6 shielded cable is quite complicated to install because of its rigidity caused by the shielding material under its sheath. While unshielded cables are very easy to install. For outdoor and indoor use, unshielded cables can be installed very easily, especially when the cable is packaged in an easy-to-pull box.

The difficulty of installing armored cables can also be overcome by using cables packaged in an easy-to-pull box without kinks or on a strong wooden spool.

Life expectancy

The service life of a cable depends on the conductor and sheath. Cable shielding has little or nothing to do with it.

(Video) Guide to shielded and unshielded cables

Therefore, it is very likely that shielded and unshielded Cat6 cables will have the same service life as long as they are used under the same conditions.

Shielded cables are an exception here. The cable is more likely not to be damaged if twisted around sharp edges.

cabo smarttech

For information on Ethernet cables or innovative accessories, visitcabo smarttech. We are an industry leader in manufacturing and distributing network cables and accessories to the highest standards. Our products exceed industry standards and we offer competitive market prices. If you need help, our professional customer support team is available


What's the difference between shielded and unshielded Cat6? ›

The only difference between the shielded (STP) Cat6 and unshielded (UTP) Cat6 is that the STP cable has a wire mesh or metal foil around the conductors. The UTP cables do not feature this additional protection against EMI and crosstalk, they only rely on twisted pairs of cable conductors and cable insulation.

What's the difference between shielded and unshielded Ethernet cable? ›

Shielded twisted pair cable (STP) has the individual pairs of wires wrapped in foil, which are then wrapped again for double protection. Unshielded twisted pair cable (UTP) has each pair of wires twisted together. Those wires are then wrapped in tubing without any other protection.

Do I need shielded or unshielded Cat6 cable? ›

As a rule, you will only need shielding when your cable is running through an area of high electro-magnetic interference or radio frequency interference (called EMI/RFI). This might be output by power line structures, large magnets or sometimes radio antennas.

How important is shielded Cat6? ›

These high performance cables ensure the data within the cable will be protected from EMI, resulting in higher speeds and better data transmission. Shielding helps protect the data from any sort of electromagnetic interference from an outside source.

What are the benefits of shielded cable? ›

Shielding reduces electrical noise and reduces its impact on signals and also lowers electromagnetic radiation. Shielding prevents crosstalk between cables near each other. Shielding not only protects cable but it can also protect machinery and people as well.

When should I use shielded wire? ›

What Is Shielded Cable Used For? Shielded cables are used to protect the data being transferred through the cable from degradation by EMI exposure, which is common in data centers, industrial settings, offices, and other settings where computer technology, electrical equipment, or electronic equipment is in heavy use.

What happens if you don't ground a shielded cable? ›

The cable shielding and its termination must provide a low-impedance path to ground. A shielded cable that is not grounded does not work effectively. Any disruptions in the path can raise the impedance and lower the shielding effectiveness.

What is the purpose of shielded Ethernet cable? ›

F/UTP - Foil Shielded Cable / Unshielded Twisted Pair

This Ethernet cable has an aluminum foil shield (screen) around the entire cable, beneath the jacket. It can help protect data from nearby sources of electromagnetic interference (EMI), and can help dissipate any buildup of electrostatic potential.

Do you ground both ends of a shielded cable? ›

The cable shield works best when the signal lines are completely surrounded by a conductive "tunnel" that is completely at ground potential. That means it should be grounded at BOTH ends (grounded at one end means the other end is similar to an antenna at some frequencies).

Is shielded or unshielded better? ›

Shielded cables are more expensive and unwieldy than unshielded cables but offer increased protection against electromagnetic interference (EMI) that can slow down or disable electrical systems. Unshielded cables are easier to install and maintain but are not protected from EMI.

Do I need shielded Ethernet at home? ›

In small homes or businesses, unshielded Ethernet cables will usually work just fine. Unless your home or office sits near power lines or is stuffed with appliances, there isn't typically enough interference around a home or small business environment to require shielded Ethernet cables.

Is shielded Ethernet worth it? ›

STP cables are ideal for high-speed networks such as data centers where 10GBase-T networks are used because 10G Ethernet is significantly more sensitive to EMI. Properly installed high-quality shielded cables automatically suppress EMI and crosstalk, helping to ensure data integrity and high-speed performance.

Should you use shielded or unshielded patch cables? ›

Generally speaking, if you are setting up a network with Cat 6 shielded cables, you should use shielded Cat6 patch panels, which ensures the entire line stays fully shielded and helps to prevent data loss. This rule shall be strictly followed where cables will be run very close to other cables or electronic devices.

Do I need shielded connectors? ›

1. Shielded cables require shielded connectors to ensure that the ground and shield work properly. Shielding a cable without also shielding the connector is only doing half the job.

Why is shielded Ethernet cable better? ›

The conductive shield can reflect or conduct external interference away without affecting the signals of the internal conductor. Therefore, shielded Ethernet cables are usually used to protect signals from EMI over the length of the cable run, so as to result in faster transmission speeds and fewer data errors.

How do I choose a shielded cable? ›

Practical Guidelines for Effective Shielding

If your application is at all noisy, make sure that you select a cable with the appropriate level of shielding. In environments with moderate noise, a foil shield may be sufficient. If the environment is noisier, consider a braid shield or a combination foil-braid shield.

Is shielded or unshielded cable better? ›

Shielded cables are more expensive and unwieldy than unshielded cables but offer increased protection against electromagnetic interference (EMI) that can slow down or disable electrical systems. Unshielded cables are easier to install and maintain but are not protected from EMI.

Are shielded Ethernet cables worth it? ›

The shield surrounding the pairs in the STP cable helps prevent EMI/RFI from coupling onto twisted pairs. This can help to eliminate the effects of noise from sources like machinery, generators, or medical imaging equipment, making STP systems an excellent choice for industrial environments and healthcare facilities.

What is the difference between Cat6 and Cat6 shielded? ›

CAT6A U/UTP means the cable consists of 4 unshielded twisted pairs and no outer shielding. CAT6A F/UTP means the cable consists of 4 unshielded twisted pairs, however, it contains an outer foil shield. This is a shielded cable.

Is a flat Ethernet cable better or worse? ›

Are flat LAN cables any good? Flat LAN cables are great for convenience and short runs. Round cables have a better performance against crosstalk on longer distances.


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