Ethernet Cable Categories: Choosing the Right Cable for Your Needs

ethernet cable

Have you ever wondered why the ethernet cables are still relevant? We have come a long way in connectivity, network, and communication technology. We have high-speed Bluetooth, WiFi, and a 5G Network. Yet, ethernet cable still remains the undisputed option for stable, high speed and consistent connectivity. Why’s that?

Ethernet cables have undergone tremendous upgrades with time. There have been new versions and categories. The cable you use today isn’t the same as the one you used 10 years ago unless you didn’t replace it. There are categories like Cat5e, Cat6, Cat7, and so on. Let’s understand these categories better to help you choose the right one for your requirements:

1. Cat5e: The Trusted Standard

The Cat5e category ethernet cable is the new entry-level or standard option available in the market. Many households and small businesses rely on it. It supports around 1 Gbps (Gigabytes, not Gigabytes) of speed. It is enough for most sufficient connections. If you’re looking for internet standards, upgrade to at least 5

2. Cat6:  Entering The Speed Domain

The  cat6 cable category offers better performance. It offers 10 times more speed than the previous category. Moreover, it has a better design to reduce interference between wires. Thus making it better to use in setups where you have multiple devices and there could be interference from them. Often, gaming setups and performance-based internet systems use the Cat6 category.

Cat6a – The Extended Performance

The cat6a is the advanced version in the same category. It offers the same 10 Gbps transmission speed. However, it has the capacity to do that at extended lengths. While the typical Cat6 is short, 6a is suitable for businesses that require data centres, server rooms, and other such options.

3. Cat7: A Perfect Shield

If your plan is to adopt your business to the best performance from ethernet cables, then Cat7 is a phenomenal category. It offers a similar performance to Cat6 (10 Gbps). However, it offers better shielding that reduces interference and electromagnetic or radio frequencies. Therefore, these are perfect for industrial setups or infrastructures that use too many wires and other networking devices.

4. Cat8: The Performance Peak

Currently, Cat8 is the category that offers phenomenal and unparalleled performance, speed, and shielding capabilities. It can reach anywhere between 25Gbps and 40Gbps of transfer rates. This is a lightning-fast capacity that is perfect for data centres, server rooms, or any other enterprise with large-scale operations.

Usually, Cat8 isn’t needed for residential and home uses. Even for professional gaming, Cat6 will do the job.

Choosing the Right Cable for You

First, you need to understand the difference between Gbps and GB/s (GBPS). When you use the small letter ‘b’ in Gbps, it denotes bits, and the capital B denotes Bytes. The difference is simple: in Gbps, or Mbps, you just need to divide the value by 8.

So, if ethernet cable offers 1 Gbps, it is 1,000 Mbps, and when you divide it by 8, you get 125. So, Cat5e offers 125 MB/s of speed.

Similarly, 25Gbps is 3.125 GB/s speed. Bits are generally used to denote network packets and transfers. However, companies use it cleverly to market their products. Once you understand that, everything else will make sense.

In Conclusion

Given the Broadband speed at home, you can use Cat5e or Cat6 sufficiently for the home or office environment. There’s no need to opt for a higher category unless your enterprise requires data-intensive work or performance. Usually, only data services, industrial sectors, and other high-profile industries will require anything like Cat7 and Cat8.