Cat6 Cable VS Cat5e Cable - Things to know

Cat6 Cable

The selection of the right Ethernet cable brings a lot of difference in the network performance. This is why it should be done with great care and caution. Nowadays, the battle is between category 5 and category 6 Ethernet cables. These two category cables are highly in demand from the users due to different reasons like Cat6 cable, Cat5e cable, and others.

Cat5 VS Cat6 is an interesting comparison as they are available in different variants with different specs.   Now, how would you choose the correct Ethernet cable for your network or how would you know that the installed cable in your network is the correct one?

All these cables physically look the same. The difference is between their specs and features. These features include their data transfer speed, bandwidths, performance against interference factors, and others. This article will be helpful for you in getting the answers to your questions regarding these cables and getting a better knowledge about them.

What is a Cat5e Cable?

The category 5 cables are introduced before category 6 cables. So, we can say that they are the older variants of Ethernet cables with older technology. This does not mean that they are not useful and cannot compete with category 6 cables.

Cat5e Cable

The Cat5 cables are still in demand from home users and small commercial users. This is because of their good performance and low price features. With time, cables with new technologies and higher specs are introduced in the market and they are taking over the place of Cat5 cables.


Over time, it is also been noticed that user demands and needs are also increased. This also decreases the usage of Cat5 cables in comparison to the newer version of cables. Therefore, we can say that Cat5 cables will not be your first choice if you are designing a new network. As you have got many other advanced options available in the market. Most of the manufacturers also stop making Cat5 Ethernet cables due to their less demand.  

Things to Understand About Cat5 Cables: –

  • It is getting obsolete.
  • Cat5 cables are not easily available in the market now due to the introduction of new cables.
  • The price of Cat5 cables is very low but their availability is an issue.
  • If you do not want to spend a lot on upgrading your older network cables then you can use an enhanced variant of the Cat5 cable known as Cat5e.
  • Cat5e cable is still available in the market easily as it has almost the same features that are accompanied by the newer Cat6 cable.

Cat5e Cable: –

In the name Cat5e, the “e” stands for “enhanced”. This means it is an enhanced variant of Cat5 cables with more features and qualities. This cable is capable of delivering 1Gbps data transfer speed in comparison to 100Mbps of cat5. With that, it works at a maximum bandwidth of 100MHz whereas Cat5 works only at a maximum 10MHz.

The cable is designed to perform well against interference factors as well. Therefore, its performance against crosstalk and EMI is much better than Cat5 cables. It is one of the cheapest options available to network administrators to upgrade their older network cables at a low price.

Things to Understand About Cat5e Cable: –

  • It is still a good option for a replacement of Cat5 cables.
  • The price of the Cat5e cable is not very high.
  • It is available in the market easily.
  • It is a good option for home users and small commercial networks.

What is a Cat6 Cable?

Cat6 belongs to category 6 Ethernet cables. It is an advanced category of Ethernet cables in comparison to Category 5. Therefore, it is an understood fact that category 6 cables are more advanced and come with better features.

The data transfer speed of Cat6 cable and Cat5e cable is the same as 1Gbps. The difference is the capability of delivering this speed up to a specific distance. Cat5e is capable of delivering this speed up to 50 meters whereas Cat6 can deliver the same speed up to a distance of 100meters. In some cases, Cat6 is also capable of delivering 10Gbps data transfer speed but only up to a distance of 50 meters. It supports an extensive bandwidth of up to 350MHz.

Cat6 Cable

These cables are available in different versions. Some are shielded and some are non-shielded. It depends on the user’s budget limits when it comes to different variants of Ethernet cables. The shielded variants are more reliable against interference factors like crosstalk and EMI.


Things to Understand About Cat6 Cable: –

  • It is easily available in the market.
  • The price of the cable is quite comparative.
  • It is less expensive than the advanced variants.
  • An excellent option for network users who need high speed and performance.

Cat6a Cable: –

It is an advanced version of Cat6 cable. The letter “a” in the name stands for “Augmented”. It means an improved version of the Cat6 cable with more features and better specifications. This cable is able to provide 10Gbps data transfer speeds to the networks up to a distance of 100 meters efficiently.

This makes it a perfect choice for network administrators who wants to deliver 10Gbps data speeds to longer distances in their networks. With that, it also supports bandwidths of up to 500MHz effectively.

Cat6a Cable

The cable is available in different versions. A shielded variant is more expensive than a non-shielded variant. The cable is excellent against interference factors like crosstalk and EMI. This is why huge commercial networks opt to use this cable in their networks to get better performance.


Things to Understand About Cat6a Cables: –

  • High-speed Ethernet cable.
  • Easily available in the market.
  • One of the most utilized Ethernet cables nowadays.
  • Best for commercial use.
Cable Max Speed Max Bandwidth
Cat5 100 Mbps 11MHz
Cat5e 1Gbps 100MHz
Cat6 10Gbps 350MHz
Cat6a 10Gbps 500MHz

Cat6 Cable VS Cat5e Cable – Brief Comparison: –

Bandwidth & Speed Comparison: –

Modern-day users require high speeds and bandwidth options from their networks. A network using Cat5 cables will be unable to fulfill its requirements efficiently. Cat5 cables can only deliver speeds up to 100Mbps at a bandwidth of 11MHz. This may not be sufficient for modern-day users. This is why Cat5 cables are getting obsolete from the market as no one wants to install them in their networks anymore.

On the other hand, Cat5e and Cat6 plenum cables are capable of delivering data transfer speeds of 1Gbps effectively. In the case of Cat6, the speed limit can be exceeded up to 10Gbps but only to a 50-meter distance. These cables support applications running at bandwidths of 100MHz and 350MHz respectively.

The most efficient cable in all of them is the Cat6a. It has the capability of transferring data at a speed of 10Gbps up to a distance of 100 meters efficiently. It works at a bandwidth of 500MHz. In some cases, the bandwidth of the cable is exceeded up to a maximum 750MHz as well.

Cost Comparison: –

The Cat5 cable is the cheapest one among all the variants of Category 5 and 6 Ethernet cables. As the newer versions are introduced in the market, the price of the Cat5 cable is dropped comprehensively. Another reason behind its low price is its less demand from the users. Now, there are very few manufacturers in the market who are producing Cat5 cables.

As you move up in the Ethernet cable versions, the price of the cable gradually increases. Cat5e is the next variant that is more expensive than Cat5 but less expensive than its advanced variants. Similarly, after Cat5e the next variant is Cat6 and then Cat6a. Cat6a is the most expensive one among these variants.  

Interference Factors Comparison: –

Interference factors play a vital role in the performance of any Ethernet cable. As technology advances, new ways and techniques are adopted by the manufacturers. This improves the quality of the cable to a great extent.

Especially, their resistance against interference properties is getting better and better with every new variant of Ethernet cable introduced in the market. The shielded variant of Cat6a pure copper cable is the best among all variants of Category 5 and 6. The cable performs exceptionally well against interference factors like Crosstalk and EMI.

Conclusion: –

1st Factor: –

The first factor that decides the selection of an Ethernet cable is the needs and demands of the user. The users will decide first what kind of speed, bandwidth, and performance they need from their network. Once they are sure about these needs then they can select an appropriate Ethernet cable according to them. The one that fulfills them efficiently.

2nd Factor: –

The second factor that impacts directly the purchase of an Ethernet cable is its cost. Some users are bounded by the budget lines. Therefore, they need to go according to it. If they have open budget lines then they can choose the Ethernet cable according to its performance levels.

3rd Factor: –

The third factor that can impact on the buying decision of Ethernet cable is the location of its installation. If the location comes with high interference factors then users must opt for a higher variant of a cable that gives them high performance against those interference factors.

This will keep their network working smoothly under those interference factors. In this scenario, they can opt for a budget-saving option because the lower variants of Ethernet cables do not perform well against interference factors like crosstalk and EMI.