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Difference Between Cat5e And Cat6 Ethernet Cables

Ethernet cables are used for transmitting data between devices and networks and are a crucial component of modern-day computing. However, not all Ethernet cables are created equal – the difference in cable specifications can impact the speed, reliability, and overall performance of your network.

Two of the most commonly used Ethernet cables are Cat5e and Cat6. In this blog, we’ll discuss the main differences between these two cable types, and help you determine which cable is best suited for your needs.

First, let’s start with some basic definitions.

What is Cat5e?  

Cat5e stands for “Category 5e,” with “e” referring to “enhanced.” Cat5e cables are designed to support speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) and are the most common Ethernet cable used today.

What is Cat6?

Cat6, on the other hand, stands for “Category 6.” Cat6 cables are designed to support speeds up to 10 Gbps, which is ten times faster than Cat5e. Cat6 cables are typically used in more demanding applications such as data centres, high-performance computing, and other applications where higher data transfer speeds are required.

So, what are the main differences between Cat5e and Cat6 cables?


Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be transmitted over a cable in a given period of time. Cat5e cables can support bandwidths of up to 100 MHz, while Cat6 cables can support up to 250 MHz. This means that Cat6 cables have more capacity for transmitting data, which translates to faster and more reliable connections. You should contact an electrical wholesaler/electrical suppliers expert to find out just how reliable these connections are, to help you make the right choice.

Data Transfer Speed

As mentioned earlier, Cat5e cables can support speeds up to 1 Gbps, while Cat6 cables can support speeds up to 10 Gbps. This means that Cat6 cables can transmit data ten times faster than Cat5e cables.

Cable Length

Both Cat5e and Cat6 cables can support a maximum length of 100 meters (328 feet). However, the cable length can impact the overall performance of the network. Longer cable lengths can cause signal loss and degradation, which can lead to slower data transfer speeds.


Cat6 cables are more expensive than Cat5e cables, due to their enhanced performance and higher specifications. However, the price difference between the two types of cables has decreased over the years, and the cost of Cat6 cables is becoming more affordable for average consumers. Also, the price difference between Cat5e and Cat6 cables has decreased over the years, as Cat6 cables have become more common and widely used. In fact, the price of Cat6 cables has come down significantly over the last decade, making them a more affordable option for average consumers.


Cat6 cables typically come with more shielding than Cat5e cables. This shielding provides additional protection against electromagnetic interference (EMI) and reduces crosstalk between cables. However, not all Cat6 cables are shielded – unshielded Cat6 cables are also available and are similar to Cat5e cables in terms of performance.

Both Cat5e and Cat6 cables can come with either shielded or unshielded options. Shielded cables have an additional layer of shielding around the cable, which helps to prevent EMI from entering the cable. Unshielded cables, on the other hand, have no additional shielding and rely on the internal twisting of the wires to reduce EMI.

Which Cable Is Right For You?

When choosing between Cat5e and Cat6 cables, it’s important to consider the specific needs of your network. If you’re running a home or small business network with typical internet speeds and file sharing, a Cat5e cable should suffice. However, if you’re running a larger network with higher performance demands, or if you plan to upgrade your network in the near future, a Cat6 cable would be a better investment and an electrical wholesaler can help you get the right cable.

In conclusion, while Cat5e and Cat6 cables may look similar, the differences in their specifications can have a significant impact on network performance. By understanding the differences between these two cable types, you can make an informed decision when selecting the right cable for your network.

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