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What are the differences between CAT5 and CAT6 cables?

Published by Cablesys on Oct 1st 2018

CAT5 and CAT6 cables, commonly used as network cables, are designed to connect computers, network equipment, and devices to modems, servers, and switches. The demand for higher bandwidth has increased over the years. As a result, so has the development of these cables. Newer cables have been brought to the IT industry and with greater capabilities, such as higher performance and reduced crosstalk.


After comparing between CAT5 and CAT6 cables, one can visually see the similarities between them. They are built the same; a category-rated cable terminated with RJ-45 modular plugs on each end. Also, the modular plugs look the same with eight position gold-plated conductors. Utilizing the same plug allows them to insert into the same Ethernet jack on a patch panel, modular connector, computer, router, or alike. However, the major differences are in their materials and capabilities.

Cablesys Patch Cable - Available in CAT5e and CAT6


There are many differences between CAT5 and CAT6 cables; such as performance, type of cable, type of jacket and cost, among others.

When choosing which one to use, one must first consider the amount of bandwidth the cable must support. CAT5 can support up to 10/100 Mbps at a 100MHz bandwidth. However, a newer version of CAT5 cable in the market, CAT5e, can support up to 100/1000 Mbps at a 350MHz bandwidth. In comparison, CAT6 can support up to 1000 Mbps (1GbE) at a 250MHz bandwidth. Better yet, a newer version of CAT6 that Cablesys offers can support up to 1GbE at a 500MHz bandwidth.

Another major factor that influences the performance is the amount of twist a cable has. While CAT5e cable features one and a half to two twists per centimeter, CAT6 cables are more tightly wound and feature two or more twists per centimeter.

A third aspect is the overall diameter of the cable. Airflow is a major consideration in the data center. As more cable is added to the patching area, it will restrict airflow needed to cool the servers and equipment. CAT6 cable has a thicker diameter around 0.250-inches maximum while CAT5e cable has a smaller diameter around 0.204-inches.

Finally, another major difference is their cost. The price varies by length and brand. In general, CAT6 cables are about 10% to 20% more expensive compared to CAT5e cables. Cablesys offers the best selling cables. Prices can be compared on Cablesys’ website; CAT5e cables versus CAT6 cables , and CAT5e patch cables versus CAT6 patch cables

Which to Buy?

There are two types of applications that require network cables; residential and commercial.

Within the residence, smart TV’s, gaming consoles, computers, printers and similar devices require network cables. CAT5e is more than capable of supporting the required bandwidth for all of them. In fact, CAT5e is likely to support speeds faster than what the internet connection can provide.

In commercial applications, there is a high demand for fast internet speeds, as well as internal speeds. When transferring large files, editing video, audio and photos, 3D rendering AutoCAD files, and processing similar tasks, CAT6 is the best choice. CAT6 will quickly transfer large amounts of data and better service the bandwidth requirements.

To learn more on how Cablesys can help, please visit CAT6 Ethernet Cabling for Data Centers.