What Are the Differences Between Cat5 and Cat6 Ethernet Cables?

Ethernet cables are an efficient way of connecting homes and networking hardware. Anything with an Ethernet port like your modems, routers, gaming systems, printers, faxes etc, can be powered up by cables like Cat5 and Cat6.  As technological advances took place and new inventions were made like the internet and modern computers, there was a need to advance the ways in which data can be sent. This is where ethernet cables like Cat5 network cable and Cat6 came into play. Additionally, the previous versions like Cat3 and Cat4 of these cables have also played an important role in this purpose. Advancements took place as each of these cable categories replaced one by the other. Such inventions gave home and business owners easier access to networking and improved efficiency of work as well as networking capabilities.

Cat5 VS Cat6

Cat5 and Cat6 ethernet cables can be used for a variety of different purposes but their main function is to create a connection between computer or servers and modems and ISPs. As previously mentioned, as technology advances in every aspect these cables have also gone through a lot of advancement and hence improved from previous versions. The biggest difference between Cat5 network cable and Cat 6 network cable is not the speed but reduced crosstalk.


Electromagnetic signals are emitted by almost all forms of electronic equipment including these ethernet cables. When there are a number of ethernet cables in close proximity to one another they can interfere with each other. This interference is known as crosstalk. Crosstalk leads to many issues in networking, mainly increased errors and lost packets. This cross talk can be reduced by the newer versions of ethernet cables like Cat5 and Cat6 by providing improved shielding and a twisted cable design.

Cat5 Ethernet Cable

There are two categories of Cat5 cables that are Cat5 and Cat5E. Cat5 network cable can handle 10/100 Mbps at a bandwidth of 1000MHz which was once considered highly efficient. But the newer versions of ethernet cables are faster.

A newer, improved, and advanced version of Cat5 cable is the Cat5E cable which came into play more than a decade ago. The speed of this cable is 10 times faster than Cat5 ethernet cable speed. These cables also have an improved capability to cross distances without being interrupted by crosstalk. 

Cat6 Ethernet Cable

Cat6 ethernet cables have not been in use for that long but they have become the standard for networking and are considered as the backbone to networks and do not have to run up to workstations. One of the reasons could be that even though it can handle 10 Gigabytes of data the bandwidth has a limit of 164 feet and if it goes beyond this limit then it will come down to 1 Gigabyte. Cat6 cables have plastic castings which also helps in further reducing crosstalk. 

Similarities Between Cat5 and Cat6

The main similarity between Cat5 and Cat6 is that they can plug in to the same port which means that they use the same end piece. Whereas the main difference between both ethernet cables lies in their capabilities and the materials that are used in producing them. The same ‘’end piece’’ that we mentioned is known as the RJ-45 cable and is present in all ethernet cables. It can be plugged into any form of networking device and is not expected to be replaced by another technology anytime soon. 

Which One is The Best for You?

After all that we explained, you may question which type of ethernet cable is the best for you and why? The type of cable you choose may also depend upon how frequently you use the internet and what capacity is required. If you want high speed with advanced technological specifications then Cat6 ethernet cable is considered the best. Commercial users require the internet for professional purposes for which the speed and quality needs to be greater than the internet normally used. For example, if your work heavily involves the transferring of data from one network to another in a short amount of time then Cat6 ethernet cable is the way to go. However, if you are a residential user that has basic networking requirements and is happy with the current setting then Cat5 network cable is the preferable cable. Cat5E cable is then an advancement that can provide even better speed and quality then what is required for residential usage. So, it all comes down to your requirements and usage. Toolstation Cat5 cable is a good quality ethernet cable.

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