Cat5 vs Cat6 Cable | An Overview with Direct Comparison

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Nowadays, with the update of the technology, the Ethernet cabling system has been upgraded with the user requirement. The old versions are being replaced by the new ones to provide better performance, data communication, and less error. Similar way, Cat5 vs Cat6 cables both are the representation of the improvement of networking and technological progression in recent years. Let’s have a look at the differences between them.

Cat6 cable is the upgraded version of Cat5 Cable. Both of them use for a large variety of purposes, like data transfer, extensions, and hot wires, but with so many differences, their primary function is to work as networking cables for routers, LAN parties, and connect servers. The major hardware components of Cat5 and Cat6 cable are almost similar, the differences mainly in the electrical specifications and performances.

Difference Between Cat5 and Cat6 Cable

What is Cat5 Cable

The Cat5 cable or category 5 cable is an Ethernet cable that is used on LAN connected computers in home and small office areas. The structure of this cable consists of four twisted pairs of copper wire and RJ45 connectors are used in the termination point. This cable supports fast ethernet communications based on the EIA/TIA 568 Commercial Telecommunications Wiring Standard. You can transfer files across PC with these.

This networking cable provides data transmission speeds up to 10 to 100 Mbps and frequencies up to 100 MHz. For better communication it is suggested to keep the maximum length of the cable 100 meters, otherwise, various network issues such as data loss or speed degradation can cause.

What is Cat5 Cable

What is Cat6 Cable

Category 6 or cat6 cable is an Ethernet cable that consists of four twisted-pair copper wire and terminates by RJ-45 standard connector used in home and office networks. The Electronic Industries Association and Telecommunications Industry Association (EIA/TIA) introduce this sixth generation’s LAN cable in 2002.

Cat6 supports communication data rates up to Gigabit speeds, which is 1 Gigabit per second generally but, the updated version of this cable called Cat6a can provide 10 gigabit Ethernet connections within a limited distance (usually 164 feet for one cable). This high bandwidth helps to transfer large data files and provides fast communication and game streaming.

Cat6 cable has backward compatibility with the previous cabling standards such as Cat 3, Cat 5, and Cat 5e and ensures communication with less attenuation and crosstalk compared to the older versions. This cable provides a fast Ethernet communication facility in 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, and Gigabit networks with a bandwidth of 250 MHz, and the newer Cat6a cable gives bandwidth up to 500 MHz.

What is Cat6 Cable

Difference Between Cat5 and Cat6

In recent years, the cabling system has become advance in performance and applications to provide better service. Ethernet differs from both Wi-Fi and the internet. Nowadays, people prefer devices inexpensive but high in performance. In this part, the differences between Cat5 and Cat6 cable from various point of view will discuss.

Types of Wiring Cable

There seems a difference between the thickness of the two cables. Cat6 cables are slightly thicker than cat5 cables because of the thicker copper wire. This thicker diameter creates interference on the way to the airflow, as airflow is essential to cool down the servers and equipment. Again, Cat6 cables are more tightly bounded and the amount of the twist is more than in Cat6 cables than cat5 cables.

Bandwidth or Rated Performance

Because of the difference in the bandwidth between the two cables, the data transfer speed mostly varies between them. Cat5 vs cat6 cables both feature twisted copper wires for the ethernet, but the main difference lies within the transmission performance.

Cat5 cables are limited to operate between 100 Mbps transfer speed while cat6 cables provide 10 Gbps speed. It proves that a Cat6 cable can transfer more data compared to Cat5 cable at the same time.

Speed Variation due to Frequency

Cat5 and Cat6 cables speed varies for another factor and that is the difference of frequency. Cat6 cable has the ability to handle more data than the cat5 cable because Cat6 cable operates at the frequencies up to 250 MHz.

Cat5 cable supports up to 100 MHz frequencies which are less than half of Cat6. Cat5 cables operate at the 1GBASE-T or 1-Gigabit Ethernet speeds while Cat6 cable supports up to 10GBASE-T or 10-Gigabit Ethernet speed.

Comparison of Errors

There has been a lot of improvement in the sixth generation Cat6 Cable. In Cat6 Cable, system noise and errors have been reduced a lot compared to the Cat5 cable. In earlier days, Cat6 wires isolated from each other with nylon spline, which would make them more rigid, but nowadays cables are flexible enough to reduce noise and crosstalk.

In a computer networking hub, interference is a familiar case of networking error as multiple wires are too close to each other. This issue causes slow speed, poor quality of networking connection, and crosstalk. But with the invention of new twisted cable design and shielding, Cat6 cable has overcome the issues of Cat5 Cable and secured faster speeds in transferring data.

Backward Compatibility

Cat6 cable is backward compatible with the previous versions like cat5 or cat5e cables, which means it can work effectively on the Cat5 network. Though there are many difference0 between Cat5 and Cat6 cable, it mainly differs from the electrical specifications.

The hardware infrastructure of both of them is almost similar, and Cat6 cable is also backward compatible, so it is not difficult for a user to get the upgraded version installed on his network.

Future of Data

If we talk about the future, then it can be said that Cat6 cable is the future of the network foundation because it has the updated industry-standard specifications. Cat6 cable is designed in such a way so that in the future it can be updated according to the requirement.

On the contrary, Cat5 cable is a backdated cabling system which couldn’t give support to the competitive networking technology. Nowadays, data transmitting applications demand powerful cabling configuration, which can only be provided by Cat6 cable, not Cat5.

Cost Difference Between Cat5 vs Cat6

Cat5 cable mainly uses for residential connections, and Cat6 cable is ideal for large area network installations. A computer network installation cost generally depends on the size of the network area, and the cost of Ethernet cable depends on multiple characteristics like length, quality, material, and manufacturer.

When comparing the cost between Cat5 vs Cat6 cable, Cat6 cable is found more expensive compared with the cat5 cable because of its upgraded features. But, Cat6 cable is cost-effective because the data transfer rate and performance are better than the Cat5 cable.

Maximum Length

For a better connection for data transmitting, the maximum length of a cable should be no longer than 100m, because exceeding this length, the maximum available speeds cannot achieve. Otherwise, 100m above length connection can face a slow and dropping connection or even no connection at all.

Both of the Cat5 and Cat6 cable specifications support lengths up to 100m per network area, but Cat6 cable length reduces to 55m when it is using for 10GBASE-T (10 Gigabit Ethernet). Augmented Cat6 or Cat6a cable can be used to get the full 100m length performance in 10GBASE-T.

If it is necessary to cover network infrastructure larger than 100m, repeaters or switches can amplify the signal to get an uninterrupted connection.

Upgrade your cable to meet your needs-


Cat5 vs Cat6 cables both are the most efficient and faster-twisted pair cables in cabling systems used for Ethernet and other networking technology. The main difference between Cat5 and Cat6 cable is in their capabilities and performance. Cat6 is the updated version of Cat5 and supports higher data transfer speed than Cat5.

Though the rated performance of Cat5 is not ideal for large scale networking installations, it shows standard performance for small business networks. The cabling hardware configuration of them is almost the same, but the interference and crosstalk issues have been reduced in Cat6 more than Cat5.

 Again, Cat6 cable has the specifications to work on Cat5, but Cat5 hasn’t this ability. Though the present networking infrastructure doesn’t need 10Gbps speeds, which Cat6 provides, the hardware is getting updated with the time. It will be easier to get updated with the latest version of networking cable since Cat6 is more flexible than Cat5.

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