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What’s the difference between Cat 5 and Cat 6 cables?

Ethernet cables are everywhere, from house environments to big offices these cables are omnipresent and essential for networking. There are a variety of ethernet cables available in the market and to make an informed decision concerning which cable suits your needs, it is essential to know about the various options available in the market.

Here we will be comparing two widely used ethernet cables, Cat-5 and Cat-6. These cables are used to connect workstations, switches, and routers; making them the backbone of any network.

Cat-5 vs Cat-6

Ethernet cables use pairs of twisted wires for data transmission. Both Cat 5 and Cat 6 have four sets of twisted copper wires. These wires carry current in the opposite direction to minimise electrical interference. Cat 6 is an improvement to Cat 5 in several ways

Design  

Cat-6 cables have a Nylon longitudinal spline between the twisted pair wires to reduce crosstalk. Due to this design variation, Cat- 6 wires are rigid compared to their Cat-5 counterparts. Both the cables use an RJ-45 connector to connect to various devices and are backwards compatible.

Cat-6 offers a higher signal-to-noise ratio and lower electromagnetic interference. Due to these features, lower data loss occurs during transmission, thus making the network more efficient. Besides, Cat-6 cables offer less attenuation to transmitted signals offering better signal strength.What's the difference between Cat 5 and Cat 6 cables? Also read: What’s the difference between Abstract class and Interface?

Data speed and Bandwith

Due to better design Cat-6 can provide data speeds of up to 10,000 Mbps (10 Gbps) when the cable length is 50 meters. The rate drops to 1,000 Mbps (1Gbps) when the length is between 50 and 100 meters. Cat-5 can provide a maximum speed of 100 Mbps with a maximum cable length of 100 meters.

In terms of bandwidth, Cat-6 offers a mind-boggling bandwidth of 250 MHz whereas Cat-5 bandwidths are capped at 100 MHz. Data speed is like the speed of a car on a highway and bandwidth is the number of lanes on the road, so unless you’ve more bandwidth, high data speeds won’t make a difference. A Cat-6 cable is like a four-lane expressway with higher speed limits. Cat-5, on the other hand, is a two-lane highway with slower speed limits. This goes to show that Cat-6 can handle a lot more traffic at higher speeds.

Cost 

Cat-6 cables offer a lot of advantages over Cat-5, but this comes at a relatively higher price. Cat-6 cables are 10-20 percent costlier compared to Cat-5.

In conclusion, a Cat-6 cable is much better when compared to Cat-5, and it is always advisable to go with better and newer generation cables for a network.

Also read: What is Google Drive? Everything you need to know

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