What’s the Difference Between All These Cat Cables?


Power strip surge protector

You want to get your gaming console plugged in — but you?re not sure exactly what all these different cable types do. There?s Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat 6 Cables — and so far, you have no idea what the difference between any of them are. Here?s the important information you need in order to make a decision.


Cat5 is appropriate when you don?t have a need for super fast connections, as it can handle 10/100 Mbps speeds at up to 100MHz. Fast Ethernet, but slow for things other than cable. Although there are still many ways one can use a Cat5 cable, it is not as popular as the other options available today. Cat5 is used for both multi-phone systems and networks as well. If you?re wondering how long a Cat5 cable can last, most of them are built out of quality materials that have a life expectancy of 5-10 years.

Cat5e Cables

Cat5e cables are common for new installations. Why? These cables are good at reducing what is known as ?crosstalk,? or when signals interfere with each other across channels and circuits. Cat5e cables can handle speeds of 1000 Mbps speeds at 100 MHz. This cable is typically used for multi-phone systems and networks. Although stores will often try to upsell you to ?premium? cables,? most Cat5e cables are basically identical to each other, especially where highspeed HDMI cables are concerned.

Cat6 Cables

Not surprisingly, Cat6 is capable of carrying the most information out of the bunch. It can handle 10 gigabit at 250 MHz. Like the Cat5e, it aims to reduce accidental crosstalk, but it steps up this process by having an internal separator that works to isolate each pair from each other. A Cat6 cable can be a good investment for the future considering that there is always something coming along that requires more data, more quickly (whether it?s video games, high definition TV, or more). These cables are used for networks.

If you’re planning a large installation, bulk plenum zipcord fiber optic cable might come in handy. Bulk plenum zipcord fiber optic cable allow for synchronous communication and are great for use in office areas. Plenum refers to the space between floors in office areas that allow for cooling/heating to circulate. If a fire occurs, plenum rated cables are less likely to burn and are less likely to release toxins into the air.