Cat 5e vs Cat 6 vs Cat 7 vs Cat 7A: which Cable Do You Need?

Patch cables are some necessary elements  for data transmission in the enterprise and data center networks. And along  with the development of data communication technology, the patch cables also  developed, from Cat 5, Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6A, to Cat 7 and Cat 7A, and even Cat  8 is on the way. For people who plan to install Ethernet cable in their homes,  the most common and frequently asked question is, what's the difference between  Cat 5e, Cat 6 and cat 7 cables, and which patch cable do I need? This article  will introduce and compare the difference between Cat 5e vs Cat 6 vs Cat 7 vs Cat 7A and the specifications of each patch cable so  that you can choose a right cable for your own need.

What are the definitions and difference between Cat 5e vs Cat 6 vs Cat 7 vs Cat 7A?

Cat  5, shorts for Category 5 cable, is a twisted pair  cable for carrying signals. This type of cable is used in structured cabling  for computer networks such as Ethernet. Cat 5 is the slowpoke of the bunch. It  can handle 10/100 Mbps speeds (Fast Ethernet) at up to 100 MHz bandwidth. And  the Cat 5 cable is out dated when comparing with later cables like Cat 5e, Cat  6 and Cat7. So the Cat 5 cable is gradually abandoned by the market now.
Cat  5e is an enhanced edition of Cat 5 and supports  speeds up to a Gigabit Ethernet (1,000Mb/s) (100 MHz). Cat 5e is suitable for  Gigabit speeds and networks that change frequently, so it is currently the most  commonly used in new installations.
Cat 6 is a major improvement over Cat 5e. Cat 6 cables is being made with  23 guage conductor wire as opposed to the slightly smaller 24 guage for Cat 5e  and also has a separator to handle crosstalk better. This cable supports speeds  up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet (1,000Mb/s) at 250 MHz and can be achieved with  distance of 37-55 meters or less depending on the grade of the cable and  quality of installation.
Cat  6A cable (or Augmented Category 6) is characterized  to 500 MHz over 250MHz of Cat 6 cable. It has improved alien crosstalk  characteristics, allowing 10GBASE-T to be run for the same 100 meter distance  as previous Ethernet variants.
Cat 7 is a newer copper cable specification designed to support speeds of  10Gbps at lengths of up to 100 meters. To achieve this, the cable features four  individually shielded pairs plus an additional cable shield to protect the  signals from crosstalk and electromagnetic interference (EMI). Category 7 cable  is rated for transmission frequencies of up to 600 MHz
Cat  7A cable was first introduced by ISO 11801 Edition  2 Amendment 2 (2010) and defined with an up to 1000 MHz frequencies. The Cat 7A  cable is suitable for multiple applications including CATV.

Category  Cable Comparison: Cat 5 vs Cat 5e vs Cat 6 vs Cat 6e vs Cat 7 vs Cat 7e



Frequency
Supported

Ethernet Signal
Supported

Connector

Conductor
Pairs

Applications

Cat 5

1 - 100MHz

10/100Bast-T

8p8c RJ45

4

Small office, home office, schools

Cat 5e

1 - 100MHz

10/100Bast-T
 Gigabit Ethernet

8p8c RJ45

4

Cat 6

1 - 250MHz

10/100Bast-T
 Gigabit Ethernet

8p8c RJ45

4

Large enterprise, university campuses, high speed applications

Cat 6a

1 - 500MHz

10/100Bast-T
 Gigabit Ethernet
 10-Gigabit Ethernet

8p8c RJ45

4

Cat 7

1 - 600MHz

10/100Bast-T
 Gigabit Ethernet
 10-Gigabit Ethernet

GG45 TERA

4

Data center backbone, high speed and bandwidth intensive applications

Cat 7a

1 - 1000MHz

10/100Bast-T
 Gigabit Ethernet
 10-Gigabit Ethernet

GG45 TERA

4

From  above table we can know the applications of each type of cables, suppose the Ethernet  has been upgraded from 10G Ethernet to 40G and even 100G Ethernet, the 25G or 40G and  100G optical transceiver modules has been released, it is no doubt that the new  category cable is going to apply soon, like Cat 8.



Cat 8: In March 2013, technical  recommendation TIA TR42.7 defined that 40GBASE-T will require a new cabling  system defined to at least 1.6 GHz and up to 2 GHz, currently called Category 8, which will use the standard  8P8C connector. Cat 8 should be fully backward compatible with Category 6A and  below, and will be covered by ANSI/TIA-568-C.2-1 "Specifications for 100Ω  Category 8 Cabling".
You  can decide the specific use of the cable and select one that is suitable for  your own case, of course, the cost and installation difficulty are worth taking  into consideration when you install or change the cables.

7/4/2016 3:00:27 AM

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