The Difference Between CAT5e and CAT6 Ethernet Cables

Views: 3     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-07-29      Origin: Site

Ethernet cables are classified into 5 categories: Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6e, Cat7, and Cat8. You can know more about the different type of ethernet cables by our latest article “What are the types of Ethernet cable?“, In this article will focus on the differences between CAT5e and CAT6 Ethernet cables.

What is a CAT5e cable?

CAT5e, also known as Category 5e or Category 5 Enhanced, is a network cable standard approved in 1999. Compared to the older CAT5 standard, CAT5e offers significantly improved performance, including a 10x increase in speed and a significant increase in the ability to traverse distances unaffected by crosstalk. CAT5e SFTP cables are typically 24-gauge twisted pairs and can support gigabit networks over distances of up to 100 m segments.

What is CAT6 cable?

CAT6 is derived from Category 6 and was introduced only a few years after CAT5e. CAT6 is a standardized twisted pair cable for Ethernet that is backward compatible with CAT5/5e and CAT3 cable standards.

Like CAT5e, CAT6 cables support Gigabit Ethernet segments up to 100 m, but they also allow for use in 10-Gigabit networks over limited distances. CAT5e is typically run to the workstation, while CAT6 is used as the backbone infrastructure from the router to the switch.

Differences between CAT5e and CAT6 Ethernet cables

  • Bandwidth
  • Speed
  • Crosstalk and Noise
  • Appearance differences
  • Cost


Bandwidth is one of the main differences between CAT5e and CAT6 Ethernet cables. CAT5e and CAT6 can handle speeds up to 1000 Mbps or gigabits per second. The difference is that CAT6 cables are designed to operate at up to 250 MHz compared to 100 Mhz for CAT5e. This means that CAT6 cables can handle more data at the same time. Think of it as the difference between a 2-lane and a 4-lane highway. You can travel at the same speed on both, but the 4-lane highway can handle more traffic simultaneously.


Because CAT6 cables offer performance up to 250 MHz, more than CAT5e cables (100 Mhz), they provide speeds up to 10GBASE-T or 10-Gigabit Ethernet. In contrast, CAT5e cables can support up to 1GBASE-T or 1-Gigabit Ethernet.

Crosstalk and Noise

CAT5e and CAT6 are both twisted pair cables. Both use copper wire and typically have 4 twisted pairs (8 wires) per cable. CAT6, however, has more stringent crosstalk and system noise specifications. Compared to CAT5e, CAT6 provides not only significantly reduced interference or near-end crosstalk (NEXT) in transmission but also improved equal-level far-end crosstalk (ELFEXT), return loss (RL), and insertion loss (IL). The result is less system noise, fewer errors, and higher data rates.

Appearance differences

Most of the time, the cable category is printed on the cable. If not, you will be unable to identify the cable category by the color or the RJ45 connector, but CAT6 cable is usually thicker than CAT5e cable because it uses thicker copper wire.


The main factors affecting Ethernet cables’ cost are length, quality, copper content, and manufacturer. From the few differences above, you should be able to see that CAT6 will cost more than CAT5A, and in general CAT6 cables cost 10-20% more than CAT5e cables.

Which Ethernet cable is better, CAT5e or CAT6?

By comparing the above differences between CAT5e and CAT6, choosing the best cable for your needs should be easy. For example, for home use, CAT5e is better than CAT6 if you don’t need multiple devices to access the Internet simultaneously, and CAT6 is better if you need multiple devices to access the Internet simultaneously and don’t want to affect the speed.


It’s often argued that it’s not worth investing in higher-performance cables, such as CAT6 because the current hardware in the network infrastructure doesn’t require 10 Gbps speeds. But hardware will be upgraded over time; it is much easier to upgrade hardware than to lay new cables. So it’s not a bad idea to equip higher-performance cables for possible future hardware upgrades. After all, high-quality cables are very durable.

If you need custom Ethernet cables, please get in touch with Dehui, a professional Ethernet cable manufacturer.


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