Cat5e Vs Cat6 Ethernet Cables | Which One Is Best For You?

An in-depth comparison between two popular choices

by Afam Onyimadu
Afam Onyimadu
Afam Onyimadu
Editor
Afam is a geek and the go-to among his peers for computer solutions. He has a wealth of experience with Windows operating systems, dating back to his introduction... read more
Reviewed by Vlad Turiceanu
Vlad Turiceanu
Vlad Turiceanu
Editor-in-Chief
Passionate about technology, Windows, and everything that has a power button, he spent most of his time developing new skills and learning more about the tech world. Coming... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • Ethernet cables come in different categories and colors, according to their specifications and capabilities.
  • Cat5e and Cat6 cables are some of the best known, and we'll discuss what's the difference between them and which one is better.
  • For an extensive collection of articles about cables, check out our Ethernet cables section.
  • If you're looking for some accessories for your computer, our Accessories & Peripherals Hub will surely be helpful.

In the article today, we will make a Cat5e vs Cat6 comparison, so that you are able to see which one fits your needs best.

A Cat5e Ethernet cable is the successor of Cat5, the latter being now rarely found on the market. While they’re physically similar, Cat5e Ethernet adheres to more stringent IEEE standards.

By comparison, Cat6 cables take things one steps further especially in terms of performance rates, which is oftentimes the main aspect that clients look for in any tech-related product.

Choosing between these two is, in the end, a matter of cost vs. performance, and we want to make things easier for you by focusing on some aspects such as speed, safety, and costs.


Cat 5e vs Cat 6 – What are the differences between them?

cat5e vs cat6 cables

As mentioned, with Cat5E cables certain capabilities were enhanced, namely reducing the potential for crosstalk (interference that transfers from adjacent wires). 

Cat5E is suitable for small space installations like households, though it is still used in commercial spaces.

  • trueCABLE Cat5e Riser (CMR), 1000ft
  • 24 AWG with 4 pairs (8 conductors)
  • Supports PoE and PoE+ (IEEE 802.3af/at) up to 30W and 300V DC
  • Too flexible

Cat6 cables reduce crosstalk, even more, using tighter wound wire pairs and usually also have a plastic core through the middle of the cable to better insulate the internal wires, which also makes it more resistant in time.

Otherwise, the two cables come with the same end port that plugs into any Ethernet jack on a computer, router, or another similar device. 


How much better is Cat6 than Cat 5e?

  • trueCABLE Cat6 Riser (CMR), 1000ft
  • Bandwidth up to 550 MHz
  • Suitable for 1 Gigabit up to 328ft or 10-Gigabit Ethernet up to 165ft
  • Low stock due to high demand

Naturally, the big difference between Cat5e and Cat6 cables lies in their performance or the amount of data that can be sent over through each one of them. As expected, Cat6 has a higher bandwidth compared to Cat5. 

Cat5e supports a maximum frequency of up to 100MHz and a speed of up to 1Gbps (which is why it was also known as the Gigabit Ethernet). Cat6 cables increased that bandwidth to 250 Mhz, which also boosted up the transfer speed to 10Gbps.

One drawback of Cat6 cables is that though standard Ethernet supports distances of up to 100 meters, they only support 37-55 meters (depending on crosstalk).


Should I run Cat 5e or Cat6?

There’s no correct answer to this question. Both cable types are being widely used.  Perhaps of all the current cabling options, Cat5e is the least expensive option. 

Cat5e is also the most common type of cabling for residencies, due to its profitability when balancing cost and performance. 

Just think that most on-demand video streaming services require somewhere around 14-16Mbps Internet speed (or even less) to stream 4k content, so you can imagine that with a Cat5e Ethernet cable you’d be just fine.

On the other hand, for better Internet speed and transfer speeds 10 times faster between several devices, Cat6 cables are definitely the better option.

For more comprehensive guides, check out our guide on Cat 7 vs Cat 8.

You can also find out which are the best Ethernet splitters available on Amazon right now from our dedicated article.

Lastly, if you’re interested in some USB C to Ethernet adapters, we have yet another list with expert-made reviews for you.

We hope you managed to choose between Cat5e vs Cat6 using our guide and that you are happy with your purchase. Let us know in the comments section below what you decided to go with.


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