Ethernet cables are a core part of any home-computing experience, but few people understand the significant differences between them.
As the default physical connection to a home or business network nowadays, the ethernet cable plays a critical role in home networking.
Considering that many of us are completely lost on ethernet cables, we encourage you to read through this simple guide on their main differences, forms of protection, buying tips and where to buy them.
- Cat5 – The oldest type and was designed to support speeds of between 10 Mbps up to 100Mbps and bandwidth of up to 100 MHz. No longer widely used due to their slower speeds.
- Cat5e – An enhanced improvement of the Cat5 cable and supports up to 1000 Mbps and 350 MHz bandwidth. Significantly cuts down on the interference, sometimes experienced between wires inside cables. It offers a faster, reliable and steady internet speed than the Cat5 cable.
- Cat6 – Sufficiently faster and the best of all due to its advanced improvements. Supports speeds of up to 10 Gbps and a bandwidth of up to 550 MHz. Performs much better over long distances and is recommended for large organizations that have bulk data requirements.
- Cat7 – It’s still pretty new in the retail market. It further improves the reliability and capacity of the Cat6, but it will take a few more years before it will be useful in home environments. Supports speeds more than 10 Gbps, but unfortunately, there are only a few devices that support higher speeds than that.
So Which Ethernet Cable Should You Use?
Deciding which cable to use depends on various factors like the speed of your home internet connection, the speed you need for your network and your router.
According to Tektel.com, a leading online retailer for 1000 ft ethernet cables, upgrading your ethernet cables can have a tremendous effect on your file transfer speeds between computers.
When it comes to making your network even faster, besides upgrading your ethernet cable, you also need to:
- Check your hardware compatibility.
- Check your current network speeds.
- Get a better and compatible router.
- Purchase a gigabit capable network card for your PC.
Shielding And Jackets
Ethernet cables have two main types of protection:
Shielding – This is a form of shielding that prevents signal interference and degradation which is critical when running cables in harsh environments or running multiple cables simultaneously.
Jackets – This is the outer protection that covers the body of the ethernet cable. This prevents any damage to the cable during routing around the house. The stronger the jacket, the longer it will last.
You can always read the application requirements of specific ethernet cables as well as the appropriate jacket materials for each of them before buying.
Buying The Right Length Of Cable
When it comes buying ethernet cables, there is nothing much to look for except the right category and length. You’ll find on the market a wide range of cables in different lengths. The recommendation though is: Never buy an ethernet cable under 10 ft.
Longer cables will be of use when you need to reroute them at some point or need to move your computer or router. Learning how to crimp ethernet cables to any length you need is also important, just in case the need arises.
Where To Buy
People will have different opinions on the best places to buy ethernet cables. Buying online is the better and cheaper option. It also enables you to closely check specifications and user reviews to avoid buying low-quality cables.
You’ll find that cables in most physical outlets are overpriced. If you can wait for one or a few days of shipping, online retailers are the best.
The easiest way to select an ethernet cable is to buy one with the range and performance you need for your home network. With these few guidelines, you should be better off buying your first ethernet cables. Any thoughts to share?