Ethernet cables such as Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6 are popularly used in networking to connect devices with the internet. These cables are used to connect different devices like PCs, routers, and Ethernet switches with the Local Area Network. All of these networks can be plugged into the Ethernet ports for internet connection.

Regardless, the cat5 vs. cat5e vs. cat6 cables look the same appearance, but they do comprise several differences in terms of speed, frequency, and overall performance. Although these factors may be tough to understand as a whole, the article is specifically written for you to bring the significant differences between these cables.

Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6 are the standardized cables used for Ethernet. Each line is backward compatible with its prior versions and more advanced with time. However, glimpse the basics of each cable and the divergence between them.

Cat5 Ethernet Cable

Cat5 cables have been the preferable choice by many Ethernet users for decades. Probably, if you are using LAN right now, the cable connected to the back of your PC may be a Category 5 cable. The cat5 cable is made with four twisted pairs of copper wires that use an RJ45 connector with a frequency of up to 100MHz. However, you may hardly find the Cat5 Ethernet cables in the market today. 

Cat5e Ethernet Cable

The Category-5e cable is a more enhanced networking cable than the Cat5 which was released in 1999. This Ethernet cable delivers improved execution and provides 10-times faster speed than its previous version. Besides, this cable has substantially greater ability to transverse distances without being influenced by the crosstalk. Although this cable is usually built with the 24-gauge twisted pair wires which supports a frequency of up to 100MHz.

Cat6 Ethernet Cable

Cat6 is the next and more improved version of cat5 that provides more efficiency. A cat6 cable has a frequency up to 250 MHz and comes in two forms; shielded and unshielded. These two forms help in reducing the crosstalk to much extent. This cable contains more stringent specifications regarding system noise than the previous two versions.

Cat5 vs Cat5e vs Cat6: Difference

All of the twisted-pair copper cables are used in computer networks. Not only this, but these cables are also used to move data from one device to another. Yet, each Ethernet cable in the market has some criteria set by the TIA. All three cables are the same seemingly and have quite similar specs, but they differ regarding several factors and performance levels.

Cabling Length

The cat5e vs cat6 cables offer the same length of 100m. But each cable is distinguished for its data transferring speed and frequency. For instance, the Cat5 cable is rated from 10-100Mbps speed only. However, the Cat5e and Cat6 cables offer up to 1000Mbps of speed, yet with different frequency rates. 

However, if you want to know about how long an ethernet cable could be, i have composed a separate article on that so that you get a flawless internet speed with ideal cable length.

Speed and Frequency

Another essential factor to notice in the Ethernet cable is the data transfer speed. You need to pick the cable that delivers enough speed to meet your requirements, as the Cat5 cable provides a speed from 10 to 100Mbps with a frequency of up to 100MHz. On the other hand, the cat5e cable also supports the frequency of 100MHz but operates with a data transfer rate of up to 1000Mbps. Similarly, the cat6 cable supports a higher data transfer frequency of up to 250 MHz with up to 1Gbps of speed.

Price

Well, the newer the version, the more costly it gets. The category-5e cable, as compared to the cat5, is 20% more expensive. This is because of the higher data transmission speed and frequency. Cat5 and Cat5e cables are relatively cheaper than the Cat6 cable, and considered ideal for home and business use. But if you have superfast internet connection for gaming, you need to opt for the Cat6 which is highly pricier than the prior cables.

Performance

Although the Cat5 cable can be connected to the desktops, switches, routers, and other networks to get internet connections, but, it has become obsolete. Therefore the Cat5e cable is insteadly used for domestic and business purposes. Conversely, the cat6 is considered the best ethernet cable for gaming and streaming since it conveys a higher transfer rate.

Verdict

Now that you have gone through the distinctions between Cat 5 vs. Cat 5e vs. Cat 6 Ethernet cables, I hope I have diminished your confusion for choosing the most ideal cable for you. But it depends upon you whether you require internet connection for domestic, commercial, or gaming purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cat5e or Cat6: Which is good for gaming?

While choosing the best Ethernet cable for gaming, the Cat6 is an excellent option due to its higher speed and frequency than Cat5. However, if you are a hardcore gamer, you should opt for the Cat8 Ethernet cable that provides up to 2000MHz frequency.

Is there a big difference between Cat5e and Cat6?

Well, the most significant difference between cat5e and cat6 is the amount of data transfer. The Cat6 cable carries a higher transfer rate and frequency than the cat5e cable.

Ayesha Ali
Ayesha Ali
I’m Aysha Ali, a full-time PC hardware and gaming analyst. Growing up as a gamer has instilled an interest in evaluating gaming hardware, which is why I spend my free time writing about it. As an author at Try10, I maintain our series of blog posts that give readers tips on how to choose and use your device better.