Cat5e or Cat6 or Cat6a: Which ethernet cable is best for commercial purposes?

cat5e cat6 cat6a2

There are hardly any businesses left out there that have not yet digitalized. From managing accounting to sending emails, from getting prints to making a presentation, businesses use a wide range of machines. All of these machines are connected to a network via bulk ethernet cables. And to your surprise, there are at least 3 main types of ethernet cables widely available and used these days. They are Cat5e Cables, Cat6 Cable, and Cat6a Cables.

Now, this wide variety of ethernet cables gives birth to one simple question: which among all 3 listed above is the best for commercial purposes? To find the answer to this question, we have to dive a bit deeper and take a deeper look at specifications of the each. So, let’s begin!

Cat5e Cables

Introduced back then in 2001, Cat5e cables have somehow managed to remain relevant till date. This is despite the fact that if there’s one field that evolves at a super-fast rate, it’s technology.

As far as terminology goes, Cat in the title refers to the category, and 5 represents the generation. “E” means enhanced. So, this is an enhanced 5th generation ethernet cable. It supersedes Cat5 and is superseded by Cat6.

Cat5e Cables are designed to support Ethernet applications up to 1000BASE-T (Gigabit Ethernet) through maximum data transfer rates of 1 Gbps and minimum data transfer rates of 100 Mbps. The cable demonstrates a 1 Gbps data transfer speed over a length of 50 meters or 164 feet. Likewise, the cable sustains 100 Mbps data transfer speed over a length of 100 meters or 328 feet.

The cable comprises conductors and jackets. Conductors are either made up of pure copper [also known as bare copper or solid copper] or copper-clad aluminum [commonly known as CCA].

As far as the outer jacket is concerned, Cat5e Cables are available in 4 jacket ratings: Plenum, Riser, PVC, and Direct Burial.

Plenum jackets are premium jackets that have CMP ratings whereas CMP stands for Communications Multipurpose Cable Plenum. CMP ratings are the highest rating as per TIA/EIA standards for the ethernet cables and they have top-notch UV and fire-resistant features. Plenum cables are run between plenum spaces of the buildings. If exposed to blaze, these cables emit no smoke and release no perilous gases. Plenum-rated Cat5e Cables can be used in riser and outdoor spaces; however, you can’t reverse it.

As far as riser-rated ethernet cables are concerned, they are built for installation in vulnerable vertical or riser spaces of the buildings. A riser-rated CMR jacket is the 2nd best jacket as per standards crafted by TIA/EIA. These cables, just like their plenum counterparts, too have excellent UV and fire resistance properties. You can use a riser cable as a replacement for PVC cable but can’t do otherwise.

PVC cables are specifically designed for installation in vulnerable outdoor spaces. These cables come with excellent protection against sunlight and other external factors.

Last but not least, direct-burial ethernet cables — as the title suggests — are built to be run in underground spaces. The jackets of these cables offer top-notch protection against microorganisms and are waterproof, too.

Cat6 Cables

Introduced a year later after Cat5e, Cat6 Cables support high-speed gigabit Ethernet applications like 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX Fast Ethernet, 1000BASE-T, and 10 GBASE-T by rendering maximum data transfer rates of 10 Gbps and minimum data transfer rates of 1 Gbps. The cable can sustain maximum speed up to a distance of 50 meters or 164 feet and minimum speed up to a length of 100 meters or 328 feet. The cables come with a bandwidth capacity of 550 MHz.

Cat6 Cables are available in pure copper and CCA conductors. Likewise, these cables also come with CMP-rated, CMR-rated, PVC, and direct-burial rated outer jackets.

Cat6a Cables

Introduced back then in 2006, Cat6a Cables are augmented category 6 cables. These cables are designed to support data applications such as Ethernet 10 Gigabit, 100BASETX, 100BASEVG ANY LAN, 155ATM, 622ATM, NTSC/PAL Component or Composite Video, AES/EBU Digital Audio, and AES 51, RS-422 with a data transfer speed of 10 Gbps. The cable can sustain a 10 Gbps data transfer rate up to a distance of 100 meters or 328 feet.

These cables come with a bandwidth capacity of 750 MHz. It is available in pure copper and CCA conductors in four jackets: plenum, riser, PVC, and direct burial.

Cat5e vs Cat6 vs Cat6a: Which is best?

Unarguably, the best cable for commercial use is Cat6a cable. It renders extremely fast data speed with strong bandwidth. Installing Cat6a Cables will future-proof your network for ages.

Why New York Cables?

New York Cables is an industry leader in manufacturing high-quality bulk ethernet cables. We take pride in telling that all our cables meet and exceed all standards, come with a 10-year warranty (terms and conditions apply), and with free shipping on orders above $150. To get in touch with our sales team, drop us an email at [email protected].

Specification Cat5e Cat6 Cat6a
Cable Jacket Plenum, Riser & PVC Plenum, Riser & PVC Plenum & Riser
Wire Gauge 24-AWG 23-AWG 23-AWG Highly Twisted
Frequencies 350 MHZ 550 MHZ 750 MHZ
Installation Temp 0°C to 60°C 0°C to 60°C 0°C to 60°C
Pairs 4 Twisted Pairs 4 Twisted Pairs 4 Twisted Pairs
Package Easy Pull Box Easy Pull Box Wood Spool
Colors Black, Blue, White, Red, Green, Yellow Black, Blue, White, Red, Green, Yellow Black, Blue, White, Red, Green, Yellow
Standard Compliance ETL, FCC, CE, CSA, ISO/IES, RoHS FCC, CE, CSA, ISO/IES, RoHS ETL, FCC, CE, CSA, ISO/IES, RoHS

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