Cat5 Vs Cat5e Vs Cat6: How Ethernet Cable Speeds Differ

Cat5 vs. Cat5e vs. Cat6 Image: iStock

Ethernet cables are the lifeblood of any wired internet network. While they all look very similar on the outside, these cables can potentially affect the speed of your home network depending on which type you're using. This infographic breaks down the key differences between Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6 ethernet cables, including how much you can expect to pay for them in Australia.

Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6 cables (also known as Category 5e and Category 6) are standardised cables used for Ethernet. Each standard is backwards compatible with older Ethernet cabling technology but differ in terms of data performance.

The infographic below comes from the Canadian voice and data communication system provider Network Telecom. It shows the data performance, frequency and maximum speed data for each cable type, plus the average cost per metre in Australia.

Remember, you’ll need more than just cables — gigabit speeds also require a gigabit-compatible router and gigabit-capable network cards in your computers. For a more detailed overview of Ethernet cable types, click here.

[Via Network Telecom]

This story has been updated since its original publication.


    What's the easiest way to visually tell the difference between the cables?

      On the plastic outer casing it will be written what kind of cable it is. Without that you would need to cut open the cable.

    1000baseTX works just fine over cat5 - that list is just outright incorrect. The wire-performance needed to hit gigabit is almost the same as that required for 100mbit (100mhz (125mhz after the 8b/10b coding)). 5gbit is the first standard that requires cat6 cabling.

      The list does say cat5e can do 1gb if you read it. But unlike cat6 it can do it over 100metres which is where the standard is taken from it can only do it over 55m (from memory)

    What you're saying is technically true, but the list does state that the maximum data speed of Cat5e is 1 gigabit. And just because something can be done doesn't mean it should be. The runs I've seen that have much interference, or approach that 100 meter mark just won't really support gigabit speeds on Cat5e cable. Cat6 never has that issue, regardless. Maybe our experiences vary. Cat5e is rated for 100Mbps, and will do 1Gbps under the right conditions. Cat6 will do 1Gbps normally, and 10Gbps if the run length is short enough. What I've experienced personally pretty well matches the graphic.

    It is value noting that each Cat5 vs Cat6 cables utilize the identical finish piece, i.e. they'll “plug in” to the identical ports. The variations between every one of those cables are in their capabilities, further because the strategies and materials want to produce them. The “end” that everyone the cables have in common is understood as RJ-45, and it's capable of plugging into any LAN jack on a laptop, router, or another similar device. No one within the trade expects this to alter anytime presently.cat5e plenum

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