Cat6 Ethernet Cable

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Which Cat6 Ethernet cable should I buy?

With so many options available for Cat6 cable, you might catch yourself asking which cable is best for your project. While there is no simple answer, we can help break down the differences between each Cat6 cable to narrow down your choices for the choosing right cable.

What is the difference between Cat6 and Cat6E cable?

The first thing we will clear up is the difference between Cat6 and Cat6E cable, as they are both listed under Cat6 cable. Our company broke Cat6 into two categories, one being the regular Cat6 cable and an upgraded version being Cat6E cable (Cat6 Enhanced). The reason for this was to cater to the market as a whole. Installers have expressed their own preferences for cables with a center divider also known as a spline and some claim it as unnecessary and is in the way of their installation. With both preferences put into consideration, we've brought Cat6E to life.

Here are the key differences between both cables:

Cat6: without spline and performs up to 550MHz

Cat6e: with spline and performs up to 600MHz.

The reason for the difference in performance is the spline helps protect against NEXT (Nearend Crosstalk), which allows the cable to perform at a slightly higher frequency without overall performance failure.

Please note Cat6 standard is 250MHz. Any value above that is for marketing purposes and does not change the fact that it still falls under Cat6 category. Cat6 also does not require a spline, therefore both versions abide by Cat6 standards. The spline is an option, not a necessity.

Do I need Cat6 CM, Riser, Plenum, or CMX cable?

This is a question that refers to the fire rating safety of each cable. This is also one of the main factors for the difference in each cable type pricing, as the cost of materials for each cable type dictates the cost of overall production cost. For example: Plenum rated cable is produced using Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) material for insulation, this material is almost double the cost of Polyolefin (PO) used in Riser cable for insulation. Here is a break down of each fire safety rating and where each type of cable is installed:

CM- This jacketing and insulation material is the lowest fire retardant grade. CM cable is typically used as patch cables for open spaces.

CMR- Riser cable also commonly referred to as PVC is commonly installed in-wall.

CMP - Plenum rated cable is installed in plenum areas. A plenum area is typically under a drop ceiling or raised floor where air return can produce air flow.

CMX - CMX cable is outdoor rated cable. This cable is produced using compounds that can withstand direct sunlight. The cable also comes with water blocking tape which is layered right beneath the outer jacket, making this cable waterproof against natural outdoor elements.

Visit our article on Where Do I Install Riser and Plenum Cable for more details along with a diagram to see where you can run each cable.

What is Cat6 cable used for?

This cable is commonly used as network cables that can be connected to network equipment such as computers, printers, modems, servers, and switches. They can also be used as the backbone of a network infrastructure. Cat6 cable is cost-effective and currently dominate both residential and commercial network.

With the growing popularity of Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology, Cat6 cable has been the ideal choice due to it's price point and PoE capability. PoE devices include surveillance camera, network switches, IP speakers, IP telephony, lighting and digital signage. To learn more about PoE please visit our article on "Things to Know About Power Over Ethernet (PoE)".

The standard bandwidth per TIA guidelines is 250MHz, anything above is for marketing purposes. There are many Cat6 producers that can accomplish up to 550-600MHz performance. The data transfer speed is rated for 1000Mbps, 1GB, or one Gbps data transfer.

What is the difference between Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a, Cat7 and Cat8 cable?

Category

Max Bandwidth

Max Data Rate

Shielding

Cat8

2000MHz

25Gbps / 40Gbps

Double Shielded

Cat7/ 7A

1200MHz

10Gbps

Double Shielded

Cat6A

750MHz

10Gbps

UTP or F/UTP

Cat6

550MHz

1000Mbps

UTP or F/UTP

Cat5e

350MHz

1000Mbps

UTP or F/UTP