When playing a game or sending packets of information across a network, users want speed and dependability. This can be achieved with better wire connections. Cat5e and Cat6 cables offer more bandwidth, greater network speed, and less lost signals. Here are the similarities and difference between the two options and how they can both be used to increase the speed of everyday connections in the home.
The 'Cat' Cables
The 'cat' designation in the name simply refers to the category the cable is placed in. Technically, a higher category offers higher possible speeds. Before the Cat5e and Cat6 cables, there was the basic and now outdated Cat5 cable, once called Fast Ethernet. It handled 100 Mbps.
Cat5e (or Category 5 Enhanced) was the first step into 1 Gigabit networking. At the time it came out, there weren't even many commonly-used devices supporting it. Now it's accepted as the standard for high speed network access ahead of the outdated Cat5 connection. With this, users can get 1000 Mbps at 100 Mhz. This cable also has reduced crosstalk, which is what results from the electromagnetic signals released by electronic devices interfering with each other.
Physically, a Cat5e cable is comprised of 4 data pairs, or four pairs of twisted wires. Twisting the wires increases range and decreases interference. There is usually more twisting done in faster connections. The cable is also thicker than the old Fast Ethernet.
Cat6 was the next big thing after Cat5e. Using a Cat6 cable, users can get 10 Gigabit speeds at 250 MHz. It further reduces crosstalk among networks with an internal separator. Like Cat5e, the Cat6 cable houses twisted pairs. In fact, the cables are twisted harder to allow 2-way communication. The internal separator is a shield placed around all internal wires or around each internal twisted pair so that the wires even inside a single cable aren't interfering with each other.
On paper, the Cat6 will be faster than the Cat5e cables. However, many people have not switched over. That's because the cables are only useful if the devices support the enhanced speed, and if all other conditions are favorable. The Cat6 cable can only transmit over 164 ft. After that, it drops down to 1 gigabit and is as useful as a Cat5e connection.
Both cables have an RJ-45 at their end that plugs into any ethernet jack. That allows both cables to be compatible with computers, routers, and cable boxes. For those, it's as simple as plugging one end to the wall and the other to the Ethernet port on the device (often the router or cable box).
Switches make it easier to manage a home network. Instead of the direct wall-to-device connection, switches are central hubs that offer connections to multiple Ethernet-compatible devices and connect them on a home network. The switch is a box with its own power supply. Plug it into a wall plug, plug it into a router with an ethernet cord, and then plug any ethernet cords from other devices into it.
These cables can also be used to increase the speed and quality of HDMI connections over long distances. Just get two HDMI to Ethernet adapters. Connect one to each end of the ethernet cord. Then, connect the HDMI ends to the source device and the display.
Cat5e and Cat6 cable connections are fast, high quality options. Best of all, they can be used for traditional computers and routers and also adapted for use in home media, allowing the greater speed and dependability to become common throughout the home.