Difference Between CAT5 and CAT6 (With Table)

CAT5 vs CAT6

CAT5 and CAT6 are twisted pair cables that fulfill various purposes but are mostly used as network cables. They are made of four twisted pairs of copper wires that enable faster and more efficient data communication.

The difference between CAT5 and CAT6 is that CAT5 has a lower bandwidth than CAT6. This means that CAT6 can send a higher amount of data than CAT5 over a specific period of time.

CAT5 supports up to 10/100 Mbps at a bandwidth of 100MHz, while an upgraded version of the cable, CAT5e, supports up to 100/1000 Mbps at a 350MHz bandwidth.

On the other hand, CAT6 can support up to 1GbE (1000 Mbps) at a 250MHz bandwidth, which significantly faster than the latter. The cables upgraded version, CAT6A, supports up to 1GbE at a bandwidth of 500MHz.

Besides performance, CAT5 and CAT6 also differ in the usage, amount of twist in cable, size, cost, etc.


 

Comparison Table Between CAT5 and CAT6

Parameters of ComparisonCAT5CAT6
Bandwidth 10/100 Mbps at a 100MHz bandwidth. 1GbE (1000 Mbps) at a 250MHz bandwidth.
UsageQuintessential for residential use (small area). Quintessential for industrial use (large area).
CoverageCovers a length of up to 100 metres. Significantly greater speed as well as a larger distance covered than CAT5.
Diameter of WireApproximately 0.204 inches (narrower) Approximately 0.250 inches (wider)
Number of twists (Wire) The wires in CAT5 feature one and a half to two twists per centimetre. CAT6 cable has tightly wound wires that feature two or more twists per centimetre.
CostModerate price, less costly than CAT6. Generally, 10-20% expensive than CAT5.
SpeedLess speed when compared to CAT6. Faster internet as well as internal speed than CAT5.
CrosstalkDoes not tackle crosstalk problems. CAT6 has a protective shield that is designed to reduce crosstalk significantly.

 

What is CAT5?

CAT5, also known as catergory5, is a standardized twisted pair cable that connects network equipment, computers, and other devices to switches, servers, and modems. It consists of four pairs of twisted copper wires that are terminated by an RJ-45 connector.

These eight wires have to be organized in a specific order. T568A and T568B are the two standards for the order of the wires.

Due to the massive evolution in technology, these cables have become more or less outdated. To keep up with changing times, a new version of the cable called CAT5e was released. This cable can support up to 100/1000 Mbps at a 350MHz, while the original CAT5 cable can support only up to 10/100 Mbps at 100MHz.

CAT5 and CAT5e are generally used in homes and small offices. The ‘e’ in CAT5e stands for ‘enhanced’. The CAT5e network cable is designed to work faster than CAT5 and also reduce crosstalk by a significant amount. However, CAT5 does not tackle with crosstalk problems at all.

CAT5
 

What is CAT6?

CAT6 was released four years after CAT5 came into the market. Just like the latter, CAT6 is a network cable used to connect computers and other devices to switches, modems, and servers. 

CAT6 cables are available in two versions – CAT6 and CAT6A. Both these versions are faster and more enhanced when compared to CAT5 and CAT5e cables.

CAT6A cables cover a distance of approximately 328 feet. This makes it the perfect choice for large industries. On the contrary, CAT6 cables are perfect for residential use as the distance covered is significantly lesser than CAT6A.

The diameter of CAT6A cable is about 0.250 which is wider than CAT5 and CAT5e. A wider cable allows more amount of data communication to flow over a specific period of time, that too at a faster speed.

Apart from this, CAT6 tackles network and crosstalk problems exceptionally well. This is due to its thick gauge plastic casing. The CAT6 cable can handle up to 1GbE (1000 Mbps) with a bandwidth of 250 MHz, while CAT6A can handle up to 1GbE at a 500MHz bandwidth.

CAT6

Main Differences Between CAT5 and CAT6

  • CAT6 cable has a higher bandwidth than a CAT5 or CAT5e cable.
  • CAT6 allows for faster data transfer and communication than CAT5.
  • CAT5 and CAT6 cables are perfect for residential use while the upgraded version of CAT6 can be used for industrial purposes.
  • CAT5 covers a distance of about 100 metres while CAT6A covers a larger distance, that too with faster speed.
  • CAT6 can tackle crosstalk issues exceptionally well because of its protective casing while CAT5 is not designed to handle crosstalk issues.
  • CAT5 cable has one and a half to two twists per centimetre while CAT6 cable has two or more twists per centimetre. 
  • CAT6 cables are more expensive when compared to CAT5 cables.

 

Conclusion

CAT5 and CAT6 cables can be seen almost everywhere, from homes to large scale industries. These are twisted pair cables that support fast and efficient Ethernet connection.

The difference between the two is that CAT6 is a more advanced version of CAT5. It was released four years after CAT5. It was designed to keep up with the constantly evolving technology.

Unlike CAT5, CAT6 comes with good safety margins. The thick plastic casing on CAT6 allows it to cover longer distances while tackling crosstalk issues.

CAT5 is perfect to use in homes, offices, and other small spaces that are within a radius of 100 meters. On the contrary, CAT6A wires are designed to cover large distances. This makes it perfect for industrial and large-scale usage.

CAT5 has become more or less outdated in today’s time. The cable can support only 10/100 Mbps at a 100 MHz bandwidth. CAT6 cables have easily taken over CAT5 cables as they provide 1GbE at a 250 MHz bandwidth.