CAT5 vs CAT6: Difference and Comparison

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.

Key Takeaways

  1. Cat5 (Category 5) is an older Ethernet cable standard, supporting data transfer rates up to 100 Mbps and a maximum length of 100 meters.
  2. Cat6 (Category 6) is a newer Ethernet cable standard designed to handle higher data transfer rates of up to 10 Gbps and improved performance with less interference.
  3. The main difference between Cat5 and Cat6 cables lies in their data transfer capabilities and overall performance, with Cat6 providing faster speeds and better signal integrity compared to Cat5.

CAT5 vs CAT6

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

CAT 5 vs CAT 6

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 is significantly faster than the latter. The upgraded cables, CAT6A, support 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

Parameters of ComparisonCAT5CAT6
Bandwidth10/100 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 centimeter.CAT6 cable has tightly wound wires with two or more twists per centimeter.
CostModerate price, less costly than CAT6.Generally, 10-20% more 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, called catergory5, is a standardized twisted pair cable that connects network equipment, computers, and other devices to switches, servers, and modems.

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It consists of four twisted copper wires 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. A new version of the cable called CAT5e was released to keep up with changing times.

This cable can support up to 100/1000 Mbps at 350MHz, while the original CAT5 cable can support only up to 10/100 Mbps at 100MHz.

CAT5 and CAT5e are 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 crosstalk problems at all.


What is CAT6?

CAT6 was released four years after CAT5 came into the market. Like the latter, CAT6 is a network cable connecting 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 the CAT6A cable is about 0.250, which is wider than CAT5 and CAT5e. A wider cable allows more data communication to flow over a specific period at a faster speed.

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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.


Main Differences Between CAT5 and CAT6

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

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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29 thoughts on “CAT5 vs CAT6: Difference and Comparison”

  1. In summary, CAT5 and CAT6 serve distinct needs, and this article does an excellent job of highlighting their differences and individual strengths.

  2. The comparison table makes it easy to do a quick side-by-side evaluation of key differences between CAT5 and CAT6. Very useful information.

  3. Interesting to learn about the enhanced crosstalk reduction in CAT5e and the thicker gauge of CAT6. Both seem like major upgrades from CAT5.

  4. As someone who works in an industrial setting, the details about CAT6A and its performance make it an attractive option for our network needs.

  5. Great article, thanks for the detailed comparison! I’m amazed at how much the technology has improved from CAT5 to CAT6.

  6. The progression from CAT5 to CAT6 shows the significant advancements made in networking technology over the years. Impressive evolution.

  7. While CAT6 certainly offers impressive features, the cost consideration is a significant factor to take into account, especially for smaller businesses.

  8. I appreciate the clear and concise comparisons between CAT5 and CAT6. The examples provided make it easy to understand.


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