CAT6 vs CAT6a: Difference and Comparison

Everyone wants the right cabling for their applications and researching the right cabling is a must. In today’s time, the use of Ethernet for networks has become very common.

All networks from all over the world run through Ethernet. It is necessary to have the right cable to connect to that network as well.

In this sequence, if we talk about the right cable, then cat6 and cat6a are considered very common. After understanding the difference between the two, the decision regarding their use is considered successful.

Key Takeaways

  1. Cat6a cables support higher data transfer rates of up to 10 Gbps, while Cat6 cables support up to 1 Gbps over longer distances.
  2. Cat6a cables offer improved performance and reduced crosstalk than Cat6 cables due to their thicker and more advanced insulation.
  3. Cat6a cables are bulkier and more expensive than Cat6 cables, making them more suitable for high-performance applications.

CAT6 vs CAT6a

CAT6 is a standardized twisted pair cable for Ethernet and other network physical layers. It is backward compatible with the Category 5/5e and Category 3 cable standards with a max speed of 250 MHz. CAT6A cable consists of 4 unshielded twisted pairs with an outer foil shield and a speed of at least 500 MHz.

CAT6 vs CAT6a

In Cat6, CAT means category. It is mainly used as a cable to connect to the network, LAN or Ethernet.

It has many categories. A 4-headed sheath is a copper wire with a capacity of up to 1 gigabyte i.e. up to 1000 megabytes. Under this, large files are transferred, which is also allowed from the bandwidth office.

CAT6a has more capabilities. It can transfer data for large files up to 10 Gbps, apart from this it has several modes like crosstalk reduction mode, insulation mode, etc.

Its speed has its set limits. This cable is fast becoming popular among the people as it is being seen as a future-proof cable.

Its components are used in Class EA networks.

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparisonCAT6CAT6a
DefinitionCat6 is a twisted cable that is more compatible than Cat5 or Cat4 and can be connected to its designated network or Ethernet.Cat6a is also a form of cable which is an upgraded and advanced version of Cat 6.
Potential bandwidthCat6 has a low potential bandwidth rate of 1 Gbps.CAT6a has a high potential bandwidth rate of 10 Gbps.
Maximum frequencyThe maximum frequency rate of CAT6 cable is 250 MHz.The maximum frequency rate of the CAT6a cable is 500 MHz.
Data transmissionThe data transmission rate in Cat6 is 1000BASE-TXThe data transmission rate in Cat6a is 1000GBASE-T.
SpeedCat6’s working capacity or speed is slightly less.The working speed or capacity of the CAT6a cable is comparatively high.

What is CAT6?

Category 6 is known in a way as cable.  Here CAT means category. 

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These cables can be connected to any type of network.  Apart from this, it is also connected to Ethernet. 

This cable is supposed to be backward compatible with Cat 5 and Cat 3. Cat 6 can meet the prescribed specifications for crosstalk and system noise more than Cat 5. 

In addition, it is capable of performing up to 250 MHz which is only up to 100 MHz in Cat5.  The length of the cable wire in this range is up to 55 meters.

Cat6, first designed in 2001, was supported by Cat5.  It was designed as a hooded pair without shields. 

It was designed with rigorous accuracy in mind.  For better performance, it has reduced system noise, crosstalk, etc.

Cat 6 should always be used with wiring, otherwise, it may result in a decrease in its performance, that is, it should be used keeping in mind its specifications.  The conductor used in this requires pure copper. 

There are some instructions you need to know before using Category 6.  While using the cable, its wires should not be sharply bent. 

The bend radius should be 4 times the outside diameter of the cable.  Keeping these things in mind, it should be used only then it will be installed properly.

cat6

What is CAT6a?

Cat6a is considered a better cable.  It is also connected to Ethernet. 

It has many features which are known at the time of its use such as differential visibility, distinctive display, etc.  Its prescribed limit is up to a bandwidth of up to 500 MHz, which is considered twice the normal. 

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This cable maintains a maximum data rate over a distance of up to 100 meters which is its main feature. While designing it, efforts have been made to rectify the earlier shortcomings such as improved cross-stack mitigation. 

The number of modes has also been increased in it which enhances its feature. 

There have been many upgrades regarding this, in which cable twist is also important. This cable adds 2 twists which increase its strength and resistance to crosstalk.

In addition, its cables are heavy and thick, which eliminates external crosstalk. The wires used in this, which are of copper, are also thick, due to which it is difficult to install.

It can also be used for data centers or office networks. The synonym of A appearing in CAT 6 is Augmented.

It is designed in such a way that its properties are twice as good as that of Cat 6 whether it is its data rate or its speed. 

Main Differences Between CAT6 and CAT6a

  1. CAT6 is known as a cable that can be connected to any specified network and it is also connected to Ethernet whereas Cat6a is an upgraded and advanced form of this category that can perform better than this.
  2. Cat6’s connector type is RJ45 8P8C whereas Cat6a has connector type RJ45 only.
  3. It takes 1 hour to transfer 1 Terabyte in Cat6 while it takes only 20 minutes to transfer 1 Terabyte in Cat6a.
  4. The copper wires used in Cat6 are thinner and lighter whereas the wires used in Cat6a are thicker and heavier.
  5. If we talk about its application area, then Cat6 can only be connected to the home network or its designated network whereas Cat6a is connected to large networks like data centers, office networks, etc because of its faster speed.
Difference Between X and Y 2023 07 12T083037.666
References
  1. https://search.informit.org/doi/pdf/10.3316/informit.369951365354592
  2. https://search.informit.org/doi/pdf/10.3316/informit.758767150534645
  3. https://www.moog.com/content/dam/moog/literature/MCG/311_When_Ethernet_Rotates_White_Paper.pdf

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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