Cat5e vs Cat6 – What’s the Difference?

When you’re looking to make a large purchase, like new networking cables, it can be tough to understand what exactly you’re buying into. The difference between Cat5e and Cat6 cables may seem minor at first glance, but some significant distinctions can help or hinder your network’s performance depending on your choice. To learn more about the differences between these two networking cables, check out our guide on Cat5e vs. Cat6 cabling!

Main Difference

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right type of cabling for your business or home network. One of the most important is deciding between Cat5e and Cat6 cables. The two types of cables have different capabilities, and each has its benefits and drawbacks.

Cat5e cables are less expensive than Cat6 cables and can support data speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps). However, Cat5e cables are not as reliable as Cat6 cables and can only support data speeds up to 10 Mbps.

Cat6 cables are more expensive than Cat5e cables, but they are more reliable and can support data speeds up to 10 Gbps.

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What is Cat5e?

Category 5 enhanced (Cat5e) is a twisted pair cable type often used in computer networks. It is an improvement over the earlier Cat5 standard and can be used at Ethernet speeds up to 1000BASE-T (Gigabit Ethernet).

The main difference between Cat5 and Cat5e is that Cat5e has improved crosstalk performance. In other words, it handles interference better than Cat5. There are also tighter restrictions on how close each wire in the cable can be to each other and tighter requirements for shielding, which help reduce noise or interference from external sources.

What is Cat6?

Category 6 cable, also called Cat 6, is a standardized twisted pair cable for Ethernet and other network physical layers that is backward compatible with the Category 5/5e and Category 3 cable standards.

  • The transmission performance of Cat6 significantly improves upon that of previous standards, particularly in terms of crosstalk.
  • Crosstalk is a type of interference that can degrade the performance of communication systems.
    Supports up to 10 Gbps.
  • has a maximum length of 100 meters
  • uses thicker 23 AWG copper wires
  • has improved crosstalk performance
  • is more expensive than Cat5e

Difference Between Cat5e and Cat6

If you’re looking to upgrade your home network, you may wonder what the difference is between Cat5e and Cat6 Ethernet cables. Both can transmit data at fast speeds, but Cat6 cables can handle data transmission at even higher speeds than Cat5e. Additionally, Cat6 cables are less likely to suffer from crosstalk (interference from other cables) than Cat5e cables. So, if you need the fastest and most reliable connection possible, go with Cat6!

There are a few critical differences between Cat5e and Cat6 cables.

  • The most crucial difference is that the Cat6 cable has more stringent specifications for performance, which means that it can support faster data rates.
  • Cat6 cable also has more shielding than Cat5e cable, making it better suited for noisy environments.
  • Finally, Cat6 connectors are compatible with both Cat5e and Cat6 cables, whereas Cat5e connectors are not compatible with Cat6 cables.

Speed: Cat5e vs. Cat6

The main difference between Cat5e and Cat6 is speed. Cat5e can support up to 100Mbps, while Cat6 can support up to 10Gbps. Additionally, Cat6 is more resistant to crosstalk and interference than Cat5e. This makes it a better choice for applications that require high speeds, such as video streaming or gaming. However, Cat6 cables are more expensive than Cat5e cables.

Physical Distance: Cat5e vs. Cat6

The main difference between Cat5e and Cat6 is in the physical distance that the cables can support. Cat5e can support up to 100 meters (328 feet), while Cat6 can support up to 155 meters (508 feet). If you need to run the cable over a long distance, you’ll need to use Cat6. Another factor to consider is whether or not you’re going through walls.

If so, Cat6 will fare better because it has a more durable coating than Cat5e. In this case, higher-quality cables will be necessary because they have better signal quality at longer distances and are less susceptible to interference from outside sources like other wired or wireless devices in your home or office.

Network Size: Cat5e vs. Cat6

The most crucial difference between cat5e and cat6 is network size. A cat5e network can support up to 1,000Base-T (10/100/1000 Mbps), while a cat6 network can support up to 10GBase-T (10 Gbps). Additionally, a cat6 cable has more stringent specifications for attenuation, which means that it offers higher performance in an environment with long cable runs.

Additional Features

  • Cat6 cabling is thicker than Cat5e cabling. This helps reduce crosstalk and interference from other wires in the cable.
  • Cat6 can also handle higher frequencies than Cat5e. This means that it can carry more data than Cat5e.
  • Another difference between the two types of cabling is that Cat6 cables are usually shielded. This means they are less likely to be affected by outside noise sources.

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Comparison Chart Between Cat5e and Cat6

Comparison Cat5e Cat6
Cost Prices vary from brand to brand and length to length, generally $0.20 – $0.30 per foot. Length and shape may vary between brands, with prices usually around $0.40 to $0.60 per foot; the increases are generally from 20 to 20 percent compared to Cat5e.
Maximum Cable Length 100 meters For networks up to 1,000 Mbps at 100 meters and 1000Base-T, up to 55 meters are utilized for the longest range without crosstalk. Gigabit Ethernet connection is allowed up to 33 meters in the likelihood of high arbitration.
Performance Potentially more interference than CAT6. Less crosstalk interference than CAT5. SNR higher and better
Standard gauges in conductors 24-26 AWG wire 22-24 AWG wire
Connectors RJ45 (aka 8P8C) RJ45 (aka 8P8C)
Common usage Personal home usage Office networks, home networks, phone lines


In conclusion, the main differences between Cat5e and Cat6 are speed, price, and flexibility. Cat6 is faster, more expensive, and more flexible than Cat5e. If you need a fast and reliable Ethernet connection, then Cat6 is the way to go. However, if you’re on a budget or don’t need the extra speed, then Cat5e will be just fine.