Our lives seem to be made up of cables and cords these days, from USB cables to power lightning cables that charge our phones, to HDMI high-speed cables to connect different devices to each other, to Ethernet cables that connect us to the Internet and other devices. If you’re searching for the right kind of cable, it can get confusing when you’re confronted with the variety available to you. Do you need a USB 2.0 cable or a USB 3 cable? Should you get a Cat5e, Cat6, or Cat6a ethernet cable? What’s the difference? Let us help you break the lingo down so you know what to look for and what might work best with the devices you have at home or in the office. In any case, having a power strip surge protector is always a good idea, to protect your devices in case of lightning, an electric outage, etc.
What’s the Difference Between a USB Cable and an Ethernet Cable?
If you pick up a USB cable and an Ethernet cable, you’ll see right away that they look different. A USB cable helps connect external devices to a computer — such a camera or your phone.
There a couple different kinds of USB cables as well. A USB 3 cable, for example, will have a different port than a USB 2 cable. The main difference in this case, for example, would be that the USB 3 cable is faster than the USB 2 cable. This means that backing things up, loading data onto a computer or transferring it to another device from your computer, etc., will take less time with a USB 3 cable than compared to using a USB 2 cable.
While an Ethernet cable can connect a DSL or cable modem to a computer, it can’t connect just anything. It links local area networks together and helps run your Internet. All Ethernet cables are made up of four twisted pairs of wires. The twisting prevents currents or interference that might happen between or among the wire pairings.
What are Cat Cables?
Cat cables are a type of Ethernet cable, that are usually quite colorful and help connect different devices in one LAN (local area network). The most basic cat cable will hook up your computer to your router; more complicated ones (like what you might find in an office) can offer a faster link or more wiggle room to meet certain requirements.
There are three main types of cat cables: Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6a. Using a Cat5e cable to access the Internet can be a better option that using WiFi in some cases, due to WiFi’s drop off over longer distances and interference. This kind of cable can last as long as five to 10 years and are great for the person who wants a better Internet connection and better speed, but doesn’t need a whole lot of extra.
Cat6 cables are slightly more expensive than Cat5e, but also can support much faster speeds over short distances — up to 10GB per second over distances no more than 180 feet, Cat6a is required for the full 328 feet. The “e” in the Cat5e simply means “enhanced” — it’s a little better than a Cat5 cable but not as pricey as a Cat6 cable. The enhanced cables also cut down on how much interference occurs between the paired wires inside the cables.
Lastly, a Cat6a cable is the fastest kind of Ethernet cable, and one that offers higher frequencies than the Cat5e or Cat6a, so if you want super speed, this is the way to go. However, be warned that they’re considerably more expensive than the other two cables and some tech experts warn that they’re a bit trickier to install.
Hopefully, you feel more confident in choosing the correct kind of cable to use going forward. Do keep in mind that we offer a lifetime warranty on our cables, so if you’re looking for an HDMI cable, a USB cable, or an Ethernet cable, come check us out.