With 3.47 billion users connected to the internet as of March 2017, there are plenty of people making use of Cat cables to stay connected every day. But what are Cat cables? “Cat” is short for Category cables, a type of ethernet cable used for carrying broadband signals to a wide array of computer networks and devices. But not every Cat cable is going to be right for every job. Here are the three types of Cat cables and what you need to know about each of them to make the most out of them, and to ensure you’re getting what you need.
A trusty old standby, Cat5 cables are dependent and reliable ethernet cables. Cat5 cables might not be the newest model with all the fancy add-ons, but they’ll certainly do the job and do it well. It might be a bit harder to find them as they’re gradually being phased out, but these tough cables can last between five and ten years. Cat5 cables are well-suited to most home needs, though they might struggle with a larger network.
Cat5e network cables are a step up from Cat5; physically, the two look the same, but Cat5e cables can provide just a bit more oomph for faster speeds. They’re also designed to reduce “crosstalk,” or interference between wires, making them more efficient. Cat5e network cables are fairly common and work well for phone lines, home networks, and office networks.
The newest type of Cat cable on this list is the Cat6 cable, and this one provides the fastest speeds of the bunch. Cat6 cables can be a bit more pricey, but for some people, the extra speed and power are worth the cost. This type of cable has even more shielding to prevent crosstalk than its predecessor. This cable works well for many of the same applications as a Cat5e, but some devices require specifically a Cat6, so be sure to check which cable is right before purchasing.
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