If you’re in the market for a new Ethernet cable, you’ve probably come across two types of cables: copper and fiber optic. Both cable options are great, but what are the differences and benefits of each? Our experts break down the differences between fiber optic and copper Ethernet cables below; read on if you’d like to learn more.
Copper Ethernet Cables
When most people think of an Ethernet cable, they probably imagine a copper cable, and that’s because they’ve been around the longest. In fact, Xerox developed the first copper Ethernet cable in the 1970s and there have been several variations of copper cables since. A copper Ethernet cable works by sending electrical currents up and down the copper wire from one device to another. Today, the most common copper cables are Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6a.
Cat5e cables are arguably the most universal cable that will work with most network setups. Additionally, a Cat5e cable can supply up to 1Gb/second speeds at 100MHz. Alternatively, you could choose a Cat6 or Cat6a copper cable if you need faster speeds and you have the hardware to support it. In general, in scenarios such as surfing the web or gaming, a Cat5e or Cat6 cable will probably be sufficient. That said, sometimes you need extremely fast speeds.
Fiber Optic Ethernet Cables
A more modern take on the Ethernet cable is fiber optic. Instead of depending on electrical currents, fiber optic cables send signals using beams of light, which is much faster. In fact, fiber optic cables can support modern 10Gbps networks with ease, making them much faster than copper cables. Additionally, because fiber optic cables don’t depend on electricity, they’re less susceptible to interference from other devices. Moreover, fiber optic cables are more secure than copper cables because light signals are more difficult to hack.
Now that you know the differences between fiber optic and copper Ethernet cables, you can decide which cable best fits your needs. In general, if you have the fastest speeds available and have the appropriate hardware that supports such speeds, fiber optic is the way to go. That said, if you merely need to connect your gaming console or a computer to a router for basic internet use, a copper cable is sufficient.
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