Cat 5 vs Cat 6 … what’s the difference? Cat 5 and Cat 6 are both kinds of wires that you would use to connect to the internet. In a pre-Wireless time period, they were commonplace, and people who went to college or worked in an office in the 2000s probably remember what each of these cables looked like.
That being said, while they were very similar in a lot of ways, there were extensive differences between the two types of wires.
Cat 5 vs Cat 6: Side by Side Comparison
|Cat 5||Cat 6|
|What it is||Four pairs of copper Ethernet wire||Four pairs of copper Ethernet wire|
|Primary use||Wire used to connect to the internet||Wire used to connect to the internet|
|Name||Category 5 Cable||Cat 6 wire|
|Technical committee||ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-A, TSB-95||ANSI/TIA-568|
|Technologies influenced||Cat 5e, Cat 6||Cat 6a, Cat 6e|
Cat 5 vs Cat 6: 6 Must Know Facts
- Different colors of both wires mean different functionality, as they will work on different pins, have a different amount of pairs, and have a different amount of wires.
- Both wires had similar uses: They could be used at a home, work, or school network. They were of similar size and similar cost as well: Indeed, both were used for Gigabit Ethernet speeds. However, Cat 6 had higher overall network speeds and reduced crosstalk characteristics, thus making it preferable to Cat 5.
- Both wires came in stranded and solid forms, enabling users to purchase a wire that best suited their needs and came at a size and cost that was affordable to the individual users.
- Both Cat 5 and Cat 6 had variants that were still considered “Cat 5” and “Cat 6” varieties, respectively. Cat 5 wires were replaced by Cat 5e in 2001, and Cat 6 wires had Cat 6a and 6e.
- Both Cat 5 and Cat 6 wires are required to be made of pure copper. Unfortunately, this led to the theft of these wires, as the copper inside of them could be valuable.
- Both wires could be bent at a radius roughly as large as four times the cable. Additional bending risks damage to the wire and a reduction in performance.
Cat 5 vs Cat 6: Summary
The Cat 5 cable succeeded the Cat 4. It served as the standard wired connection to the internet from 1995-2001. It had speeds of up to 100 MHz and contained four copper, twisted wires. It could be used for purposes of transmitting data, video, or audio calls. The wire was unshielded, and this led to certain challenges with the design.
The Cat 6 had many things in common with its predecessor. It also had four paired, twisted wires. It was backward compatible, meaning it could be used to connect to Cat 5 networks. Like the Cat 5, it also had variations come out that improved upon the original model: In this case, that meant the 6a and 6e.
Numerous factors improved the Cat 6 from the Cat 5. It had improved shielding, more stringent production requirements, faster speeds, and more restrictions against the crosstalk wiring issues that plagued the Cat 5 models.
Cat 5 vs Cat 6: Which is Better?
There is no question that Cat 6 is the better ethernet wire. Just like any other product upgrade, Cat 6 wires came with a slew of manufacturing improvements, enabling faster speeds and reduced crosstalk (interference). Furthermore, Cat 6’s variations (6a and 6e) further improved upon the original Cat 6 wire, and while these wires were not wholesale changes in and of themselves, they made improvements that were noticeable enough to the average user.
Just like Cat 5 was replaced by Cat 6, Cat 6 would eventually be replaced by Cat 7 and Cat 8 wires.
Cat 5 vs Cat 6: Frequently Asked Questions