12 Different Types of Ethernet Cable: Cat 5 vs. Cat 6 and Beyond – Learn Which Cable Is Best for You


12 Different Types of Ethernet Cable: Cat 5 vs. Cat 6 and Beyond – Learn Which Cable Is Best for You

Key Points

  • Coaxial cables are durable and commonly used for radio frequencies and broadband internet.
  • Examples of ethernet cables include Cat 5, Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 7, Cat 8 for twisted pair cables, and SMF and MMF for fiber optic cables.
  • RG-6, RG-11, and RF Coaxial cables are examples of coaxial cables.

Did you know there are many different kinds of ethernet cables? Each of these cables might be a variation of the same type and look similar at first glance. But they could be vastly different under the surface.

Many people first think of the twisted-pair style ethernet cables. But there are actually a few different variations. Choosing the right one can be the difference between a successful, speedy transmission and one that doesn’t work at all. 

Stick around to learn more about the differences between each type of ethernet cable. It might end up being more interesting than you initially thought!

Different Kinds of Ethernet Cables

As mentioned above, there are a few different types of ethernet cables. In this article, we’re going to go over the most common three.

Twisted Pair Cables

This is arguably the most common type of ethernet cable. You probably have a few of these connecting your home WiFi equipment to your modem or personal computers.

Twisted pair cables are affordable and readily available on the market, with dozens of options to choose from. While each of these cables is fundamentally the same internally, some are faster or offer varying levels of performance. We’ll go over a few examples in a bit.

Theoretically, twisted pair cables can produce up to 40 gigabytes of information each second. But this is practically unheard of in reality. Typically, they can produce around 1 gigabyte per second on common devices, and up to 10 gigabytes per second in more professional settings. They are improving every day, and are plenty reliable, but are not the fastest cable on this list.

A twisted pair ethernet cable consists of pairs of insulated copper wires twisted together internally, hence the name. Essentially, twisted pair cables use electricity to transmit their information within the cable. 

These cables are commonly used for various Ethernet networks, telephone systems, and other forms of data transmission applications over shorter distances. While they are important for their affordability and availability, they are somewhat susceptible to electromagnetic interference and crosstalk within telecommunication signals.

Fiber Optic Cables

Fiber optic cables are certainly an impressive technological invention. These are somewhat commonly used cables. But are certainly more expensive than their twisted cable counterparts. 

These cables could be considered the 2.0 version or higher of a traditional twisted pair cable; they have completely different setups, technologically speaking. But fiber optic cables have a much faster and more reliable transmission. 

Fiber optic cables are made of glass fiber cores for each cable. Having that core allows for a beam of light (or multiple beams, depending on the design) to transmit down the cable at the speed of light, theoretically transmitting information as fast as physically possible. 

Contrary to their twisted pair cable counterparts, they utilize light instead of electricity which provides them with a larger bandwidth, faster transmission, and stronger reliability. They can produce up to 100 gigabytes per second of data over a distance of 125 miles or more, depending on the cable design.

Fiber optic cables are commonly used today for long-distance transmissions, such as phone lines or high-speed internet. They are capable of being submerged in water and require much less maintenance and replacements over time. Fiber optic cables are also thinner, lighter, and overall stronger than twisted pair cables. They are immune to electromagnetic interference since they don’t utilize electricity and don’t experience crosstalk either. Overall, they are simply faster and more reliable than twisted pair cables. 

SpeedyFiberTX 500 Feet 10G Fiber Optic Ethernet Cable

  • OM3 50/125
  • Duplex LC to LC,
  • Aqua Riser
  • OFNR Cable Jacket
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09/20/2023 11:54 pm GMT

Coaxial Cables

Coaxial cables have been around since the early 20th century. They are a very reliable source of transmission for radio frequencies and are commonly used today in order to connect satellite antennas with homes and businesses. They are quite durable and incredibly easy to work with, so they’re still frequently used by cable television companies and for broadband internet uses. 

Coaxial cables are a bit more complicated than the others internally in terms of how they work. They have a central conductor that all data and/or video travels through, a plastic insulator surrounding the central conductor, a braided copper mesh that shields the cable from electromagnetic interference, and an external plastic coating that protects the previous three inner workings from the elements. 

Coaxial cables have an average speed of about 10 gigabytes per second of data transmission. These wires can also be installed next to the metal without any trouble or interference thanks to their internal design, making them plenty reliable. They’re also pretty inexpensive and fairly easy to install or expand when needed. 

Ethernet Cable Examples

Now that we’ve established the basic fundamentals and uses of the three different types of ethernet cables, let’s now go over a few examples of these cables and what their capabilities are. 

Putting together a little office project? Building a house and running some cables? It’s important to choose the right cable for the right job – you don’t want to get stuck without an adequate transmission of your data.

Twisted Pair Ethernet Options

Cat 5

The Cat 5 is the most basic twisted pair ethernet cable on this list. It can support speeds up to 100 megabytes per second, so it’s not exactly the fastest either.

While bandwidth or performance may be on the low end, especially compared with the others on this list, it’s still suitable for basic at-home networking or small office environments.

Cat 5e

The Cat 5e twisted pair ethernet cable is simply an enhanced version of the Cat 5. It’s essentially the same concept. But it provides more reliable bandwidth and better performance. 

This cable is able to support speeds up to 1 gigabyte per second, so it can be nearly 9 times faster than the Cat 5 cable. It also offers a noticeable reduction in crosstalk and is more durable overall. 

Due to its higher performance capabilities and faster speed, this cable typically goes for anywhere between 15 and 75 cents per foot of cable. This price is still highly dependent on the manufacturer and other retail factors.

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09/20/2023 11:34 pm GMT

Cat 6

The Cat 6 twisted pair ethernet cable is one step up again from the Cat 5e. It offers an even more reliable bandwidth and an even better performance in comparison to those cables previously mentioned. 

This cable is able to accommodate speeds up to 10 gigabytes per second. So it is hypothetically ten times faster than the Cat 5e, depending on how you use it. This cable is a little bit more of a beast and is, therefore, commonly used in server rooms, data centers, and professional video or audio installations. 

Given the higher capacity and capabilities, this cable will naturally go for a little more in the financial department. You can typically find the Cat 6 cables for anywhere from 25 cents to 1 dollar per foot of cable. 

Cat 7

The Cat 7 is only slightly better than Cat 6. It offers the best protection against interference and crosstalk. But it also comes with improved shielding overall and better performance. The Cat 7 actually has the same maximum speed capacity as the Cat 6, 10 gigabytes per second But it is theoretically more reliable and capable than its predecessor.

The specialty of this cable is that it is for high-speed internet purposes, video surveillance, or large-scale enterprises. 

Cat 8

This is the best of the twisted pair cables on our list. The Cat 8 is ideal for the most data-heavy usage. Thanks to its highspeed 2000mhz frequency and up to 25Gbps to 40Gbps transfer speed, it is one of the fastest types of cables.

These cables support shorter lengths, up to 30 meters. Compared to the other cables on our list, the Cat 8 is much less suitable for long distances. You would find this type of ethernet in data centers or heavy multimedia usage scenarios. They are also great for gamers, thanks to the support for such high speeds.

Cat 8 Ethernet Cable Shielded Indoor & Outdoor

Different sizes

25 to 40 Gigabytes per second

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09/20/2023 11:49 pm GMT

Fiber Optic Ethernet Options


There are two primary types of fiber optic ethernet cables on the market right now. This first cable is a Single Mode Fiber Cable, which means it utilizes one single strand of glass in order to transmit data. 

The SMF cable type is more commonly used for long-distance communication. This is a more professional-grade cable because of its higher bandwidth and more suitable capabilities to carry long-distance information without significant loss. This cable is able to transmit 100 gigabytes per second of data and beyond. 

Great performance like this comes at a price. SMF is one of the more expensive cables that you could buy. Of course, prices will vary depending on the manufacturer, the design, or other variables. But you can typically find it for between 30 cents to 3 dollars per foot of cable. When covering long distances, that may end up a little heavy on the wallet. 


The MMF, or Multimode Fiber cable, is designed more for short distances and is generally less expensive. This cable uses multiple strands of glass in order to transmit data. But it is actually a bit lower in bandwidth. Instead, this cable is for shorter distance transmissions than its single-mode fiber cable counterpart. 

This cable is capable of transmitting anywhere between 10 and 40 gigabytes of data per second, but is highly dependent on the design and specific materials used to make it. 

Given that this cable is still plenty capable but at a lower overall performance, it is a little bit cheaper, but is certainly not the cheapest on this list. You can typically find a multimode fiber optic cable between 20 cents and a dollar fifty per foot of cable. 

Coaxial Ethernet Options

Belkin Ethernet Coaxial Cable with BNC (6 Feet)
  • RG58
  • 50-Ohm
  • Thin Guage
  • BNC to BNC Male Connectors
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09/20/2023 11:59 pm GMT


The RG-6 Coaxial cable is commonly used for cable television or satellite television installations. You can also use it for internet access or other multimedia applications thanks to its solid signal quality and up to 1 GHz frequency capabilities.

While this cable is perfect for residential and commercial TV communication services, you can typically find it on the market for between 15 and 30 cents per foot of cable if you need one yourself.


The RG-11 Coaxial ethernet cable is a more advanced version of the RG-6. It has higher performance capabilities with much lower signal losses and higher frequencies. 

RG-11 cable is able to run at up to 3 GHz frequencies and is also suitable for longer-distance cable runs when necessary. This cable is used for a multitude of reasons. But is typically the go-to for anything requiring minimal to no signal loss and higher frequency needs.

The RG-11 has an average price of 25 to 60 cents per foot of cable, but prices will vary depending on the manufacturer, design, or any technological innovations that come along with the cable.

RF Coaxial Cable

The final type of coaxial cable we’re covering is the RF Coaxial cable, which you would commonly use for Radio Frequency applications. It comes available in a variety of sizes and specifications in order to accommodate a wide array of needs in the market. 

RF Coaxial cable is quite versatile and gets praise for anything from wireless networks to antennas commonly you will find in telecommunications and broadcasting. 

Given this cable’s versatility, the price is a wider gap than previously mentioned cables due to its wide range of specifications that may be required. You can typically find the RF Coaxial cable on the market for anywhere from 10 cents to 2 dollars per foot of cable.

12 Different Types of Ethernet Cable: Cat 5 vs. Cat 6 and Beyond – Learn Which Cable Is Best for You FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the maximum data transfer speed for each of the twisted pair ethernet cable types?

Cat 5: 100 Mbps, Cat 5e: 1 Gbps, Cat 6/7: 10 Gbps

Can I mix different types of ethernet cables in my own network?

This is advised against because it’s likely to lead to performance issues and compatibility differences. You’re better off sticking to one type of cable when building your own network.

How do I choose the right cable for my specific network needs?

This is tough to say, as everyone is an individual with different requirements. You want to take into consideration your speed requirements, distance expectations, and any interference concerns when making your choice. A typical home network will be fine with a Cat5e or Cat6 ethernet cable.

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