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The RJ45 Connector Guide: What They Are, Ports, and Diagrams

rj45 connector

The RJ45 Connector Guide: What They Are, Ports, and Diagrams

Key Points

  • The RJ45 connector is a universal standard for network cabling, commonly used in ethernet cabling and power-over-ethernet networks.
  • It is found in network closets, home routers, and other contexts where ethernet cabling is required.
  • The RJ45 connector is modular and can fit different wiring standards, making it versatile for various use cases.

What is the RJ45 connector? Anyone familiar with modern networking has likely heard this designation in passing. Network engineers and students alike know its purpose, but for the average person, it might be a bit harder to pin down.

So, if you’re new to the world of networking, it is worth diving in a little deeper to see what one of the ubiquitous network connectors in the modern world really does.

Everything from your Wi-Fi network to your office’s internet connection relies on the humble RJ45, so it is definitely worth exploring what the connector is and what sort of ports it uses.

RJ45 Connector: Summary

The RJ45 connector type is a universal standard for network cabling. It typically sees usage in Ethernet cabling, typically over local area networks. It does see usage in other areas like making stable connections when using power-over-Ethernet networks.

The RJ45 is ubiquitous in modern networking. It has been since its debut and is found in network closets, the back of home routers, and just about every other context where Ethernet cabling might be required.

RJ45 Connector: Overview

rj45 connector
RJ45 ports can be found on all sorts of devices.

As the RJ45 is a universal standard, there is quite a bit of evolution that has gone with the connector itself. The plug itself remains unchanging, but the network standards around it have changed with the times.

What the RJ45 does provide is a sense of familiarity. It serves as a basic skill set for network engineers creating their own cables. This is a fairly common practice. There is usually a whole slew of different requirements that go into the different cabling types used by the RJ45.

Different Types of Connectors

The actual plug of the RJ45 is unchanging, as it is a standard specification. There are different types of RJ45 connectors that see common usage, however. You will find that cabling needs for something like a CAT5e Ethernet cable are very different compared to a CAT7 Ethernet cable.

Uses for the RJ45

The RJ45 connector standard is found in use for Ethernet cabling. It doesn’t provide access to wider area networks. That is more the domain of things like coaxial, fiber, or traditional telephone lines. Instead, the RJ45 serves as a connection point between network transmitters in a local area network.

The standard itself has no impact on the speed or use of the cabling. It serves as a common specification for cabling to be designed around.

What Does RJ Stand for?

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You’ll see quite a few jacks with RJ and some sort of numeric designation. RJ is short for registered jack and denotes a specification devised in 1976 by the FCC. There are numerous registered jack types, like the RJ11 connector which you’ll see with typical landline connections.

The RJ standard specifies the physical connector or plug, typical writing patterns, and technical requirements for the signal patterns transmitted through the connector.

Where You Might See an RJ45 Connector

If you have dabbled in any sort of network configuration, you’ve seen an RJ45 connector. Consumer-grade routers usually have RJ45 ports on the pack for hardwiring devices into a network.

IT personnel are no doubt familiar with it. The ports are all over devices like routers, switches, bridges, and network interface cards.

RJ45 Connector: In-Depth

You now have a brief overview of the RJ45 connector type, but there is still quite a bit that goes into the connector standard. This serves as a more complete view. However, it is a very high-level view for those who aren’t versed in network practices.

Specification

rj45 connector
This image depicts an RJ45 connector and shows the latch, as well as the eight pins and wire guides, needed for terminating an Ethernet cable.

The RJ45 connector has a few requirements to fit the standard set by the FCC. They must adhere to basic wiring standards like the T568a or T568b. These serve as endpoint termination standards for standard twisted-pair cabling.

In the modern era, you’ll typically see the RJ45 with a T568b endpoint termination. This allows for backward compatibility with older cabling standards while being more suitable for modern network requirements.

In previous years, it was typical to see the T568a as the primary endpoint termination. This doesn’t have any bearing on actual network speeds, thankfully.

Different Utilization of Cabling Standards

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The RJ45 is used with a variety of modern cabling standards. Typical implementations will see modern cabling like CAT5e, CAT6, and CAT7 Ethernet cabling. This isn’t applicable to the likes of internal fiber optic cabling, which has its own set of standard connectors.

Typically, an RJ45 and the endpoint termination aren’t going to change when looking at different cabling standards. Compatible IEEE standards for the RJ45 connector are 802.3at, 802.3af, and 802.3bt which cover all Ethernet needs as well as power-over-Ethernet.

Modularity

The RJ45 was designed from the start to be modular. This modularity means it can fit different wiring standards with a common connector.

Expectedly, it also can serve different purposes, like the aforementioned differences between Ethernet and power-over-Ethernet cabling. All of the connectors in the RJ specification are modular and fit a wide range of use cases.

Features

The RJ45 has a few features which have ensured its longevity in the network space. Unlike other custom wiring, it doesn’t require any sort of soldering to fashion a cable. Typical tools in use by network engineers will be wire strippers and crimpers.

It also features an orientation tab, so someone fashioning a cable isn’t going to place the wiring upside down. Additional features can include EMI shielding, visual indicators, and more robust magnetic shielding.

RJ45 Connector: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Allows for solderless wiring
  • CAT6 cabling comes with insert guides for faster assembly
  • Universal standard means all networking professionals are familiar with it

Cons

  • Passthrough connectors need specific tools to create a cable
  • Aligning wires can be time-consuming, especially for beginners
  • Doesn’t come with shielding provided default

RJ45 Connector: Is It Worth Using?

So, in closing, is the RJ45 actually worth using? Well, if you don’t use it then your chances of having a viable network connection are close to nil. The RJ45 is an enduring universal standard for very good reasons.

It provides a common point of connection for all sorts of cabling standards, which is great for any network engineer. As the standard is unchanging, this means that the same RJ45 connector used on a CAT5 cable is going to be wired in a similar fashion to the newer CAT7 cable.

Being a universal standard also means that it ensures compatibility with a wide variety of hardware. It is hard to imagine in the modern era, but prior to standards being formed by the IEEE, ANSI, and the FCC, networking was a bit like the wild west.

So, yes, the RJ45 connector is very much worth using. If you’ve done any sort of network configuration, you’re familiar with how useful it is for creating cables.

The fact that it allows for solderless wiring is just icing on the cake and saves many valuable manhours that would otherwise be wasted creating custom lengths of cable.

Summary Table

SectionSummary
RJ45 Connector SummaryThe RJ45 connector type is a universal standard for network cabling, typically used in ethernet cabling over local area networks. It is ubiquitous in modern networking.
Different Types of ConnectorsThe RJ45 plug is a standard specification, but there are different types of RJ45 connectors that see common usage, depending on the cabling needs.
Uses for the RJ45The RJ45 connector standard is used for ethernet cabling in local area networks. The standard itself does not impact the speed or use of the cabling.
What Does RJ Stand ForRJ stands for registered jack, a specification devised in 1976 by the FCC. The RJ standard specifies the physical connector or plug, typical writing patterns, and technical requirements for the signal patterns transmitted through the connector.
Where You Might See an RJ45 ConnectorRJ45 connectors are commonly seen in network configurations, on devices like routers, switches, bridges, and network interface cards.
SpecificationThe RJ45 connector must adhere to basic wiring standards like the T568a or T568b. These serve as endpoint termination standards for standard twisted-pair cabling.
Different Utilization of Cabling StandardsThe RJ45 is used with a variety of modern cabling standards, including CAT5e, CAT6, and CAT7 ethernet cabling. Compatible IEEE standards for the RJ45 connector are 802.3at, 802.3af, and 802.3bt.
ModularityThe RJ45 was designed to be modular, meaning it can fit different wiring standards with a common connector. It can serve different purposes, like ethernet and power-over-ethernet cabling.
FeaturesThe RJ45 has features like not requiring soldering to fashion a cable, an orientation tab, EMI shielding, visual indicators, and robust magnetic shielding.
RJ45 Connector: Is it Worth Using?The RJ45 is an enduring universal standard for network cabling, ensuring compatibility with a wide variety of hardware. It allows for solderless wiring, saving valuable manhours in creating custom lengths of cable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there are other RJ connectors?

There are certainly are, with a more common type being RJ11. RJ11 serves as the primary connector for telephony lines.

Is RJ45 still in use?

Yes, it is still in constant use even with the emergence of new cabling standards.

Does the RJ45 have any impact on consumer grade routers?

Truthfully, no, it has zero impact. Most home users aren’t going to fashion their own cables from scratch to wire up their homes. It does help keep costs down, however.

Why is solderless wiring important?

Soldering connections requires a specialized set of tools over just standard crimpers and strippers. It also requires far more patience and steady hands to securely solder wires together in cramped spaces.

Is the RJ45 in use with fiber cabling?

No, fiber optic cabling has its own set of requirements and standards.

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