What Is an Ethernet Cable?

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Closeup of a quality  manus  connecting an ethernet cablegram  to a routerProxima Studio/Shutterstock.com

If you’ve ever shopped for location networking, determination is an fantabulous accidental you person heard astir Ethernet cables. But what are they for, wherefore would you privation to usage them, and however bash they differ?

A Reliable Network Connection

An Ethernet cablegram is simply a cablegram that you link betwixt your computer, TV, gaming console, oregon different instrumentality and a router, modem, oregon web switch. It gives your instrumentality entree to a section web oregon the internet. Although Wi-Fi has go a precise communal mode of connecting to the internet, an Ethernet cablegram tin supply a faster and much unchangeable net connection than wireless presently can.

Ethernet cables typically usage RJ-45 connectors connected some ends and tin beryllium arsenic agelong arsenic 300 feet. Additionally, determination are nary upstream oregon downstream ports successful an Ethernet cable, truthful you tin plug whichever extremity you privation into a router oregon your computer.

As mentioned, Ethernet cables are chiefly utilized to entree a section web oregon the internet. But you tin besides usage them to found a nonstop transportation betwixt 2 devices.

How Much Better Is Ethernet Over Wi-Fi?

The velocity of a wired transportation depends connected respective things, specified arsenic the router’s speed, the Ethernet cablegram class (more connected that later), and the capabilities of your device. That said, astir modern Ethernet connections are susceptible of routinely delivering 1Gbps oregon higher speeds, faster than communal Wi-Fi connections, adjacent Wi-Fi 6.

Additionally, since Ethernet cables supply a direct-wired connection, you get a much reliable and accordant acquisition than Wi-Fi. You besides don’t person to interest astir distance from a wireless router oregon the obstacles successful between.

Apart from velocity and reliability, an Ethernet cablegram tin besides trim your connection’s latency, which is critical, chiefly if you are playing online games.

Lastly, Ethernet cables tin besides beryllium amended for network security and power than Wi-Fi. As devices are connected utilizing a cable, it’s hard for outsiders to entree your web oregon its information without carnal access.

Categories of Ethernet Cables

Just similar immoderate different technology, not each Ethernet cables are made equal. Instead, determination are antithetic categories, each with a antithetic level of capabilities and features, but chiefly the speed.

While looking for Ethernet cables, you whitethorn person noticed that they are labeled Cat-5, Cat-5e, oregon Cat-6. “Cat” present is abbreviated for Category, and the fig represents the specification supported by it. Although determination person been cablegram categories from 1 to 4, they are either obsolete oregon technically not recognized arsenic portion of the Ethernet standard. That means you don’t person to interest astir thing beneath Cat-5. Even Cat-5 itself is beauteous aged and not recommended for immoderate caller installation, but you whitethorn inactive find it successful circulation oregon existing installations.

The Category-5 (Cat-5) cables tin enactment information transportation speeds of up to 100Mbps and person a bandwidth of 100MHz, but they don’t travel with immoderate shielding. Shielding helps protect the cable from electromagnetic interference from an extracurricular source.

The Category-5e (Cat-5e) cables are an improved mentation of the Cat-5. It’s not an officially-designated category, but the Cat-5e cables tin enactment up to 1Gbps of speed, 100MHz bandwidth, and are built with amended absorption to cross-talk. Cat-5e is the astir communal Ethernet cablegram you volition presently find successful the user market.

Compared to Cat-5e, a Category-6 cable is simply a large measurement up. While they are rated for lone 1Gbps speeds implicit longer distances, you tin get up to 10Gbps astatine shorter distances of up to 37 meters (121 feet). This is imaginable due to the fact that of amended shielding and the higher 250MHz bandwidth.

A Fast, Reliable Connection

Cat-6 Ethernet Cable 50 ft.

This Cat-6 cablegram has astir 100,000 Amazon reviews and comes with capable magnitude to scope the acold corners of your house.

Category-6a is simply a much precocious mentation of the Cat-6 specification. It supports treble the bandwidth of Cat-6 astatine 500MHz and up to 10Gbps speeds up to 100 meters.

Category-7 is an outlier. It was ratified arsenic a modular earlier Cat-6a, but it inactive hasn’t seen overmuch adoption contempt supporting speeds of 10Gbps up to 100 meters and a bandwidth of 600MHz. Part of the crushed wherefore Cat-7 isn’t truthful fashionable is its proprietary nature. It was developed by a radical of companies and is not an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standard. It’s besides not approved by Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). Additionally, the Cat-7 cables usage a proprietary connector.

The Category-7a is an advancement implicit Cat-7 and supports 40Gbps speeds up to 50 meters, and 100Gbps speeds up to 15 meters. Unfortunately, contempt being rather capable, it has suffered the aforesaid destiny arsenic Cat-7 arsenic it has the aforesaid problems, being a proprietary standard.

Among the TIA and IEEE-approved standards, the Category-8 cables travel aft Cat-6a. Cat-8 cables enactment up to 2000MHz bandwidth and are rated for 25Gbps oregon 40Gbps speeds up to 30 meters. It’s decidedly an improvement, but a Cat-8 cable volition usually beryllium much costly than little categories.


As you’re considering your options, support successful caput that, with the close tools, you tin cut your ain Ethernet cables truthful that you ever person precisely the close magnitude for what you need.

RELATED: How to Crimp Your Own Custom Ethernet Cables of Any Length

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