Cat5 VS Cat6 – Difference between Cat5 and Cat6 Network Cables

Cat5 and cat6 cables are both twisted pair ethernet cables which use twisted pair wires. The wiring inside the insulation is primarily copper. There are always four pairs in each cable and both Cat5 and Cat6 can reach lengths of up to a hundred meters per piece. Setting up any type of network requires ethernet cables and Cat5 and Cat6 cables are the main choices you have. The differences between both these cables certainly make for different purposes but to know which cable does the job better is whole different story. In terms of age however, cat5 are rather older and have been superseded by cat5e and cat6.

When deciding to buy a cable for your network there are a number of things you should be aware of. The hardware you are using, and which cables are compatible with it. Your cable requirements are usually in direct correlation to the speed your network provides. Let us now discuss the differences between the cat5 and cat6 cables.

Transfer Speed

The cat6 cable has a 250 MHz frequency which is allowed by the optimal wiring and insulation provided in the wire. This frequency allows for gigabit and even 10 gigabit speeds. The wiring is also superior to cat5 considering there is much less feedback, distortion and noise when using a cat6 cable.

Cat5 cables allow only a 100MHz frequency rates which basically means they have a slower transfer rate than cat6 cables. Not only that but when using a cat5 cable you are more susceptible to things like ping breaking, network disconnections and network failure.

The difference in speeds comes from the difference of designs of both the cables. Cat6 is made in a much more optimal way which provides better insulation, better wiring and better quality. Cat5 which is a much older model in cables is definitely obsolete for the high speed networks that are being implemented in this day and age.


Cat5 cables are used for low bandwidth internet connections and have generally all but died out in the world today. Due to the lower specifications and speed capabilities the cat5 cable requires, it does not work with multi-gigabit connections.

Cat6 cables on the other hand can function well without any problems on a high speed gigabit network. The higher signal-to-noise ratio in cat6 cables is what generally keeps the connection smooth and reliable.


The cat6 cable is 15 to 20% more expensive than the cat5 cable per 100M. This is understandable considering the overall quality upgrade in the cat6 cable model. Cat5 cables cost around 0.60$ to 1.00% per meter and if you have a 10 gigabit switch or router you should definitely opt for the cat6 cable instead which will only add 0.40$ to the price per meter of cable.


Both the cat5 and cat6 cables have served their purposes well, but as long as technological advancements are being made we will see certain things become absolutely unnecessary. Such is the case with the cat5 cable, when everyone is able to use a 10 gigabit network, cat5 cables will become a thing of the past and cat6 cables will be the primarily used ethernet cable!

2 thoughts on “Cat5 VS Cat6 – Difference between Cat5 and Cat6 Network Cables”

  1. ISO/IEC 11801 limits cable (both Cat-5 and Cat-6) lengths to 100 meters. But, is it possible that at certain length, a Cat-6 cable presents the same performance as a Cat-5?

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