The Difference Between CAT 5, CAT 5e, and CAT6 Network Cables

You simply can’t go anywhere today that is not connected to the internet in some way—at least, not in North America.  But not all web connections have been created equal, and some places you encounter might have better connectivity than other places. This is not necessarily solely due to the network provider. In fact, connection speed and quality can also relate to the type of cable you use to connect your computer (or other device) to your web service provider.


The difference between connectivity cables, of course, stems mostly from age. Older cables, of course, were developed to the limits that we were able to maintain and understand at the time. And then over time we were able to develop higher quality cables capable of handling more data and more network stress.


Devices that use CAT5 are likely much older as this is the slowest network cable out there today. These cables can only handle about 10/100 Mbps at 100 MHz bandwidth. This is still, certainly, a fast Ethernet connection; it is just the slowest among the variety available today. That is why it is hard to find these cables in circulation. If you find yourself in need of one, though, you may even have a hard time finding one online and may want to simply consider upgrading your devices.


The “e” stands for “enhanced” because, of course, these are improved CAT 5 standard cables.  But while the CAT 5 is on its way out, you will likely find that many new installations utilize the CAT 5e designation.  These can handle significantly more data, at speeds of 1000 Mbps at 100 MHz bandwidth (also known as gigabit Ethernet).


Finally, you will find the PrimeCables CAT 6  network cable, which is, as you might assume, a vast improvement over the CAT 5e cable.  These massively powerful cables can handle as much as 10 gigabit Ethernet speeds at 250 MHz.  However, these cables also have an internal separator that can isolate pair to prevent connectivity crosstalk. If your system utilizes this type of cable, you can rest assured that you have the most modern and up-to-date system—at least for now.