CAT5 or CAT6? Choosing the Right Ethernet Cable For Your Needs

Hdmi cables

How familiar are you with computers? In today’s world, you’re likely to be fairly comfortable with using a desktop, laptop, tablet, smart phone, etcetera. But do you understand the effect a CAT5 cable has on your connection to the internet? How about the difference between using a USB 2.0 extension cable? These are common terms in tech, and yet the average person isn’t comfortable discussing these variables because they simply do not understand how a different cable can speed up their internet connection. Fear no more: below are a few key terms to help you understand tech speak, at least those terms that relate to making your internet connection ever faster.

High-definition multimedia interface, more easily referred to as HDMI cables, is the magical invention that allows audio/visual digital data to be transmitted in a compressed or uncompressed file to your digital devices via cable. An ethernet cable is one that can accomplish this over an internet connection. These are called CAT5 cables, and they also come in CAT5e cables and CAT6 cables.

A CAT5 cable lasts for about five to maybe 10 years. They have a speed of 10Mbps, which is plenty connection speed for two to three computers. These are good workhorses, and are enough for most households. The next step up is a CAT5e cable, in which the “e” is for enhanced. These are just a bit faster then the CAT5 with a 1G/ second at 100HMz frequency. When faced with the choice between the two, many people pick the CAT5e. Both use a RJ-45 plug-in jack, which allows for quick and easy installation and tend to last between 1000 and 2000 insertions.

The next step up is the CAT6 cable. This does offer a faster connection, but the set-up can be a little more complicated than the CAT5 cables. Even with the fastest speed, this is a less popular option because of the increased price. However, if you need a good ethernet cable for an office, this may be a better choice than the basic CAT5.

Now, everyone is familiar with USB 2.0 extension cables. These were rolled out in 2000, and were amazing because these cables increased the bandwidth from the standard 12Mbit per second to a shocking 480Mbit per second. Of course, that was then, before the age of streaming videos. They work fine. But now there’s the USB 3.0, and as these things tend to go, it boasts faster speeds. Do keep in mind though, that upgrading just the cable from USB 2.0 extension cables is not enough to get that boost. The downside is that a USB 3.0 requires the actual hardware to be equipped to handle USB 3.0 speeds.

So which type of ethernet cable is best? Should you go with USB 2.0 extension cables or USB 3.0? The answer is, it depends. It depends on what your needs are, and what your budget is, because the newest tech advancement may not actually make a noticeable difference for you. A household of two computers that occasionally streams movies would do just fine with CAT5 cables and USB 2.0. A business with 20 computers may want to upgrade to CAT6 with USB 3.0 capability.

In tech, circumstances are what determine your needs. So take stock of what you’ll need, and make a decision from there. You’ll now have an understanding of the terminology, and make choices with confidence.

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