Difference Between Cat5 and Cat5e and Cat6 and Cat7 Cables

Cat5 vs Cat5e vs Cat6 vs Cat7 Cables


Cat5 and Cat5e and Cat6 and Cat7 are different standards for cables. If you are wondering if these names of some species of cats, you are wrong. These are types of twisted copper cables that are used to transmit data through network and also used in home theater applications. Category 5 (Cat5), Category 5e, and category 6 are the names given to these cables depending upon their performance level. Telecommunication Industry Association (TIA) and Electronic Industries Association (EIA) are organizations that set guidelines for the production of these cables which help manufacturers to classify these cables.


Cat5 has almost become a standard for connecting Ethernet devices world over. It is inexpensive and very effective. It is also available readily making it the most commonly used cable for connecting Ethernet devices. It is available in two types, the Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP), and the Screened Twisted Pair (SCTP). UTP is used in the US on a huge basis. SCTP has a protective covering as a means of protection against interferences. Cat5 cables are either solid or stranded. To transmit data over long distances, solid Cat5 is ideal as it is rigid, but stranded Cat5 is good to patch cables. Cat5 has the capacity to support 10-100 Mbps and 100MHz.

However, in the last few years, there has been a gradual shift from standard 10/100 networks to gigabit networks which has sounded death knells for Cat5 as it cannot support such high speeds. This led to a new type of cables that are an upgrade version of Cat5, known as Cat5e.


These cables came into existence only to make Cat5 compatible with gigabit networks. They also help extra protection from interference from other cables. However, 5e cannot remove interference completely which results in slow and poor performance. Nevertheless, 5e does make the network more reliable and quicker than Cat5.


Cat6 is much more advanced than both Cat5 and Cat5e and also gives a much better performance. Though it is made up of 4 twisted pairs of copper cables just like Cat5 and Cat5e, it is much better because of a basic difference in designing. This difference comes from a longitudinal separator. This separator keeps all 4 wires separate from one another which helps in reducing cross talk, also known as interference. It also allows for a faster transfer of data. Cat6 has double the bandwidth of Cat5. It is capable of supporting 10 gigabit Ethernet and can operate at 250MHz.

If you think of future and possible technological advances, it is better to go with Cat6. What is more, Cat6 is backward compatible which means it can be used in any network that employed Cat5 and Cat5e.

However, because of its thicker size, you may have difficulty in using your regular RJ45 connectors, and you may have to use special connectors for the purpose.


It is the next generation cabling device for Ethernet connections. It is an improvement upon both Cat5 and Cat6 in terms of internal signaling and exterior protection. These cables are able to support 10gigabit connections and a re adaptable with standard Ethernet connectors.

  • Msalinas

    Here’s a cool video I found on youtube on the difference of Cat6 vs. Cat6A

  • JonFindley

    Is Cat 7 limited to the cat 5 ,295 ft limit?