Cat6 vs Cat5 - what should we be using...

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by rkdiddy, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. rkdiddy macrumors 65816

    rkdiddy

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    #1
    This may seem like a silly question, but I've seen a few people mention Cat6 wiring - I've also read it is the standard for gigabit ethernet connections.

    I have a new TC, should I be using Cat6 wire to connect my modem, PC and Mini that are hard wired to the TC?

    Thanks in advance, cheers! :apple:
     
  2. pooryou macrumors 65816

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    #2
    Cat5e should be fine for gigabit. I guess Cat6 is more future proof.
     
  3. uberamd macrumors 68030

    uberamd

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    #3
    Exactly. Unless you are running through walls or hard to access areas, there is no *real* need to use Cat6 at the present time.
     
  4. reebzor macrumors 6502a

    reebzor

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    #4
    Cat6 allows for higher bandwidth. Although Cat5e can technically handle gigabit, Cat6 will do a better job of it. I'd say go Cat6 considering your TC and (most likely) your macs all have gigabit ethernet ports.
     
  5. JoeG4 macrumors 68030

    JoeG4

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    #5
    Definitely no need to use it on the modem, and on the Macs unless you're doing huuuge file transfers a lot, you probably wouldn't notice the difference. In fact, even then you might not.

    Actually, since you have a Mini I'm almost certain you wouldn't.
     
  6. trailrunner macrumors member

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    #6
    At this point, if you are doing any hard wiring, then you should really go with CAT6 over CAT5e. The price difference is marginal, and CAT6 allows you to future proof a bit. CAT6 is certified gigabit, while CAT5e can theoretically come close to gigabit. Most users will not notice a large difference, unless of course you are doing major file transfers etc etc.

    Bottom line, go with CAT6 if you can spend the extra couple of dollars - but it's not the end of the world to run CAT5e...especially if you network is primarily CAT5e. In that case, a single CAT6 cable would do essentially nothing. If you are building a network or rebuilding, go CAT6 no question.
     
  7. pinback pro macrumors member

    pinback pro

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    #7
    forget that old technology and buy some fiber optic cable...
     
  8. killerrobot macrumors 68020

    killerrobot

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    #8
    LOL. I was about to say the same thing if the OP is that worried about the difference.
     
  9. rkdiddy thread starter macrumors 65816

    rkdiddy

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    #9
    HA - maybe when the TC adds that port.

    Thanks for all of the feedback. It wasn't that I was too worried, it was more I was looking for clarification.

    Since two of my cat5 cables had busted releases on them, I swung by Frys this evening and picked up 3 cords. It was only $10, so no real loss.

    Cheers.
     
  10. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    #10
    Statment(s) in bold are completely wrong. Cat5e is certified gigabit and Cat6 is just a tiny bit faster. Regular Cat5 is 10-100Mb/sec. These speeds are impossible to reach in real life, and are considered "theoretical maximums". No one has ever reached 1GB per second speeds with any kind of ethernet cable, Cat5, Cat5e or Cat6. Having Cat6 cable over Cat5e gives you no advantage at all, as the network bottleneck is not the cable nor router/ethernet switch but your ISP (unless you have T1 or faster service). Even Verizon FiOS can't take full advantage of gigabit ethernet cables because the speed is not constant, but peak.
     
  11. razorme macrumors regular

    razorme

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    #11
    Agreed... and last time I looked Cat6 was quite a bit more $ for no benefit in the foreseeable future (IMHO). I ran Cat5e in the house along with a Gigabit switch, and for file transfers, the hard drive is the limiting factor for speed.
     
  12. rkdiddy thread starter macrumors 65816

    rkdiddy

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    #12
    Thanks SL08,

    That was a great explanation of the differences.

    Much appreciated.
     
  13. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    #13
    Yea, no problem. I was confused about Cat5(e) and Cat6 ethernet cables until my Dad told me the differences. No need to spend extra cash for extra speed you can never ever reach.
     
  14. pooryou macrumors 65816

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    #14

    Of course, there are a lot of applications for local networks beyond accessing the internet...backups, streaming media, file transfers, etc etc.
     
  15. Queso macrumors G4

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    #15
    I find it mostly depends on the distance between your devices. You'll get greater attentuation when passing data over Cat5e due to the slightly lower grade copper. Over short distances it hardly matters, but as you get closer to the 100m (330ft) specified maximum for 1000BaseT (and its variants) you'll notice more retransmission errors.

    BTW, Cat5 can operate at gigabit speeds.
     
  16. razorme macrumors regular

    razorme

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    #16
    FWIW, I had an iMac in the house that refused to run at gigabit until I replaced the short 6' Cat5 cable between the computer and wall jack with Cat5e...
     
  17. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    #17
    Cat5 isn't gigabit, but 10-100Mb/sec. Cat5e is gigabit, 1Gb/sec. The "e" makes a difference.

    Same rule applies. You will never reach the theoretical speed of 1Gb/sec.

    Bolded statement is wrong, as per what I mentioned in my first post. Cat5 is only capable of 10/100Mb/sec speeds (in real life). Cat5e is theoretically capable of 1Gb/sec (gigabit) speeds but you never reach it in real life. It is however, faster than regular Cat5.

    Once you near the maximum, errors occur more frequently. That is expected. If I am located near the edge of my wireless router's coverage bubble, I will get slower speeds and sometimes disconnect from the network. It's not something new and unexpected.
     
  18. ian.maffett macrumors 6502

    ian.maffett

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    #18
    There is a lot of variant descriptors here but the single most important thing that CAT6 offers is resistance to noise interference. Speeds are similar enough to not be a real deciding factor. It's especially useful if you're running cable in a big warehouse that is running a great deal of electrical equipment or the like. This is not a factor in many of our lives as readers of this forum and certainly never at home (I hope).
     
  19. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    #19
    Well, thank you for pointing that out. Many here were concerned about speed so that's why I was all focused on correcting that. How exactly does Cat6 offer better noise interference resistance? Shielding in the cable or thicker wire?
     
  20. uberamd macrumors 68030

    uberamd

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    #20
    "Electrically balanced" relates to the physical geometry and the dielectric properties of a twisted pair of conductors. If two insulated conductors are physically identical to one another in diameter, concentricity, dielectric material and are uniformly twisted with equal length of conductor, then the pair is electrically balanced with respect to its surroundings. The degree of electrical balance depends on the design and manufacturing process. Category 6 cable requires a greater degree of precision in the manufacturing process. Likewise, a category 6 connector requires a more balanced circuit design. For balanced transmission, an equal voltage of opposite polarity is applied on each conductor of a pair. The electromagnetic fields created by one conductor cancel out the electromagnetic fields created by its "balanced" companion conductor, leading to very little radiation from the balanced twisted pair transmission line. The same concept applies to external noise that is induced on each conductor of a twisted pair. A noise signal from an external source, such as radiation from a radio transmitter antenna generates an equal voltage of the same polarity, or "common mode voltage," on each conductor of a pair. The difference in voltage between conductors of a pair from this radiated signal, the "differential voltage," is effectively zero. Since the desired signal on the pair is the differential signal, the interference does not affect balanced transmission. The degree of electrical balance is determined by measuring the "differential voltage" and comparing it to the "common mode voltage" expressed in decibels (dB). This measurement is called Longitudinal Conversion Loss "LCL" in the Category 6 standard.

    Some category 6 cable designs have a spline to increase the separation between pairs and also to maintain the pair geometry. This additional separation improves NEXT performance and allows category 6 compliance to be achieved. With advances in technology, manufacturers have found other ways of meeting category 6 requirements. The bottom line is the internal construction of the cable does not matter, so long as it meets all the transmission and physical requirements of category 6. The standard does not dictate any particular method of cable construction.


    src
     
  21. rkdiddy thread starter macrumors 65816

    rkdiddy

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    #21
    A few tests:

    Cat6 between Modem and TC
    Cat6 between TC and Mini

    [​IMG]

    Cat5 between Modem and TC
    Cat6 between TC and Mini

    [​IMG]

    Cat5 between Modem and TC
    Cat5 between TC and Mini

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I'm kind of scratching my head on this one. I retested a few times, but results remained in the same range.

    I guess I will stick with my Cat5. :eek:
     
  22. benlangdon macrumors 65832

    benlangdon

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    Jan 13, 2008
    #22
    haha no way.
    im using cat 6.
    it was like 4 more cents then 5e on monoprice.
    ahhhh i love mono price.

    are you doing this wireless?

    EDIT:[​IMG]
    man i should have tested when i had the higher level cox bandwidth.
    i think you should try a different server in between the actual tests
    because i tried it 3 times on the closest and it kept getting less, then i tried another and went back to the closest and it went even faster. (well like 1mb/s)
     
  23. rkdiddy thread starter macrumors 65816

    rkdiddy

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    #23
    Here is Cat5 on Cat5 with a different server:
    [​IMG]
     
  24. Queso macrumors G4

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    Mar 4, 2006
    #24
    Not wrong at all. Cat 5 isn't supposed to be capable of gigabit, but can transfer at gigabit speeds over short distances. Useful in stop gap situations, and you wouldn't want to use it for mission critical stuff since you tend to get quite a few datagram errors and ethernet retransmissions, but it will support it if you really have to use a Cat 5 cable.
     
  25. benlangdon macrumors 65832

    benlangdon

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2008
    #25
    wow just did it again.
    [​IMG]
    all i have is cat 6 cables, some horrible router and cox modem hooked up to my mbp (wired ). jebus

    edit: ok so my friend who works at cox said i only have the 12 mb/s package and this thing says 30 mb/s.
    but when i look at my istat menu for download it read 10-11 mb/s while that site is running. huh?

    edit #2: well it hit 30mb/s but just for an instant, i think it just says the highest it hit.
    cox power boost anyone?

    now im done posting right now but here is a funny one. server in south aftrica
    [​IMG]
     

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