Ethernet cable question

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by GanChan, Dec 1, 2015.

  1. GanChan macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2005
    #1
    I'm still using a good old hard-wired network at home instead of Wi-Fi (for optimal speed/reliability/privacy), with an Ethernet router connected to my cable modem and a 50-foot stretch of Cat6 (550MHz) going to my desktop computer (Mini). Since I've started using my laptop at home more frequently, I've simply been unplugging the Ethernet from the Mini and plugging it into the Macbook Air via a Belkin Ethernet to USB adaptor. Unfortunately, all this plugging/unplugging and moving the cable around has put tons of kinks and tangles in the cable, in addition to causing the plastic lock tab on the connector to break off completely.

    So now that I need to replace my Ethernet cable, what features should I look for? Are there some brands/models that are less tangle-prone or have more robust connectors than others?

    Also, if I decide to string a second Ethernet cable from my 4-port router (this Trendnet model) as a dedicated laptop cable, this would obviously make things easier and reduce wear and tear on the cables/connectors -- but will I notice a reduction in performance while both computers are connected? I know nothing about networking at all....
     
  2. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #2
    Ethernet cables are pretty much a commodity as long as you are not buying some no name knockoff from eBay. I usually use these from Amazon basics, or these from Monoprice.

    I would definitely get two cables and make use of that hub rather than unplug all the time. You will only take a speed hit if you are downloading on both devices simultaneously.
     
  3. GanChan thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2005
    #3
    Yeah, I see lots of Monoprice options on the Internet. I'm also interested in the idea of "snagless" connectors, like on this Tripp Lite 20-footer.... but of course, if I stop plugging and unplugging all the time, that feature might not matter much.

    How much does the bandwidth capacity matter (250 MHz vs. 550 MHz, etc.) for stuff like Netflix streaming, etc?
     
  4. kohlson macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    #4
    You want a hooded/snagless connector. Otherwise, the locking clip will break eventually.
    Your speed will be constrained by the weakest link in your connection. For Netflix, that's probably the speed of your ISP connection, probably not more than 100Mbps. So the 250MHz bandwidth capacity will be just fine for that. If you have gigabit LAN connectivity and regularly transfer large files around, then you may want to consider cables with higher specs.
     
  5. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #5
    Both those cables I linked have the little rubber cover over the clip to prevent snags. 500Mhz is CAT6a and a complete waste of money for your purposes. Even CAT5e cable would be fine.
     
  6. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #6
    Buy a small switch. Put one cable in for feed, two cables out for both your Mini and your laptop. As for cable, just get a good quality CAT5e or CAT6 and the rest is just personal taste (assuming you look for cables with decent connectors). The alternative is to run two cables out from the original router and somewhat bind them at various point until the final drop point (twist ties work well enough). If you get decent cable, no fret required about "noise" on two lines traveling the same path. In my last place, I ran a cable to the entertainment center and then a switch and all devices connected to the switch. It turned out to not only work well but allowed me to use shorter runs and look "tidy."
     
  7. hallux macrumors 68020

    hallux

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    #7
    I wouldn't be concerned about crosstalk AT ALL if the cables are run side by side. CAT 5e and CAT 6 cable is routinely run in large bundles in office complexes with no problem. Right by my desk at work is a bundle of 64 of them running up the wall, it hasn't been touched or shown any problems in the 6 years it's been in place.
     
  8. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Location:
    Virginia
    #8
    I second the recommendation to install a switch at the location where you want two devices to connect. I have one in my entertainment center so my Hopper, Apple TV, and BluRay player can connect. Easier than running 3 cables and I have expansion room. I prefer to hardwire any connection that is in a fixed location. The only wireless devices in our house are the iPhones and iPads.

    Any cable that is moved often should be stranded cable with a flexible jacket. As to brand I typically buy reels of cable off eBay and make my own. A few years ago I got a great deal on some shielded Cat5e for outside use. About $40 for a 1000' reel where the plastic reel was cracked so it was very hard to unspool.
     
  9. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    #9
    Chop the crappy bit off and put a new rj45 on the end. Then plug that into a 2 port switch and have your cable for your MacBook and mini coming off of that. Simples
     
  10. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #10
    But Gav2k, the kit required to crimp on a new RJ45 connector will cost the OP more than buying a new cable -- at least the kit I bought years ago did. And if the OP's never crimped anything . . . it could get exciting.

    Also a 2 port switch won't do -- the OP needs at least 3 ports: one uplink, one each for the Macs.
     
  11. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    #11
    You can buy a basic crimp tool over here for £2 and if it's cat6 running gigabit a switch would do the trick and add future proofing.

    I agree that running a new cable is cheaper but it's running a new cable every time he breaks it by flexing it around.
     

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