Oct 24, 2012

Is it worth the extra expense to use CAT6 cables instead of CAT5e?

We are putting in a small network at one of our satellite offices, and I am curious if it is worth buying Cat6 cable. We have at least a couple of hundred feet of Cat5e sitting unused. Would you just use up the Cat5e cable, or is it worth spending the money on the Cat6? It's really not that much of an additional expense, but you know, penny wise, penny earned and all that.


It's really not that much more expensive. Yeah, yeah, I know since you have some cat5e laying around the cost is zero for that, so technically cat6 is actually infinitely more expensive if it costs anything.  The available bandwidth of cat5e is 100 MHz vs. 200MHz for cat6, plus you are going to get better immunity from external noise with cat6, as well as superior insertion, return loss and NEXT.  For a small office network, cat5 would almost certainly do just fine.  But the cat6 is going to be a little better even if you don't need or use the available bandwidth, but I doubt you would even notice the difference.  The real advantage would be that you probably won't  be crawling around stringing cat6 cable in a year or two if you go ahead and use it now.      

Here's a good article that covers the differences in cables. It might help you make your decision.

What Is The Difference Between Cat 5, Cat 5e, and Cat 6 Cable?

"If you’re researching the different types of twisted-pair copper cable used to transmit data in network and home theater applications, then it’s likely that you will repeatedly come across the terms Category 5 (CAT5), Category 5e (CAT5e) and Category 6 (CAT6). Organizations such as the Telecommunication Industry Association (TIA) and Electronic Industries Association (EIA) set specific product standards, and these guidelines have resulted in cables being classified into various categories based on their performance levels. Just in case you’re not too familiar with cabling terminology, we at CableOrganizer.com would like to provide you with a few straightforward definitions and statistics on these three common grades of network cable, to help you better choose the right one to fit your needs."
Answer this