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If you are a high-traffic user of the Internet, speed transmission of data transfer and download/upload rates matter tremendously. Finding the right cables to help get the job done is critical. So, without further ado, check out the best Ethernet cables out there right now. You can also narrow down the search by looking for the best gaming cables in this review, or even more specifically, best PS4 cables here.
In today's article, we will dive deeper into the major differences between Cat6 vs cat6a Gigabit Ethernet cables when choosing the right one to achieve higher Internet speeds. In addition, you can check out the similarities and differences between Cat6 and Cat6e cables, or more basic versions of those cables, to boot.
Should I Use Cat6 Or Cat6a?
When comparing and choosing between the standard Cat6 vs Cat6A Ethernet cables, it is important to understand the similarities and differences of both of the Cat6 and Cat6A cables as well as the targeted performance and purpose.
Let's take a look at the comparison between standard Cat6 and Cat6A cables.
- Both can be unshielded Twisted Pair or shielded Twisted Pair.
- Both are made of flexible material.
- Both are made with eight copper conductors twisted into four tightly twisted pairs total.
- Both are terminated at the end to TIA 568A or B color code specifications
- Both support 10/100/1000Mbps (megabytes per second) speed with a length of up to 328 feet (100 meters)
- Both have an outer sheath protecting the interior wires called a jacket made up of different installation needs (for example, riser rated cable or common plenum cable) .
- Both have an internal cross skeleton called a spline that is made of plastic and is used to keep the four pairs of copper conductors separated
- Cat6A cables have copper conductors that are twisted tighter because they hare made and terminated to tighter tolerances than Cat6 cables. This means that Cat6A cables require higher specification patch panels, wall jacks, and RJ45 connectors.
- Cat6A cables usually have a thicker copper conduct and jacket than regular Cat6 cables. This leads to a more difficult installation process and a higher price point.
- Cat6A cables have a maximum high speed of 500MHz, whereas Cat6 cables usually top off at up to 250 MHZ. maximum
- The varying data transmission speed between Cat6 cabling and Cat6A cabling also leads to a difference in range. The Cat6A cable allows for 10 Gbps (Gigabits per second) up to 328 feet (100 meters). The Cat6 lan cable supports 10 Gbps up to 165 feet (55 meters) in network speeds.
Are Cat6 And Cat6a Connectors The Same?
Cat6 cabling and Cat6a cabling, short for "Category 6", are standardized twisted pair cables for Ethernet (see all types of Ethernet cables here) and other network physical layers.
At first glance, the plug connectors of both the Cat6 lan cable and the Cat6a cable look almost identical. Visually and design wise, there is no difference between Cat6 or Cat6a cables and their plug connectors.
The main distinguishing features really lie inside the cable itself and not the uplink. You can technically use a Cat5e RJ45 plug on a Cat6 cable as well as on a Cat6a cable. Both use the RJ45 connector type at the terminating end as the plug connector. Both have a twisting pair of wires inside to help maintain connection speeds and limit signal interference through conductivity of the electrical current.
Both Cat6 and Cat6A uplink hardware achieve maximum Internet speeds of 10 Gbps. For a higher speed than 10 Gbps, you may need to use a different connector plug for even faster data transmission, bandwidth, and transfer.
You may want to consider installing the Cat7 cable. One advantage of the Cat7 cable is its shielded twisted pair, which can significantly improve noise resistance and less signal interference.
What Does The A Stand For In Cat6a?
The letter "A" in "cat6a" stands for the word "augmented" in the "category 6a" type of Ethernet cable.. This is because this type of new cable is the latest version of the Gigabit Ethernet cabling.
The preceding cable was the Cat6 cable, which is short for "Category 6". This comes from a long history of Ethernet cables with a new iteration.
The Cat6A cable is "augmented" or improved from the past specifications of the regular Cat6 cable. In general. the Cat6 cable is a standardized twisted pair cable for Ethernet and other physical layers. Fortunately, these Cat6 cables are backward compatible with Category 5/5 and Category 3 cable standards.
The Cat6a doubles Transmission bandwidth from 250 to 500 MHz frequency and also decreases the chance of Alien crosstalk interference. This provides superior reliability and data transmission speeds through greater maximum lengths of cable compared to the regular Cat6 cable.
The Cat6 and Cat6a cables both extend to a performance distance of up to 100 meters (328 feet).
What Is Shielded Vs Unshielded Cables?
When choosing between using a cat6 or cat6a cable, understanding the internal cable components is also an important deciding factor that is both cost effective and optimized for performance and network speeds.
Users of the Category 6a type of cable can also choose between shielded vs unshielded. Shielded Cat6a cables generally have an outer foil shield around each individual pair or around all 4 pairs.
Shielded cables are also known as F/UTP, where the cable consists of 4 unshielded twisted pairs with an outer foil shield. Unshielded cables are also known as U/UTP, where the cable consists of 4 unshielded twisted pairs and no outer shielding.
What Is The Difference Between Cat 6 And Cat 7?
The main contrasting feature between the Cat6 and Cat7 cables come down to the transmission speed, shielding, supported longer distances, and cost. There are many flexible types of standard cables to choose from, but to install the right cabling for your network to achieve faster Internet and improved connection speed, you must consider which wires are best for you to use and meet your needs.
Cat6 cables top off at a maximum speed of 250 MHz with a distance of 55 meters and maximum speed of 10,000 Mbps. Cat7 is the next iteration and thus have some higher upgrades and thresholds than the Cat6 generation.
Cat7 cables top off at a maximum speed of 1000 MHz frequency with a distance of 15 meters and a maximum speed of 100,000 Mbps. Notice that the bandwidth speed while using a Cat7 cable begins to decline once it reaches the 15 meter mark.
What Is A Cat5e Cable?
The Cat5e, short for "Category 5 enhanced", cable is a twisted pair cable used for computer networks. This cable standard provides performance of up to 100 MHz and can be used for many varieties of Ethernet over twisted pairs up to 1000Base-T (Gigabit Ethernet).
Cat5 cables were designed to also carry other signals such as telephony and video. The Cat5e cable is most commonly connected using punch-down blocks and modular connectors. These Cat5e cables are not shielded and rely on the balanced line twisted pair design wiring and differential signaling for noise rejection and limiting interference.
The Cat5e, just like the Cat6, cables support the same RJ45 end-connectors for home or business networking. With regards to crosstalk and external noise mitigation, Cat6 cables must adhere to stricter standards than Cat5e. Both support up to 10 Gigabit LAN internet up to 100 meters.
Cat5e is an excellent choice when comparing cost, data speed, and overall network performance compared to the Cat6 and Cat6 cables.
Choosing the right cabling or wiring for your home or office network does not have to be difficult. Our easy-to-follow guides help to provide an enhanced view of different product choices that consider factors like cost, performance, data transmission, higher bandwidth, maximum cable length, connectivity interference, and hardware requirements to help you optimize your Internet speeds.
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1. Is it worth upgrading from Cat6 to Cat6a?
Upgrading from cat6 to cat6a depends on the specific needs of the network. However, Cat6a offers some advantages over Cat6, such as higher bandwidth and longer reach. So if those are factors that are important to the network, then upgrading to Cat6a may be worth considering.
2. Will Cat6 improve Internet speed?
Cat6 is a good choice if you want faster speeds. It minimizes what is known as crosstalk — signal transfers that interfere with your communication channels. However, if you are content with your current internet speeds, Cat5 may suffice though it only has slower network speeds. Additionally, Cat5 cables are typically less expensive than Cat6 cables.
3. Which Ethernet cable is fastest?
Cat 8 Ethernet cables are the fastest type of Ethernet cable. They offer speeds of up to 10 Gbps, which is significantly faster than Cat 7 and Cat 6a cables. Cat 8 cables are also backward compatible with Cat 5 and Cat 6 devices, so you can use them with older equipment if needed.
Cat 7 Ethernet cables offer speeds of up to 10 Gbps as well, making them a good choice for high-speed applications. They are also backward compatible with Cat 5 and Cat 6 devices.
Cat 6a Ethernet cables offer speeds of up to 10 Gbps as well, but they are only compatible with devices that have an RJ45 port that supports 10 Gbps connections. Most devices only support speeds of up to 1 Gbps or 2.5 Gbps, so using a Cat 6a cable with them will not provide any benefits.
4. Is Cat6 good for gaming?
Yes, it is good for gaming. While both Cat5e and Cat6 cables are suitable for gaming over Ethernet, Cat6 cables are frequently preferred. This is not necessarily due to speed, as 1000Mbps is sufficient for the majority of gamers. Cat6 cables are more interference-resistant than Cat5e cables.
5. Is Cat 7 future proof?
Yes, Cat 7 is future proof. It can handle speeds up to 10 Gbps and is backward compatible with Cat 5e, Cat 6, and Cat 6a.