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CAT5e vs CAT6

The most common standards for Ethernet cables are Cat5e and Cat6. Cat6 cables allow for 10 Gigabit speeds, unlike Cat5e's maximum of 1 Gigabit. However, the 10 Gigabit speeds for Cat6 are only for a distance of 180ft. Both cables can be run for 328ft with a speed of 1Gb/s. Cat6 also allows for two-way communication for each pair of wires, which leads to faster-perceived speed. The differences can be summarized below.





Approx. 20% more expensive

Less expensive


10 Gigabit

1 Gigabit


180ft for 10Gb, 328ft for 1Gb

328ft for 1Gb

While Cat6 is newer and faster, Cat5e may do the job just as well. If your budget is limited, Cat5e is usually sufficient; 1Gb/s is usually fast enough for most networks. However, upgrading to Cat6 can be worthwhile for the sake of future-proofing or if you move a lot of data through your intranet. Ultimately, assess the needs of your network and make your choice from there.


Boot Types

The main purpose of boots on the RJ45 connector is to prevent the tab from snagging and snapping off. There are several boot types to choose from, but your choice will mostly come down to preference. Each boot type has certain characteristics that may affect your choice.


Assembly/No Boot - The tab has no protection, but it is easier to remove the connector. The connector also takes up a little less space.

Snagless Boot - The connector tab is only partially covered. This means that the connector is easily removed while the boot prevents snags.

Bubble Boot - The connector tab is fully covered. The connector may be a little harder to remove, but it gives the best protection to the connector.


Shielded vs Unshielded

Shielding on a cable is simply a metal foil wrapped around the pair of wires. This is done to prevent electromagnetic interference from industrial or noisy environments. Shielding tends to make a cable-less flexible and is also more expensive.



Plenum vs Riser Ratings

Plenum rated cables are meant to be used in plenum spaces, the space between a dropped ceiling and the floor above. Because this space is used for air circulation, plenum cables must adhere to stricter fire regulations to avoid toxic fumes, and therefore use a different jacket material than riser rated cables. In contrast, riser-rated cables are used in non-plenum spaces. Riser-rated cables are subject to less strict fire regulations. This means that plenum cable can be used in place of riser cable, but the opposite is not true. Riser-rated cable also tends to be less expensive than plenum cable.



Solid vs Stranded

Solid cables have a solid core conductor, meaning that there is a single piece of copper in each wire. A stranded cable will have several strands of wire making up the core, allowing the cable to be more flexible. In short, solid cables should be used in more permanent installations, such as inside a wall, while stranded cables should be used where the cable will be accessed more often.



What is CCA?

CCA stands for copper clad aluminum. As the name implies, CCA cables are made of aluminum wires covered in copper. This means that they do not meet UL and TIA standards for Cat5e and Cat6 cables since the standards require the use of bare copper wire. No CCA cables can be considered Cat5e or Cat6 cables. The aluminum content means it tends to cost less, but this also makes it less conductive than copper cables and, therefore, isn't suited for use in PoE (power over Ethernet) applications. Aluminum is also more brittle than copper, so CCA cables can be more easily damaged when being pulled from the box or bent.