Setting up a fast and reliable computer network requires finding the right cables to connect everything together. Cat cables are the standard for computer networking, but not all Cat cables provide equal performance. Choosing the right one guarantees ample speed and bandwidth needed for modern networks. Here’s what to know about picking the best Cat6 cables for your network infrastructure.
Understanding Cat Cable Standards
The Cat cable designation refers to “Category” followed by a number that indicates the cable’s transmission performance. Common options include Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat6a cables. The higher the number, the better the cable’s capabilities.
Cat5 cables hit speeds up to 100 MHz, while Cat5e runs up to 350 MHz. Cat6 cables achieve 550 MHz transmission frequency and were designed for Gigabit Ethernet networks. Cat6a boosts this to 500 MHz for 10 Gigabit networks.
For most home and small business networks, Cat6 hits the sweet spot providing faster speed than Cat5e with room to handle intensive tasks.
Why Choose Cat6 Over Cat5e?
Cat5e cables sufficiently handle Gigabit Ethernet, so why choose Cat6? While Cat5e works, Cat6 is built better to handle high-speed transmissions minimizing latency and interference. This means fewer network issues to frustrate users.
Cat6 cables use thicker 23 gauge wire compared to Cat5e’s 24 gauge, making them less prone to crosstalk and electromagnetic interference. Twisting length is also optimized in Cat6 to further reduce crosstalk problems.
This improved construction ensures reliable connectivity even in busy networks. The extra headroom also prepares networks for evolving demands down the road.
Selecting the Right Cat6 Cable
When selecting Cat6 cable, you’ll also need to choose between solid and stranded core wire. Solid core works well for permanent in-wall cable runs. It offers high throughput but less flexibility.
A stranded core with twisted copper wires works better for connections that move around, like desk to PC or patch panels to devices. Stranded core cables maintain performance when bending with more vibration resistance.
For a high-performance network backbone, plenum-rated Cat6 is constructed with fluoropolymer jacketing that releases less toxic smoke in a fire. Riser-rated Cat6 works for between-floor runs in a building. Both cost more than standard Cat6 due to extra fire protection.
Factors like cable run distance must also be considered when choosing Cat6. Solid core Cat6 allows for 295 feet cable runs. Stranded Cat6 works for short patch cable spans of 15 feet or less.
Connecting Your Network with Cat6
Once you have the right Cat6 selected, it’s time to build your network infrastructure. Connect routers or switches to individual PCs, printers, NAS devices and other hardware with Cat6 patch cables. Use solid core Cat6 for longer spans through ceilings, walls and floors.
Properly terminating cable ends in RJ45 connectors ensures optimal signal transfer. Ethernet wall jacks throughout your building enable conveniently connecting devices via Cat6 patch cables as needed.
For the most robust and future-ready computer network, use Cat6 to wire the entire LAN. Combining solid and stranded Cat6 throughout provides a complete connectivity solution.
Choosing the Right Cat6
When setting up or upgrading a computer network, don’t skimp on cables. Cat6 cable delivers fast speed, high bandwidth and reduced interference for solid network performance. Carefully selecting the right type of Cat6 for each application is the first step in building a glitch-free connected set-up.