Table of contents
- Different Types of Ethernet Cables
- Top 3 Factors to Consider When Choosing Ethernet Cables
- Bottom line
Compared to wireless LAN, Ethernet cables are known for ensuring more stability and less vulnerability to interference. These cables are widely used to connect computers, laptops, printers, and other many devices to connect them to a local area network or LAN. Resultantly, these devices can communicate with one another and other networks through quick and safe data transfer via the Ethernet cables.
However, if you are choosing an Ethernet cable for your home network or to connect your computers at work, there is some thinking you have to do. You shouldn’t just opt for the first cable that you come across. Give it a thought and consider multiple features such as cable type and length to ensure maximum performance. Here is a quick and easy guide to help you pick the best Ethernet cables.
Different Types of Ethernet Cables
First, you must understand the various kidneys of Ethernet cables that are available and how it affects their performance. These types are also referred to as “Categories”. The types include an abbreviation for category i.e. “cat”, which is then followed by a number and sometimes a lower case letter.
Cat 3 and Cat 5
Cat 3 and 5 are one of the oldest types of Ethernet cables. Cat 3 has a maximum frequency of 16 MHz, and a maximum data transfer rate of no more than 10 Mbps. Meanwhile, Cat 5 has a speed ranging from 10 to 100 Mbps. These both are mostly used for Voice Over Internet Protocol devices and are almost obsolete and insufficient for faster speed internet.
The lowercase “e” in this category stands for “enhanced”. This means that this type of Ethernet cable is not very different from the basic Cat 5, but has better interference reduction. It is also unshielded but has a data transfer rate of 1000 Mbps to 1 Gbps. These are ideal for use with high-speed Mediacom internet service that has maximum speeds of 1000 Mbps.
These cables can support high frequencies of up to 250 MHz, and data transfer speeds up to 10 Gbps. These cables are pricier due to the high maintenance and heavy-duty construction. They are also shielded, improving noise reduction and hence fast transfer rates
Cat 7 Ethernet cables are stiffer than the preceding categories. These are also heavily shielded and provide excellent noise reduction. These are much pricier than Cat 6 and 6a, but don’t have much difference in performance in practical terms.
Top 3 Factors to Consider When Choosing Ethernet Cables
Here are the 3 most important considerations to make when choosing Ethernet cables.
One most important consideration to make is the length of the wire. You don’t want to get tied down in one spot if the cable is too short that you can’t even adjust your laptop or computer according to your comfortable working position. Plus, if you are going to connect a portable device like a laptop with the Ethernet cable, then you definitely need a longer cable. Longer cables are not necessary for everyone. But the length will affect your usage, so identify your needs and work setting so that you know what length won’t be too short or too long that it’s creating a mess on your desk.
Different cable categories can support different data transfer speeds. This is why Cat 5e is the most commonly used one since it supports maximum speeds of up to 1 Gigabit, which is also the maximum speed most of the internet providers have to offer. Plus, if you are opting for a higher-speed cable, it means you are paying a higher price for nothing. A cable with higher speed compatibility cannot magically increase your internet service’s speed. Finding the most compatible Ethernet cable should remain your focus.
Color and appearance might sound a little too much in this context. But in reality, with multiple wires, it can get really frustrating. This is why the color of your Ethernet cable is so important. If you have multiple Ethernet cables or other cables, such as a charger on your workstation, it is possible that your wires get mixed up. After all the effort you have put in finding the best Ethernet cable, don’t let same-looking cables keep you hooked to a slower and poorer quality cable. If you are in an office setting, someone might even use your cable, and you wouldn’t even know! Finding a uniquely colored Ethernet cable can be your way to color-code your belongings on your workstation.
Now that you know how to choose the best Ethernet cable for your computers and laptops, nothing can stop you! Color coding your cables, speed compatibility, lengthy cables that don’t restrict mobility, and the right category can make your work life so much easier!