Cat5 and CAT5E: How Do They Differ from Each Other?

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While setting up network cables for home or work spaces with multiple configurations, it is very important to choose the right kind of cables for the right connections. Even though the cable just acts as a medium to transfer data, it is of much importance given that it significantly affects the speed of such operations. It gets more complicated as there is no definite answer to which cable should be used. It depends on various factors depending on the utility of the connection.

While choosing between cables, one question that often surfaces up is that whether one should use CAT5 or CAT5E for connections across devices? And how are the two different from each other? Let’s try to answer the latter which is the primary factor while deciding the former.

Physical Differences

Starting from the surface, CAT5 and CAT5E cables are identical in physical appearance. You cannot differentiate them on the basis of color, thickness, or the covering. There’s only one way to differentiate and that’s from the information printed on the cables by the manufacturer. You can also cut up the wire to distinguish between the two as the wires in CAT5E is twisted more tightly as compared to CAT 5.

Speed

If you are using these cables for your Ethernet connection, they aren’t going to increase your internet speed as they are meant only to transmit data. For network connections, CAT5 cables can work only under a speed of 100 Mbps while CAT5E can work for up to 1000 Mbps. In fact, CAT 5 can be troublesome in transmitting data even with its speed of 100 Mbps. Therefore, in terms of speed and smooth data transmission, CAT 5E cables are definitely better.

Performance

Performance in networking cables is measured based on their capacity to transfer data…i.e. their bandwidth. The bandwidth of CAT 5 cables is up to 100 MHz which goes up to 350 MHz for CAT 5E cable. Judging on the performance, CAT5E cables are adequate for gigabit internet connections though higher CAT cables would soon take over.

Crosstalk

Crosstalk is mainly about the interference which occurs between cables which can further lead to errors during sending and receiving data. This can be a reason for serious problems while transmitting sensitive data. The interference is lesser in CAT 5E cables but still can occur rarely. One of the reasons for designing the enhanced version of these cables has been to reduce this interference; therefore, it makes them better than the former version.

Usage of both these cables is quite popular because even though higher configuration cables like CAT6 and above are all available in the market now, they are rather expensive. So, to make affordable connections, it’s best to employ CAT5 or CAT5E cables as per requirements, deciding on their individual features and your utility. A sound judgment of their differentiations sure helps in selecting the better one for your job!

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