Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cat 5 Ethernet Cables

A Category 5 cable is defined by the Telecommunications Industry Association according to wiring and electrical standards. The short definition is it's an Ethernet cable capable of supporting a data transfer rate of up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) over a distance of approximately 100 meters. Cat 5 cables are no longer the industry standard, but can still be found in many networks worldwide.

This article will help you to understand what are Cat 5 Ethernet Cables.


Most Cat 5 cables will be printed with information identifying their category somewhere on the cable; this is true of most other types of network cable as well. Beyond that, Cat 5 cables will typically have a slightly thinner design than other industry standards, such as Cat 5e and Cat 6 cables, and will generally end in the same jack design, the RJ-45.

Recommended Use

Cat 5 cables are only recommended for use with relatively slower network, only supporting data transfer rates of 100 Mbps. For this reason, Cat 5 cables are more often found in home networks. While a Cat 5 cable can be used for data transfer of up to 1000 Mbps -- or approximately 1 Gbps, i.e., 1 gigabit per second -- the length of the cable must be less than 10 meters; any longer requires the use of other hardware, such as a network switch.

Category 5e and Beyond

The key difference between the Cat 5 cable and the Cat 5e cable is the latter can support speeds of up to 1 Gbps over a much longer distance, up to 100 meters. Cat 5e has mostly been surpassed by the even more recent Cat 6 and Cat 6a standards, which offer up to 10 Gbps data transmission rates.


Aside from those limitations already listed, the key disadvantage when using Cat 5 cables is they're simply out of date. A slower network unlikely to be upgraded may benefit from the reduced cost of Cat 5 cables, but for most home users, a wiser investment would be the Cat 5e or Cat 6 standard cables, which offer backward compatibility with a slower network, but will also support faster speeds over longer distances.