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Thread: Cat 6 cable vs. Cat 5

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Down under - all the way under.

    Default Cat 6 cable vs. Cat 5

    I am setting up a new network in my home - 3 computers on a wired network.

    I am doing a lot of VOIP and on-line gaming (Battlefield f-ing yeah!!!), so I got a QOS 1 gig router.

    All my motherboards have 1 gig NIC onboard.

    My question: Does it really matter weather I use Cat 6 or Cat 5?

    What is the real difference?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Default Re: Cat 6 cable vs. Cat 5

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Minnesota, United States

    Default Re: Cat 6 cable vs. Cat 5

    That links aren't really very good explanations, nor are they accurate.

    CAT5e does gigabit, period. If you aren't hitting gigabit speeds, and you won't, it's because of the NIC or the switch/router not being very good or because the NIC isn't being supplied with enough information/has an insufficient data rate to achieve 1gbps speeds. This is all assuming you're using a 1000Base-T hardware, which you probably are. If this is the case, CAT 6 is unlikely to provide any speed difference over good CAT5e.

    If you have 1000Base-TX hardware, which is actually cheaper and theoretically better, you need CAT 6. CAT 5E will not do gigabit speeds on this hardware, period.

    How do you know which you have? You don't. Most manufacturers don't accurately advertise which technology their hardware uses as most people (even most tech reference web sites) don't seem to realize that 1000Base-T and 1000Base-TX are two different standards. You'll very frequently see 1000Base-T advertised as 1000Base-TX. Although this would be cheaper for us and them, most GbE hardware is designed to run with existing (read: CAT 5) cabling systems while still achieving gigabit or near gigabit systems, which 1000Base-TX simply can't do on it's own.

    When it comes down to it, both cable types work fairly well with both hardware types. CAT 6 provides slight to significant advantages in either case. Does it justify the cost increase? Probably. CAT6 generally gets 5%-50% better transfer rates depending on the circumstances and which standard is in use. It generally costs between 5% and 15% more than CAT 5E, depending on how much you buy and where you buy it (shipping costs play a huge role if you don't but it in bulk). Since CAT 5 cable costs relatively nothing, and you're paying a negligible premium over something that's already cheap, CAT 6 is probably worth it. If you already have CAT 5, don't bother upgrading your cabling, though.

    For what you're doing, you don't even need gigabit. Hell, you don't even need 100Base-T/100Base-TX. Online bandwidth is limited by you connection speed, and even that probably doesn't limit you much. Battlefield 2 + VOIP doesn't mean much bandwidth. It does mean you need low latency for the best experience, but higher bandwidth does not necessary (or ever, in the case of GbE vs. 1000mbps vs. 10mbps) mean lower latency. If you're playing with three clients simultaneously connected, bandwidth does become an issue, but nothing short of FiOs/T1/T3 or any other form of fiber will provide you with more than 10mbps. If you can only send and receive at 10mbps or less, having 1000mbps does nothing for you.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Bendigo Australia

    Default Re: Cat 6 cable vs. Cat 5

    the QOS part of your router will solve the voip problems

    as Yawgie said, cat6 makes little or no difference unless its 1000base_TX

    I've just finished cabling my house (72+ network points) in cat5e since the cat6 connectors are too $$$$$$$.

    based on the tests I've done with cat5e & cat6 patch cables - it makes no difference.

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