Gigabit Network – What’s the difference between Cat5e and Cat6, and can you tell the difference?

Cat5e and Cat6 are two different ratings for Ethernet cable which determine how much data they can handle. Cat5e is certified up to 100 MHz and Cat6 is certified up to 260 MHz.

What does all of that mean? Cat6 cables can handle more data at a higher throughput than Cat5e. Specifically, Cat6 cables are rated for 1000 Mbps (gigabit) whereas Cat5e is only rater for 100 Mbps; however, in Chris’s experience, Cat5e can push close to gigabit speeds.

If you are considering building a home network, or upgrading your current one, you may want to consider going gigabit as this will allow you to push your data (music, movies, games) across your network much faster than with traditional 10/100 based networks.

But, if you are going to go gigabit, you need to remember that everything – the router, switches, hubs, cables, and network interface cards – need to be rated for gigabit speeds if you’re going to get the most out of your network.

What’s the main difference between Cat5e and Cat6? Cat6 is faster, more reliable, and can push more data through the wire than Cat5e.

What do you think? Should you upgrade to gigabit? Should you go wireless?

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