Cat5e, Cat6 or Cat6a Data Cabling?

When choosing a grade of cable for your data cabling, it comes down to a cost vs benefits. As a rule of thumb, compared to Cat5e, the cost of Cat6 is about 20% more and Cat6a is about 100% more.


Cat5e will support Gigabit Ethernet up to 100 metres (including patch cords) and Power of Ethernet (PoE) up to PoE+. If you have a Multi-Gigabit Ethernet switch you may get speeds of 2.5Gig or 5Gig for shorter distances.


Cat6 will do everything Cat5e does but its higher performance will improve your chances of achieving speeds of 2.5Gig, 5Gig or even 10Gig if you have a Multi-Gigabit Ethernet switch. Because the conductors are about 25% thicker than Cat5e, Cat6 is able to support the higher powered (90 watts) IEEE 802.3bt PoE standards.


Cat6a does everything Cat6 does plus it will support 10Gig Ethernet for a 100 metre channel. It is a bigger gauge cable so has a degree of future proofing for even higher-powered PoE, but it requires much larger containment than Cat5e or Cat6.

So Which One Should You Choose?

It depends on the speed and PoE capability you require but Lynx Networks now recommends Cat6 as a minimum if your budget allows and Cat6a if your premises has the right physical infrastructure for the larger cable.

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