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Do I need special Ethernet cable for gigabit?
Knowledge Base + 2023.12.08

Yes, you will need a special Ethernet cable for gigabit speeds. To take full advantage of gigabit Ethernet speeds, you should use Category 6 (Cat6) or Category 6a (Cat6a) Ethernet cables, as these are designed to handle higher data transfer rates and provide better performance for gigabit networks. Using lower category cables, such as Cat5e, may limit the speed and performance of your gigabit network.

Around your house, you probably have either Cat 5 or Cat 5e wire. Cat stands for category. Cat 6 is cable that's more reliable at higher speeds than Cat 5 or Cat 5e. They look pretty much the same; in fact, Cat 6 is backward compatible with Cat 4, so you can mix and match. But they're labeled differently and they're different on the inside--where it counts.

Until recently, most home routers supported speeds of 10 or 100 megabits per second. However, Gigabit Ethernet routers have become more common. All three cables can work with Gigabit Ethernet. The old-fashioned Cat 5 cable is no longer a recognized standard, but it technically supports gigabit speeds--just not well. Cat 5e cable is enhanced to reduce interference so that it can reliably deliver gigabit speeds. However, Gigabit Ethernet still pushes the cable to its limits.

Cat 6 cable is full-on certified to handle Gigabit speeds--it's meant to handle it and it does it the best. It's also suitable for any 10-Gigabit uses that may come along someday; although at that point, you're pushing the limits of Cat 6. And let's not get into Cat 7 and it's fairyland of 40-Gigabit speeds.

Cat 6 cable also has more stringent specifications for crosstalk and system noise than Cat 5e does. That means you'll get fewer errors on a system operating via Cat 6.

Cat 6 isn't all roses though. Some folks think Cat 6 is harder to install. Cat 6 conductors are twisted more tightly, and there's more insulation. So if you need to cut cables you need to go a little more slowly.