In today's modern world many households have internet access, most of the connection nowadays is done via Wi-Fi or wireless but there is a high probability that you have also a few devices connected via cable. There are of course many disadvantages and advantages between cable connection and wireless connection.
The main advantages of a hard cable connection are of course faster speed and stability compared to Wi-Fi. But if we look into the cables themselves there is also a big difference between them. Not all cables are the same and quality as well as speed vary a lot between them. Choosing the right cable is essential in order to make a maximum of your internet and we have some great tips and explanations of what cables do so you can make the right choice and enjoy your full internet potential.
Not all cables are the same
Cheap cables and expensive ones are not the same no matter what everyone tells you. The old proverb you get what you pay is true and more expensive cables will be made from better materials and will have a higher transfer rate.
Quality network cables are separated into different categories with proper markings and when buying one you should always look for these markings on the cables themselves, do not buy cables that do not have markings since they will often provide lower transfer rates or will not be shielded from outside influences resulting in packet drops and instability in a network.
Categories and what they mean are:
- Cat-5 with a maximum speed of 100Mbps, typically unshielded.
- Cat-5e with a maximum speed of 1Gbps, available in both shielded and unshielded varieties.
- Cat-6 with a maximum speed of 10Gbps for runs under 55 meters (around 180ft), available in both shielded and unshielded varieties.
- Cat-6a with a maximum speed of 10Gbps, shielded.
- Cat-7 uses a proprietary GG45 connector rather than the standard RJ-45 connector seen on other cables for speeds of 10Gbps, shielded.
- Cat-8 with a maximum speed of 25Gbps (Cat-8.1) or 40Gbps (Cat-8.2) at a distance of around 30 meters (around 100ft), shielded.
Unless stated, these standards are typically rated at their quoted speeds for a run of around 100 meters (around 330 ft) and use a standard RJ-45 Ethernet connector. Each generation of cable is designed to be compatible with the generations that came before it, so it’s possible (for example) to use a Cat-6a cable with a router that only supports speeds of 1Gbps.
When purchasing higher quality cable you might not be able to choose if you have shielding or not since some standards like Cat-6a, Cat-7, and Cat-8 are always shielded. But if you do not have the need for these and you are satisfied with Cat-5e for example you can choose.
Shielded cables are a little more expensive but they will provide you with a coating that will eliminate interference from outside waves making cables more reliable. Of course, if the cable will go through a room that does not have many radio waves or some other interferences then buying a shielded cable is a waste of money.
Usually, there are two types of connector platings on connectors, silver, and gold, and people usually think that gold is much better but there are major differences between silver and gold platings and truth to be told there is no better one, both are different and should be considered depending on your need.
Silver plating will provide you with faster speed since its conductivity is larger than gold, but gold is slower on the oxidation front so its life span is longer. On the other hand, if your cables are always connecting and disconnecting gold will be first to be scrubbed off from the surface since the gold coating is much thinner.
Overall if you would only connect cable once and have slower internet than cable capacity gold is the way to go, in another case if you would use the cable as always connecting and switching and your internet plan is the same as cable transfer capacity you might want to go with silver one.
Cable material quality
Network cables are made from copper, your standard conduction material but even here there are differences in quality and therefore the chance of pocket losses over it. More quality less loss and more stable connection and this will depend on the purity of copper that is used in the cable itself. More purity in copper, more stability, simple as that.
So as you can see, there are a lot of different things that will influence your pick of proper network cable but the overall best advice is to get one that will fit well into your needs and setup. pair it up with your router and your internet plan since just simply buying something that you can not use is really a waste of money.