Cat-5 VS Cat-6

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kbsparky

Senior Member
Location
Delmarva, USA
I have a customer who asked about the differences and benefits of using CAT-6 instead of CAT-5(e) for hard-wiring a computer network in his building. For the most part, this network is for Internet access.

It's my understanding that if you used CAT-6 cable, and terminated it into CAT-5e jacks and connectors, then you have wasted resources, and will end up with no better than CAT-5 cable would have done.

Initially, I told him that using CAT-6 would double the cost of the materials needed for the network installation.

As for other benefits, what would they be? Longer wire runs? More bandwidth speed? Is it worth doing this?

I'm thinking if you needed more than CAT-5 could offer, the next step would be to just install fiber optic ....?
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
For the most part, this network is for Internet access.

If all it will be used for is internet access and transferring files between computers or printers even CAT5e is overkill. As a comparison, most users are happy with wireless performance which doesn't even come up to CAT3 10 base T speeds. CAT5e will support gigabit ethernet which you don't even see much of yet. On the other hand if this is a large sophisticated facility doing something like medical imaging or HD video editing then CAT6 (or better fiber) would be in order. But then they would have everything spec'd out and wouldn't be asking you what to use.

And yes, whatever cable you choose you always want to use the matching hardware. I agree that the cost of using CAT6 can be double and as far as I'm concerned it's wasted money in most cases as I pointed out above.

-Hal
 
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sameguy

Senior Member
Location
New York
Occupation
Master Elec./JW retired
Check price cat5, cat6, cat7 cable then terms for each. Wire higher term lower then if more speed reterm higher. If cost needs to be spaced over years. Get a loan and see your tax man.
 

defears

Senior Member
Location
NJ
Tell then to ask their IT guy. If they don't have one then I highly doubt all their equipment could benefit.
Ex.
Patch Panel
Network Switches
Router
All Jumpers
Ethernet cards

I've worked with old places where the Cat5e line was faster than their hard drives.:jawdrop:
 

kbsparky

Senior Member
Location
Delmarva, USA
Update:


My customer told me today that installing CAT-6 is their new specification. Regardless of any of the reasons or discussions here, any new cable installs must conform to the CAT-6 standard.


They are prepared to deal with the additional cost, so that is not an issue.


Looks like I will have to buy some new stuff ... :blink:
 

esobocinski

Member
Location
Ann Arbor, MI
As a network professional, I have split feelings on this. Yes, very few people today need better than Cat-5e. However, what are they going to need in 10 years? If this network is mostly for Internet access, they'll probably still be in the realm of Cat-5e. If it was a place with substantial file transfer load to on-site servers, then Cat-6 could have made sense for future needs. We've had Gigabit to the desktop in our office for 3 years, and while we're geeks, we expect to be only about 7 years ahead of an average professional office. 20 years? Predicting that is dodgy, but they'll probably have outgrown their idea of what needs Internet access by then. Can they replace your work in some later year without gutting walls? If not, Cat-6 is worth the cost.

Heck, my old-timey local hardware store just wired Cat-6 for their new registers and servers. It's way overkill today, but the material is trivial compared to labor and the skin-flint owner is planning not to redo it until it's his kids' problem.

Cat 6 cost has come down. We pay about 50% more for Cat-6 material than for Cat-5e.
 

copper chopper

Senior Member
Location
wisconsin
its all bs

its all bs

i work moslty at hospitals and they spec out cat 6 however it seems like every 2 years we are remodeling stuff floor by floor so whats the sense of wondering what it will be like 10 years from now.... its just money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

ggunn

PE (Electrical), NABCEP certified
Location
Austin, TX, USA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer - Photovoltaic Systems
20 yrs. who will need wire, or it will be on the power wires.
Not necessarily. Powerline data transmission and wireless both have issues that are not that easily circumvented, security being one of them.
 

Little Bill

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee NEC:2017
Occupation
Electrician
It's funny how you never notice white trucks on the road until you own one.:) That's kind of the way I must have been with this thread. I didn't notice it until now. I've been reading up on the cat 5E/6 stuff lately. I've been offered a chance to do some field installs for a company that uses installers from the areas that need work done. I was wondering if anyone could tell me what type/brand cable stripper and crimper I would need for either or both cat 5E & cat 6. Also, what all tools would I need to do this. I looked up some of this and most sites want you to buy everything from strippers to gold plated tool cases. Just need to know what would be most needed/used. Also, signal/circuit tracers or toners?
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
I was wondering if anyone could tell me what type/brand cable stripper and crimper I would need for either or both cat 5E & cat 6.

I think you need to understand how to terminate these cables first. All you need is snips (scissors) to cut and remove the jacket and a 110 punch down tool to terminate the pairs on the patch panels and Keystone jacks. If you want to save time, Fluke makes a "JackRapid" tool that will terminate all four pairs on a jack just by squeezing it, but it is limited to Leviton and few another jack manufacturers. There's a different tool/blade head for each manufacturer so one tool doesn't fit all. Most companies standardize on a manufacturer so that's not usually a problem. We standardize on Leviton.


As far as putting plugs on the cables (if that's what you are thinking about), there is really no need to do that if you do things right. Nobody should be making patch cords and all premises cables should be terminated on either a patch panel or a Keystone jack.


-Hal
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
Oh, to answer your question about probes and toners- CAT5 and 6 is notoriously difficult to trace because of the tight twists so you need a high output tone generator and a sensitive probe. I use an Aines toner with a Progressive probe but there are others out there that will work as well along with a lot of junk. Trial and error is going to be your best bet to find ones that work. An important point is that the probe have a non-insulated metal tip. Insulated tips greatly reduce the sensitivity of the probe.

-Hal
 

ACE1970

Member
Location
California
this is a good thread

this is a good thread

This is a good thread . I know that if you use cat5e jacks with cat6e UTP plenum rated wire you slow down the processing rate of transfering information why I do not know but it does happen. Perhaps it is the materials used in the rj45 jacks but computer experts perfer to use cat6e jacks with cat6e UTP. I had to change quite a few jacks. I guess it is like using 1" emt and then reducing to half inch at the panel.
 

Little Bill

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee NEC:2017
Occupation
Electrician
I was wondering if anyone could tell me what type/brand cable stripper and crimper I would need for either or both cat 5E & cat 6.

I think you need to understand how to terminate these cables first. All you need is snips (scissors) to cut and remove the jacket and a 110 punch down tool to terminate the pairs on the patch panels and Keystone jacks. If you want to save time, Fluke makes a "JackRapid" tool that will terminate all four pairs on a jack just by squeezing it, but it is limited to Leviton and few another jack manufacturers. There's a different tool/blade head for each manufacturer so one tool doesn't fit all. Most companies standardize on a manufacturer so that's not usually a problem. We standardize on Leviton.




As far as putting plugs on the cables (if that's what you are thinking about), there is really no need to do that if you do things right. Nobody should be making patch cords and all premises cables should be terminated on either a patch panel or a Keystone jack.




-Hal
I have terminated some cables before and just used what was available at the time to do the job. I also have a pretty good picture tutorial of terminating cables. My question was based on so many different suggestions for the tools, most of which were sales orientated, I just wanted to know the basics I need and the brand most preferred. I haven't dug really deep into what the tech company work involves. I wanted to get my ducks in a row before contacting them.


Oh, to answer your question about probes and toners- CAT5 and 6 is notoriously difficult to trace because of the tight twists so you need a high output tone generator and a sensitive probe. I use an Aines toner with a Progressive probe but there are others out there that will work as well along with a lot of junk. Trial and error is going to be your best bet to find ones that work. An important point is that the probe have a non-insulated metal tip. Insulated tips greatly reduce the sensitivity of the probe.

-Hal
Thanks for these tips.
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
I know that if you use cat5e jacks with cat6e UTP plenum rated wire you slow down the processing rate of transfering information why I do not know but it does happen. Perhaps it is the materials used in the rj45 jacks but computer experts perfer to use cat6e jacks with cat6e UTP. I had to change quite a few jacks. I guess it is like using 1" emt and then reducing to half inch at the panel.
For some reason that I'm at a loss to understand this subject has been coming up way too often around here so let's set it straight once and for all. There is NO excuse for mis-matching cable and termination devices. Whatever level of cable you use, you must use the corresponding level jacks and patch panels.

-Hal
 
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gndrod

Senior Member
Location
Ca and Wa
For some reason that I'm at a loss to understand this subject has been coming up way too often around here so let's set it straight once and for all. There is NO excuse for mis-matching cable and termination devices. Whatever level of cable you use, you must use the corresponding level jacks and patch panels.

-Hal
Amen. And no mixing of 568 termination A and B pinouts. :)
 
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