From the old-school Cat3 cables to the sublime Cat7, ethernet cables have only got better with time.
The latest additions to the fraternity of quality ethernet cables are cat6 and cat7. Both the variants offer a positive performance edge to offices and households. But given the high rate of dynamism in these cables, how do you determine the best fit for your purpose?
Here is a look at the top differences between Cat6 and Cat7 cables, and how you can choose what’s the right one for you.
Before attempting to find the right cable for your use, estimate your bandwidth requirement precisely and clearly.
These cables can effectively transmit 250 MHz over a distance of 50-55 meters. Besides, you get an advantage in terms of lower noise and crosstalk. Also, the speed of transmission is 10 Gbps.
However, attaching cat6 cables can be arduous sometimes because of their larger size as compared to previous cat5 and cat5e cables. To seamlessly install such cables, you can resort to adapters and connectors with matching compatibilities.
These cables come with a further enhanced bandwidth capacity and can deal with frequencies ranging to 600 MHz over 100 meters of length with a speed of 100 Gbps. A Cat7 cable is slimmer than each of its counterparts. Here, you will find an additional shield that protects the integrity of the signal.
Cat6 and Cat7 cables are relatively more expensive than Cat5 or Cat5e cables because of the performance upgradations. Assuming the case of an average household that requires approximately 610 meters of cable, the total costs of Cat6 wiring would fall in the bracket of $650-750 including the cost of required connectors. For Cat6a the cost furthers by $150-250.
The same setup, it opts for a Cat7 cable then the total cost would narrow down to $2000-$2200. The cost of Cat7a further balloons to approximately $2500.
For a 10 Gigabit network, Cat7 is the best option. However, if both these cables fall out of the ambit of your pocket, it is better to go with Cat5e because of its compatibility with 10G at a price much lesser than Cat6 and Cat7.
Installation of Cat6 and Cat7 Cables
The difference in installation occurs because of the change in the bandwidth capacity of cables. If the capacity is increased, the cable becomes slightly heavy making. This heaviness results from the compactness of conductors present therein.
To eliminate crosstalk and improve insulation, these conductors also house specialized separators. This is the reason why Cat6 cables are charged 50% above the installation price of Cat5e.
The same fundamental applies to Cat7 cables as well and their installation price is approximately 60% more than Cat6 cables.
While you may be willing to spill the bucks to get a high-speed cable (Cat6 or Cat7) installed, the installation process would still give you a tough time. Installing both these cables is challenging and demanding as against the previous variants. So, if you’re to hire a person who does the job for you, make sure the offer is superlatively attractive!
If you’re a gamer who craves the ultimate high-speed gaming action or your internet requirements are limited to casual web browsing and downloading of high-quality data, then Cat6 is the right pick for you.
Cat7 cables are designed to handle multiple connections without compromising on quality. Therefore, if you’re looking for a cable for your business requirements or for seamlessly enjoying the services of multiple smart devices, a Cat7 cable is what you need.
It is important to forecast correctly when it comes to installing a cable of your choice at your house. If at the time of installation, you find that the bandwidth provided by the cable exceeds your requirements but you have plans to upgrade your device infrastructure in the future, then it is better to proceed with the installation of the cable.
A standard Cat6 can last for 10 years without any issues. Towards the end of this period, errors and snags start showing up. On the contrary, a Cat7 cable can last up to 15 years without any issues.
The reason for this contrast in the lifetime of cables is their dynamics. Because of the enhanced insulation and high-quality material, Cat7 cables provide an edge over Cat6 cables in terms of durability.
Compatibility between Cat6 and Cat7 Cables
The compatibility of an Ethernet cable is its ability to settle with other versions. Both Cat6 and Cat7 cables are backward compatible meaning that they can easily work with versions below them.
However, a Cat7 cable can only go till Cat5 in terms of compatibility. If you’re still using Cat4 or a Cat 3 (which is practically a rare sight given the rapid increase in technology) then you will have to replace the cable setup. On the other hand, a Cat6 offers compatibility up to Cat4 cables.
Which Cable is Better?
The answer to this question is subjected to the use, budget, and requirement of the user. It’s advisable to go for Cat6a or Cat7 even though your network devices don’t require it at the present moment. This ensures security in the long run. Also, Cat7 cables have the upper hand over their counterparts in terms of speed. Furthermore, there is also a highlighted difference in terms of less crosstalk, noise, bandwidth, and insulation.
Though pervasively recognized standard bodies like the Telecom Industry Association and Electronics Industry Alliance have not accredited Cat7, it is subjected to change in the future. Until it gets the required approval, you may encounter difficulty in seeking support.
Modern-day devices demand enhanced and upgraded equipment for functioning seamlessly. Picking up an unfitting option can result in lower performance delivery of the device as well as the cable. Thus, it is important to carry a thorough assessment of your requirements. For making a precise selection between the two cables, refer to our comparison.