The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Category 6 Cable

ethernet cable in front of a computer keyboard
  • 2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 40
What You'll Need
Cat 6 cable
What You'll Need
Cat 6 cable

The introduction of the Category 6 cable is to set a standard for the Gigabit Ethernet. The Category 6 cable, also known as Cat-6, is backward compatible with the Category 5/5e and Category 3 cable standards. It can create a high-speed computer network and operate at optimal performance if other components in the network are compatible with gigabit speeds.


computer, tablet, and cell phone with wedding image

1. Speed and Performance

The cable can handle speed performance of up to 250 MHZ. This fast performance makes it possible to use it with a fast ethernet network including Gigabit Ethernet and 10-Gigabit Ethernet. The whole generation of the Cat 6 cable was introduced to complement the Gigabit Ethernet, which includes interface cards, patch panels, routers, switches, and other components developed to achieve a full gigabit network. Many IT professionals realized that the Cat 6 cable provides very fast network performance and can deliver gigabit speeds.

2. Similar Structure with Cat 5 Cable

Cat 6 cable has a similar structure to the Cat 5 and Cat 5e. The Cat 6, Cat 5 and Cat 5e cables have eight wires that are twisted together to form four pairs. The difference is that one pair of the wires in the Cat 6 cable is kept from contacting with others so that it can produce double the bandwidth of the Cat 5 and Cat 5e.

3. Backward Compatible

The plug and port of the Cat 6 cable are the same as the Cat 5 and Cat 5e. Therefore, it can be plugged into any port or connection that supports both of those cables. If you use the Cat 5 port, it will not yield the full speed that it is capable of handling. Instead, it will operate at the speed of the computer or cable. However, the speed will be acceptable.

4. Upgradable

If upgrading to a more optimal network, the Cat 6 cable should be included in part of the upgrade. The Cat 6 cable will not operate at the full speed if other units in the network do not support gigabit speeds. Small businesses that are starting should consider installing the Cat 6 cable since it is becoming the industry standard.


green ethernet cable plugged into a machine

1. Expensive

The Cat 6 cable is much more expensive than the Cat 5e cable. If the cable does not show noticeable improvement in your network, it is not worth the investment. In most cases, it is more sensible to use Cat 5e because it is more economical while still offering good performance. The Cat 5e cable is also available in different colors.

2. Does Not Guarantee Full Speed

Users often misunderstand that buying a Cat 6 cable will offer them the entire gigabit network. In truth, the Cat 6 cable will only yield the full speed if every single component in the network can work at gigabit speed. If one of the components is not gigabit rated, your network will operate at the slowest device’s speed.

Most of the time, the average user may be persuaded to purchase the Cat 6 cable without truly knowing if it will make an impact on their network. Therefore, do your research before making a decision.