Why do you need a Cat 8 Ethernet cable?
The purpose of each Ethernet cable is to connect the computer to a local network (LAN) or the internet. But as you know, when you need to buy an Ethernet cable and come to the store, you can be confused by choice of various manufacturers and standards.
Trust me; you are not the only one who has a question mark bubble above your head. I will explain some things regarding choosing a suitable cable for you in the following text.
During a search for network cables, you’ve probably noticed that they have labels like Cat 5, Cat 5e, Cat 6, etc. This Cat is simply an abbreviation of Category, and the number shows us the cable specifications. As you may have noticed, a higher number indicates a better and more expensive cable. Specifically, it refers to the speed and frequency in MHz.
Newer Ethernet cables, such as Cat 7 or the latest Cat 8, further increase bandwidth and, thus, data transfer speed through them. The only factor that can affect the data rate may be the length of the Ethernet cable. This speed of up to 100m (328 ft) is usually guaranteed, but it’s rare to exceed that length at home.
Table of Contents
Ethernet Speed Comparison
Max Transmission Speed (at 100 meters)
1,000 Mbps / 1 Gbps
100 MHz (up to 350)
Shielded or Unshielded
1,000 Mbps / 1 Gbps
250 MHz (up to 550)
10,000 Mbps / 10 Gbps
500 MHz (up to 550)
10,000 Mbps / 10 Gbps
10,000 Mbps / 10 Gbps
25 Gbps or 40 Gbps
Before we explain the differences between Ethernet cable categories, you need to know the basic concepts related to Ethernet terminology. It’s not complicated, but you may be confused by the labels when choosing a cable for your needs.
Please, read the Ethernet cable guide if you don’t want to read further, but immediately see which Ethernet cable is best for you.
Twisted pairs or TP refers to how the copper wires inside the Ethernet cable are braided together. Twisted pairs have been the industry standard for many years and are inferior only to optical cables in maximum length and speed drop.
Unshielded Twisted Pairs or UTP Ethernet cables don’t have a protective foil or braided protection against external interference. In this way, the cable is more flexible and cheaper to manufacture. This fabrication method can lead to a drop in signal quality and an increase in cross-link vulnerabilities.
UTP Ethernet cables are most commonly used in offices or at home. The UTP has eight twisted wires that make four pairs. Each wire is dyed a different color and twisted with the other wire to reduce the effects of electromagnetic interference and reduce crosstalk.
Shielded Twisted Pairs or STP are similar to UTP Ethernet cables but contain an additional braided shield, usually made of copper or other conductive polymers.
Each pair of wires is wrapped in foil from electromagnetic interference and faster and better data transfer. Of course, STP cables are more expensive than UTP in this way. Still, the advantage is that they can support higher data rates over longer distances.
Foiled Twisted Pairs or FTP Ethernet cables are similar to UTP but also protected with foil tape, reducing electromagnetic interference and crosstalk and improving connection quality.
What is a “Cat” tag?
Cat 5 network cables are already in decline and can be considered obsolete. They are no longer produced and are slow to use in modern network environments. You can still find these cables in some offices and at home, but skip this Category if you buy a new Ethernet cable.
The “e” suffix in Cat 5e indicates an enhanced version of the Cat 5 standard. You can’t physically see the difference between these cables. Still, the Ethernet cable has a label written on it, so don’t be confused about what cable it is.
The main advantages of Cat 5e over Cat 5 are:
- It’s made according to stricter standards to reduce crosstalking or various interferences that could affect the speed.
- The most common network cable type is low production costs and higher speed than the original Cat 5 standard.
- Cat 5e is ten times the flow rate of Cat 5.
- While Cat 5e uses four, the older Cat 5 standard uses only two pairs of twisted wires for data transmission.
So when choosing an Ethernet cable, let your first choice be the Cat 5e compared to older standards. These Ethernet cables are backward compatible, which means your Cat 5e network will work with Cat 5e as well.
Cat 6 cables have significantly higher bandwidths than older Cat 5 and Cat 5e standards. The cables are much more robust and equipped with foil protection or braid around twisted pairs of copper wires. This shield protects the twisted wires inside the Ethernet cable from various interferences during data transmission. There’s also a plastic core inside the cable, strengthening it and better separating the twisted pairs.
Cat 6 cables support speeds at 10 Gbps but can only do so up to 55m (180 ft) in length. This Ethernet cable type is more expensive than the Cat5 and Cat 5e but will satisfy more demanding home users. If you are choosing between Cat 5e or Cat 6, take a newer standard if you plan to leave a speed reserve for the future.
For example, if you renovate a house or build a new one, you may want to hide in the walls and Ethernet cables. At the time of purchase, the Cat 6 is a more expensive option than the Cat 5, but it will pay off in the long run. However, for everyday needs and data transfer from a computer to a router or switch, get or make Cat 5e network cables.
Cat 6a is an improvement in higher bandwidth compared to Cat 6. The suffix a is an abbreviation of the word augmented. Standard 6a has twice the bandwidth and can maintain higher baud rates over longer Ethernet cable lengths. Specifically, the Cat 6a transmits data at 10 Gbps over a 100m (328 ft) distance instead of 55m (180 ft).
Unlike Cat 5e and Cat 6, Cat 6a cables are always shielded so that the shield eliminates most of all interference during signal transmission. Thanks to the protection, the cables are much stiffer or less flexible than the Cat 6. The application of standards 6a is in professional networks and industrial environments, so you rarely see them in a home network.
Cat 7 Ethernet cables are among the highest quality cables, supporting higher speeds and significantly higher bandwidths than Cat 6. The Cat 7 cable can reach up to 100 Gbps at lengths up to 15 m (49 ft), making it ideal for a connecting router to your computer.
Cat 7 cables are always shielded and insulated because they must meet strict standards to eliminate electromagnetic interference and crosstalk. They use a custom GigaGate 45 connector that is backward compatible with the RJ 45 ports on your router and network card.
Cables are understandably more expensive than any older standard because of how they are made and the stricter standards it has to meet. The Cat 7 is more about reliability and data transfer quality than speed.
I recommend only getting a Cat 7 Ethernet cable if you find it somewhere cheap. Of course, we are not talking about a few Cat 7 patch cables here, but about a larger quantity and length.
These Ethernet cables are visually the same as the Cat 7. Currently, they offer the best you can get from Ethernet cables besides the Cat 8. Few network devices can take full advantage of Cat 7a cables. Although the transfer rate doesn’t differ from Cat 7, Cat 7a cables offer more than a 50% improvement in overall throughput.
This improvement can be helpful in some rare cases and network settings, but the average user has little or no benefit from this standard.
Cat 8 is the latest and greatest you can find on the Ethernet cable market. They aren’t yet widespread, but the demand grows with increasing user demand for as much speed as possible and working with vast amounts of data and file sizes. The Cat 8 Ethernet cable comes as shielded and offers speeds from 25 Gbps (Cat 8.1) to 40 Gbps (Cat 8.2) with a bandwidth of 2000 Mhz.
So Cat 8 continues where Cat 7a left off, offering higher speeds and bandwidth. Over time, we expect it to completely replace the Cat 7 and Cat 7a standards. The price and poor availability of devices supporting this standard can deter you from the Cat 8.
How to choose a suitable Ethernet cable for you?
The first thing we need to determine is some basic things about ethernet technology.
What’s the speed of the internet?
First of all, look at the speed of your home internet. However, don’t be confused by the terms used to speed download files from the internet. We most often use megabits to measure the speed of downloading or loading an Internet connection. In contrast, we use megabytes to measure file size.
The formula 8 bits = 1 Byte is used, which means that a megabyte is eight times larger than a megabit.
Example: 8 megabits = 1 MegaByte (8Mb = 1MB)
Now that we know some basics about internet speed look at the speed of your internet package. So if you have gigabit internet, some old ethernet cable can be a bottleneck for you. However, if you are on a slower connection, for example, 15 Megabits (Mbps), a Cat 5 or Cat 5e cable will suit you.
What is with LAN?
Then it would help if you looked at your local network. Suppose you need to transfer large files or video content from one computer to another or a local NAS. A better and faster Ethernet cable can make a noticeable difference in data transfer speeds. There’s probably a network hub, switch, or router in your local network. Your device likely supports speeds of up to 100 Mbps, which means that a Cat 5 interface Ethernet cable will suffice.
Better home routers, read more expensive, support speeds higher than one Gigabit (Gbps), so in that case, you can consider Cat 6a or better network cables. Not only must your router have declared high transfer speeds, but a network card must also accompany it according to specifications. Therefore, we must attend to the speed of the internet, router, and network card by selecting the appropriate Ethernet cable.
Overall, when we summarize this story, the average home user can undoubtedly be satisfied with Cat 5e or Cat 6 cables.
How to make an Ethernet cable yourself?
To make an Ethernet cable yourself, you must prepare the following (example for Cat 5e Ethernet cable):
1. Desired Ethernet cable category in the roll (500 ft, 1000 ft);
2. RJ-45 connectors;
3. RJ-45 Crimping Tool for Cat6, Cat5, Cat5e;
As you can see, you need to cut the cables to the desired length and prepare the ends to connect them to the RJ-45 connectors.
Steps to make an Ethernet cable
1. Remove the outer Ethernet cable shield with a scalpel or cable removal tool to expose the wires in the cable:
2. Use a crimping tool to cut off the excess wires and straighten them:
3. Arrange the wires according to the standard or order you want.
This order depends on what kind of Ethernet cable you want to make. The arrangement of the wires can be straight or crossed. If you connect, for example, a computer with a router, switch, or hub, it should be a straight layout. You need a cross-wire arrangement if you directly connect two similar devices, say two computers.
Of course, you cannot arbitrarily connect the wires to the connector, but according to two wiring standards: T-568A and T-568B.
T-568A vs. T-568B
Standard T-568A defines the following wire layout in the RJ45 connector:
Standard T-568B defines the next wire layout in the RJ 45 connector:
As you can see, the only difference between these two standards is that orange and green wires have swapped places. It doesn’t matter if you use one or the other standard because they do the same thing. In the USA, for example, the T-568B standard is used more.
3. Once you have selected the wiring standard and prepared the wires, it should look like this before inserting the Ethernet cable into the RJ-45 connector:
3. Gently push the wires into the connector as shown:
4. Push the wires to the end of the connector to feel the resistance and push a little more to make a tight connection:
5. Insert the RJ-45 connector into the crimping tool and squeeze until you hear a sound informing you that the connection is successful:
6. Connect the other end of the Ethernet cable to the RJ-45 connector as described, and you have made a so-called patch cord.
You need to know
The straight Ethernet cable is suitable for connecting your computer to a router or switch. As you can see, a straight Ethernet cable is formed if you wire it on both sides in the same way with one of the T-568A or T-568B standards.
However, a so-called crossover ethernet cable is formed if you wire one end as a T-568A and the other end as a T-568B. A crossover Ethernet cable is suitable, for example, if you want to connect your laptop and PC directly without an intermediary in the form of a switch.
I will mention that there are ready-made patch cables that you can buy without the need to make an Ethernet cable yourself.
The disadvantage is that these cables are generally more expensive, but you get ready-made and factory-tested Ethernet cables. You only choose the Category and length you need.
However, if you have to run cables through walls, holes, or PVC cable channels, the patch cable will not be suitable due to the length or connector that may bother you. In this case, you must make the Ethernet cables yourself as described.
Another important thing you need to know is that there are so-called plenum cables. These cables have special fire-resistant insulation, and we install them in the ceiling or vertical ventilation space in buildings. Ordinary non-plenum cables, in case of fire, create toxic gases that can harm your health.
So before you buy an Ethernet cable, read this guide, and I am sure you will make the right choice. I sincerely hope that this sublimated text was helpful to you and that you will choose the suitable Ethernet cable for yourself. If a cheaper cable can satisfy you, you don’t always have to reach for a Cat 8.
Again, everything also depends on the network devices in your home or office. If the ports are limited to 100 Mbps, you shouldn’t take expensive and fast Ethernet cables like Cat 7 or Cat 8 because you will not see the benefits at higher speeds.
On the other hand, Cat 8 patch cables are an excellent investment if you connect your gaming PC directly to an ISP router with a 2.5 GbE, 5 GbE, or even 10 GbE LAN port.
In the end, if you have any questions or suggestions, leave a comment.