Itâ€™s easy to assume all cables for the Internet are created equally. They all mostly come packed with the router youâ€™ve bought or from your internet provider. They all tend to look like plain PVC-covered cables with a cable testing mark of approval. Itâ€™s hard to tell the difference.
But ethernet cables come in a wide range, and some of them might help you speed up the internet at home or office.
Hereâ€™s what you need to know:
Cables have advanced as fast as any other wifi hardware. Theyâ€™re now capable of delivering a lot more information a lot quicker. Cables are now divided into separate categories based on the changing standards. Category 5, for example, is an older version than Category 6. Of course, the cables have to be backwards compatible so you can still use an older cable with a newer router. But the more recent the version, the better it is.
Cat-7 is the latest version as of 2016. The specifications for the Cat 7 regarding cross-talk and system noise are tighter than before.
For most people, the 1 GB per second delivered by the Cat-5e cable is more than enough. Itâ€™s fast enough to handle Internet browsing and video streaming at home. Most likely the Internet provided by your Internet provider is slower than 1 GB/s.
Upgrading makes sense, however, if you transfer heavy files between units on a local network. So if you have a lot of computers hooked up to one another on a LAN network at work, a better cable is necessary.
Of course to see the difference youâ€™ll have to ensure all the other hardware is up-to-date as well. This includes your router and ethernet-enabled devices.
How to tell the difference?
As you know going for the latest cables only helps if you transfer a lot of data on a LAN network and need those transfers to go faster. If you decide you need these cables, you can probably check the body to see the version number printed on it. Every version since Cat-5 has the version number printed over the PVC body of the wire.
Cat-6 cables are also slightly thicker, so thatâ€™s another way to tell them apart. There are other minor physical differences as well – shielded / unshielded and solid / stranded. If you want to get really technical and pick out the best cables for a high-tech industrial operation, check this guide to see what fits best. Thereâ€™s also ways to customize the cable as per requirements.
For regular, home Internet, cables really wonâ€™t make much of a difference. Boosting speed at home is more about getting a better Internet package, looking for the best Internet service provider and upgrading your software. But enterprise clients may value every minor upgrade they can get to make their operations run faster. Upgrading the ethernet cable is a minor but useful way to make data transfers faster at work.