How to buy the best Ethernet cable
Ethernet cable buying guide
Knowing how to buy the best Ethernet cable is a useful skill for anyone who uses a computer. The right types of Ethernet cables can enhance your online experience. There are a variety of Ethernet cable sizes and styles to choose from and knowing more about them will help you decide which Ethernet cable to buy. Different Ethernet cable advantages depend on what you're planning to do with the cable, but regardless, Ethernet cables are some of the most important of all the computer cables and connectors.
>> Consider Ethernet cable features and benefits
Decide which Ethernet cable to buy, based on the type of Internet you're using. Each one supports different Internet protocols. The best Ethernet cable for different types of computers varies, too. The three different types of Ethernet cables used in personal networking are CAT3, CAT5 and CAT6 Ethernet cables. Each one, like all computer accessories, has its own functionality and complementary parts.
Types of Ethernet cables
Ethernet cable uses
Internet speed ratings
|CAT3 ||CAT3 Ethernet cables are an old design that isn't used regularly anymore. Unless they're the only Ethernet cable compatible with your device, either a CAT5 or a CAT6 model is the best Ethernet cable to buy. ||CAT3 types of Ethernet cables can support Internet speeds up to 10Mb. |
|CAT5 ||CAT5 Ethernet cables can handle most high-speed Internet connections; CAT5 is compatible with devices designed for CAT3 cables, but purchase CAT5e if compatibility isn't an issue, because these types of Ethernet cables increase reception by blocking interference. ||CAT5 types of Ethernet cables can support up to 100Mpbs Internet speed with a 100 meter cable. CAT5e types of Ethernet cables can support Internet speeds up to 1000Mbps and can have a cord length of 100 meters. |
|CAT6 ||CAT6 Ethernet cables are being recognized as the best type of Ethernet cable for any application. Though they were made for high-speed Internet, they can be used for lower-speed setups, too. Though they support the same speeds as CAT5e, they have a higher megahertz rating than their CAT5e counterparts, measuring 250 MHz compared to 100 MHz CAT5e cables. ||CAT6 types of Ethernet cables be used with Internet speeds up to 10 gigabits and can have a cord length of 90 meters. |
CAT6 cables are the top rated Ethernet cables for home or personal installations at the moment. One thing to consider, however, is that the signal they convey can degrade in quality over long distances because of interference. You can still get very high speeds with the CAT6 Ethernet cables, but stretching one out over a long distance may not give you the highest possible speed.
>> Consider different types of Ethernet cable
Once you've selected the best Ethernet cable for you, learning about different types of Ethernet cables can help you learn how to choose an Ethernet cable for your home. There are two basic types of Ethernet cables: UTP and STP. The best Ethernet cable for most projects at home is UTP Ethernet cable. UTP stands for unshielded twisted pair and it means that the cable isn't shielded from interference. For most projects, that's perfectly fine. Ethernet networking cables that are used in the home aren't usually subject to interference. STP stands for shielded twisted pair; the STP Ethernet cable features interference protection, and it should be used in setups where there are many competing signals. It's much more rigid than UTP cables. Many Ethernet cable brands carry both STP and UTP models. If you're looking for an HDMI cable with Ethernet to share the connection between entertainment devices, the STP or UTP designation won't apply, because you're purchasing an HDMI cable, not a standard Ethernet cable.
>> Choose your Ethernet cable size
Knowing which Ethernet cable to buy requires that you measure the space where the Ethernet cable will be used. The best Ethernet cable for one setup may be a 50' Ethernet cable, while a different setup may require a 30' Ethernet cable. In general, choose the shortest possible cable to successfully connect two devices. A shorter Ethernet cable will give you a better signal than a longer one. When you measure your room to determine the length of Ethernet cable you need, consider cable bundling accessories. They're one of many electronics supplies that can help you organize your computer equipment to keep it from being damaged. If you plan to gather excess length of cord in a cable bundling setup, remember to measure the Ethernet cable dimensions that will be occupied by the bundle. If you have to run the cable through walls, under floors or in other unorthodox places, the best Ethernet cable may be a custom-made one that's the perfect length, so you don't have excess cable between the modem and the connected device.
>> Ethernet cable comparison chart
Another factor in deciding which Ethernet cable to buy is what kind of body the cable itself will have. There are several different types of Ethernet cable covers to choose from; the color of an Ethernet cable doesn't tell you which covering it has, since colors can vary wildly between cover types.
Type of covering
Description and purpose
|PVC ||PVC is the most common covering for Ethernet cables. PVC, when burned, releases toxins in the air and you may only want to use it for short cable setups. |
|Plenum-rated ||Plenum-rated cables are covered with low-smoke types of PVC or other substances that aren't toxic when they're burned. |
|Armored coating ||Ethernet cables with armored coating are designed to keep the cable safe underground or in environments where the Ethernet cable is being abraded by other items regularly. It's not necessary for in-home installations but should possibly be used when using Ethernet cable for construction. |
|Teflon tape ||A Teflon tape cover actually goes between the outer cover and the cables themselves. The tape can act as a second line of defense after the Ethernet cable cover. |
In the end, choose which Ethernet cable to buy, based on the devices you're hooking up, the speed of your Internet connection and the type of installation you're performing. The best Ethernet cable may vary by project, but any cable that provides Internet or phone services to your devices is useful. Keep in mind that UTP PVC cables are the most commonly used ones for connecting a modem to a router or computer in the same room.