How to decide which Ethernet cable to Use?

Basic ethernet patch cables come in a variety of shapes and sizes. CAT cables come in three varieties: CAT 5e, CAT 6, and CAT 6a. These ethernet cables are classified according to their ends. All of the connectors are RJ45 compatible. Based on their characteristics, the cables have the same features. The Telecommunications Industry Association sets the standard for category cable based on their bandwidths.

We could wow you with some numbers that don’t really mean much to the average person, but in its simplest terms, if you are running a gigabit network, you can run cat 5e or cat6 cable. If you are running a 10 gig network, you will have to use a cat 6a cable.  These CAT cables come in five different versions; Booted, Bootless, Finger or Ferrari Boot, Shielded, and Slim. Now let’s take a closer look at these types of cables. For the Booted version, we carry CAT5e, CAT6, and CAT6A. This version features a strain relief on the end of the cable where the connector is. It also has a pvc boot over the tab on the RJ45 connector.

This cover prevents the cable from being inadvertently disconnected. The boot also protects the clip from being sheared off if the ethernet cable is routed via conduit. We have CAT5e and CAT6 for the Bootless edition. A bootless CAT5e or CAT6 cable is one that only has an RJ45 connector on one end. Some customers like this version if the cable will, for example, be in the server room where there is less likelihood of the cable being touched or moved often. 

We have a new line of Finger boot style connectors for CAT6 cables also known as a Ferrari boot. Some customers prefer this version if say multiple cables are connected to one outlet as the finger boot protects from any tugging. We call it the Ferrari boot as the boot is shaped like a car, specifically a Ferrari. Shielded cables work great when multiple cables are connected close together as the shield prevents any unwanted interference from other cables and can protect the machinery being used for it. These cables have a strain relief and boot. Shielded ethernet cables, in most cases, are not necessary. 

You would only need shielded cables in environments such as factories with large turbines and motors. 110 power lines from your house do not generate enough noise to require shielded cables. CAT6a slim cables use a thinner gauge cable so the overall thickness of the cable is much thinner. It is still just a CAT6a cable.

I have a booted Cat6a cable to show you how much thinner the slim cable is. These cables have a clear strain relief and a plastic tab providing protection against the cable being accidentally disconnected. Now you know how easy it is to determine what type of CAT6 cable you need. Once you have decided which category cable you need, you have options for the kind of ends and colors of the cables.

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