Slow internet access, freezing video conferences and other network issues are often thought to be caused by slow network speed. However, what is the cause of the slow network? Is it the router’s fault? or broadband is not powerful? Or, you may just not be using the correct network cable. In the network signal transmission link, the network cable is the most easily overlooked link. However, the network cable is a bridge connecting various devices. If the network cable is not selected correctly, it will also affect the network data transmission speed of the devices at both ends. For example, the router is 1000 Mbps and the broadband is 500 Mbps. If the network cable used is 100Mbps, the final network speed is only 100Mbps.
Network Cable Classes
At present, network cables on the market are mainly divided into five categories.
- Category 5
- Category 6
- Category 7
- Category 8
Category 5 and earlier cables are gradually leaving the markets. This is due to their low data transmission rates. Their transmission rates cannot meet the requirements of home broadband.
There is a CAT.5E mark on the outside of the cable. The maximum transmission frequency of these cables is 100 MHz. It can achieve the transmission rate of 1000Mbps within 100 meters and is suitable for Gigabit networks. Super CAT5 cable is CAT.5E
There is a CAT.6 mark on the outside of the network cable. The maximum transmission frequency is 250 MHz, which can reach the transmission rate of 1000 Mbps within 100 meters. It is also suitable for Gigabit networks. To further reduce crosstalk, most Category 6 cables add a cross-isolating backbone. Compared to Category 5e, the core diameter of Category 6 wire is larger. It has stable transmission, the distance is longer, and the performance is better. Qualified Category 6 cables can support 10 Gigabit networks within 55 meters.
There is also a cable with the CAT.6A mark on the outside of the cable. The maximum transmission frequency is 500 MHz, and the maximum transmission rate within 100 meters can reach 10 Gbps. It supports up to 10 Gigabit networks. CAT6 super network cable is CAT.6A. As for some network cables marked CAT.6E, they do not belong to the category of standard network cables. Transmission performance cannot be guaranteed.
There is a CAT.7 mark on the outside of the network cable. The maximum transmission frequency is 600 MHz. In addition, the maximum transmission rate within 100 meters can reach 10 Gbps. These cables also support up to 10 Gigabit networks. Category 7 cables have started to apply double shielding. This can better combat signal attenuation and crosstalk.
There is a CAT.8 mark on the outside of the network cable, 2000MHz ultra-high bandwidth, and the maximum transmission rate can reach 40Gbps, but it is limited to a transmission distance of 30 meters, it is therefore generally used for short remote connections of servers, switches, patch panels and other equipment.
Cable shield type
The types of network cables mentioned above are all twisted pairs. They are formed by a pair of insulated conductors wound counterclockwise. This way of wrapping can reduce signal interference. The denser the wires are wound, the stronger the anti-interference ability. In order to further strengthen the anti-interference ability, some network cables will also increase the shielding layer. There are two types of cables depending on the shielding layer. There is shielded twisted pair (STP) and unshielded twisted pair (UTP).
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Shielded Twisted Pair (STP)
The shielded twisted pair adds one or more layers of metal shielding in the insulating sheath. Metal shield layer can reduce radiation and anti-interference. It shields the electromagnetic signal from the outside world. However, it also blocks electromagnetic leakage from the cable itself. Therefore, the transmission quality of the twisted pair signal with the shielding layer is superior. Moreover, it also has a good privacy performance. However, the price of shielded cables is higher and the installation process is more complicated.
The double shielding mentioned above means that each pair of cores has an independent layer of shielding. The outer layers share one or more layers of shielding. As shown in the figure above, each pair of lead wires has an aluminum foil shield layer. This reduces signal attenuation and crosstalk. The outer layer also has a layer of braided metal shielding. This can reduce interference from external magnetic fields and signals. It can also increase the pulling force of the cable.
Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP)
The unshielded twisted pair is only wrapped by a layer of insulating rubber jacket. It has no metallic shield material. It is characterized by a light and small wire diameter. This cable is also easy to bend, has flexible networking, and is relatively inexpensive.
How to choose a home network cable
Choosing a network cable is not as difficult as many people think. Simply put, the higher the cable level, the better the cable. Also, the higher the level, the larger the diameter of the core and other components (armor layer, crossbar, etc.). This, the higher the cable level, the better the performance and of course, the higher the price.
So when choosing cables, should you buy the most expensive ones?
If a shielded network cable is used, it can only play a positive role if both ends of the network cable are properly grounded. This requires network equipment and crystal heads, patch panels, ports, etc. on the line can be buried. The cable construction should also have a good grounding system. The shielded wire can also shield the interference well and ensure the transmission performance. If the grounding is incorrect, the shielding layer may introduce interference. This could become the biggest source of interference in the transmission line itself.
Category 7 and Category 8 ultra-high-speed transmission network cables use double shielding. The overall diameter of the wire is relatively thick and the cable is very stiff. It is not easy to bend the cable and the cost is high. However, there is no complex strong interference in the home environment. However, if you need to bend the wire, avoid Category 7 and Category 8 cables. It is important to note that for short distance transmission, Category 5 cable is sufficient. If you want higher speed and longer stable transmission distance, you can choose Category 6 or Category 6e unshielded cable.
For home use, unshielded Category 5e, Category 6, or Category 6e cables are sufficient. If shielded cables are used, grounding issues for each device and port must be properly addressed. Also choose branded network cables sold through official channels. A network cable purchased from a roadside store may not even have an official logo. Thus, there is no guarantee on the quality of the cable.