I have a 100mbps ethernet connection setup right now, I was thinking about upgrading, my computers all seem to have gigabit capable network cards in them, my modem/router has one gigabit ethernet port which means I could upgrade to a gigabit capable ethernet router.

But I'm wondering if I need to upgrade my cables or if standard ethernet/cat5/cat5e cables are capable of gigabit connection speeds; and if they are, can they also be used for 10gbps connections? If not, what are the cables I would need for these scenarios called, and would these cables also fit into non-gigabit ethernet ports (i.e. 100mbps ports) without any compatibility issues (besides the reduced bandwidth)?

  • 1
    10 Gb/s isn't SOHO market yet. Still way to expensive and it really doesn't look as if that is going to change anytime soon. High-speed Wifi seems more to be the focus in the consumer market and anyway most consumer-devices simply don't have/need that kind of horse-power, keeping the potential market too small to be of interest to the manufacturers. – Tonny Mar 16 '17 at 10:21

Category-5E cables can run 1000BASE-T, but they cannot run 10GBASE-T. The cables must be installed to the standards: 1000BASE-T requires all four pairs, while 10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX did not, so there are some non-standard patch cables and implementations which claim to be Category-5E, but do not follow the Category-5E standards, and this will only allow the hosts to negotiate 100 Mbps.

All UTP cabling should use standard 8P8C jacks and sockets, but the connectors also have the category ratings, and using connectors from one category with cabling from another category (or any cable part in the link path) only gives you the rating of the lowest category.

Technically, 10GBASE-T should use Category-6A cabling, but most network equipment vendors which support 10GBASE-T support using Category-6 cabling up to 55 meters.

  • BASE-T? In human? – Cestarian Apr 3 '16 at 1:25
  • 4
    @Cestarian, those are the ethernet standards for UTP cabling. The first number is the speed, BASE means baseband, and the T means twisted-pair cable. – Ron Maupin Apr 3 '16 at 1:26
  • Another question comes to mind, would any noticable difference appear in latency or bandwidth between cat5e, cat6 and cat6a over 100m for a gigabit connection? Or would they all perform the same due to the interface limitation? (wondering if the superior cat6 cable would perform better over long distances than cat5e at gigabit speeds) – Cestarian Apr 3 '16 at 1:38
  • 2
    @Cestarian, no. The cable categories are all defined to perform with the corresponding ethernet standards at 100 meters. The one exception being the vendor support for 10GBASE-T on Category-6 cable for up to 55 meters. You gain no benefit from running a higher category of cable than you need, other than, maybe, future-proofing your cable plant. – Ron Maupin Apr 3 '16 at 1:46
  • From experience I know that good quality shielded Cat5E cables will do 10 Gb/s over short distances (upto 20-25 meters) without issue (even though it is not per specifications) , but it highly depends on the NIC and switch-ports. Some devices will notice and will not negotiate 10 Gb/s links and fall back to 1 Gb/s in that case. – Tonny Mar 16 '17 at 10:18

Gigabit requires cat5e, and 10gbps requires cat6 ( and even the cards are extremely expensive, let alone switches ). The cables are backward compatible.

  • Cat. 5 10/100/1000MbE* Category 5 cable is a currently outdated standard that provides support for up to 100Mhz operation. It can be used for 10/100 Ethernet without worry, however for longer runs of 1000MbE it is recomended to use Cat. 5e or higher.

  • Cat. 5e 10/100/1000MbE Category 5e cable provides support for frequencies up to 100Mhz. Cat. 5e generally provides the best price for performance, however for future proofing Cat. 6 or higher might be a better choice as it usually does not cost much more.

  • Cat. 6 10/100/1000MbE 10GbE* Category 6 is defined up to a frequency of 250Mhz. Allowing 10/100/1000 use with up to 100 meter cable length, along with 10GbE over shorter distances.
  • Cat. 6a 10/100/1000MbE 10GbE Cat. 6a or Augmented Category 6 is defined up to 500Mhz. It allows up to 10GbE with a length up to 100m.
  • Cat. 7 10/100/1000MbE 10GbE/100GbE(?) Category 7 is the informal name for "Class F" cabling defined by a different standards body than Cat. 6a and lower. It supports frequencies up to 600Mhz and may support the upcoming 100GbE standard
  • Cat. 7a Unknown Category 7a is an upcoming standard that allows frequencies up to 1000Mhz. Supported Ethernet bandwidths have not been defined.


  • Technically, there is no such thing as Categor-7 or Category-7A cable. ANSI/EIA/TIA defines the cable categories, and it has, so far, refused to recognize those categories. The only currently recognized categories with defined specifications are Category-3, Category-5E, Category-6, and Category-6A. ISO/IEC standards for Class F and above correspond to what you say are Category-7 and Category-7A, but those categories don't exist (snake oil). – Ron Maupin Apr 3 '16 at 1:34
  • Got you, but we do have a articles for supporting that: Source --> en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO/IEC_11801#CAT7 – manjesh23 Apr 3 '16 at 1:37
  • From that link: "Category 7 is not recognized by the TIA/EIA" and "Category 7A is not recognized in TIA/EIA-568." Since cable categories are defined by ANSI/TIA/EIA, there are no such categories today, and ANSI/TIA/EIA stated that it does not plan to create those categories. ISO/IEC Class-F is a standard, and Class-FA is an upcoming standard, but they are not recognized cable categories. – Ron Maupin Apr 3 '16 at 1:41
  • Got you, I am with you. – manjesh23 Apr 3 '16 at 1:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.