Choosing good Ethernet cables is important in order not to constrain the connection sent by its ISP. Cat 7, Cat 6A, Cat 6, Cat 5E, shielding …: while everything seems simple, many standards exist and purchasing a cable is more complex. So, which Ethernet cable to buy? Find our selection.
After HDMI cables and Lightning cables, we are now analyzing the different Ethernet cables available on the market to help you make an informed choice.
If there is connectivity that we find for years on our devices, it is the RJ45 that has been used since the beginnings of modern computing to connect devices together using the Ethernet protocol. Today, the vast majority of them are used to connect their peripherals to the Internet, often via an ISP’s box-modem (Livebox, Bbox, Box SFR, Freebox, etc.).
The standard has evolved over time. Capable of transmitting data at a rate of 10 Mbit / s, Ethernet can achieve a rate of 40 Gbit / s. Of course, our equipment is not yet able to reach such speeds that are reserved for the moment to the professional world, but it remains essential to invest at least in Gigabit-compatible Ethernet cables to take advantage of an optical fiber without slowing down and being able to access local equipment at full speed.
Now let’s get right to the point: There are two critical factors to consider when buying an Ethernet cable – category and shielding. The first is to certify a rate that the cable is capable of supporting and the second is to protect the cable from electromagnetic disturbances in the environment in which you will use it.
Many categories of Ethernet cables exist, but here are the most recent ones:
- Category 5e: the theoretical maximum rate of 1 Gbit / s
- Category 6: the theoretical maximum rate of 10 Gbit / s
- Category 6A: the theoretical maximum rate of 10 Gbit / s (higher frequency + more extended range)
- Category 7: the theoretical maximum rate of 40 Gbit / s
It is useless to buy a cable that claims CAT 7 today; no RJ45 connector is compatible with this standard.
The shielding is also an essential element and can be divided into two parts: the cable shield: U (unshielded), F (aluminum foil shield) or S (aluminum braided shield) and the protection of the connector: UTP (unshielded), FTP (9-point shielded with grounding) or STP (EMC shielded 360 °). This is an essential element for wall cables or cables exposed to intense electromagnetic disturbances. The majority of the wires found on the market are U / UTP (thus unshielded) but benefit from twisted pairs (TP) which limits the sensitivity to interference and crosstalk.
To summarize, we advise you to turn today to a Cat 6 or 6A Ethernet cable; this allows you to have a solution compatible with all current standards (1 Gbit / s) and future (10 Gbit / s).
We recommend AmazonBasics Ethernet cables that are very cost-effective, especially when purchased per pack. Their significant advantage is to have protection at the pin of the Ethernet cable, which limits the damage it could suffer.