Difference Between CAT 5E and CAT 6

The main difference between CAT 5E AND CAT 6 is that the maximum speed of CAT 5E is 1Gbps while maximum speed of CAT 6 is 10Gbps. Further, the operating frequency range of CAT 5E is up to 100MHz while that of CAT 6 is up to 250MHz.

There are many devices in a network, and these devices exchange data among each other. However, it is necessary to have a transmission media for proper data transmission. There are various types of media for networking. Twittered Pair Cable, coaxial cable, and fiber optic cable are some of these. CAT3, CAT 5, CAT 5E and CAT6 are twisted pair cables.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is CAT 5E
     – Features and Functionality
2. What is CAT 6
     – Features and Functionality
3. Difference Between CAT 5E and CAT 6
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Cabling, CAT 5E, CAT6, Data TransmissionDifference Between CAT 5E and CAT 6 - Comparison Summary

What is CAT 5E

The standard CAT 5 (category 5) is used as a path cable. CAT 5E is similar to CAT 5. The E denotes enhanced version. It provides a maximum speed of 1000 Megabits per second. Furthermore, it operates up to 100MHz frequency and supports 1GBASE-T or 1 Gigabit Ethernet.

One issue in data transmission is the crosstalk. It creates an unexpected effect in another circuit or channel due to the signal transmitted on one circuit or a channel. CAT 5E minimizes crosstalk than standard CAT 5. In brief, it is an improved cabling, which better than category 5 (CAT 5) cable.

What is CAT 6

CAT 6 is a very sophisticated cable. It consists of 4 pairs of twisted pair cable wires. Most importantly, provides faster data transmission and minimum crosstalk. It also has a high bandwidth and can operate up to a frequency of 250MHz and supports 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Usually, these cables are thicker than CAT 5E cables.

Difference Between CAT 5E and CAT 6_Figure 1

Overall, CAT 6 is a good option for new systems that require changes in future because they are compatible with already installed CAT 5 and CAT 5E. However, it is expensive than CAT 5E.

Difference Between CAT 5E and CAT 6


CAT 5E: An enhanced category 5 twisted pair cable for data transmission

CAT 6: A standardized twisted pair cable for Ethernet that is backward compatible with CAT 5, CAT 5E cable standards


CAT 5E: Category 5 enhanced cable

CAT 6: Category 6 cable


CAT 5E: Operates up to 100MHz

CAT 6:  Operates up to 250MHz

Maximum Speed

CAT 5E: 1000Mbps or 1Gbps

CAT 6: 10Gbps

Supported Ethernet

CAT 5E: Supports 1GBASE-T or 1 Gigabit Ethernet

CAT 6: Supports 10GBASE-T or 10 Gigabit Ethernet

Backward Compatibility

CAT 5E: Not backward compatible with CAT 6 but compatible with CAT 5

CAT 6: Backward compatible with CAT 5E, CAT 5


CAT 5E: Has minimum crosstalk but it is more than CAT 6

CAT 6: Has very low crosstalk


CAT 5E: Less expensive than CAT 6

CAT 6: More expensive than CAT 5E


The difference between CAT 5E and CAT 6 is that the maximum speed of CAT 5E is 1Gbps while maximum speed of CAT 6 is 10Gbps. Even though CAT6 is more sophisticated than CAT 5E, it is expensive than CAT 5E. Therefore, if it is necessary to expand the network in a cost-effective manner, CAT 5E is a better option.

Image Courtesy:

1.”CAT6 twisted pair” By Agott – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lithmee

Lithmee holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Systems Engineering and is reading for her Master’s degree in Computer Science. She is passionate about sharing her knowldge in the areas of programming, data science, and computer systems.

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