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Cat 5e vs Cat 6 vs Cat 7

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January 31, 2012 8:47:17 AM

I run a network of about 4 computers and an XBox and I was wondering what type of cables would be adequate for me..

I know that Cat5e runs 100Mhz and Cat 6 runs 250Mhz but what is the real difference other than that.

I currently have a 30MB/s Down and a 1MB/s Up from Time Warner Cable, but I plan on getting AT&T U-Verse which is the equivalent to Verizon Fios.

My Router: http://support.netgear.com/app/products/model/a_id/1259...

I currently have a mix of Cat5e and Cat6 in my connection, the Cat6 belonging to me and the Cat5e belonging to the other users in the network.

I like to future proof my self as much as possible so if getting Cat 7 suffices me enough then I'll get it.

Please give as much feedback as possible, thanks :) 

P.S. I am glad I joined the forums <3 U TH!

-SMOR3S

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January 31, 2012 11:32:40 AM

As far as I know, your router only has 10/100Mbit ports. Cat5e or higher is fine. As far as I know, the only difference in cables is the shielding on them. They are all 4 pairs of wires. 10/100 only uses 2 pair. Gigabit uses all 4 pairs. I think cat6 will be the most you will ever need for a home network.
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January 31, 2012 11:34:44 AM

100mhz and 250mhz??? where are you getting these numbers from?

Standard rates in terms of mhz is 5mhz-33mhz... pci-e certainly would be higher. 133-200+ but even still i think most ethernet devices of the 100Mbit range only produce clock speeds of 33mhz at the wire. So an xbox or ps3 using a pci interface would be here...and a cat5e would be more then suitable?? Particular with the stock hardware not being able to be set higher then 10mbits??

I currently don't have a solid understanding of how an ethernet device can produce 100-250mhz signal in a wire...there are several article citeing capabilities of the wires. But don't mention how an ethernet device produces a signal outside of it's clock speeds...Or how this effects bandwidth or data transmission. It doesn't sound like they are descibeing the speed of the data, but more the resistance and it's ability to produce EMI. And the wire's ability to handle this without problems???

http://www.belden.com/pdfs/techpprs/What_is_Category_6_...

This article goes more in depth, the physical differences and capabilities of each wire.

I currently use a cat 6 24 awg. Because i intend to upgrade to a 1gig network. I believe using these on a 100mbit network leaves one or 2 wires un-used...but is still compatable with previous wire sets. The router and ethernet devices also detect what wire is used, and sets it's bandwidth appropriately. Those unused wire in theory help prevent crosstalk and lost information due to attenuation? Or emI produced by the signals sent and recieved in the wires.

cat7 may not be compatable??

Also some routers network balanceing, will downgrade bandwidth when lesser wire sets are used on the same network. You can check this in your routers status when the other devices are in use. You may see connections that you set for 100 at the pc, but when you check the router it's set them for 10. This may not be true for all routers. also cat5e is 100Mbit compatable where cat5 is not.

So, i don't think you would see any gains past cat 6....???
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January 31, 2012 11:38:54 AM

Cat6 is the most you'll need for a very very long time. Cat5 can support gig speeds over short distances, but you need cat6 for the full 100m.

Minor correction, you have 30Mb down and 1Mb up. The case on the "b" is important.

"b" = bits
"B" = bytes = 8 bits
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January 31, 2012 11:42:29 AM

ewwww adaptive link speeds even at the WAN, where you connect your service line...

http://www.routers-review.com/netgear-wireless-router-w...

So even with cat-6, it may throttle back, and throttle up whenever it likes, this would create pauses and disconnects. Lag in fps...low framerates in videos and media...ugh. It would never reach full capability for sustained periods of time.

hawkeye:

half-duplex uses 2 wires, full duplex uses four...?? i thought.
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January 31, 2012 11:03:25 PM

pazsion said:
100mhz and 250mhz??? where are you getting these numbers from?


That's the frequencies the network cables are rated for, not the PCI slot.
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February 3, 2012 6:18:15 AM

This would suggest that. but in reality you'd only be seeing the data as fast as the system can present it to you. So it is a factor.

So how does the signal get high enough for this to be needed? We are discussing the speed of the electical pulses that carry data on a copper line...How do we figure out what that is? So we can decide what we need? And what we desire.

Does modifying this rate of transfer make the signal un usable at the other end?

I would think you could attain almost any speed of transfer rate for a period of time...what limits this?



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February 3, 2012 8:50:27 AM

Still having trouble finding a document that clears up the confusion....But this is leading up to why i use a wifi connection and paired ethernet devices.

Wifi - gsends it's signal out at 2.4ghz... relaying between the pc and the router 240million times a second. ?

ethernet has a maximum of 200mhz...at the NIC...as far as i have been reading the 100Mb NICs are governed by fcc rules to do this. And no more. regardless of what wire is used. 1gb-10gb can be up to 2.2mhz on the same copper wires.

communicateing over 1 pair of wires at 200mhz means the pc talks to the router and the rest of the WAN 2million? times per second. At any givven point in full duplex 4 wires are used, asyncronously...effectively creating a 200mhzx 4 = 800mhz = 250?MBps mathmetical (theory) matrix. Bridgeing or bonding 2 ethernet devices- each wire is 4 bits of data? x 8 wires...equivilanet to 512MBps? Most NICs use the pci bus...which only moves data at 133MB/s unless it's a 64bit card on a pcix bus
OR works at 66mhz...pci bus side.

How do we only get 30Mbps? When hardware supports much more?

this leads me to believe that wifi would be faster. And so far it has reduced ping times in my trials. As well as adding additional pathways it could use if ethernet is lost. windows does not use both at the same time. Linux will. Not sure why microsoft dropped the ball on this.

If 2,4ghz is a single pathway, i'm assumeing 4bits long...would equal 960Mbps??

But most of these devices use USB, it's clock is usually 48mhz...which then goes to the pci-bus clock of 33mhz x 48mhz = 1.5ghz this is a 32bit? interface however...
1584x32 = 50688 or 50Mbps at the interface. x4 at the FSB for 200Mbps...Newer multicore systems would increase this...so would usb3.0.

why is it giveing us 54Mbps?

Then there is voltage, watts and resistance of the entire pathway to the cpu....from cat-5 or 6 wire. The best way to demonstrate this factor is fans...12v fans will be faster then 5 v fans...watts is like the Horsepower of the fan. Or density/volume of data. These NICs and usb both work at 5v and maybe 600mw @ 200mhz?? o.0
How do i put that in terms of Mbps xD

coincidentally most NPU's (the cpu for nics and routers) for 100Mbps networks...is about 250mhz....i'm guessing it works with 4bit pathways? =1000Mbps- if it's 32-bits then it has a 8000Mbps capability...

A nic's and routers ability to compute network data and the effect it has on the final speeds...I am unsure how to factor this in...Most believe it only effects ping...but their incite is also limited by what kind of actual testing was done. I don't yet see enough evidence to discredit overclocking the npu...Or give a clear demonstration of how it processes the data, and how this effects network speeds that we see...
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Anonymous
May 25, 2012 5:54:43 AM

Hi there guys. You seem to be getting all confused about frequencies, cabling bandwidth and system clock speeds.

1. The fundamental frequency of the data transmission down your cable is not the same as the bandwidth. This is just the main frequency of the signal being sent out down the cable.

2. The fundamental frequency of the transmission has nothing to do with the spec of your pc bus frequencies such as PCI or USB frequencies. The networking card will generate whatever frequencies it needs, either by its own oscillators or clock multipliers.

3. The data rate is a function of the data link layer protocol that is in use. All of these protocols you've been talking about have a symbol rate of 125MHz. Where they vary is the number of bits per symbol, or essentially how many possible levels there are on each cable pair multiplied by the number of pairs. On 100baseTX you have one pair used in each direction (only two out of the four pairs are actually connected), and only two data levels per symbol (0 or 1) which means you've got 125Mbit/sec. Lastly the protocol uses 4B5B encoding which actually sends 5 symbols for every 4 data useful data symbols. Part of this is to make sure that the system can't ever send a long sequence of zeros which would have no level transitions for the receiver to synchronise to. End result: symbols are being sent at 125Mbit/sec, but the useable data rate is 100Mbit/sec, and the fundamental frequency (i.e. the highest spike you'd get on a spectrum analyser is 31.25Mbit/sec.

When you go to 1000baseT, you have 5 possible levels, and now you use all 4 pairs in both directions simultaneously. Overall, you get 1000Mbit/sec, but the fundamental frequency of the data is the same as 100baseTX.

4. Twisted pair cables are always used in pairs for high frequencies like ethernet. It is a differential signal. None of this 'one signal per conductor' nonsense.

6. The bandwidth of your cable is the maximum frequency that can get down the cable, and yes, this is a function of the physical construction of the cable. There will be capacitance and inductance in the cable itself which all end up acting like a low pass filter, which means that any components of a signal above a certain frequency start to get 'attenuated' (i.e. reduced), down the wire. If your cable has a bandwidth figure given, this will probably be the 3bB frequency, i.e. when the signals have dropped to half their maximum level. Frequencies above this will only be worse.

7. So far I've just been talking about the data link layer. By the time you add the other layers of the protocol (session, transport, network), plus the wait time that the data link layer has after sending each frame, plus any error retransmissions you start eating into your 100Mbit/sec, meaning the final data throughput you can get drops down to well below 100Mbit/sec.

6. The Cat5/6/7 of the cable is a specification of the cable construction. I don't know the detais, but this covers things like inductance, capacitance, characteristic impedance, resistance, twist rates, bend radius and shielding. These affect the bandwidth and also the noise rejection and crosstalk between conductors. The more noise gets onto your signal, the more likely you are to have a bit error, and therefore require a retransmission, slowing things down. Clearly a system with 5 possible signal levels, and 4 pairs all transmitting at the same time (1000baseT) is much more vulnerable to crosstalk and noise. Ultimately this means that the higher Cat cables (e.g. cat 7 with individual screens) have better signal to noise ratios, and work the best in high noise environments such as offices where you have possibly thousands of cables running in close proximity. You will get the lowest error rates with these cables, but perhaps more importantly, you have the future potential to use even faster network protocols that may exist in the future.

7. The voltage / watts / resistance thing has nothing to do with data frequencies, you can't do a conversion. Fan speed is not necessarily related to voltage btw, but you are right that wattage is like the horsepower.

8. Wifi will almost certainly always be slower than 100baseTX. You have more overheads, and more errors, plus multiple devices using the same channel on wifi.

9. I always see slower data rates on wifi, something like 10-20% of the speed I get on 100baseTX ethernet.

10. The centre frequency of the wifi standard (2.GHz), has nothing to do with the data rate. Actually this is governed by how many Hz either side of of the channel frequency that the data is allowed to use, this actually *is* a legitamate use of the phrase 'band' 'width'. You can get an idea of the bandwidth by looking at the wifi channel frequency spacings. 802.11g wifi uses 54Mbit/sec.

11. Ping times are a function of network propogation delay (i.e. the speed of light time that it takes your data to get down the wire), number of nodes between you and the destination (hint try typing 'tracert google.com' at a command prompt, to get an idea of how many hops there are), and the computing time required at each node to process the data. Forget overclocking your network card, all you will do is break it.

12. Minor correction. If you mean Mega Hertz, please use MHz, not mHz or mhz. Milli Herts is much much slower!

More info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_7_cable
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100BASE-TX#100BASE-TX

In answer to the first post, cat 5e is fine for you now on your small network. You may want to go for something higher if you are thinking much longer term (e.g. 10-20 years), when we might be all streaming 4k 3D TV at 120fps! But it's a gamble not a safe bet!
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November 19, 2012 6:23:31 PM

to dumb this down even further:

e.g... u have a 20 port switch & that switch is connected via a cat5e to ur gateway (router) & u have another 20 port switch and this switch is connected via a Cat6 cable to the gateway in this instance the cat6 cable will perform much much better than the cat5e cable, because with the cat6 cable u have more bandwidth!

if u were to wire a single computer directly to a router with either a cat5e or cat6 cable it will not make a bit of difference, it will never slow u down unless the router is maxed to it maximum throughput.

the only time the cable will actually make a difference is you have several devices pushing the data through a single cable. as pointed out in the example, 20 switch port connected to a router/gateway.


enjoy :)  happy to have helped lol
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November 19, 2012 10:06:14 PM

xZEDx said:
to dumb this down even further:

e.g... u have a 20 port switch & that switch is connected via a cat5e to ur gateway (router) & u have another 20 port switch and this switch is connected via a Cat6 cable to the gateway in this instance the cat6 cable will perform much much better than the cat5e cable, because with the cat6 cable u have more bandwidth!

if u were to wire a single computer directly to a router with either a cat5e or cat6 cable it will not make a bit of difference, it will never slow u down unless the router is maxed to it maximum throughput.

the only time the cable will actually make a difference is you have several devices pushing the data through a single cable. as pointed out in the example, 20 switch port connected to a router/gateway.


enjoy :)  happy to have helped lol


All a bunch of garbage....

Cat 5e and cat6 are both rated to 1G. Even though in some magic theory cat6 can go say 5g it does not matter in the least. The port can only go 1G so it will not go any faster no matter what cable you use and no matter what traffic flows over the cable. You are always restricted to the slowest component in the path which in this case is the port. The only way you can use cat6 to get more speed that cat5e is to run on a 10G port... it is the port that makes the difference. And cat6 can only run 10g at very very short distance you must use cat6a or cat7 for longer.
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December 3, 2012 9:20:50 AM

To the, just above this, post.
Quote:
All a bunch of garbage....
+1 for you, like the old adage says, "the chain is only as strong as the weakest link." or in this case the electronics and the slowest.

Let me paint a picture (not literally).
1. If I were to have 50Mbps Cable Internet and have up to 5 things (comps, phones, games) running to the router (or modem/router) all within say 25 feet of the "Gateway." What would be best used?

2. If I were to have 50Mbps Cable Internet and have up to 15 things (comps, phones, games) running to the router (or modem/router) all within say 150 feet of the "Gateway." What would be best used? (8 unit apartment, more likely to use a wireless router but lets just say all wired for the heck of it)

3. If I were to have 50Mbps Cable Internet and have up to 5 things (comps, phones, games) running to the router (or modem/router) 4 within 25 feet, 1 within 150 feet of the "Gateway." What would be best used?

I'm just asking what would be best used, not what is acceptable.

On another note, the person who questioned the 100-250MHz and said it can only be 1-33MHz, try reading up on Wikipedia, there are links above (BTW, Cat7 is apparently, actually called Class F?) that someone posted, and the 100, 250, 500, etc are real.
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December 3, 2012 11:02:17 AM

Not sure how your example has anything to do with cable types.

The type of cable and the length of the cable make no difference. It works or it does not. If we assume each end device has a 1gig port. All data is sent between the device and the gateway at 1gig/sec. Assuming modern equipment all ports on the router can run at full gig speed at the same time. So now you could in theory have 5gigbit/sec of traffic coming into the router. Now what the router does when it is trying to send this out a 50m cable pipe depends on how much memory the router has. It does its very best to hold the traffic it received in memory with the theory that the sender(s) only send data at 1g/sec for a very short period of time and will stop before the router runs out of memory.

This is all related to queuing methods and burst rates. The length and type of cable make no difference. It will work exactly the same no matter what type of cable you buy its not like the cable can magically create memory chips in the router.
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December 5, 2012 2:40:17 AM

OKOKOK I understand now. My brother-in-law explained it to me.

Basically Cat 5e is all you will EVER need (I have one cat 5 that says 350MHz and one cat 5e that doesn't have a MHz rating).
The weakest link in you setup will almost always be the internet level you have, I just ordered the 6Mbps from Comcast, They also have higher but it costs more.
He also said that in my situation of 6Mbps and 2 devices hooked up that even Cat 3 would be ok but good luck finding it (BTW Amazon has Cat 7 for less than $10).
On that note, he went further by saying that regular Cat 5 is hard to find, everything is Cat 5e now, and the only real difference between them is 5 is up to 25 feet, more and 5e is required though 5 can do it but you have to be cautious.
5e and 6 are rated to handle 100Mbps and up to 100Meters (or about 300 feet) so there's no real need for 6.

So in conclusion, your cat 6 is not really even required, lets say for instance you have your 30Mbps and 5 items on the router
30/5 is 6, everyone (regardless of cat 5 or 6) will be able to download at the EXACT same time 6Mbps.
The only way to get faster internet for yourself it to go into the router and limit the other people and keep yourself unlimited.
On that note IF you were to use cat 7, the only reason would be if you get the 1000 in a 10/100/1000 connection and if I'm right, that's T1 connection.
so in conclusion, you are Future Safe with Cat 5e, but Cat 6 wont hurt...

BTW my Brother-in-law runs his own server and has only Cat 5e running throughout the house with 100Mbps Comcast internet and has no intentions of upgrading to Cat 6 cause there is no need. He has 5 computers hardwired with 2 access points and 4 or so wireless devices all hooked up to the server.

Personally, IF I were to upgrade the wires in your place, I would go to Amazon and search for Cat 5e, Cat 6 and Cat 7(7a?) and buy them on the cheap there, then run all 3 all over that way everyone has a choice :) 

I forgot to add, he said the ONLY way the Cat5e and 6 would be the choking point (weakest link) is if you have that 1000Mbps internet and are only running up to 9 items on each Cat 5e or 6 and thus would be necessary to upgrade to the Cat 7
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December 24, 2012 3:57:23 AM

I'll add my two cents, & leave it at that. Newegg had a great sale on CAT6 & 7 ethernet cables & 20% off w/discount code. I wasn't getting the speed that I'm paying for & was told by my own ISP that the quality & type of ethernet cabling does make a difference.

All of my cables were mismatched, from the one that my ISP provided to the ones supplied with my wireless router, VOIP device (NetTalkDuo) & my computer connections.

First, I bought (2) 3 feet CAT7 cables to attach my cable modem to my wireless router & VOIP device from the 1st port of it. (these are thick shielded industrial cables). Then I bought (2) 7 feet CAT6 & one 14 feet CAT6 for my 3 computers. The other is connected via wi-fi.

I chose CAT7 cables for the wireless router & VOIP device, being they were the most critical. The better the connection to the router, the better for all. And I felt it best for the VOIP device also. The rest, CAT6 will serve me for years to come.

The difference: Although my upload speeds remained the same, my download speeds jumped from slightly over 9 Mbps to almost 16 Mbps. These speeds have been consistent since installing them (almost a month now). And though my upload speeds (critical to VOIP performance) didn't improve, the call quality certainly did. No more weird noises, call clarity was greatly improved & no more "dropped" calls on my end.

All of those cables were of the Rosewill brand & were of top notch quality. I researched the good & bad ones through ratings, & skipped over those with overly tight connections & bad overall ratings.

After all discounts were applied, I paid less than $15 for all 5 cables. And glad that I did.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

These cables cost more now, but I'd buy them again & recommend them to anyone. Rosewill stands behind what they sell. I had no idea that they were on sale & would have paid the full price for them.

Cat
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January 2, 2013 4:23:51 PM

john-b691 said:
Not sure how your example has anything to do with cable types.

The type of cable and the length of the cable make no difference. It works or it does not. If we assume each end device has a 1gig port. All data is sent between the device and the gateway at 1gig/sec. Assuming modern equipment all ports on the router can run at full gig speed at the same time. So now you could in theory have 5gigbit/sec of traffic coming into the router. Now what the router does when it is trying to send this out a 50m cable pipe depends on how much memory the router has. It does its very best to hold the traffic it received in memory with the theory that the sender(s) only send data at 1g/sec for a very short period of time and will stop before the router runs out of memory.

This is all related to queuing methods and burst rates. The length and type of cable make no difference. It will work exactly the same no matter what type of cable you buy its not like the cable can magically create memory chips in the router.



This is simply not true. If you put Cat 5 cable between two gig-e devices, you (by the spec) will only be able to have 100mbit. If you want gigabit, you (by the spec) must go to Cat5e. The reason is that gig-e is much more sensitive to interference, and Cat 5e uses more twists per length and other factors (i think heavier wire) to reduce interference. CAT 6, likewise, further reduces interference and is actually capable of 10-gig on very short runs, because its connectors are offset and it uses heavier gauge copper, and I believe additional twists in the wire.

You certainly are welcome to try to run gigabit over cat5 wire, but if your devices even manage to negotiate gigabit speeds (which I do not think they will), you will at best have large numbers of errors on the line.'

Length also certainly does play a role-- the longer the line, the more errors are introduced by interference and crosstalk. This is why Cat-whatever lines are rated for a certain speed up to 100m-- after 100m, the signal degrades too much (you can lengthen your run by inserting switches along the way, which serves to boost the signal and prevent errors from being significant enough to cause packet loss). With Cat 6 and (I believe) cat 5e, you can actually get 10gig rates over very short distances.

"It works or it does not" is only vaguely true from a high level view. If your cable is not up to the speeds you are using it for, you will get "unexplainable" slowness caused by packet loss. We have had clients ask us to rerun cables because they were using Cat5e which is unshielded, and their cables were run through a machine shop which generated huge amounts of EM noise.

All of that said, basically everyone is fine getting Cat5e and its certainly easier to work with, but if you really want to be future-proof you can get Cat 6 or Cat 6a pretty cheap, and even Cat 7 prices are starting to come down. Ive also noticed that Cat6 tends to be more durable, partly because it uses thicker copper and usually thicker sheathing, as well as a plastic core which can help keep the line from being shredded.

And to be clear, for most users here, there really wont be a difference, because basically noone will be able to see speeds higher than 100mbit on a home network, nor will they have significant noise in their home, nor will they be running a line anywhere close to 100meters. Most of this stuff is irrelevant unless you get into business situations where gigabit and / or longer runs become useful.
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March 3, 2013 11:33:48 PM

I run gigabit in my house just fine on cat5. Some of the cables I've terminated myself. The longest run are not 100m, but prob around 50-60m. I've even run two connections over a single cat5 by separating the four pairs at each end (no I didn't have dropouts, collisions, or any other problems over this fairly long run).

Like many things spec wise, newer network technology is generally evolving based on enterprise needs. In our IT department, we use fiber for long runs throughout the building to interconnect MDFs and IDFs. At home you just don't have the interference you have in a commercial building.

Quote:
You certainly are welcome to try to run gigabit over cat5 wire, but if your devices even manage to negotiate gigabit speeds (which I do not think they will), you will at best have large numbers of errors on the line.'


Not to single you out, but your the last poster and your wording tells me you are guessing, which means you probably don't know what you are talking about, like most of the posters here on this topic.

The level of misunderstanding and misinformation here in mind boggling. You gotta love all the internet "experts" out there. :pt1cable: 

I don't think it is possible to "Dumb this down even further." I hope someone see the humor in that.
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March 13, 2013 5:11:12 PM

Ok...

I will start with I am a network engineer so it is my job to understand how this stuff works. And the guys and I at work have been having a huge laugh about this thread since I found it yesterday.

The answer to the original question of running 4 computers and an xbox and what is adequate for you given you have a 30mbps cable connections.... depends if you want gigabit or not. If you do then cat5e is the minimum you should use. If you want 100mbps it doesn't matter anything from cat5 up will do 100mbps.

When I say if you want 1gbps or 100mbps this means internally to your network only. It does not matter what you do inside your house you will never get more than 30mbps out to the internet if you have a 30mbps cable connection.

Now for all the comments on this thread OMG seriously? I dont even know where to start with explaining how so much of what has been said is totally wrong and honestly I couldnt follow most of it because it jumped from topic to topic all of which are completely unrelated. So I am just going to go through each post and explain whats wrong with what you said hoping that you learn something from me. This is not meant in anyway to be derogatory but more so to assist in you learning how things actually work.

There was one person that posted who actually knew what he was talking about and not one of you bothered to listen to anything he had to say and continued to follow your path of absolute hilarity.

1. (Hawkeye22) You are correct if you only have 10/100mbps then cat5e is just fine. You can also use cat5 for this but no one uses cat 5 because there is no point 5e is cheaper, better and easier to find. There are 2 pairs used on 10/100mbps and you can use the additional 2 pairs either for POE, A secondary analogue phone connection or you can use a splitter to split the wiring up on both sides and use the additional 2 pairs to get a second 10/100 mbps over the one cable. (http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=YT6090). 1000mbps (1gbps) does indeed use all 4 pairs but you can still run POE over gbps networks but you cannot split them to get a second phone service or a second network link over the cable as there are no spare pairs.

2. (pazsion)

This is where the hilarity starts. You are implying that the frequency range on the cable somehow ties to and represents the speed of data the cable is capable of. This is so far from correct its not funny.

the 100/250/600mhz specifications mearly represents the frequency rating of the signal being sent down the cable and what the cable is capable of accepting while staying within the attenuation and signal degridation of the specifications of the cable.

This has absolutely nothing I repeat NOTHING to do with the PCI bus, USB, FSB, or CPU frequencies or speeds in your PC What so ever. They are used for totally different measurements and have no correlation at all between them. Trying to compare these measurements into speed on the cable is like attempting to find out the fuel economy of your car car by riding your horse.

But if you want to compare speeds here what you can do is say well my PCI bus has a maximum rate of 133MB/s (based on a 33Mhz bus speed and a 32bit card.) And a 10/100 network card will acheive a maximum rate of 100Mb/s which works out to be approx (not exact) 10MB/s so you have around 120MB/s of capacity still on your pci bus after a 10/100mbps nic is used at full capacity. If you move to gigabit you are looking at 1000Mb/s which is around 100MB/s and you will almost be using your PCI bus to capacity.

The correlation between how the ethernet nic produces a 100-250mhz signal on the wire compared to the 33mhz pci bus speed does not exist. The 33mhz bus speed is the speed at which the PCI card can communicate with the PC. (33mhz x 4bytes (32bit) = 133MB/s) Where as the 100-250 (600mhz for cat7) is mearly a rating that the cable is able to accept a frequency range to be transmitted at over the wire. Similar to a radio station in the way that they transmit sound at a set frequency. You dont get your music faster from a radio station that has a higher frequency that one that has a lower frequency... Almost exactly the same thing.

So as you can see they are two entirely different measurements for different things. Please dont get them confused because it makes a big difference when you are looking at things and makes my day funny as hell when I read stuff like that when I should be working.

The router and ethernet devices do not detect what wire is used. They go through a negotiation with the device that they are connected to at the other end to detect what the other device is able to communicate at. They then select that speed and duplex setting and set themselves accordingly. This is the reason why you see CRC errors on your network interfaces. CRC errors are caused when the cable is not the correct type for the speed selected OR it is a faulty cable. And you will find 9/10 times that replacing the cable fixes the issue.

When you say that some routers network balance I have no idea what you are talking about there but if you set 100mbps on one side of the link ie at the PC you should be manually setting 100mbps on the router port aswell. The reason why you are seeing the 10mbps connection on the router is because speed and duplex negotiation failed because you set one side to a specific setting and not the other. And the default speed and duplex setting that all ethernet devices revert to if the speed/duplex negotiation fails is 10mbps half duplex because this is the lowest setting that all devices must support to be able to comply with ethernet standards.

You are correct in saying you wouldnt see any gains past cat6. Infact if you are only ever going to run 10/100 or even 1000mbps you will not see any benifet in going past cat5e.

3. (Kewlx25)
Cat 5 does not support gigabit period. You may be able to get 1gbps speeds on cat 5 if you try depending on the cable but it was never designed for it.

Cat 5e is designed for 1gbps links and will do 1gbps over 100 meters. Cat 6 is not required for 1gbps over 100 meters.

4. (pazsion)

Incorrect. The adaptive link speed just means it auto detects speed and duplex settings and initiates the initial connection based on what each device on the network is capable of connecting at. See above the speed duplex settings and how it works.

Half duplex means only one device can send OR receive data at a time. So your PC sends its data to the router then says ok ive sent everything. Then the router can reply.
Full duplex means that both devices and send AND receive at the same time. So your PC can be sending data to your router at the same time that your router is sending data to your PC.

The speed of the electical pulse that carries data on the copper cable. Well that is very fast on unsheilded copper the speed of the electrical impulses on the cable would be around 97% of the speed of light in a vacuum. Considering the speed of light is around 300,000 kilometers per second lets just say its very fast.

The frequency on the cable which is what you are refering to is simply just the frequency used to communicate between the two devices just like a radio station uses a specific frequency to send music to your radio. It doesnt make the music any faster by being on a higher frequency than a lower one.

The quality of the music could be affected by the frequency for instance if you take a look at AM radio vs FM radio. But the differences between AM and FM are huge we are talking an AM station transmitting at a frew thousand cycles per second (Khz) compared to an FM station transmitting from between 87 and 108 million cycles per second (Mhz).

But this has no effect on a network cable and the frequency it uses I was mearly using that as an example of how its a different measurement to what you are thinking.

As for wifi running at 2.4ghz per second... Well again this is exactly the same thing. 2.4ghz is simply the frequency that the wireless device uses to connect to other devices. It has no bearing on the speed that data can travel over the frequency at all. You also have wifi devices that run in the 5.8ghz band aswell. Also some that run down in the 900mhz band also.

Infact with Wireless devices the higher the frequency the slower they usually are and also the less distance they travel. With RF propogation the lower the frequency the further the signal can travel without losing strength, The deeper it can penetrate a solid substance such as a building or mountain. Because the length of the radio wave that is produced is longer and is harder to stop. The higher the frequency the shorter the wave and the easier to stop.

As for why you only get 30mbps. Well that is because you are using a cable internet connection. It has nothing to do with the NIC in your computer or router. It has to do with A) the DOCSIS Standard that your cable provider is running on its WAN (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DOCSIS) AND B) The service you are paying for is 30mbps so thats what you get given.

The reason why you dont get 100mbps or 1gbps services in WAN environments at the moment is because of the inherit limitations of copper mediums in transmitting data over long distances. The longer the copper path the more attenuation and noise is introduced onto the signal along the way which lowers the data throughput of the cable.

Also you seem to think that the copper going to your cable or ADSL provider happens to be a cat5/6 or 7 cable it is not. The cable that you use with CABLE internet is a coaxial cable. Which is not designed anywhere near the same as your standard internal house cabling. I mentioned earlier how on a cat 5/6/7 cable the speed of the electrical impulse is 97% speed of light. Well on a coax cable this drops to around 66% of the speed of light. This doesnt specifically have anything to do with the speed of data you will get on your internet connection its just a simple way of pointing out that the cable for the internet is very very different to your cat 5/6/7 cable to get 1gbps to your PC from your router.


A reasonable post to read might be this one http://whirlpool.net.au/wiki/adsl_theory_attenuation that describes attenuation on ADSL lines which again uses another completely different type of cable to your cat 5/6/7. This uses standard phone lines which are just a single pair of copper lines going back to the exchange from your house. No sheilding other than a few twists every meter. But with ADSL give up to 24mbps connections and with VDSL can give up to 300mbps connections.

I have no idea what you were talking about with the voltage of the nic and the PCI bus but please just ignore everything you mentioned there it makes no sense.

4. RepoDraghon

Please do not ask your brother-in-law for advice.

While he is correct in that 5e and 6 cables are rated for 100mbps he has no idea about anything else by the sound of that post.

If you have a 30mbps connection and 5 network devices. They will not each get 6mbps. Ethernet is based on a first come first served basis. If one computer jumps in first and uses 28mbps of your 30 mbps. Then the second computer will only be able to use 2mbps untill the first computer has finished using its 28mbps. It is just the way it works UNLESS you have a better router that has the capacity for QoS (Quality of Service) and will actually put priority on certain types of traffic eg voice traffic gets transmitted before torrent traffic.

Also just for your reference a T1 connection is 1.544mbps syncronous meaning 1.544mbps upload and 1.544mbps download. It is no where near 1000mbps. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-carrier)


And I agree with the last poster Awake33....

The level of misunderstanding and misinformation here is mind boggling. You gotta love all the internet "experts" out there
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May 1, 2013 3:40:46 PM

LOL - I read these forums every so often and being a Network Architect (CCIE) I too was laughing at all the statements of "facts" on here. It's hard enough to explain things to Project Managers or even supposed Engineers without getting frustrated at work let alone to read blind ignorance on the internet. Thankfully I got down to this response and breathed a sigh of relief that I didn't have to spend then next hour formulating a response that was actually FACT and then the rest of my day righting up change plans for my 6500 to Nexus 7k migration to allow for OTV to a DR site I am designing (amongst other obvious benefits).

So - THANK YOU for actually getting this right so I could simply read and laugh. Nice response. Looking for work? ;-)

sma said:
Ok...

I will start with I am a network engineer so it is my job to understand how this stuff works. And the guys and I at work have been having a huge laugh about this thread since I found it yesterday.

The answer to the original question of running 4 computers and an xbox and what is adequate for you given you have a 30mbps cable connections.... depends if you want gigabit or not. If you do then cat5e is the minimum you should use. If you want 100mbps it doesn't matter anything from cat5 up will do 100mbps.

When I say if you want 1gbps or 100mbps this means internally to your network only. It does not matter what you do inside your house you will never get more than 30mbps out to the internet if you have a 30mbps cable connection.

Now for all the comments on this thread OMG seriously? I dont even know where to start with explaining how so much of what has been said is totally wrong and honestly I couldnt follow most of it because it jumped from topic to topic all of which are completely unrelated. So I am just going to go through each post and explain whats wrong with what you said hoping that you learn something from me. This is not meant in anyway to be derogatory but more so to assist in you learning how things actually work.

There was one person that posted who actually knew what he was talking about and not one of you bothered to listen to anything he had to say and continued to follow your path of absolute hilarity.

1. (Hawkeye22) You are correct if you only have 10/100mbps then cat5e is just fine. You can also use cat5 for this but no one uses cat 5 because there is no point 5e is cheaper, better and easier to find. There are 2 pairs used on 10/100mbps and you can use the additional 2 pairs either for POE, A secondary analogue phone connection or you can use a splitter to split the wiring up on both sides and use the additional 2 pairs to get a second 10/100 mbps over the one cable. (http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=YT6090). 1000mbps (1gbps) does indeed use all 4 pairs but you can still run POE over gbps networks but you cannot split them to get a second phone service or a second network link over the cable as there are no spare pairs.

2. (pazsion)

This is where the hilarity starts. You are implying that the frequency range on the cable somehow ties to and represents the speed of data the cable is capable of. This is so far from correct its not funny.

the 100/250/600mhz specifications mearly represents the frequency rating of the signal being sent down the cable and what the cable is capable of accepting while staying within the attenuation and signal degridation of the specifications of the cable.

This has absolutely nothing I repeat NOTHING to do with the PCI bus, USB, FSB, or CPU frequencies or speeds in your PC What so ever. They are used for totally different measurements and have no correlation at all between them. Trying to compare these measurements into speed on the cable is like attempting to find out the fuel economy of your car car by riding your horse.

But if you want to compare speeds here what you can do is say well my PCI bus has a maximum rate of 133MB/s (based on a 33Mhz bus speed and a 32bit card.) And a 10/100 network card will acheive a maximum rate of 100Mb/s which works out to be approx (not exact) 10MB/s so you have around 120MB/s of capacity still on your pci bus after a 10/100mbps nic is used at full capacity. If you move to gigabit you are looking at 1000Mb/s which is around 100MB/s and you will almost be using your PCI bus to capacity.

The correlation between how the ethernet nic produces a 100-250mhz signal on the wire compared to the 33mhz pci bus speed does not exist. The 33mhz bus speed is the speed at which the PCI card can communicate with the PC. (33mhz x 4bytes (32bit) = 133MB/s) Where as the 100-250 (600mhz for cat7) is mearly a rating that the cable is able to accept a frequency range to be transmitted at over the wire. Similar to a radio station in the way that they transmit sound at a set frequency. You dont get your music faster from a radio station that has a higher frequency that one that has a lower frequency... Almost exactly the same thing.

So as you can see they are two entirely different measurements for different things. Please dont get them confused because it makes a big difference when you are looking at things and makes my day funny as hell when I read stuff like that when I should be working.

The router and ethernet devices do not detect what wire is used. They go through a negotiation with the device that they are connected to at the other end to detect what the other device is able to communicate at. They then select that speed and duplex setting and set themselves accordingly. This is the reason why you see CRC errors on your network interfaces. CRC errors are caused when the cable is not the correct type for the speed selected OR it is a faulty cable. And you will find 9/10 times that replacing the cable fixes the issue.

When you say that some routers network balance I have no idea what you are talking about there but if you set 100mbps on one side of the link ie at the PC you should be manually setting 100mbps on the router port aswell. The reason why you are seeing the 10mbps connection on the router is because speed and duplex negotiation failed because you set one side to a specific setting and not the other. And the default speed and duplex setting that all ethernet devices revert to if the speed/duplex negotiation fails is 10mbps half duplex because this is the lowest setting that all devices must support to be able to comply with ethernet standards.

You are correct in saying you wouldnt see any gains past cat6. Infact if you are only ever going to run 10/100 or even 1000mbps you will not see any benifet in going past cat5e.

3. (Kewlx25)
Cat 5 does not support gigabit period. You may be able to get 1gbps speeds on cat 5 if you try depending on the cable but it was never designed for it.

Cat 5e is designed for 1gbps links and will do 1gbps over 100 meters. Cat 6 is not required for 1gbps over 100 meters.

4. (pazsion)

Incorrect. The adaptive link speed just means it auto detects speed and duplex settings and initiates the initial connection based on what each device on the network is capable of connecting at. See above the speed duplex settings and how it works.

Half duplex means only one device can send OR receive data at a time. So your PC sends its data to the router then says ok ive sent everything. Then the router can reply.
Full duplex means that both devices and send AND receive at the same time. So your PC can be sending data to your router at the same time that your router is sending data to your PC.

The speed of the electical pulse that carries data on the copper cable. Well that is very fast on unsheilded copper the speed of the electrical impulses on the cable would be around 97% of the speed of light in a vacuum. Considering the speed of light is around 300,000 kilometers per second lets just say its very fast.

The frequency on the cable which is what you are refering to is simply just the frequency used to communicate between the two devices just like a radio station uses a specific frequency to send music to your radio. It doesnt make the music any faster by being on a higher frequency than a lower one.

The quality of the music could be affected by the frequency for instance if you take a look at AM radio vs FM radio. But the differences between AM and FM are huge we are talking an AM station transmitting at a frew thousand cycles per second (Khz) compared to an FM station transmitting from between 87 and 108 million cycles per second (Mhz).

But this has no effect on a network cable and the frequency it uses I was mearly using that as an example of how its a different measurement to what you are thinking.

As for wifi running at 2.4ghz per second... Well again this is exactly the same thing. 2.4ghz is simply the frequency that the wireless device uses to connect to other devices. It has no bearing on the speed that data can travel over the frequency at all. You also have wifi devices that run in the 5.8ghz band aswell. Also some that run down in the 900mhz band also.

Infact with Wireless devices the higher the frequency the slower they usually are and also the less distance they travel. With RF propogation the lower the frequency the further the signal can travel without losing strength, The deeper it can penetrate a solid substance such as a building or mountain. Because the length of the radio wave that is produced is longer and is harder to stop. The higher the frequency the shorter the wave and the easier to stop.

As for why you only get 30mbps. Well that is because you are using a cable internet connection. It has nothing to do with the NIC in your computer or router. It has to do with A) the DOCSIS Standard that your cable provider is running on its WAN (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DOCSIS) AND B) The service you are paying for is 30mbps so thats what you get given.

The reason why you dont get 100mbps or 1gbps services in WAN environments at the moment is because of the inherit limitations of copper mediums in transmitting data over long distances. The longer the copper path the more attenuation and noise is introduced onto the signal along the way which lowers the data throughput of the cable.

Also you seem to think that the copper going to your cable or ADSL provider happens to be a cat5/6 or 7 cable it is not. The cable that you use with CABLE internet is a coaxial cable. Which is not designed anywhere near the same as your standard internal house cabling. I mentioned earlier how on a cat 5/6/7 cable the speed of the electrical impulse is 97% speed of light. Well on a coax cable this drops to around 66% of the speed of light. This doesnt specifically have anything to do with the speed of data you will get on your internet connection its just a simple way of pointing out that the cable for the internet is very very different to your cat 5/6/7 cable to get 1gbps to your PC from your router.


A reasonable post to read might be this one http://whirlpool.net.au/wiki/adsl_theory_attenuation that describes attenuation on ADSL lines which again uses another completely different type of cable to your cat 5/6/7. This uses standard phone lines which are just a single pair of copper lines going back to the exchange from your house. No sheilding other than a few twists every meter. But with ADSL give up to 24mbps connections and with VDSL can give up to 300mbps connections.

I have no idea what you were talking about with the voltage of the nic and the PCI bus but please just ignore everything you mentioned there it makes no sense.

4. RepoDraghon

Please do not ask your brother-in-law for advice.

While he is correct in that 5e and 6 cables are rated for 100mbps he has no idea about anything else by the sound of that post.

If you have a 30mbps connection and 5 network devices. They will not each get 6mbps. Ethernet is based on a first come first served basis. If one computer jumps in first and uses 28mbps of your 30 mbps. Then the second computer will only be able to use 2mbps untill the first computer has finished using its 28mbps. It is just the way it works UNLESS you have a better router that has the capacity for QoS (Quality of Service) and will actually put priority on certain types of traffic eg voice traffic gets transmitted before torrent traffic.

Also just for your reference a T1 connection is 1.544mbps syncronous meaning 1.544mbps upload and 1.544mbps download. It is no where near 1000mbps. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-carrier)


And I agree with the last poster Awake33....

The level of misunderstanding and misinformation here is mind boggling. You gotta love all the internet "experts" out there


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