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What is an excellent CAT6/6A cable testing unit?

Last response: in Networking
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January 23, 2013 5:07:22 AM

Which brand and model is an excellent CAT6/6A testing unit? I ran a ton of CAT6 cabling in my home years ago and while it works just fine, I have heard horror stories that if the cable isn't leaning towards PERFECT, the data rate will slow. I did all of the work myself after learning how to do it at work.

I do not know how to measure if a cable is less than up to full specifications. In other words, if it can handle the MHz it is supposed to be able to handle. Also, if it is experiencing tons of packet errors or not. My decent quality switch isn't reporting a ton of errors but I'm not sure it would (meaning: if errors started, the switch would slow down the data rate without telling me).

I'm planning on using CAT6A for the next upgrade to 10Gbps. But, if I wasn't able to 100% properly and precisely attach RJ-45's on CAT6, I'd like to know beforehand so I could go to a local community college class and learn.

Thanks.
January 23, 2013 5:59:09 PM

Just replying here because I want this thread tagged as one I am involved in. That way I can pull it up again later.

For what it's worth, I did some digging, and I see nothing out there that is specifically for 10 gigabit copper testing. TONS of stuff for gigabit. Fluke has some really nice stuff, but the nearly $500.00 price tag makes me want to not bother.

Honestly at this point, I am wondering how you ever got on the thought of going with 10 gig copper at home. The hardware for 10 gig support is so stinking expensive most large enterprises use it sparingly... Unless you are running a server farm out of your shed, I kind of suspect you might be over engineering your network a hair...

Just for a point of perspective. In the data center I work in, when we have to run Cat6 for the little bit of 10 gig stuff we do use, we use a simple ethernet cable tester, and then run speed tests from point to point using software on various hardware attached to the cabling. It works well without smashing the budget.
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January 23, 2013 7:40:59 PM

Just did some more in depth digging, what you are looking for / asking about is known as a "Cable Certifier". An inexpensive model runs about $5,000.00. High end models double that cost.

Unless you do a LOT of cabled network installations, and need the tool to make your living, I would NOT suggest spending that kind of change. If you want to go that OCD on your cables, you will be money ahead hiring the job out to someone that has the tester already...
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February 3, 2013 9:51:09 AM

Well, the reasoning for CAT6A is that the 10G copper standard cannot deliver data to the proper 100m distance and that the computer and switch technology will decline in price eventually. So, why not replace all the CAT6 with CAT6A before the basement is finished? I'm sure I could donate the CAT6 runs, carefully removed, to some friends. And, yep, I do need to move multi-gigabyte files from server to workstation and back again after editing.
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February 3, 2013 9:54:35 AM

And, I thank you for the quotes on the "line testers." I have used the "sequential read and write" between RAID'ed machines and a non-blocking full gigabit switch test (even using aggregated lines at 4 per machine with properly configured server PCI-X adapters). I will continue to do so, heh.
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February 4, 2013 1:52:47 PM

I wish you the best of luck. For the cost of the testers, I would seriously consider farming the job out. Just doesn't make sense to pay for the tool for a one off type job to me. Your priorities may be different however...
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February 4, 2013 2:38:09 PM

dbhosttexas said:
I wish you the best of luck. For the cost of the testers, I would seriously consider farming the job out. Just doesn't make sense to pay for the tool for a one off type job to me. Your priorities may be different however...


You betcha. I'll see if someone I know knows of someone who knows someone with a testing unit that I could borrow, heh.

Otherwise, I'll just meticulously install the cabling (no kinks or sharp bends) and test with huge file transfers.

Thanks!
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