Ethernet cabling - Cat 5, etc.

What should I look for when purchasing ethernet cabling?  Is "cat" important?
I also want to have fire resistant cable.
I'm referring to RJ45 type of cabling.
brothertruffle880Asked:
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Dave BaldwinConnect With a Mentor Fixer of ProblemsCommented:
CAT numbers are not about quality but about the bandwidth that the cable is made for and specified for.  CAT3 is standard audio grade telephone cable.  CAT5 is for 100MHz and CAT5E is 'enhanced'.  CAT6 is for 1GHz transmission although that can be misleading.  CAT5E is used for many Gigabit networks because the actual signal frequencies are around 125MHz.

Fire and smoke resistant cable is 'plenum' cable and you pay a premium for it.  There is also UV-resistant cable for use where the cable is exposed to sunlight.

A 'boot' is just a plastic cover for the connector.

Here's an article on CAT5 cable: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_5_cable
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Norm DickinsonGuruCommented:
The higher the CAT level, the better quality the cable and connections and the higher the level of testing it has undergone. On short runs of 7 or 15 feet or so for short patch cords, there isn't very much difference from one level to the next, but you should be the same on all connections and the higher the better. Longer runs should have the highest category level you can afford - that's no place to save ten dollars on a big job.
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brothertruffle880Author Commented:
Two more questions:
1.  How many cats are there?
2.  What is a booted cable?  Why does a cable need a boot?
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tailoreddigitalConnect With a Mentor Commented:
There are 8 primary cat cables and sub versions of a few,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO/IEC_11801

A Booted cable has a type of cover over the connector tab.
booted
In case of fire, Plenum CAT cable is the solution (even the law in many buildings).  This page describe Plenum cable well,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plenum_cable
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brothertruffle880Author Commented:
Why do you need a boot.  I find them cumbersome to work with?
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tailoreddigitalConnect With a Mentor Commented:
i find them cumbersome too, but the 1 time i like the boot is when you are pulling the cable through other cables, the tab doesn't grab (when weaving through cables).
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