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Is it worth upgrading my cable to CAT 6

Posted on 2014-02-14
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2014-03-31
When I remodeled my house 1- years ago I put in Cat 5. I have since upgraded my network gear to 1GB.

Someone told me that that was a waste of time as I wasn't getting the speed due to the cable.

Is it worthwhile to put in CAT 6 Cable between my Western Digital NAS box and my desktop.

See attached results of Lan Speedtest on existing CAT 5 cable. Will I really get any better with new cables.

I just got a AC Wireless router which would also be a waste if I was only getting 100MB.


Question by:steveurich
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Assisted Solution

by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 668 total points
ID: 39860761
If you used CAT5e, you should be fine with 1 Gb network stuff. I have a 1 Gb network in the basement. With CAT5e to the main floor, I can move a very large file (50 Gb) from computer to computer at about 800 Mbits/sec. This is the NAT throughput capability of the router.

I do not think the faster gear was a waste. I upgraded my own gear because everything went faster, even with CAT5e cable because it is good to 1 Gb/sec.  I think CAT6 may do slightly better and have fewer errors (normal), but CAT5e is going to work.

CAT5 (no e ) is good to 100 Mbits/sec. If you installed CAT5 and not CAT5e, then you should consider upgrading it.
LVL 44

Accepted Solution

Darr247 earned 668 total points
ID: 39860843
Yes, as John Hurst noted, if you have cat5 (not cat5e), then consider upgrading.

I would upgrade to cat6a, not cat6.  Properly run and terminated 6a should be good for 10Gb speeds over probably the longest runs in most homes when 10Gb equipment becomes more available (read 'affordable' :) .

You could pull in cat 6a and re-terminate on the same keystones you have now until you're ready to move to 10Gb... because the cheapest keystones I've found lately that were marked "6a" were almost $15 each.

Note there is currently no such specification as cat6e, so do NOT buy cable or components with the 6e marking instead of cat6a.

Otherwise, I concur with what thinkpads_user recommended... cat5e works fine for 1Gb (1000Mb), and if you're in the USA it will probably be a long, long time before faster internet speeds than that are available.
LVL 84

Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 39860934
If you are testing the network speed with all the other devices still on and connected, you don't know for sure what you getting.  In addition, even when I only have two computers on the network, I have found that not all network cards/interfaces/drivers are equal, especially in speed.  You might also have to turn off your anti-virus so it's doesn't slow things down by scanning all the data.  If I run my network speed test from the right-hand computer, I get one speed.  If I run it from the left-hand computer, I get a different result.
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LVL 84

Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 39860937
I just ran that same test on my two computers.  I have a 100Mbits/s network between them.  The first time I ran the test from the right-hand computer, I got about 6MBytes/s writing and 11MBytes/s reading.  The second time, I got 8.9MBytes/s writing and 10.5MBytes/s reading.

Expert Comment

ID: 39861279
We still use Cat5e for Moves, Adds & changes on existing networks.  New installations are now specified at Cat6 or Augmented Cat6 which is actually specified for 10Gig.  We also use it for POE devices such as wireless access points, cameras and door access controllers and for the larger gauge cable for power.  Few people are using 10 Gig for anything but the backbone and not all Cat6 is rated at 10G.
Printing is about the most network intensive thing that home networks pass....even streaming is limited to your internet speed...20Meg or so depending on where you live and a lot of home entertainment devices use wifi only.  
By the time you really need 10G you might want to move.  You chose the most cost effective solution by investing in a newer switch and router.  They will have faster chips and more RAM than the older 100M equipment making a noticeable difference in speed.
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 39861827
>Someone told me that that was a waste of time as I wasn't getting the speed due to the cable.
1. What cable testing gear and utilities was this person using?  Fluke?  iperf?
2. Takes the same amount of time to buy/install a gigabit switch as a 10/100.
3. Cost difference is nominal

I've run gigabit on single and dual-NIC servers when that's what was installed in the walls and ceiling.  We pegged the RAID-5 and the desktop before we could hit the 120MB/sec limit of the 1Gbps connection.

Length between patch panel and jack at wall ranged from 100-300 feet.

So, if you're debating punching holes in walls, I'd actually test things first.  You may have no issues at all.

And, keep in mind that Cat5/5e is more flexible for non-network use.  Cat6 has issues with running video signals over the wire in a distribution setup.  The greater variation in twist rates causes problems with signals not arriving in sync.
LVL 47

Assisted Solution

by:Craig Beck
Craig Beck earned 664 total points
ID: 39862612
All good advice here.

One thing I would say is as a supplement to Darr's excellent comments...

Cat6A is the way forward if you're looking at 802.11ac for the future.  In the next 2-3 years vendors are looking to introduce 3.5Gbps wireless devices which will need to use either a 10Gbps NIC or dual 1Gbps NICs.  At the moment though none of the vendors are decided which way to go yet in terms of placing solid orders for the chips, but it will inevitably go down the 10Gbps route when 6Gbps 802.11 technologies emerge as multiple NICs will push the manufacturing price above a single 10Gbps NIC.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 39967865
Thanks for the education

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