What’s the difference between RJ-45, CAT5, CAT6, and Ethernet cables?


What’s the difference between RJ-45, CAT5, CAT6, and Ethernet cables?

In: Technology

Ethernet cables are just a catch all term for eight-wire cables. They can be CAT5, CAT5e, CAT6, even CAT7.

CAT5/CAT5e/CAT6/etc. is a designation for the type of wire used in the cable, with higher numbers capable of handling higher speed with less interference issues at longer distances.

RJ45 is the designation of the jack at the end of the cable.

RJ45 is the name of the port
Cat 5/6/7 that’s the type of cable every type supports different max length and speed
Ethernet cable is a cat 5/6/7 with an rj45 heads

Ethernet is a networking standard. It defines what the cables should look like, and what happens on the individual wires in the cable.

RJ-45 is the type of plug on the end of most Ethernet cables. It looks like the plug on the end of a phone wire, but where phones only have four wires, RJ-45 have eight.

Cat5 and Cat6 are kinds of Ethernet cable. Cat6 are better than Cat5, but in most applications the differences won’t be significant. Cat6 cables are compatible with Cat5, though the opposite is not true. If you are running a wire between two devices and the devices say “Use Cat6”, you should do that. If the devices say “Use Cat5”, you can use Cat6 as well, but the wires are generally more expensive and you won’t notice any difference.

RJ-45 is a connector. Category 5 or 6 or whatever will indicate a particular standard of cable (x number of wires, x number of twists per inch etc) . Also the connector on the end should properly be refered to as an 8P8C. Just for fun, there are also two standards as to how you should put the connector on the end of the cable. Called EIA/TIA 568A and 568B. It’s just a different wiring method, but as long as it’s the same at both ends it barely matters. (Most cables are 568B)

**RJ-45** = The connector on the end of the cable

**CAT5/6** = The standard that an ethernet cable adheres too. Each ‘category’ has requirements for signal protection among other specifications. The lower the number, the less capable the cable is of carrying data.

**Ethernet:** The technology that actually makes the devices talk to each other on the physical and link layers.