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What type of Ethernet cable do I need to have Multigigabit speed?

Advantages of Multigigabit networks

Before the appearance of Multigigabit networks, we had Gigabit networks whose maximum speed is 1Gbps Full Duplex, and from here we had a very big jump to 10Gbps networks, however, we did not have any “intermediate” speed that would allow us to increase the speed of the Gigabit standard without the need to go to 10G networks directly.

Multigigabit networks have many advantages over 10G networks (except in the maximum speed, of course), below, you can learn why this type of new 2.5Gbps and 5Gbps speeds are being used in a large number of devices.

  • Network electronics are much cheaper than 10G, this means that the equipment is clearly cheaper.
  • 10G computers get quite hot, so we need active cooling in the vast majority of cases. A switch with more than 2 10G ports will have active cooling with fans, which leads to higher power consumption, and noise, so in home environments it is not ideal.
  • We can continue to use the same wiring as for Gigabit Ethernet networks. In 10G networks it is necessary to have Cat6 cabling over short distances, although it is recommended to use Cat6A cable to avoid bandwidth problems when using the 10GBASE-T standard.

Because the electronics are cheaper and hardly get hot, today we can find home switches with several Multigigabit ports that also include one or two 10GBASE-T ports to connect the fastest equipment or use it as a trunk link. At RedesZone we have recently analyzed the D-Link DMS-106XT Managed Switcha really interesting model for our home, with a spectacular design since we can place it in our bedroom or living room to connect all the equipment to the network.

Required Wiring

The NBASE-T standard has two speeds, on the one hand we have the 2.5Gbps speed which is widely used in home unmanaged switches, professional WiFi 6 access points, home routers with gaming ports, and to connect a NAS etc. We also have a top speed which is 5Gbps, this speed will allow us to achieve real transfer rates of about 600MB/s, ideal for medium-high range home NAS servers. While the 2.5Gbps ports are used for home and professional environments with WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E access points, the 5Gbps ports are often used when we are in a more advanced environment where very fast speeds are required and where we have NAS and PC servers. with this type of connectivity.

Speed ​​2.5Gbps

To obtain speeds of 2.5Gbps and not have problems, the standard indicates that the cabling that we can use is Cat5e with four pairs of wires, that is, the same type of cabling that we need for Gigabit Ethernet speeds. The type of cable can be perfectly UTP without problems, the only thing necessary is that we will need a cable that provides us with a bandwidth of 100MHz, which is the most common today.

Although officially a Cat5e cable works perfectly, our recommendation is that you always use Cat 6 cabling for these speeds. For example, you can buy this cheap cable:

This cable is certified Cat 6, so the bandwidth is 250MHz, perfect for achieving a speed of 2.5Gbps without any problem. In the event that you want to buy a higher category cable, the decision is yours, but with this model it is enough to achieve these speeds.

5Gbps speed

To obtain speeds of 5Gbps, the standard indicates that the cabling that we must use is Cat 6 or higher, it is necessary that it has four pairs of wires and a bandwidth of 200MHz. Cat 6 cabling provides up to 250MHz of bandwidth, so that’s enough for 5Gbps speed. No matter the network cable is UTP, it will work smoothly.

To achieve this speed of 5Gbps, you can also use the cable that we have previously recommended that is certified with Cat 6.

However, our recommendation if you are going to use 5Gbps speeds is that you buy Cat 7 cables that are also quite affordable, in this way, you will be able to take advantage of your new 5Gbps network and get the most out of it. We must take into account that the wiring in a home local network is the cheapest. We have been using flat Cat 7 FTP (not UTP) type cables for many years, and the performance we have gotten from them has been just perfect.

Logically, Cat 7 cables are clearly more expensive than Cat 6 cables, and we can buy them for around €7.5 for each 2-meter-long network cable. We must remember that this type of cabling will also allow us to use 10Gbps speeds without problems, in fact, in our 10G switch tests we have used this type of cabling.

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