Choosing good Ethernet cables is important so as not to restrict the connection sent by your Internet service provider. Cat 7, Cat 6A, Cat 6, Cat 5E, shields …: while everything seems simple, many standards exist and make the purchase of a cable more complex and ISPs are starting to offer new standards (10 G fiber at Free). So which Ethernet cable to buy? Here is our selection.
After HDMI cables and Lightning cables, today we analyze the different Ethernet cables available on the market to help you make an informed choice.
If there is one connection that has been found on our peripherals for years, it is the RJ45 which has been used since the beginnings of modern computing to connect peripherals together using the Ethernet protocol. Today, the vast majority of them are used to connect peripherals to the Internet, often via an ISP’s box-modem (Livebox, Bbox, SFR Box, Freebox, etc.).
The standard has evolved over time. Initially capable of transmitting data at a speed of 10 Mbit / s, the Ethernet standard now allows a speed of 40 Gbit / s. Of course, our equipment is not yet capable of reaching such speeds which are currently reserved for the professional world, but it is still important to invest at least in Gigabit compatible Ethernet cables in order to benefit from an optical fiber. without slowing down and being able to access its equipment locally at full speed.
Now let’s get to the heart of the matter: There are two important factors to consider when purchasing an Ethernet cable – the category and the shielding. The first allows to certify a flow that the cable is able to withstand and the second serves to protect the cable from electromagnetic disturbances of the environment in which you are going to use it.
There are many categories of Ethernet cable, but here are the most recent:
- Category 5e: theoretical maximum speed of 1 Gbit / s
- Category 6: theoretical maximum speed of 10 Gbit / s
- Category 6a: theoretical maximum speed of 10 Gbit / s (higher frequency + longer range)
- Category 7: theoretical maximum speed of 40 Gbit / s
On paper, a Category 6, 6A, or 7 cable is 10Gbps compatible when plugged into devices that include a 10GBASE-T Ethernet port, like the latest Mac Mini.
In addition, the shielding is also an element not to be neglected and is separated into two parts: the cable shield : U (unshielded), F (aluminum foil shielding) or S (aluminum braid shielding) and connector shield : UTP (unshielded), FTP (shielded 9 points with earth connection) or STP (shielded CEM 360 °). It is an important element for wall cables or cables exposed to strong electromagnetic disturbances.
The majority of cables on the market are U / UTP (therefore unshielded), but benefit from twisted pairs (TP) which limits the sensitivity to interference and crosstalk.
Which Ethernet cable should I buy?
To summarize, we advise you to turn today to a Cat 7 Ethernet cable, available today at the same prices as those of the other categories and with specific features geared towards the future to avoid changing cables every 3 years.
We recommend AmazonBasics Ethernet cables which are very good value for money, especially when purchased in packs. Their big advantage is to have protection at the pin of the Ethernet cable, which limits the damage it could suffer.
If you need a long cable or if you plan to pass it through an unprotected wall (PVC duct for example), we recommend that you turn to a stronger cable.
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