A Step Up From CAT5E and CAT6: An Introduction to CAT6A Patch Lead.
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Originally Posted On: https://cablehub.com.au/blogs/news/an-introduction-to-cat6a-patch-lead
The nuts and bolts go overlooked by most people in most aspects of life.
Sports fans celebrate the star athletes full of flash and swagger. Role players and coaches who set the foundation for success are consistently underappreciated.
A home is admired for its design and layout. Rarely will people notice or realise the quality and durability of the bricks laid and concrete poured.
Similarly, when we think of our technological network setups, we value our network’s output and comings and goings. We notice things like modem speeds or whether our video games run smoothly and without lag. Infrastructural stalwarts–like your patch lead/Ethernet cable–typically remain unsung.
A patch lead might not have the glitz and pizazz of the graphics in Halo. Nor is it as attention-grabbing as a modem faster than the speed of sound. Yet, the correct patch lead is integral to the most optimised network setting, including for game consoles and laptops.
Sticking with our gaming example, you’ll experience the smoothest, most seamless gameplay with the appropriate cable or lead for your network setup. Of course, your networking gear will be the primary performance driver. Still, your cable must be able to stay in lockstep with everything else, no matter the rigorousness of the demands.
So–what’s the best patch lead or cable for your business or home network setup?
Finding The Right Patch Cable For Your Needs.
Understanding your choice in category cables starts with knowing the various options, which typically are as follows:
- CAT5E Patch Lead.
- CAT6 Patch Lead.
- CAT6A Patch Lead.
The most updated and high-performing option is the CAT6A patch lead–which will be subject to a deep dive later. However, different network environments require individualised solutions.
While CAT6A is the latest and greatest option, it isn’t always the most suitable choice for a customer (although it frequently is).
Let’s examine these patch cable options further before delving deeper into CAT6A patch leads.
CAT5E Patch Lead
The upgraded CAT5E cables are the oldest option we’re discussing and the least costly.
CAT5 cables are the original (or legacy) cables from which CAT5E patch leads are derived. In fact, CAT5 category cables are pioneers in the patch cable space.
CAT5E cables were the first cabling type to offer 1 Gigabit network speed. (That’s the slowest anyone should let their network run these days.)
Below are a few standard features of CAT5E cables:
- These cables have 24 gauge pair wires.
- They offer up to 328 feet of gigabit Ethernet.
- CAT5E cables are rated at 100MHz:
- This means the CPU can process a maximum of 100 million commands in a second.
While CAT5E cables are no spring chickens, they still have some proverbial gas in the tank. They remain a good fit for most networks. That said, users will likely require an upgrade as network service speeds increase significantly, as the CAT5E won’t be able to keep up.
CAT5E cables can more than do the trick if your network demands are relatively simple. They make even more sense if you’re on a tight budget. Ensure you buy the best quality and most affordable CAT5E cables by shopping with a source you can trust.
CAT6 Patch Lead
The next step in our patch lead evolution is CAT6 cables, which offer up to 100 metres of Gigabit Ethernet. Typically, a CAT6 cable utilises a 23-gauge conductor. That’s equal to each wire having a diameter of 0.0226 inches.
We’ll note CAT6 isn’t the most upgraded available cabling option for high-speed Ethernet networks.
However, CAT6 cables are the current market standard since they support the necessary speed for a 10 Gigabit network. This is the bare minimum for compatibility with new cabling installations.
One limitation of a CAT6 patch lead is its 164 feet of higher standard support. After exceeding this relatively meagre distance, the performance mirrors the CAT5E.
Still, powered by its 250MHz frequency bandwidth, the CAT6 patch lead’s processing speed far exceeds CAT5 cables.
Here’s a list of other performance advantages the CAT6 patch lead has over CAT5:
- Decreased crosstalk with other cables.
- Reduced signal loss.
- Tighter twisted cables foster two-way communication on each pair of wires.
Generally, you’ll pay 30% more (give or take) for CAT6 cables than CAT5E patch leads.
Do you want to leave your CAT5E cables in the past and step into a CAT6-led future? Do so with a brand with a track record for selling the highest quality patch leads.
CAT6A Patch Lead
We’ve reached the most advanced Ethernet cable we’ll discuss: the CAT6A patch lead.
An elevated version of the CAT6 patch lead, the CAT6A patch lead is–like its predecessor–23 gauge. Where they differ is–at first–in thickness, as CAT6As are drastically thicker than CAT6 due to their more tightly wound wires.
With its tightly wound wires, the CAT6A patch lead gains more copper per inch. The cables are also surrounded by an extra-thick layer of plastic.
There are stark differences between quality and performance levels in the CAT6A, CAT6, and CAT5E.
Specifically, the advantages CAT6As have over the CAT5E and CAT6 patch leads are as follows:
- Reduced signal loss.
- Decreased cross talk.
- Exponentially more frequency bandwidth (at 500MHz).
CAT6As and CAT6 offer the same Gigabit Ethernet speed per second: 10 Gigabits. However, CAT6As hold that speed up to 330 feet, more than doubling the CAT6’s performance.
Another feature of CAT6A is that it’s backwards compatible with CAT5E and CAT6. That said, performance and speeds will regress to the lowest category cable in the network link.
Below, we’ll examine further details of the CAT6A patch lead and what it could mean in the future.
Diving Deep Into The CAT6A Patch Lead
Read on as we explore some higher-level details of the CAT6A patch lead:
Who Can Benefit Most From CAT6A Cables?
Many network users based in varying environments stand to benefit from a CAT6A patch lead.
However, the more expansive a network’s performance requirements, the likelier its users will benefit from the CAT6A.
For instance, businesses across all industries have embraced the CAT6A patch lead due to its rapid processing speeds.
Another reason businesses have come to rely on the CAT6A patch lead is the long-term benefits.
Up front, these upgraded Ethernet cables and patch leads are more expensive than the CAT6 or CAT5E cables.
Over time, though, the CAT6A is the more cost-efficient option since it’s future-proofed. It’ll remain an effective solution for years to come. Fewer replacements (and related spending) are required to keep up with performance demands.
Another consideration is how the CAT6A patch lead saves businesses a wealth of power compared to its predecessors.
For instance, the CAT5E loses 20% of the power sent through the cable.
Whereas the CAT6A patch lead has high cable temperatures and larger gauge cabling. Both factors contribute to reduced power waste.
Healthcare and education are two industries where the CAT6A patch lead has become the standard for new installations.
These sectors deal with vast quantities of sensitive data. They require robust network performance solutions from every angle, including using the best possible patch leads and cables.
What Do We Mean By “Future Proofed?”
The CAT6A patch lead has established itself as future-proof through its exceptional handling of Power over Ethernet (PoE) connections.
PoE involves wired Ethernet local area network implementation. These networks enable enough electrical current to power each device through Ethernet data cables, replacing standard electrical cords.
Projections indicate the PoE market will be worth $3.2 billion by 2030. This new-wave technology is here to stay and grow. Better yet, CAT6A patch leads will continue supporting these connections as their usage increases in prevalence for next-generation devices.
What About Shields?
A CAT6A patch lead is available with or without shields.
With shielded CAT6A cables, an outer foil shield surrounds all four copper pairs or each individual pair. Furthermore, a protective metal housing covers outlets, modular jacks, and patch panels.
Those needing more protection for their CAT6A patch lead would be served well by investing in shielded options. More specifically, shielded twisted pairs block interference more effectively than non-shield cables.
Note that shielded cables are often referred to as F/UTP. In contrast, unshielded cables are classified as U/UTP.
The first letters signify the overall shield type. The last letters convey the shield type on each pair and the balanced element.
A cable with no outer shield and four unshielded twisted pairs is a CAT6A U/UTP. When the patch lead has an outer foil shield and four unshielded twisted pairs, it’s a CAT6A F/UTP–or shielded.
Another CAT6A configuration is S/FTP (screened/foiled twisted pair). Generally, this is a CAT7 cable with four pairs individually shielded. All four pairs will have a surrounding outer screen braid.
U/FTP cables are a recent innovation in the CAT6A shielded cable range. All four pairs in this configuration are shielded individually instead of utilising an outer foil shield. Test and general performance results for this cable range have gone exceedingly well.
Are Shields Always an Ideal Solution?
We love the CAT6A patch lead. It’s a pivotal piece of technology that will carry us into the future.
Regardless, not everyone will want or need a CAT6A patch lead–and that’s fair. As we’ve discussed, high-quality alternatives exist (all of which we sell at CableHub).
The same sentiments apply to shielded CAT6As.
While STP cables offer more protection, they’re more expensive. Also, these patch leads are tougher to install because they’re stiff, making for a less flexible fit. The STP’s larger diameter also takes up more space in the conduit.
Some say UTP offers faster transmissions when EMI (electromagnetic interference) isn’t a factor. Plus, it’s easier to install and more affordable. In fact, this is the standard cable you’ll see in most installations.
Nonetheless, STP negates EMI when it is a factor and is absolutely necessary when dealing with sensitive data.
Here’s a pro tip regarding shielded and unshielded CAT6A cables: ensure the cabling you install is of the highest quality either way. When you buy from a trusted source like CableHUB, you’ll ensure you invest in a long-lasting product, eliminating the need for replacements.
The Right Product for The Right Price
Technology investments are always a tightrope walk.
Given the swiftness of the digital revolution, how can you know you’re not spending on products that will be obsolete in a few years?
Indeed, we’ve discussed how the CAT6A patch lead is future-proofed–but nothing’s ever 100% certain. The reality is that you’re wise to invest in your technology with cautious optimism.
The brass tax of the matter is this: you need to feel you’ve gotten what you’ve paid for. You deserve the right product for the right price.
This preamble brings us to a pervasive problem with many networking equipment suppliers. They mark their products up because of all the middlemen involved before the product reaches you.
Don’t get us wrong. Products like patch leads are integral to an optimised network user experience–but that doesn’t mean you should overpay for them. You deserve a fair deal.
Network setups and environments are a necessity at home and work. Nuts and bolts equipment like Ethernet cables are must-haves and should be available at a price that makes sense.
Where can you find that ideal balance of cost-effectiveness and high quality? How can you achieve the most value per dollar spent on your home or business network?
We know just the place…
CableHUB Cuts Out the Middleman To Give You The Best Deal
There’s a lot to be said in this world about relationships. They’re the glue that holds society together and the foundation of our economy.
Relationships are integral to who we are at CableHUB. First and foremost is our relationship with our clients. We bend over backwards for each customer to ensure they find products that suit their needs.
CableHUB cultivates these life-long client relationships through our cost-effective offerings. We charge significantly lower than other suppliers because of our relationships (there’s that word again) with manufacturers.
We cut the middlemen out of our product-sourcing process, buying straight from manufacturers instead. So–we can charge you less. You receive high-quality networking equipment at wholesale without added duress on your budget or bank account.
Our relationship with manufacturers also ensures our selection is vast. We’ll always have what you need to elevate your network environment.
Reach Out To CableHUB To Learn More About Our Product Lines!
Everybody stands to benefit from a bolstered home network setup. It’s incredible what the related upgrades can do for your overall quality of life.
You could be doing virtual learning, working remotely, or want to maximise the streaming or online video game experience. A prime network environment will take things to the next level.
Alternatively, businesses stand to benefit from robust data protection and high performance offered by optimised network setups.
CableHUB grants our trade clients access to reliable top-rated products and brands. Trade clients also benefit from increased discounts for our entire product line. Plus, they can leverage invoiced purchasing options and personalised account management.
Learn more about CableHUB’s products by contacting us today. We look forward to discussing your ideal network solutions!