You might have bought some Cat-5 Ethernet cables a few years ago, but as time passes, it’s probably time to think about upgrading them to a more modern, more capable option. Unfortunately, the list of Ethernet cable options has not become any less complicated over the years.
Everyone has different needs for their network setup, so we’ll walk you through the Cat-5e to Cat-8 standards to help you understand which is right for you.
Want to know which cable is right for you? Check out our guide on how to choose an Ethernet cable to learn the speed differences, why Cat-7 is a bit of an oddball, and which type may be the best for your setup.
The best Ethernet cables
DBillionDa Ethernet Cable — Cat 8
Cat 8 is overkill for most, but if you want the best of the best in terms of shielding and performance, it’s as good as it gets. This particular gold-plated version comes in sizes from 3 to 100 feet and supports 2,000MHz bandwidth and data transmission up to 40Gbps. Cat 8 cables are also waterproof, anti-corrosion, and use more durable PVC material for indoor or outdoor projects. It’s an ideal pick for professional or personal cable management and could be a noticeable improvement in performance, too.
Ugreen Flat Ethernet Cable — Cat 7
The flat design of this Ethernet cable is an alternative option that some may prefer depending on the installation. Flat cables are a bit more resistant to forming classic tangles and are easier to run under carpets, beneath doors, or in cracks along the wall. The RJ45 connectors are gold-plated and over-molded for extra durability, with a shape that’s meant to resist catching on other cables or objects while you’re working. Lengths range from three feet to 50 feet.
Dacrown Weatherproof Ethernet Cable — Cat 8
If you know that your Ethernet project is going to require running cables outdoors where they will be exposed to the elements, you need a durable option that can handle it. This Cat 8 cable, available in sizes up to 150 feet, has a pure copper core, aluminum foil shield, woven mesh shield, and thick PVC outer layer. That makes it highly water and UV-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about issues developing down the line.
Cable Matters Snagless Ethernet Cable – Cat 6A
Category 6 Ethernet cables were eventually updated with an optimized 6A version, with thicker conductors, durable jackets, and a significant speed upgrade — 10GB at up to 100 meters — that made it an excellent option for those who couldn’t work with the Cat-7 changes. This particular version of the cable also includes additional shielding, gold-plated contacts, and boots for durability. The snagless clip protector also helps prevent accidents or cable damage while work (or if someone stumbles on one of the cables).
Ugreen Ethernet extension cable — Cat 6
If you’re happy with your current Ethernet cable, you may not want to replace it entirely. However, a new device or new router setup, etc., may mean that your current cables aren’t quite long enough to get the job done. This Cat 6 extension is specifically made to extend a current cable over a longer distance, and you can move it between Ethernet cables as needed when you have a length issue.
Monoprice SlimRun Ethernet Cable 10-pack — Cat 6A
These “SlimRun” cables are designed specifically for narrow spaces, running under carpets or baseboards, or saving space (and encouraging more airflow) in packed server rooms — they’re half the size of standard Cat-6A cables. If you are dealing with more complex setups, there are also a variety of color options to choose from for even more organization possibilities. Here we’ve chosen a pack with a shorter length for connecting multiple devices to nearby Ethernet ports. If you are running these slim cables at a longer distance, they are available at up to 50 feet in length.
CableGeeker Flat Black Cable with Sticky Clips — Cat 6
CableGeeker’s flat Ethernet cable consists of unshielded twisted pairs made of 100% bare copper wire. The two connectors feature a “snagless” design preventing unwanted disconnects, molded strain-relief boots, and 50-micron gold-plated contacts.
This cable offers the same maximum speed as Amazon’s model — 1Gbps — has better crosstalk protection and a higher 250MHz bandwidth than Cat 5 and Cat 5e products. You can buy this cable in a two-pack of 10-foot cables, or you can choose to buy it as a single cable in lengths from 1.5 to 150 feet.
Cables Direct Online 30FT Cable — Cat 5e
Cables may boast the fastest speeds, but you can’t even experience those speeds without a dependable connection. That’s why the Cables Direct Online manufacturers pride their cables as having the best connectivity on the market. It maintains a 350MHz bandwidth that delivers an incredibly dependable connection with a 1Gbps data rate. Compared to other Cat 5a cables that generally provide 100MHz bandwidth, that’s a vast improvement.
This Ethernet cable boasts four-stranded twisted pairs with PVC jackets, 50-micron gold-plated connectors, and copper-clad aluminum conductors. The cable offers a single gray color choice and has a round form.
CableGeeker’s Ethernet cables come up short when compared to Cables Direct Online Ethernet cables offered in lengths of up to 200 feet.
iMBAPrice Network Ethernet Cable 10-Pack — Cat 5e
This server-friendly pack of 5e cables offers snagless attachments, gold-plated connectors, and mold strain relief that offers additional cable protection while decreasing how easy it is for cables to get tangled while you are working. They are guaranteed to have full FCC 68 compliance for organizations that need to check that particular box, and are available in five different colors for all your organization needs.
Research and buying FAQ
How much of a difference does a good Ethernet cable make?
A new Ethernet cable can make a significant difference if you are upgrading from an older model, particularly when it comes to loading speeds. However, there are some very important factors that will affect how much of a difference you can actually feel, including:
A good Ethernet cable is part of a setup to optimize internet speeds, but only a part of it.
What makes a good Ethernet cable for audio applications?
The same rules apply to audio connections as for Ethernet speeds in general. But we would suggest sticking with at least Cat 6 and connections that can support it. Make sure you pick shielded cables that will help cut down on distortion, which may be more noticeable when it comes to audio. If you are running long cables for a venue or similar setup, work with a professional A/V expert with experience in Ethernet connections.
What are the most popular types of Ethernet cables?
“Type” can mean a lot of things when it comes to Ethernet cables. Twisted pair cabling is popular for highly reliable connections, but coaxial cables are still used in many casual setups. Category 6 cables remain one of the most used Ethernet options, but as internet speeds and bandwidth continue to increase, Category 8 will eventually start to become a more popular option (Cat 7 is … weird). When it comes to brand, there’s no particularly important choice, although looking at authentic reviews is always a good idea. Learn more about this at our guide on how to pick out an Ethernet cable.