What to choose? Cat6 vs Cat5e vs Cat5 Keystone Jacks

Written by Mark Williams, Founder and CEO of ShopVerbex, Certified Technician

Shopping around for Keystone jacks for home or business usage can be an interesting prospect for many. In many cases, commercial grade keystone jacks from large brand names that we will not name run at near $6 - $10 per Category 6 keystone jack. This can result in extremely expensive installations for large complexes, businesses and homes. In many cases, some contractors are tasked with installing hundreds of keystone jacks in a single project. The single project can end up costing anywhere between $600 - $1,000 for keystone jacks running from the big name brands. But do these big brands really carry the weight for the difference in price tag? Let's review some key information about Category6 Keystone jacks and Category 5e keystone jacks are are similar:

  • Both support 1,000Mb/s (1Gbp/s).
  • Connects computers, network switches, patch panels, routers, etc.
  • Different coloring keystone jacks available.
  • Different cable colors available.
  • Comes in different cable types such as CMR, plenum, CMX.
  • Comes in shielded and shielded wiring.
  • Uses four color coded pairs for a total of eight wire conductors.
  • Terminates in T568A or T568B standards.

That happens to be near where the differences between Category 6 and Category 5e Keystone jacks stops. In fact, the main differences with Cat5e and Cat5 from the list above would be the types of cabling available and the speeds. Typically Category 5 will only be rated for the typical 100Mbp/s speed. Where as Category6 and Category 5e can support speeds of up to 1Gbp/s (1,000Mbp/s). Where Category 6 will be able to support those speeds better, and over a longer distance with less speed drop at farther distances compared to typical Category5e keystone jacks. 

Category 6 Keystone jacks main differences:

  • Cat6 cable has a thicker set of conductor cables, typically 23AWG and higher.
  • Cat6 can support up to 10Gbp/s (10,000Mbp/s) at certain distances and situations.
  • Category 6 has a thicker shielding
  • Category6 requires an inner tube that prevents cable cross talk
  • Category 6 cabling helps future proof networks allowing for a comparable speed to fiber for the end user with a lower cost

When and where should you be using Category 6 vs Category5e vs Category 5

Category 6 cabling and keystone jacks tend to be slightly more expensive. In certain circumstances, we're talking about 1-2%. ShopVerbex cabling is about 1.5% higher in cable costs compared to Category5e and Category5 equilvents. Shop Verbex keystone jacks are actually about -.5% -1% higher in costs. Yes, that's right. Comparable to certain brands our Category 6 keystone jacks are actually cheaper then a comparable to category 5e or category 5 keystone jack. So it really comes down to the following: For a few cents, will you future proof your network for the years to come? In many cases, the answer should be Yes. Cat6 is more affordable long term then cat5e or cat5 cabling and jacks.

The cost to install the equipment and achieve reliable speeds up to 10Gbp/s can allow you to skip on fiber for a few additional years resulting in better cost savings by allowing moors law to work and reduce the pricing of fiber equipment. We're seeing a rapid decline of fiber as it's more used in the environment, upgrading and maintaining a cat6 network allows you to achieve the best ROI for your networks performance over the long term for a few cents of additional capital today. Category 6 keystone jacks are also backwards capable with Category 5e and Category 5 cabling which allows you you to start an upgrade to Category 6 cabling while maintaining functioning portions of your network on a legacy system. 

ShopVerbex exclusively offers Category 6 equipment. This allows our company to reduce the amount of SKU's we keep in-stock and allows us to increase our order volume on Category 6 equipment reducing our costs, which we pass onto our customers. Shop all of our Patch Panels, Keystone Jacks, Keystone Face Plates and many more Category 6 related equipment right here on our website.

Click here for Cat6 Keystone Jacks
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Click here for all of our Category 6 networking offerings