5 Key Differences Between Mini Cat6 & Cat6a Patch Cables

Cat6 cable ends in a line up

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“Is Cat6A cable better than Cat6?” is a common question.

The answer is “yes,” strictly speaking, depending on performance and all other factors being equal.

This isn’t to say that Cat6A is a superior option. Everything else isn’t always equal, according to reality. When it comes to describing the difference between Cat6 and Cat6A, there are numerous aspects to consider.

The key distinctions between Cat cables are listed below.

  • Prerequisites for equipment
  • Installation costs and ease
  • Considerations for future upgrades
Cat6 cable end
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The evolution of cabling, 5G monetization and connecting devices is inextricably related to the history of data transmission. Without the right cables and connectors, high-performance data networks and local area networks (LANs) cannot function properly. Connectors are ubiquitous in electronic systems, and when 5G data speeds rise to mmWave frequencies, precision connections are required to avoid signal loss. It’s difficult to believe that high-speed data networks like Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet are descended from telephone networks when we look at them. 

What are Mini CAT6 cables

Mini Cat6 patch cables are smaller than normal Cat6 patch cables, taking up less valuable space in your cabling system.

Mini Cat6 cables have a diameter of 0.148 inches, making cable management easier, reducing congestion, and allowing for more flexibility in moves, additions, and adjustments. 

Over CAT5E cabling infrastructure, mini CAT6 cabling offers numerous advantages and benefits. When CAT6 was initially released, it was roughly 50% more expensive than CAT5E, making it prohibitively expensive for many installations. Mini CAT6 costs, on the other hand, have dropped significantly in recent years, to the point where they are nearly comparable.

What are CAT6A Patch Cables

Cat6A patch cables from D-Link are high-quality four-pair twisted-stranded cables with RJ45 modular connections on both ends. The standard is TIA/EIA 568C.2. These patch cords are ideal for data transmission at high speeds.

At a maximum bandwidth of 500MHz, CAT6A can enable data transfer rates of up to 10Gbps. CAT6A has more twists and is more tightly twisted, with more insulation to prevent crosstalk. Although CAT6A is backward compatible with CAT6 and CAT5E, speeds are always limited and the link will perform to the lowest category cable or connector placed. As a future-proof cable system, CAT6A is quickly becoming the most cost-effective choice. Class EA networks, as defined by ISO/IEC 11801 and TIA/EIA 568, use CAT6A components.

The main difference between Mini CAT6 Cables and CAT6A cables

Mini CAT6 CableCAT6 Patch cable
CostVariable depending on length and manufacturer, with an average of $0.40 – $0.60 per foot; normally around 20% costlier than Cat5e.$0.55 – $0.85 per foot on average, depending on length and manufacturer; often 20-35 percent more expensive than Cat6.
Frequencyminimum of 0 – 250 MHz and maximum 500 MHzUp to 500 MHz
Cable LengthSlower network speeds (up to 1,000 Mbps) and greater network speeds over short distances are both possible at 100 meters. Maximum distance for Gigabit Ethernet is 55 meters, with a maximum distance of 33 meters in heavy crosstalk situations.For Gigabit Ethernet, a distance of 100 meters is required across all systems and situations.
Theoretical Top Speed10 Gbps across a cable length of 33-55 meters (110-165 feet).10 Gbps across a wire length of 100 meters (330 ft).
Standard gaugesAWG wire of 22-24AWG wire of 16-20

How to Tell the Difference Between Cat6 and Cat6a Cables

The identities for Cat6 and Cat6a cables are printed on the cable jackets themselves – Category 6 or Category 6a, respectively. Cat6a cables are substantially thicker and bulkier than Cat6 cables, which is another fast way to identify the two lines apart. Because both types of cables utilize the same connector — RJ45 — this isn’t a way to tell them apart.

Wiring

The latest network cables are made up of 4-10 pairs of tightly twisted copper wires in each cable. Data is transmitted over these wires, but cable length and interference can obstruct data transmission.

Because more tightly woven wire pairs can fix these difficulties, or at the very least increase dependability, wiring is frequently one of the greatest changes between older and current Ethernet cable versions.

Enhancements to Performance

While Cat6a does not enhance the speed or data delivered (it still transmits up to 10 Gbps), it does twice the bandwidth frequency (from 250 MHz to 500 MHz). This makes data transfer more dependable, especially over longer distances. The Cat6a achieves these feats in part by twisting the twisted wire pairs even more around an equally twisted and flexible plastic support.

Ethernet Cables: Shielded vs. Unshielded

Another related, albeit slight, distinction between Cat6 and Cat6a concerns insulation. One or more thin jackets cover the inner twisted wire pairs in some cables, providing additional insulation. The cable is known as a shielded twisted pair (STP) cable when it has an extra jacket; it is known as an unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable when it does not.

Cat6 vs. Cat6a: What’s the Difference? Cost

Cat6 and Cat6a cables are more expensive than Cat5e cables, with the price mostly determined by the length of the line. The cost variations between Cat6 and Cat6a cables are minor, ranging from 20 to 35 percent. On Amazon, a 25-foot unshielded Cat6 cable costs $8, while a 25-foot protected Cat6a cable costs $11.

Durability of the cables

The Cat6a is substantially heavier and thicker than the Cat6 due to its new central column support and ubiquitous shielding. Cable trays can only carry about half as many Cat6a cables as Cat6 cables.

Ethernet cables may appear to be tough on the outside, but their inner workings are delicate. To put it another way, it’s critical not to over-bend wires, as this can damage circuitry and reduce performance quality. The bend radius is the smallest radius at which a cable can be bent without harming it. The bend radius of a cable determines how much it can bend, or how flexible it is. The bend radius is approximately four times the diameter of the cable. Due to their bulkiness, Cat6a cables take up more space and have a larger bend radius than Cat6 cables..


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