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dave

August 20th 2014 4:49 pm

Are my Cat 5 ethernet cables pretty useless?



Bear with me here, as this isn't my strongest area of knowledge and I'm looking for some better explanation.

While looking through random boxes in the basement recently, I stumbled across some piles of Cat-5 ethernet cable. I feel like the only type of ethernet cable I see laying around anymore is Cat-5e (and in rare cases, Cat-6) -- which I thought was capable of handling higher data rates.

However, looking at the Cat-5 wikipedia page, it seems to imply that's it's good enough for gigabit ethernet: "The cable standard provides performance of up to 100 MHz and is suitable for 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX (Fast Ethernet), and 1000BASE-T (Gigabit Ethernet)."

Via: en.wikipedia.org­/wiki­/Category­_5­_cable

So, does all this Cat-5 cable still have a use or should I get rid of it?

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9 replies
frankspin

You're fine. I have cables from 10 years ago I still use when I need a spare. As long as the ends are ripped and clips are fine you should be golden.
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TgD

I agree, now if you had a ton of RJ-11 cables or Parallel ribbon cables... then I would suggest junk it ;)
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dave

Good to know!

So going forward, is there any reason to consider wiring other parts of our house with Cat 5 other than enjoying the fact that it costs more?
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Dignan17

I wouldn't run new Cat5 or make new cables. Cat5e or 6 are the way to go these days. Cat5e cable is super cheap. I have three 1K foot boxes of the stuff I use for work, and I think that cost a total was about $150 plus the end clips and keystone jacks I use.
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frankspin

What Matt said. Cat5e is dirt cheap and Cat6 is really only needed if you plan on doing to 10Gbps, which I doubt you are. Learn to crimp the wires yourself to save even more money over pre-made cables.

(If you're looking from the clip side)
brown / brown-stripe / green / blue-stripe / blue / green-stripe / orange / orange-stripe

I used to be able to rip through making a set of these so fast, but I'm most likely rusty as hell. Patch panels always killed me though, such a small space. Plus the cage nuts. Groan.
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Dignan17

Sometimes I like doing patch panels more, if the panel is easy enough to access. I like using a punch down tool for panels and keystone jacks.
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TgD

Yeah it seems I misunderstood the original question. Does cat5 have a use now? Yes. Would I run it through walls? No.
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groovechicken

When I am responsible for terminating cables on campus, I do not buy regular patch panels. Instead, I buy a keystone plate and a bunch of keystone jacks so I can easily work on each cable separately. Other advantages are the ability to move ports around in the grid if I later decide I should have organized it a different way and to use different colors of keystone jack to make it easier to spot different ports. In the last dorm I terminated, I used black for the rooms, blue for the copiers, and orange for the APs. It may cost more, but the time savings putting it all together and finding what you are looking for when troubleshooting more than make up for it.
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groovechicken

You will likely get gigbit speed over Cat5e cable, so just keep using it unless you are having a noticeable issue or if you are OCD like me. The one scenario in which you may see a notable improvement in speeds with gigabit devices on both ends is if the lines are picking up a lot of noise. The shielded Cat6 cable does handle that better.
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