Ethernet cable has become faster with better speeds over the years with constant improvements.
This includes how the wires are wrapped and shielded to reduce errors, cross talk, and block outside interference.
Ethernet cable is rated by a category number called Cat, with all versions being backward compatible.
The rated performance of each Cat type is the difference between all the different numbers.
The higher the Cat number, the better the performance.
Ethernet Cable Types and Performance
Used in older networks and no longer installed on new networks.
Performance 1000Mbps at 100 Meters 100MHz bandwidth.
Cat-5e (Cat-5 Enhanced) is widely used in networks due to cost vs performance.
It has a much better performance compared to standard Cat-5 and is the first Gigabyte Ethernet.
Performance 10Gbps at 55 Meters 250MHz bandwidth.
Cat-6 gives a big improvement in performance over Cat-5e. Cat-6 cables are more tightly wound and have an outer foil or braided shielding.
The foil or shielding protects the wires, helping to prevent crosstalk and noise interference from outside sources such as wireless signals.
Cat-6 cable has speeds up to 10Gbps, but only up to 55 meters or roughly 180 feet.
Cat-6a (Augmented) can support twice the maximum bandwidth than standard Cat-6 and can maintain higher speeds over longer distances.
Cat-7 has very high specifications, with each pair of wires individually shielded as well as the entire cable.
This helps to greatly reduce crosstalk and outside interference.
While Cat-7 performance rating is very similar to Cat-6a, its higher specification makes for a much more reliable Ethernet cable.
Cat-8 is the newest Ethernet standard available with very high performance. It is very new and costs much more compared to other versions.
Ethernet Cat Type vs. Performance vs. Costs
The costs of the higher Ethernet cable types do not make sense for most homes.
The most commonly used routers are Gigabyte Ethernet with transfer speeds at 1000Mbps which is how fast Cat-5e is rated for.
Add to this that the standard home internet speed is roughly 25Mpbs-100Mpbs, and you can see that faster, better cable often doesn’t translate to higher speeds.
If your home does have a fast 10Gbps router, your ISP internet speed will also need to be considered.
Of course, if you want fast internal LAN speeds and have a 10Gbps router such as Asus RT-AX89X, 10Gbps is achievable with Cat-6.
For a household that has a lot of wireless signals, such as close to a cell tower or a busy WiFi environment, Cat-7 would be a good option.
If you are looking to future-proof a setup, a high Cat type will make good sense, but for those looking for quicker speeds right now, very high types will likely not make much difference.
What is the Best Ethernet Cable for Gaming or Streaming?
In my opinion, the best Ethernet cable type for gaming or streaming is Cat-6a.
The costs for the higher types only make sense if you are trying to future proof your setup.
For example, Cat-7 or Cat-8 can make sense for an installation in a home behind the walls which is hard to run.
Of course, if you have the money, Cat-7 or Cat-8 would be the best and fastest you can get even if you see no improvement.
Our Picks Best Ethernet Cable for Gaming or Streaming
Cable Matters 5-Pack Snagless Short Cat6A (SSTP, SFTP) Shielded Ethernet Cable in Black 5 ft
For most households, Cat-6a will make the most sense with good speeds, future proof, and reasonable costs.
Of course, if money is not a concern, Cat-7 or Cat-8 will be better.
Cat-7 is a very fast Ethernet cable that will be very good for Gaming or streaming.
It will be overkill for most with the average home not seeing an increase in speeds due to current routers and ISP internet speeds.
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Cat-8 is the newest latest version of Ethernet cable and currently the best available.
It does cost much more compared to other versions.
Cat-8 would only be a good fit in a home with very fast internet and router such as Google Fiber.
Is Cat-5, Cat-6, Cat-7 or Cat-8 Better for Gaming?
Cat-8 currently has the fastest transfer rate, but it likely will not give a performance boot to most gamers.
Cat-7 also is unlikely to give much of a boost compared to Cat-5e or Cat-6.
Cat-5e has a rated performance of 1000Mbps, while Cat-6 has a rated 10Gbps.
Since all networks are only as fast as the slowest components, almost all internet connections can not reach these speeds.
The cost to the benefit will not be there, but if a home needs to be future-proof, it may be of benefit to install Cat-7 or Cat-8.
Each home will have different Ethernet requirements, and what works for one home may not work for the next.
Unless you have very fast internet speeds such as Google Fiber, 5G wireless, or satellite, having the newest Ethernet cable types will not show any improvement.
A router’s hardware will also need to handle fast speeds or will bottleneck.
If you want to future-proof, your home’s newer versions may make sense, especially if installed behind walls where they are hard to replace.
Of course, if costs are not a concern, Cat-8 would currently be the best Ethernet version to buy.
What is the best Ethernet category version for you? Let us know in the comment below.