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CAT5, CAT6, CAT5 Patch cable, CAT6 patch cable; I'm confused

by Big Steve / March 14, 2007 12:51 AM PDT

I would like to purchase an ethernet cable to connect one end to the back of my "NETWORK READY" printer and the other end to a port on my wireless router in an attempt to set things up so I can print wirelessly from my notebook. In researching ethernet cables last night there were several different kinds; a CAT5, a CAT6, a CAT5 patch cable, a CAT6 patch cable; I'm confused and need some help here. Which cable do I need to buy to do what I want to do? Please advise if anyone knows.

Big Steve

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by colbox98 / March 14, 2007 2:38 AM PDT

Either of the specifications you mentioned would work fine with a printer. The specs very the amount of twists that exist between the pairs of wires inside of the cable. Cat5 (often you'll find Cat5e) is older, and is fine for 10/100MB networks. Cat6 is rated to support 1GB networks. You will want to get a straight through cable (patch cable) in whatever version you like. Just don't get a cross over cable, this will cause you problems.

Plug your printer in, and use the software to set it up. Usually it will walk you through the setup, and it is fairly easy. Just make sure you have file and print sharing enabled on your computer so you will be able to access the printer.

Of course there is a lot more to the subject, but to answer your question that's all you really need to know.

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Yep, They'll All Work.. Pick The Cheapest
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / March 14, 2007 5:56 AM PDT

What's the difference between CAT 5 cable and CAT 5e cable?

What is the difference between CAT 6 and CAT 5e cable?

You'll want "patch" cable although almost everything you see is a patch cable even it's not called such. Most of the cable homeowner's use is called "patch" cable because it's flexible and has flexible strands of wiring inside. These types are used for connecting between PC's and other equipment, etc.. There are cables which have solid core wiring which are called "network" cables but you certainly won't need such an item. Generally, this type of wiring is used as permanent wiring inside walls and ends up a a wall socket of some type.

Hope this helps.


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Re: Yep, They'll All Work.. Pick The Cheapest
by Big Steve / March 14, 2007 6:34 AM PDT

I found some at; they had their private label cables or for a few dollars more I can purchase a cable by a company called Belkin. Should I pay a few dollars more for the Belkin cable or will the private label cable be just as good? Thank you for your post.

Big Steve

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Any CAT5e should work
by linkit / March 14, 2007 6:53 AM PDT

Belkin has a good reputation with all sorts of cables, but I'd go with any CAT5e (not CAT5) or better that Staples sells.

CAT5e and CAT6 are designed to handle gigabit (1000Mbps) networks. This comes in handy if you want to install a gigabit router or switch later on. CAT5 is rated at 100Mbps max.

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Re: Any CAT5e should work
by Big Steve / March 14, 2007 8:16 AM PDT
In reply to: Any CAT5e should work

Thanks for the post. I have other comments to make which in a way relate to networking. If I need to post in another forum I'm sure someone will let me know. Two nights ago I went online to Bell South and upgraded my DSL service from DSL Lite to DSL Ultra for an additional $8.00 a month. I was going to get a $5.00 discount off of my current phone bundle package which would drop that $8.00 a month increase down to $3.00 a month and I'd also receive a $20.00 check back from Bell South for making the change. I would receive ten times more email capacity on Bell South's webmail website and a much faster DSL speed so I was told.

This morning the upgrade from DSL Lite to DSL Ultra took effect. I have two computers; a desktop PC and a notebook which I use wirelessly through a wireless router. Prior to today's upgrade in DSL service when I checked the speed on the desktop it said 100.0Mbps; today after the faster DSL went into affect the speed on the desktop was still 100.0Mbps.

The speed on the notebook prior to today's upgrade ranged from 36.0Mbps to 54.0Mbps. Today after the upgraded DSL went into affect there was no substantial increase in the speed on the notebook. The signal still ranged from 36.0Mbps to no more than 54.0Mbps. When I contacted Bell South's tech support in India earlier today I was told not to realize any real change in the speed on the notebook.

I was told that the DSL signal coming out of the wall going to the DSL modem to the router was the reason my signal would not see a big increase on the notebook which is what I was hoping to accomplish. I don't use the desktop that much to make the change although I did notice a slight increase in speed on the desktop as I went from website to website but it wasn't lightning fast speed like click and you're there instantly.

I can use the faster service for a few more days then contact Bell South and have my DSL service switched back from DSL Ultra to DSL Lite which I plan to do. As a last test to see if I could realize a faster speed on the notebook I took the notebook to the bedroom where the desktop is set up; powered everything down; disconnected the ethernet cable from the router and connected it to the ethernet port on the notebook to see if I could get a 100.0Mbps reading on the notebook like the desktop read.

After I did that there was no connection available on the notebook so the pop up message said and since I didn't set this all up I decided to connect everything back the way it was rather than mess things up further so now that everything has been reconnected as it was the desktop is still reading 100.0Mbps while the notebook is reading anywhere from 36.0Mbps to a maximum of 54.0Mbps.

Why do ISP's offer these upgrades to these so called lightning fast speeds if you won't be able to realize these increased speeds wirelessly on notebooks? Unless I was misinformed by Bell South's tech support earlier today according to them I shouldn't expect anything faster than 54.0Mbps on a notebook if the signal is going through a wireless router. I'm sure those of you who are more experienced on this subject will probably pick this post to pieces so go ahead because I'm still on a learning curve when it comes to dealing with wireless internet.

Big Steve

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by colbox98 / March 14, 2007 8:33 AM PDT

You are missing a fundamental piece of the equation here. Your laptop and your desktop connect to the router at a certain speed that is entirely separate from your internet connection. This speed is determined by the router and your NIC card, and in the case of your laptop it is determined by the quality of the signal you are receiving. Your connection to the internet is a connection entirely different. On a DSL connection you are probably going to max out at about 1.5 MB per second (with cable it is usually less then 10MB.) Obviously this is significantly slower then the 100MB connection your computer connects to your router at. So you should notice faster internet speed with your upgrade, but the speed you are noting has nothing to do with your internet connection speed, that is your local network speed. To do an internet speed test you would have to use a speed testing utility. You can do a web search and find a lot of them out there.

I hope this answers your question for you.

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Re: Speed
by Big Steve / March 14, 2007 9:04 AM PDT
In reply to: Speed

I went to and performed a speed test on my current Bell South DSL service; DSL "Ultra" service. I don't know what the numbers mean but I have them listed below. I never did perform a similar test while I was on Bell South's DSL "Lite" service. These numbers were taken off of the notebook while surfing the web from the comfort of my living room. I don't know if these numbers would be higher or not if I performed the same test on the desktop which is located in the back bedroom. I'll check that out later.

Speed on notebook from living room:
Download speed: 1.6 Mbps
Upload speed: 251.8 Kbps

Big Steve

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Apples To Oranges..
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / March 14, 2007 8:36 AM PDT

Your new broadband speed is probably at either 3 or 5 Mbps. All of the readings you are referring to are MUCH higher than that.

Remember, your wireless router and adapters will supply the maximum rated speed, (probably 54 Mbps speed) to each of the connected machines depending on the wireless connection quality. The 36-54 Mbps will fluctuate depending on the quality of your wireless connection NOT the bandwidth speed offered by the ISP. That's why you don't see the difference in the laptop designations.. The GOOD PART IS, since you now have more bandwidth overall, you should now be able to get more bandwidth overall if each of the computers is doing a download.

Likewise, the desktops probably have ethernet card ratings of 10/100 Mbps and as such, they will continue to state the same maximum speed option.

The ideal way to determine whether you're actually get the speed you have purchased is to do a bandwidth test at the various sites that offer them.. If your "lite" broadband speed was rated at 750 kbps and your new one is 3 Mbps, the bandwidth tests should show you such.

Hope this helps.


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No FiberOptic Cables Going In Near Me..
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / March 14, 2007 8:39 AM PDT
In reply to: Any CAT5e should work

Generally, FO is needed for the home user to have Gigabit speeds. The other side of town has it.. Not me. Darn! LOL


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Either would be fine
by colbox98 / March 14, 2007 6:53 AM PDT

Technically if they are rated cables, that have to meet the same minimal specs. Personally I would not pay a premium for a name brand.

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Re: Yep, They'll All Work.. Pick The Cheapest
by Big Steve / March 14, 2007 5:32 PM PDT

Thanks for your post. I checked out both of your links then sent a very detailed email to that company featured in both of your 2 links; I received a reply back late yesterday; they advised me to buy a CAT5e cable; not a CAT5 but a CAT5e cable. Now hopefully I can find one. Is that something that New would sell? I'll have to check.

Big Steve

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Re: Yep, They'll All Work.. Pick The Cheapest
by Big Steve / March 14, 2007 6:24 PM PDT

Something I left out of my previous post. That company recommended that I buy a CAT5E patch cable. I went to New Egg and a few other sites and they also listed CAT5E crossover patch cables. Are they the same? Is a CAT5E patch cable the same as a CAT5E crossover patch cable?

Big Steve

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They are wired differently
by linkit / March 14, 2007 9:42 PM PDT

A regular or "straight-through" network cable has its endings wired differently than a "crossover" network cable.

For the home user, a crossover cable is typically used when directly connecting two computers with just a network cable (no hub, switch, or router used).

COMP1 ---- COMP2

Sometimes a crossover cable is necessary to connect two network hardware devices, such as a switch to a router. Many modern network hardware devices have special ports or circuitry that eliminate the need for crossover cables in these scenarios.

BOTTOM LINE: Get CAT5e patch cable (non-crossover) for connecting computers to network devices.

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Re: They are wired differently
by Big Steve / March 14, 2007 10:56 PM PDT

So to connect my "network ready" HP 2575 photosmart inkjet printer directly to my wireless router I need to buy a CAT5e patch cable, not a crossover cable. Thanks for the post.

Big Steve

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by linkit / March 14, 2007 11:17 PM PDT
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Re: Correct
by Big Steve / March 14, 2007 11:31 PM PDT
In reply to: Correct

Correct me if I'm wrong but I was pricing some CAT5E patch cables on New Egg by Belkin and they're not that expensive. I believe I saw one 7 foot cable priced for $3.99. Does that sound right?

Big Steve

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Sounds right
by linkit / March 14, 2007 11:57 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: Correct

Belkin, generic, and other brands will get the job done. It's hard to beat the prices from online retailers (that is, if the shipping is not too costly).

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One cable locally
by Brianstech / March 16, 2007 11:20 AM PDT
In reply to: Sounds right

I'm one of those who will NEVER pay big bucks for name brand cables. Usually, local prices really tick me off. Even when networking for wealthy clients I still can't justify paying out the wazoo. The cables that cost $40 at the stores cost me about $3 online.

That's the key term "online". I buy in bulk for the future.

You however only need 1 Cat5E patch (NOT crossover) cable. Online for one cable doesn't make sense.

Don't go to Compusa, their online prices (half of their store prices) aren't available in-store. Last time I looked there the cheapest 14 footer was $40! After getting nowhere with the sales clerk I walked across the street to Walmart and paid $15 for the same exact same cable. Now I think $15 for a 14 foot cable is still highway robbery.

Staples also has cheaper online prices than in-store. And outrageous prices still.

In a pinch I look at deep-discount stores with good success. Big Lots (if you have one in your area) was selling 7 footers for around $3 apiece, about the best local price I've ever seen.

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Re: One cable locally
by Big Steve / March 16, 2007 1:56 PM PDT
In reply to: One cable locally

I did go to CAT5 Cable Company to look around; sent them an email and received a quick response back telling me that I should purchase a CAT5e "patch" cable, not a CAT5e "crossover" cable. Since I wasn't finding too many online retailers selling these type of cables I decided to go to Ebay. I did a quick search by typing in the words CAT5e patch cables and received several hits.

One of the hits was a cable supplier who had a store on Ebay which I checked out. Have you ever heard of these guys? I'm not one to do much buying off of Ebay but I thought I'd check them out. Their prices seemed to be pretty reasonable and they offered a pretty good selection. I hope I didn't violate any CNET forum rules by posting the Ebay store in my comments but if I did I'm sure a moderator or someone else will let me know pretty quick. Thank you for your post.

Big Steve

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Good pick
by Brianstech / March 17, 2007 3:24 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: One cable locally

That eBay seller looks great, feedback rating is really good, and people have made comments about how fast they ship. And those prices really top it off.

I'm a very active member on eBay, and always turn there for rare or inexpensive items.

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Paying more then a few bucks is too much.
by consaka / March 17, 2007 2:51 AM PDT
In reply to: One cable locally

I agree.. Also you can sometimes find job sites where they are installing the stuff by the boxfull and they will often let you have remnants that can be upwards of 40 feet or more. You can terminate the ends yourself and you are just out the rj45 connectors.. and maybe the tool to crimp them. They work great for computers that arent going to be moved but because they are solid core they wont handle the movement as well as a regular patch cable will. Then again you must consider how often someone is buying cables. It is happening less and less these days what with wireless mimo routers and such. I know Im installing more wireless stuff then I used to.

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Cat5e cable
by Unycorn / March 16, 2007 2:47 PM PDT

Hey can just run down to your local Staples/CompUSA/Fry's/BestBuy and find varying lengths of Cat5e for about the same price or cheaper than on NewEgg, since you would avoid shipping costs, and the inconvenience of waiting for it to arrive.
Going thru NewEgg for Larger purchases is great (CPUs, MBs, Graphics, etc) but basic cabling and such, go local and get it TODAY.
Best advice is to keep the cable in the 6'-10' length for nest response. Stay away from Crossover cable, regardless of it's designation...if it says crossover anywhere in the packaging, drop it. That is basically only used for PC to PC connection for home networking (Networking without a hub) Another thing, when looking for any new hardware, check out for pricing....very helpful and they grab prices from over 250 locations.

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Re: Cat5e cable
by Big Steve / March 16, 2007 3:46 PM PDT
In reply to: Cat5e cable

Others have also mentioned in this thread that I should buy a CAT5E "patch" cable and to stay away from a CAT5E "crossover" cable and the reason or reasons I should stay away from CAT5E "crossover" cables besides those that you mentioned in your post are why? Are the 2 cables made out of different types of wires? Thank you for your post.

Big Steve

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Crossover versus patch
by SysIndepend / March 16, 2007 11:13 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: Cat5e cable

Crossover cables are(were) used directly between two computers without the use of a switch, router, hub or any other device. In your case, if you set your laptop down next to your desktop PC and plugged them into each other, you COULD use a crossover cable. Back in the day, they were required because the electronics at each end were not as sophisticated as today.

A cable has eight individual wires; four color coded pairs. Each pair is twisted at a different twist rate. The pairs are then twisted around each other. This twisting reduces the interference between the wires. The faster the signal, the more likelyhood of interference. For ethernet, two of the pairs are used to carry signals. A Trasnmit pair and a Receive pair. In a crossover cable, the wires are put in the end connector so the Transmit and Receive "cross-over". This way, computer A's transmit goes to Computer B's receive and vice versa. The wire used in the cable doesn't make any difference for this.

"Stranded" wire is more flexible, so is used between wall outlets and the computers. If you have a pile of equipment like me, instead of wall outlets, then stranded patch cables go between the devices. Stranded means each of those eight wires is made up of a bunch of really small copper strands, like string is made of many threads. If the patch cables have solid conductors, it only means they aren't as flexible. They will still work just fine.

A patch cable, and most new cabling today is "straight-thru". The cross-over work is done by the ethernet card, the router, the hub or the switch. The color coded wires are stuck in the connector left to right as: white/orange, orange, white/green, blue, white/blue, green, white/brown, brown. (Opposite if you look from the other side of the RJ-45 plug)

There is almost no need today for a homeuser to ever need a true crossover cable. Keep in mind hubs were hundreds of dollars, and switches used to be thousands of dollars. It made sense to use a $25 hand built, or $50 specialty ordered crossover cable to connect two computers. Now you can pick up a small hub for $15 and use generic cables for $4.99 each. No need to worry whether the cable you grabbed out of the pile is a patch cable or a crossover cable. They can all be patch cables.

Cat5e is rated for higher speeds than Cat5 because the twist rates are more closely held to the specifications for the cable. Cat6 uses an internal guide to keep the twist rate and the pair twists even more consistent, thus allowing even higher speeds.

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Re: Crossover verses patch
by Big Steve / March 17, 2007 1:57 AM PDT
In reply to: Crossover versus patch

Let me ask you this; what is meant by cables having "boots" and "no boots"? I read that on a website last night that specializes in selling cables. You use the term "switch". Is my Lynksys wireless router also a "switch"? Thanks for your post.

Big Steve

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cable boots
by linkit / March 17, 2007 2:38 AM PDT

The boot is the little, flexible rubber-like covering on the hard plastic cable ending. It keeps the cable from being bent too sharply at the plastic ending and prevents the plastic barb on the ending from breaking off.

Popular Linksys routers have a built-in 4-port switch for making wired connections.

Hubs, switches, and routers may all be used for creating computer networks, but there are some key differences among them. More information (take your pick):

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by consaka / March 17, 2007 3:12 AM PDT

Someone else did an excellant job of answering your boot question so ill just elaborate on the switch.
One of the earliest devices for getting computers to talk to each other was a hub. You just plugged all the computers into it with ethernet cables(yes I know there were other cable type and solutions before this for like dumb terminals)and they could talk. But hubs broadcast all information to all computers. Thus it was not hard to overwhelm a hub with data. An overwhelmed hub starts to have what are called collisions and these can really slow a network down. A busy dental office running dentrix with some data mirroring going on can literally stop traffic due to these collisions.
A switch on the other hand, sends data from a server or other computer directly to the computer it is intended for. The switch is smart in the sense that it can identify computers hooked on its port thus it does not have collision problems like a hub does. Today almost all wireless modems or routers that have more then one port on them use switch technology. In fact I cant think of any that don't. You can still buy a standalone switch but there is no real need to anymore for the average homeowner. Mostly because their wireless router comes with 4 ports and hey it supports wireless.

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It's simple
by consaka / March 17, 2007 3:00 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: Cat5e cable

People told you to stay away from crossover cables because you dont need them.
If you want to ultimatly find out why anyway, go ahead and buy one along with your regular patch cable.
When you get it hold the connector ends up and see if you can see the colors on the little wires.
On the regular patch cable you will see that they match. Usually orange white pair on the left if you are looking at the bottom of the connector.
On the crossover cable they will be swapped on one of the connectors to show up on the right hand side.

The reason? In the old days and maybe even today with some hardware, you could stack hubs. Mostly businesses would do this as they would grow. Their 8 port hub got filled up so they would buy another and stack it on top. These hubs needed a crossover cable to be able to communicate with each other. Another less common use was people trying to get two computers to talk to each other that didnt have a hub, switch or router.

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Cheap Cables
by Summerblue / March 16, 2007 4:47 PM PDT Have cheap cables that work fine.

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Re: Cheap Cables
by Big Steve / March 22, 2007 9:32 AM PDT
In reply to: Cheap Cables

A CAT5E cable which I purchased from a store on Ebay came today but after examining the cable closely nowhere is it labeled CAT5E; it's labeled CAT5. I plan to contact the seller but if I had a CAT5E cable in front of me; would there be a big difference between the 2 cables? The cable itself cost me $1.64 plus shipping.

The bag containing the cable had this information on it; details below.




Could this seller have sent me the wrong type of cable? If I purchased a CAT5E patch cable which is what all of my Ebay correspondence indicates; should the cable also be labeled CAT5E instead of simply CAT5? I would estimate that this cable is just under 1/4" in diameter if I were to cut it and measure it.

Big Steve

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