The best Ethernet cables can significantly improve network and internet speeds. And while they all look the same, there can be some major differences from cable to cable. Choosing the right one can be a confusing feat, which is why we are here to help you.
The best Ethernet cables
Editor’s note: This list of the best Ethernet cables will be regularly updated as new products launch and others are phased out.
Understanding Ethernet cable differences
Just like with any other cables, Ethernet cables are made with different specs and purposes in mind. Some perform better than others, which makes understanding which cable you need crucial.
Ethernet cables are labeled with the word “Cat” and a number. Cat stands for “category,” and the number determines the generation and performance, taking max bandwidth and speeds into consideration. The higher the category number, the faster the cable. Let’s dig further into speeds.
Ethernet cable category speeds and frequencies:
- Cat 3: Up to 10Mbps (16MHz)
- Cat 4: Up to 16Mbps (20MHz)
- Cat 5: Up to 100Mbps (100MHz)
- Cat 5e: Up to 1Gbps (100MHz)
- Cat 6: Up to 1Gbps (250MHz)
- Cat 6a: Up to 10Gbps (500MHz)
- Cat 7: Up to 10Gbps (600MHz)
- Cat 7a: Up to 10Gbps (1000MHz)
- Cat 8: Up to 40Gbps (2000MHz)
Keep in mind these standards are measured with cable lengths of 100 meters. Performance tends to decrease as cables get longer, which is something to keep in mind.
Which category cable you need depends on your network habits. Most casual users need no more than a Cat 5 cable, but Cat 5e cables have also become popular as Gigabit internet becomes more available. Cat 5e doesn’t cost significantly more than Cat 5, which is why we won’t recommend anything slower than Cat 5e.
Anything over these categories can be overkill for most common households. If your internet speeds and in-network transfers don’t require much performance, getting a high-level cable would entail paying more and getting a bulkier cable for performance you won’t take advantage of. Your modem’s max speeds are another factor to keep in mind. A slow modem will slow down a super-fast cable. Businesses users usually need higher categories with more intensive needs.
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1. Cable Matters 8-Pack Snagless Cat5e
If you’re going with a Cat 5e cable, you best be getting a good deal for sacrificing performance. This is definitely an offer; Cable Matters offers an 8-pack of cables for the price of one or two of the other cables. The cheapest option only comes with 1-foot cables, but you can pay a bit more for a longer range.
2. AmazonBasics Cat 6
What makes this one of the best Ethernet cables is its value. This AmazonBasics Cat 6 cable does a bit more than covering the basics by offering Cat 6 performance at a low price. The cable has 1Gbps speeds at 250MHz, so you should be able to run Gigabit internet without a problem. It’s also available in multiple sizes.
3. AmazonBasics Cat 7
Take things a step further with an AmazonBasics Cat 7 version. This is one of the best Ethernet cables for those who want to take connectivity to the next level without spending too much cash on fancy brands. It can reach speeds of up to 10Gbps.
4. Monoprice Flexboot Cat 6 Ethernet Cable
Monoprice is back with another of the best Ethernet cables. These offer Cat 6 speeds, a basic design, and great value. What’s cool about this cable is that it can be had in a wide variety of colors, just in case you want a specific hue to go with your walls or decor. You can also pick from different lengths.
5. Vandesail Cat 7
Fans of the flat cable design will agree the Vandesail Cat 7 is one of the best Ethernet cables around. It’s also a good deal considering the price, and Cat 7 offers 10Gbps speeds at 1000MHz. The flat design also makes cable management easier. And there’s a variety of colors and lengths to choose from.
6. DanYee Cat 7
This is definitely among the best Ethernet cables on this list. If anything, it is the coolest looking! The braided design adds a touch of personality while keeping the cable flexible and strong. Cat 7 speeds offer a 10Gbps connection, and the manufacturer has a variety of lengths and colors to choose from.
7. Jadaol Cat 6 Ethernet Cable
If for any reason you need a seriously long cable, the Jadaol Cat 6 option is one of the best Ethernet cables in this category. It measures 50ft and has a flat design, not to mention it offers 10Gbps speeds. Also included are 15 cable clips to keep everything organized.
8. Vabogu Cat 8 Heavy-Duty Ethernet Cable
If you truly need the blistering 40Gbps speeds and 2,000MHz frequency, this is one of the best Ethernet cables you can find. While it is a little pricier than usual, it isn’t amazingly expensive either. Future-proofing yourself might be a good idea at this price point. You also get the added benefit of a tough construction. The cable is said to be waterproof and UV-protected. It can be used both indoors and outdoors. You also get plenty of length options, ranging from 1.5ft to 100ft.