Buying Guide for Ethernet Cables
Why buy an ethernet cable?
An ethernet connection is almost always faster and more stable than Wi-Fi, making it a great option for home offices and video game consoles. Ethernet cables are also the most effective way to connect ethernet devices, such as POE switches and wireless gateways. In short, if you want a robust home network or a reliable internet connection, you’ll likely need at least a few quality ethernet cables to get the job done.
What should you look for in an ethernet cable?
- Speed: In terms of speed, not all ethernet cables are created equally. For instance, antiquated Cat5 ethernet cables only get to speeds of 10 to 100Mbps, so they’re a bit slow for most people in the age of ultra-high-speed internet. On the other hand, modern Cat7A ethernet cables can have much faster 10Gbps data transfer speeds and improved bandwidth. Be sure to choose an ethernet cable that’s suitable for the application that you have in mind.
- Length: Naturally, selecting an ethernet cable that is too short will force you to either find a new product or reorganize your setup. For this reason, taking measurements ahead of time can be a wise idea, especially if you’re unsure what cable length you need. However, don’t forget that longer cables will see diminishing returns regarding speed, especially for cables that are 30 meters or longer.
- Reliability: Your new ethernet cable should be durable enough for years of reliable service. It should also be flexible enough for the given application. Ethernet cables tend to vary wildly in terms of sturdiness and reliability, so do some research before deciding on a specific cable.
What other factors should be considered when shopping for an ethernet cable?
While it might not seem important, you should at least consider an ethernet cable’s color. Most people prefer a color that blends in well, especially if the cable is used in a living area. However, if you are using the cables for a POE switch with a whole mess of other ethernet cables, color-coding your setup can be a way to simplify your cable management. Also, if you’ll be running the cable along walls or molding, you may consider a flat ethernet cable since these are easy to manipulate and maneuver while remaining inconspicuous.
Our Picks for the Best Ethernet Cables
Pros: For anyone using an old ethernet cable for gaming or other data-intensive tasks, upgrading to this Cat6 cable from Amazon Basics should provide an instant upgrade in terms of speed and performance. Despite its affordable price, this ethernet cable reliably delivers up to gigabit speeds and is sturdily constructed to last. It also scores points for its quality gold-plated connectors, which gives the impression that Amazon didn’t cut corners with this budget-friendly cable.
Cons: Some may find this cable’s boot is too chunky for some switches with minimal clearance between ethernet ports. Also, as a Cat6 cable, this product will be a huge upgrade for many people. However, its transfer speeds of up to 1 Gbps are unlikely to hold well with the data speed demands of the next decade.
Bottom Line: With its affordable price, respectable data speeds, and solid build quality, there’s not much else you can ask for from an ethernet cable. This one also comes in many different sizes, so there’s likely a version suitable for your specific application.
Pros: Featuring a flat, braided design that makes it incredibly easy (and inconspicuous) to run on walls and under fixtures, this Cat8 ethernet cable from Orbram will provide more than enough data transfer speed to meet just about anyone’s needs. It also comes in various sizes, including extra-long and extra-short models for specialized applications. If you’re looking for an ultra-fast ethernet cable that can be run under a carpet and hardly noticed, this one is worth a look.
Cons: Realistically, most consumer internet plans won’t even be able to take advantage of Cat8 speeds for some time, and upgrading your ethernet cable won’t automatically upgrade your router’s internet performance to something it’s not capable of.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a good ethernet cable that comes in nearly every size you could want, this one is a great choice. It’s also a high-performance option with speed offerings that are likely to still be impressive five years from now.
Pros: If you’re in the market for an ethernet cable that can be used outdoors in a pinch, this DbillionDa cable’s waterproof and anti-corrosion PVC coating is durable enough for the job. To sweeten the value, we’re talking Cat8 speeds that are fast enough for any application you can throw at it. If your lifestyle requires lightning-fast data transfer for work or play, you can’t go wrong with this cable.
Cons: This ethernet cable is far from flat, and it’s not the most flexible option on the market. While this is understandable given its durability, it’s probably not the type of low-profile cable you would run under a carpet in your living room.
Bottom Line: Thanks to its durable, water-resistant design and impressive UV resistance, this is a suitable cable for demanding applications, including outdoor projects. That being said, its lack of flexibility can complicate some projects.
Pros: Featuring size options up to 200 feet, the Jadaol Cat6 Ethernet Cable is a great ethernet cable for those who put a premium on length and affordability. That being said, this cable also scores points for its convenience, as it comes with plenty of cable clips and black and white versions to suit your space.
Cons: Although this ethernet cable is highly rated, it’s worth mentioning that some may find their cable failing prematurely, usually within a year or two. Also, the cable may be slightly shorter than what you expect.
Bottom Line: While this isn’t an ethernet cable with top-notch data transfer speeds, it’s more than enough to meet the average consumer’s needs. Its slim design and exceptional flexibility also make it an extremely forgiving ethernet cable to work with.
Pros: This 10-pack of ethernet cables from Monoprice offers a slim profile and affordable price point, given the high quality of the cables. They also come in several color options, which can help with organization and cable management if your application requires a lot of ethernet cables. These cables also impress in terms of reliability, and their narrow boot ensures that they work for applications where your cables are used in tightly-packed ports.
Cons: These are budget ethernet cables, so you get what you pay for. As such, don’t be overly surprised if some of your cables end up being an inch shorter than the others. Also, these slim cables don’t offer a lot in terms of durability, especially when compared to beefier, premium options.
Bottom Line: If you need a bunch of above-average ethernet cables at an unbeatable price, these Cat6A cables from Monoprice are worth every penny. That said, don’t expect blistering data speeds or rugged durability at this price point.
Ethernet cables vary in terms of technology, durability, and even design. As such, it’s essential to do your research when buying new ethernet cables. If you take the time to select the perfect cable for your application, you’re unlikely to regret your purchase after all is said and done.