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 updates 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 simply 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 is usually overkill for common households. If your internet speeds and in-network transfers don’t require much performance, getting a high category cable would simply 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 super fast cable will be slowed down by a slow modem. Higher categories are usually needed by businesses and users with more intensive needs.
1. Monoprice Cat5e Ethernet Cable
This is the best Ethernet cable for anyone in need of something basic. The Monoprice Cat 5e cable is available in a range of lengths, from 0.5ft to 100ft, and the price starts at under $4 for the smallest one. Because it’s a Cat 5e cable, it should be able to handle most home internet speeds.
2. AmazonBasics Cat 6
What makes this one of the best Ethernet cables is its value. The AmazonBasics Cat 6 does a bit more than covering the basics by offering Cat 6 performance at a low price. It 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 and the smallest cable costs under $8.
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.
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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 in 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. Deego Cat 6
If for any reason you need a seriously long cable, the Deego 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 20 cable clips to keep everything organized.
8. Smolink Cat 8
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. Future-proofing yourself might be a good idea at this price point.
That’s it for our list of the best Ethernet cables you can buy! As you can see, getting good performance doesn’t require spending too much. And often you may not even need that much performance to take full advantage of your hardware.