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I understand that "technically" you are supposed to use cat6 cable jacks as well as cat6 patch panels. In practice I've seen cat6a plugged into cat5e patch panels, although I've never seen cat5e jacks on cat6a cable. It seemed to work fine. In practice does it actually make a difference when pushing 10Gb/s speeds?

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Could be wrong but I don't think cat6 cable will fit properly in a cat5e jack. – Grant Aug 8 '13 at 20:44
If it works at all it will only work over short distances without any EMI. – dmourati Aug 8 '13 at 22:28

There are performance characteristics set forth by TIA/EIA 568 for "connecting hardware" like jacks, etc.

Looking at the differences just between 5e and 6 (not 6a) connectors below, you can see the difference in mhz supported, loss, etc.

Only being an admin, and not an EE, I can't tell you what this means in terms of real world performance or acceptable performance, but it does show that the connectors themselves don't meet the given spec requirements of 10gb-t.

Technically Cat6 isn't recommended either, but full 6a for both the cabling and the connectors, per TSB-155-A because of alien crosstalk and other factors (distance past 37 meters experiencing crosstalk, noise, etc.)

So I guess the best answer I can say is that even if it "works" it technically isn't to spec requirements to use 5e connectors at all.

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