Let's suppose I have a building run on Cat6 cables. The lines are certified for Gigabit speeds. I have Gigabit switches. I am not going for 10Gbps anywhere.

Now, on my patch panels, I would prefer to use stranded Cat5e because they are thinner and more flexible than Cat6. Patch panels bulk up rather rapidly so I have had a much better experience with Cat5e.

The maximum cable length of my patch cables are 12 feet.

Given that my goal is a Gigabit network, is there any real-world difference in performance by patching over Cat5e instead of Cat6, over a Cat6 network? I'm not talking theoretical. I'm talking actual bandwidth transfer.

I have several people telling me there is, however I cannot understand why as Cat5e can also certify as Gigabit and we are only talking about very short distances.

  • That's going to be real tough to answer, as it depends on so many things, most of them particular to your systems. First, not all cables are equal - a good Cat5e can be better at handling gigE under trying conditions than a cheap Cat6. The only real way to know is to try. Sep 9, 2017 at 8:30

2 Answers 2


I do this.

Cat6 for infrastructure cabling, but slim Tripp-Lite Cat5e molded for patch cables.

There's no realistic downside to this. If you need 10GbE at some point in the future, and will specifically require 10gbase-T (unlikely), then buy new patch cables.


If you invest don't cut there, as the day you will install a 10gig switch you will be ready.

CAT5e can do the job technically, but the 1gb is the max speed rating of the cable, while in CAT6 it's the minimum rating.

If in doubt, please use a advanced cable tester, like a fluke, and do a full test of your installation, it's the best way to know if that CAT5e will cause you problem.

  • Understood. But given these are dumb clients, I would never need that much. Couldn't I simply switch out the few uplink patch cables that need to be 10GE at that point?
    – dthree
    Sep 9, 2017 at 15:44
  • @dthree yes of course, like if it's any terminal or simple pc they will never use that much! My point was more mini cat6 patch cord exist, and cost like nothing (ex; computercablestore.com/cat6-mini-patch-cable-5-ft-black-booted). Five year ago my advice would be more use cat5e as the cat6 cable costed high, but that changed
    – yagmoth555
    Sep 9, 2017 at 22:36

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