Cat6 and the Cat6a are two of the most widely compared ethernet cables. People seek answers to which one of the two is better because both cables are similar yet also different in many aspects.
For instance, both Cat6 and 6a can support the 10-gigabit ethernet applications but at different lengths. Both cables also support PoE and poE+/++ applications but some variants of the Cat6 do not.
Let’s discuss these differences and similarities between both cables to answer whether the Cat6 Ethernet cable is better than the Cat6a.
The Cat6 cable is pretty high-tech. Featuring 23 AWG conductors that are twisted in pairs to maintain a minimum electromagnetic interference and crosstalk, it is built for speed.
The cable transmits data at speeds of up to 1 GBit/s over 100 meters with a bandwidth capacity of 550 MHz. Moreover, the cable can transmit data at up to 10 GBit/s speed at up to 50 meters.
It comes in different jackets, conductors, and shielded/unshielded variants. The Cat6 plenum is its most advanced variant which features a CMP jacket that is designed for all kinds of uses from indoors to outdoors.
The plenum-rated Cat6 cable is also a little more expensive than its counterparts because of the premium quality materials used in manufacturing it.
The Cat6a cable is an augmented version of the category 6 ethernet cable. At its core, the cable features 4 twisted pairs of 23 AWG bare copper wires. It is produced with only bare copper conductors. The jackets are also limited options. Only plenum and riser jackets are wrapped around the Cat6a cable for ultimate speed and bandwidth.
The Cat6a plenum cable, like the Cat6 plenum, is the most popular option because of its unmatched performance in harsh weather, both indoors and outdoors.
Is the Cat6 better than the Cat6a?
Whether the Cat6 cable is better than the Cat6a is a highly subjective question. Meaning it depends on too many factors such as requirements, installation type, etc to give a straightforward answer.
But to be straightforward, the Cat6 cable is better than the 6a.
Now here’s why.
The Cat6a cable is faster and more reliable at both shorter and longer lengths. However, the same reliability and speed can be achieved in the Cat6 cable by running it at up to 50 meters. And the Cat6 is more affordable as compared to the 6a.
Furthermore, the Cat6 ethernet cable comes with more options to choose from. Such as Cat6 plenum bare copper/CCA, Cat6 Riser bare copper/CCA, and Cat6 PVC. Note that the Cat6a cable is not produced with CCA conductors which limits the number of options to choose from.
The difference in Specs!
You might notice that the Cat6a and 6 cables are similar in more aspects than they are different. This is true but there are plenty of differences as well.
For instance, all Cat6a cables support PoE applications but the Cat6 CCA cables do not.
Similarly, the twists in the conductors of the Cat6a cable are tighter than the Cat6 which results in a much better resistance against EMI and interference.
These are some of the specifications that are different in both cables despite being so similar to each other. But these differences rarely define whether the Cat6 or the Cat6a is better.
Why Choose Cat6?
There are various reasons to choose the Cat6 cable. The most prominent reason is the flexibility to choose just the right cable for your network. Do you need a cable that does not have to support the PoE application, to get the Cat6 CCA? Do you need a cable that does not have to have the plenum jacket, get the Cat6 riser or PVC.
But if you need a high-performance cable at reasonable costs, the Cat6 plenum and riser cables are stellar options.
So, the Cat6 cable offers a wide range of options to choose from at fairly affordable rates. This is its most selling quality and you might also want to buy it.
Why the augmented Category 6 cable? Well, we just discussed and concluded the reasons to choose the Cat6 cable: affordable prices and a wide variety. Reasons to buy the Cat6a cable are almost entirely different from those.
It is fairly expensive and does not have too many options to choose from. So much so, the Cat6a cable comes with only two different jackets: Plenum and Riser.
Although the riser-rated Cat6a is more affordable than the plenum, it is still more expensive than the Cat6 cables.
So what are the best selling qualities of the Cat6a and why should one choose it?
It performs better. With more twists per unit length in the cable conductors, it can relay signals more efficiently and at greater speeds over longer distances. This is its main feature and if you need it, get it.
Cat6 cable is more affordable, with more options to choose from, and offers almost as good a performance as the Cat6a cable. Therefore, it can be regarded as better than the Cat6a. But in any case, it depends on the user’s requirements.
You should read also Benefits of Installing Cat 6 Cables