1. 21
  1.  

  2. 20

    Category 5 is cheaper, but can only support speeds of 100 Mbps. Category 6 is slightly more expensive but you will need it to get full gigabit speeds.

    This isn’t entirely correct: cat5 is only rated for 100Mbps, but cat5e will do 1Gbps just fine and is significantly cheaper than cat6a and more flexible.

    This is a pretty good read on the differences between cat5e/cat6.

    1. 7

      While YMMV, I agree here and offer my experience. My house was built and wired in 1998 just before the change over from cat 5 to cat 5e. I did an addition in 2003 with cat 5e. I run gigabit on a mix of both of those cable types with no problem. I figure that there are two reasons for this. First, as the wikipedia article says, most cat 5 cable actually meets cat 5e specifications even though it wasn’t tested that way. Second, with regard to bandwidth, drop length matters at least as much as the cable you use. My longest drop might be 35 meters. My average drop is probably just under 10 meters. At those lengths, it was a good bet to replace my 100Mb/s switches with Gigabit swtiches and cross my fingers/keep the receipts.

      1. 5

        My house was built in the early 90s, probably just after they switched from installing 4-wire copper phone cables to installing Category 3 cables instead. However, these Category 3 cables still support gigabit speeds without issue (I use it every day with our symmetric 300 Mbps Internet connection), despite being stapled to the struts.

        I’m not saying all Cat 3 will do this, just that some cables do indeed meet higher specifications, per above.

        1. 3

          My desktop currently speaks 10GbaseT to my main switch via ~20ft of cat5 (not e). And the other end is a 10GbaseT SFP+ adapter which only claims 30 meters over cat6, vs the 10GbaseT standard 100 meters.

        2. 2

          However if you plan to use Type3/4 PoE devices, the thicker wire gauges found in Cat6/6a/7 are recommended.

        3. 9

          If you have carpet and you’re willing to pull it up and lay it again (not too hard), you can inexpensively run cable under that by cutting into the underlay. We ran ethernet to most rooms in the house for about £30 worth of stuff (£20 for 100 meters of Cat5e, £10 for a crimping tool and rj45 plugs) and a day’s worth of our inexpert labour.

          You can also run cables along or behind skirting board. There’s even hollow skirting board you can buy for this purpose.

          We use two wireless access points both broadcasting the same SSID and clients seem to roam okay between them. Our main issue is that the router/modem loses connection to our upstream occasionally, which is a problem I have had with every OpenWRT router I’ve set up. I don’t know if it’s OpenWRT or my various ISPs or me damaging the hardware.

          The QoS stuff on OpenWRT is quite good, though. Easy to set up, deals with bufferbloat and prevents one user hogging the connection.

          1. 2

            I should note you’ll probably also need to lift the carpet door strips and cut gaps in the bottom bar of them to let the cables through. This is pretty easy to do by hand with a hack saw.

          2. 6

            Call me spoiled, but a 10G network between my NAS and various computers (a Mac mini, a workstation) is life-changing for me. Daily backup is faster, no seeking delays when play / scrolling 4K videos and just in general file transfers snappier. I live in an apartment now so cat6e works fine for me. But if I moved, I would seek solutions to have 10G connectivity in every room.

            1. 3

              What kind of switches are you using? Last I really looked, 10 gigabit Ethernet hardware was still expensive enough to put it out of my reach for home use.

              1. 2

                I am on MikroTik switch like the other threads already mentioned.

              2. 2

                I’m about 1/2 way through replacing most of my home network with 10gbase-t - I just finished pulling new cat7 cable to replace cat5 that came with the house and wasn’t able to support 10g (or even 1g on a few of the links).

                There still aren’t a lot of options for 10g home lab grade equipment. It seems like it’s either a nice used switch from eBay that makes my neighbors think I have a jet engine in my garage or a really cheap unmanaged 10g switch (e.g. MicroTik or something similar).

                1. 4

                  Everything from MikroTik is managed, and the models with “router” in the name dual boot SwOS/RouterOS. Heck, the 10G capable Marvell switch chip they use even supports accelerated L3 forwarding, and they finally started using that (in betas and for IPv4 only for now, IIRC)

                  1. 3

                    I’ve been using Mikrotik for many years now, but I feel that their software and hardware QA has gone downhill lately. I got burned by a variant of this 10Gb problem, and they still haven’t made it right. A lot of their layer 3 stuff is a little off (search for BGP issues) too.

                    That said, no one else is even close to their price point for a redundant power switch (even most of the cheap stuff will accept power over passive POE and a wall wart). My advice is to use for L2 functionality, heavily test, and have spares even for home networks. And allow a fair amount of time to get accustomed to their rather exotic configurations, which change more often than they should.

                2. 6

                  Don’t be scared to consider Cat 8.1 (40GB/s up to 30m), because it is standardized with the RJ45-connectors contrary to Cat 7, which isn’t.

                  1. 3

                    If you’re going from scratch, is there a good reason not to just do fibre for the runs and put RJ45 converters in the walls for easy-to-plug-in ?

                    1. 3

                      That’s also an idea, but this comes at considerably more cost and is a bit problematic for some home-network applications like PoE. With fibre, it’s not as simple as with cables to connect surveillance cameras, wifi antennas, or anything else. And given PoE++ supports up to 70W, I could think of many applications where this might come in handy. :)

                      1. 1

                        I like to follow the rule of “always pull an extra Cat5 or two if you have the room with any cable pull” (although recently updated the rule to Cat6 and now it sounds like I should do 8.1). When I did this with fiber a few years back, I had no plans for the Cat5, but did end up using it for POE later. As an aside, if you use Cat5 (not e) with POE, IME it will stop working reliably at some point. :(

                      2. 1

                        Where can I find out more about what it means for Cat 8.1 to be standardized with RJ45?

                        Does this mean the Cat 8.1 spec specifies a certain RJ45 pinout? Or something else?

                        1. 6

                          It is really simple, and I understand you, because it confused the heck out of me before I figured it out. Up until (including) Cat 6A, it was part of the standard to use RJ45-connectors. Their disadvantage is that it’s really hard to shield them, which is why Cat 7 brought a new connector type (GG45) which looks almost like RJ45 but is not compatible with it (you can plug an RJ45 into a GG45 socket, but not the other way round). Additionally, Cat 7 isn’t even an international standard and quite messy. Most people use Cat 7 cables but terminate them with RJ45 connectors, which makes zero sense because this way you don’t even make use of the special shielding and grounding in the cable. It’s effectively a waste of money.

                          Cat 8.1 came later and fixed a lot of stuff. It is an international standard and uses the RJ45 connectors again (which is possible due to advances in shielding technology). There is also Cat 8.2, which uses different connectors, but that’s another matter. The cables themselves (Cat 8.1 and 8.2) are the same.

                          What I meant with my comment was this: If you renovate you house and install cables, the cables are the only thing that matter. If you really upgrade to 40GB/s in 10 years, it is possible. Even if, by then, other connectors are the norm, you can replace them on the existing cables, but you cannot easily replace the cables themselves in your wall, obviously.

                          tl;dr: If you want more than 10GB/s (which is not unreasonable anymore) and want to be future proof, skip Cat 7 and go directly with Cat 8 cables and Cat 8.1 RJ45 connectors.

                          1. 1

                            Ah thanks for the explanation, that’s very helpful. It didn’t even occur to me that Cat 7 wouldn’t have specified the use of an RJ45 connector at all.

                            1. 1

                              You are very welcome! Yes, this fact is rarely mentioned and, for me at least, means that Cat 7 could very well not even exist.

                      3. 3

                        My dream is to be able to afford a house where one room is a rack full of built and pre-built hardware (UBNT likely) with 10g SFP+ everywhere.

                        1. 2

                          Haha, the most surprising thing I got out of that article was representing floor plans with ascii.

                          Also, CAT 7 cables also exist as well.

                          1. 3

                            Cat6 cables are kinda hard to bend already. I’m imagining cat7 cables probably feel like handling pieces of rebar when you pick them up? ;)

                            1. 2

                              Better go with Cat 8, see my other comment.

                              1. 1

                                TIL!

                            2. 1

                              Thank you for sharing this!

                              1. 1

                                The section on MoCA was interesting—I didn’t even know that exists.

                                But I’m really confused about the network topology the author settled on (partially because it isn’t clearly described). Multiple routers is probably the wrong choice for this kind of situation—multiple switches and APs, sure, but not multiple routers.

                                If I were setting this up I’d have a single router between my local network and Sonic. The router would give out IPv4 DHCP assignments and IPv6 router advertisements to the LAN. You can set up all the switches and APs you like behind that router, but directly exposing your LAN to your ISP’s network seems like a brittle mistake (and also possibly a security nightmare).

                                1. 1

                                  Ah, I wasn’t clear enough. I ended up running my two consumer routers in AP mode. I have a single managed switch sitting between the local network an Sonic.