What Type of Cat6 Cable Should I Use? Ethernet Cables To Buy?

Cat6 Cable is an essential part of all kinds of wired data communications around the globe. These cables are fast, reliable, and cost-effective. Cat6 Ethernet Cables are produced in a multitude of types. Characterizedbased on cable color, conductor type, jacket, shielded/unshielded, etc. And when you are buying the cable for the first time, you will most probably encounter the problem: Which Cat6 should you use?

The answer depends on many factors, and you must pay careful attention to them to get the right cables for your requirements. Fortunately, we will walk you through every detail of Cat6 cable and types in this blog so that you can make an informed decision.

Be sure to read till the end.

Understanding Cat6 Cable

Understanding the Cat6 cable is a requirement for choosing the right type. It is the 6th category of ethernet cables, standardized by IEEE under the 1000BASE-T specifications. Which stipulates that the cable should have at least 1 GBit/s data transfer rates over a 100-meter length.

Therefore the cable runs 100 meters and seamlessly supports gigabit speeds with 5 whopping 550 MHz bandwidth. Moreover, the cable has to have 4 twisted-pair conductors. The twists are encouraged to be tight by the IEEE and other industry standards because it helps keep the EMI and crosstalk at a minimum.

Further, the cable is produced in different variants. Although all variants follow the same basic IEEE and ANSI/EIA/TIA, their uses are different owing to the rest of the features of the cable. Such as the conductor type, jacketing material, etc.


Conductor Types: two types of conductors are integrated into the Cat6 ethernet cable. Namely, bare copper and copper-clad aluminum. The copper-clad aluminum is a rather budget cable with relatively lesser flexibility and conductivity. Bare or pure copper conductors are premium quality wires with the highest performance and safety standards. Bulk Cat6 cables with pure copper conductors are easy to install as well.

Shielded/Unshielded: Some bulk Cat6 cables are shielded with a metal foil or a wire mesh. Or both wrapped around the conductor. These cables are called STP or shielded twisted-pair cables. The shielding in them either absorbs or reflects the signals that go haywire in the network. Shielding ultimately results in flawless signal transmission.

Unshielded cables or unshielded twisted-pair cables (UTP lack this additional protection. So when used in crowded networks, these cables tend to receive some unwanted interference.

Types of Bulk Cat6 Cable

Bulk Cat6 Cables, produced in longer lengths of 500ft, 1000ft, etc are divided into three main types. Namely, plenum, riser, and PVC. These types can be differentiated further based on the specifications of their cores.

Cat6 Plenum

Cat6 Plenum cable is the top-of-the-line solution for indoor runs in open spaces. Such as in HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) conduits. It is recognized for its highly safe and reliable jacket: the communications multipurpose plenum.

The plenum-rated Cat6 cable is designed to be fire and toxic smoke-resistant as well as, easily installable. More on where to use it in later parts.

Cat6 Riser

Riser-rated (CMR) Cat6 cable is second only to the plenum in terms of safety and performance. To ensure that it will not burn or emit toxic smoke, the cable undergoes a vertical fire safety test. However, if it does burn it can emit toxic smoke. It is therefore strictly prohibited to install it in indoor open spaces.

The riser cable’s main features are its cost-effectiveness and versatile utility from indoor vertically rising spaces to outdoors.

Cat6 PVC

PVC-rated Cat6 Cable is identified by its polyvinyl chloride jacketing material. It is flammable and emits toxic smoke in a fire hazard. That’s why it is not recommended for use in indoor runs. However, for temporary or short-term outdoor use, it can be utilized.


Which Cat6 Cable Should I Use?

Your requirements determine the type of Cat6 ethernet cable you need. For instance, you can use the Plenum-rated Cat6 for indoor runs. Which is safe and highly reliable for installations in such spaces.

Similarly, if you need an easy-to-install cable for outside use, you can go for a Riser-rated cable that is cost-effective, easily maneuverable, and quite reliable.

Indoor Plenum Spaces:

Indoor plenum spaces are the open spaces below raised floors and above-dropped ceilings. In these spaces, you need to use the Cat6 plenum cable. Use the shielded Cat6 plenum cable if there are more than two or three cables in the plenum ducts. It will enhance the single integrity and efficiency of the cable.

Indoor Riser Spaces:

The indoor riser spaces are vertically rising spaces that are enclosed. Such as the space between floors, elevator shafts, and inside walls. In such spaces, you can use either a plenum-rated Cat6 or a riser-rated Cat6.

But because the riser-rated variant is more affordable and suffices for the task, it is the one used most of the time.


For outdoor runs, both the riser and plenum cables are used. But they are not the most suitable because they will most likely face extremely harsh weather conditions and therefore a direct burial Cat6 Cable is recommended for the job.


In short, Cat6 Bulk Ethernet Cable comes in a myriad of options to choose from. And there is a Cat6 cable exclusively designed for any unique requirement. We hope you can now use this knowledge to get the right cable for your network.

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