When it comes to USB cables, there are so many different kinds. They all have the same general capabilities, but differ when it comes to technological specifics. If you’re confused about which cables you should buy, here is a breakdown of the main different types of USB cables.
First, cat5 cables are the most basic. Cat5 cables have been around for the longest, and many upgrades have been made to the technology, but these cables still support speeds up to 100 mbps.
Cat5e cable are the enhanced version of cat5 cables. Cat5e cables are designed to limit crosstalk and interference and offer speeds of up to 1000 mbps. Cat5e cables are probably the most common types of cables being sold right now, and they work properly for general home use.
Cat6 cables are unnecessary in most cases because of their unrealistic capabilities. They offer speeds of up to 10,000mbps, or 10 gigabits. This is usually unnecessary because consumer switches that support those needs are very uncommon. This type of cable is for more experienced users, and even then, they’re usually still not needed. As our technology becomes more advanced, they may become more popular, but until then, a regular cat5 or cat5e cable will work just fine.
When shopping for cables of any kind, it’s important to understand the jargon involved. Acronyms like UTP and STP can be confusing if you don’t understand them. UTP means “unshielded twisted pair” and is the most common type of cable. It means that the wires inside the cable are bundled with no additional protection. STP is shielded, which means that there is a layer of foil in place to provide additional protection from electrical interference. However, it does need compatible equipment and is more expensive. STP is generally used in areas that have a lot of heavy machinery, equipment, or other types of interference. Its signal doesn’t degrade quite as much when longer distances are involved.
Overall, shopping for cables shouldn’t be too difficult; the key is to know exactly what you’re looking for. Many store associates will lead you to buy more expensive and unnecessary cables, but if you know what you’re looking for, you’ll get the best deal every time.