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The best Ethernet cables for 2023

Jan 05, 2024

You might have bought some Cat-5 Ethernet cables a few years ago, but as time passes, it's probably time to think about upgrading them to a more modern, more capable option. Unfortunately, the number of Ethernet cable options has not become any less complicated over the years. But we're here to help with our definitive list of the best Ethernet cables.

Cat 8 is overkill for most, but if you want the best of the best in terms of shielding and performance, it's as good as it gets. This particular gold-plated version comes in sizes from 3 to 100 feet and supports 2,000MHz bandwidth and data transmission up to 40Gbps. Cat 8 cables are also waterproof, anti-corrosion, and use more durable PVC material for indoor or outdoor projects. It's an ideal pick for professional or personal cable management and could be a noticeable improvement in performance, too.

The flat design of this Ethernet cable is an alternative option that some may prefer depending on the installation. Flat cables are a bit more resistant to forming classic tangles and are easier to run under carpets, beneath doors, or in cracks along the wall. The RJ45 connectors are gold-plated and over-molded for extra durability, with a shape that's meant to resist catching on other cables or objects while you’re working. Lengths range from three feet to 50 feet.

If you know that your Ethernet project is going to require running cables outdoors where they will be exposed to the elements, you need a durable option that can handle it. This Cat 8 cable, available in sizes up to 150 feet, has a pure copper core, aluminum foil shield, woven mesh shield, and thick PVC outer layer. That makes it highly water and UV-resistant, so you won't have to worry about issues developing down the line.

Category 6 Ethernet cables were eventually updated with an optimized 6A version, with thicker conductors, durable jackets, and a significant speed upgrade — 10GB at up to 100 meters — that made it an excellent option for those who couldn't work with the Cat-7 changes. This particular version of the cable also includes additional shielding, gold-plated contacts, and boots for durability. The snagless clip protector also helps prevent accidents or cable damage while work (or if someone stumbles on one of the cables).

If you’re happy with your current Ethernet cable, you may not want to replace it entirely. However, a new device or new router setup, etc., may mean that your current cables aren't quite long enough to get the job done. This Cat 6 extension is specifically made to extend a current cable over a longer distance, and you can move it between Ethernet cables as needed when you have a length issue.

These "SlimRun" cables are designed specifically for narrow spaces, running under carpets or baseboards, or saving space (and encouraging more airflow) in packed server rooms — they're half the size of standard Cat-6A cables. If you are dealing with more complex setups, there are also a variety of color options to choose from for even more organization possibilities. Here we've chosen a pack with a shorter length for connecting multiple devices to nearby Ethernet ports. If you are running these slim cables at a longer distance, they are available at up to 50 feet in length.

CableGeeker's flat Ethernet cable consists of unshielded twisted pairs made of 100% bare copper wire. The two connectors feature a "snagless" design preventing unwanted disconnects, molded strain-relief boots, and 50-micron gold-plated contacts.

This cable offers the same maximum speed as Amazon's model — 1Gbps — has better crosstalk protection and a higher 250MHz bandwidth than Cat 5 and Cat 5e products. You can buy this cable in a two-pack of 10-foot cables, or you can choose to buy it as a single cable in lengths from 1.5 to 150 feet.

Cables may boast the fastest speeds, but you can't even experience those speeds without a dependable connection. That's why the Cables Direct Online manufacturers pride their cables on having the best connectivity on the market. It maintains a 350MHz bandwidth that delivers an incredibly dependable connection with a 1Gbps data rate. Compared to other Cat 5a cables that generally provide 100MHz bandwidth, that's a vast improvement.

This Ethernet cable boasts four-stranded twisted pairs with PVC jackets, 50-micron gold-plated connectors, and copper-clad aluminum conductors. The cable offers a single gray color choice and has a round form.

This server-friendly pack of 5e cables offers snagless attachments, gold-plated connectors, and mold strain relief that offers additional cable protection while decreasing how easy it is for cables to get tangled while you are working. They are guaranteed to have full FCC 68 compliance for organizations that need to check that particular box and are available in five different colors for all your organizational needs.

If you have a server setup or similar project that requires an upgrade to the latest Ethernet technology, this Cat 8 cable is here for you. Available in lengths from 3 feet to 150 feet, it offers a durable yet thin PV design with waterproofing, and four pairs of shielded twisted pair copper wiring (26AWG). It's a flexible solution for data centers and offices where getting the latest Ethernet standard is a priority.

A new Ethernet cable can make a significant difference if you are upgrading from an older model, particularly when it comes to loading speeds. However, there are some very important factors that will affect how much of a difference you can actually feel, including:

Which speeds your current Internet connection provide

How long the Ethernet cable is from the router/gateway (longer cables will slow down speeds)

The capabilities of adjacent devices like routers

A good Ethernet cable is part of a setup to optimize internet speeds, but only a part of it.

The same rules apply to audio connections as to Ethernet speeds in general. But we would suggest sticking with at least Cat 6 and connections that can support it. Make sure you pick shielded cables that will help cut down on distortion, which may be more noticeable when it comes to audio. If you are running long cables for a venue or similar setup, work with a professional A/V expert with experience in Ethernet connections.

"Type" can mean a lot of things when it comes to Ethernet cables. Twisted pair cabling is popular for highly reliable connections, but coaxial cables are still used in many casual setups. Category 6 cables remain one of the most used Ethernet options, but as internet speeds and bandwidth continue to increase, Category 8 will eventually start to become a more popular option (Cat 7 is … weird). When it comes to brand, there's no particularly important choice, although looking at authentic reviews is always a good idea. Learn more about this in our guide on how to pick out an Ethernet cable.

Some cables come with nylon braiding. This makes it more difficult to twist or pull the cable until it is damaged, and helps protect cables from impacts (like footsteps) or wear and tear over time. If your cable is going to be frequently moved or re-positioned, then choosing a nylon option could be a better choice. Otherwise, nylon braiding doesn't actually improve any Ethernet specs, and will usually take up more space.

Look for flat cables. Several of our picks have a flattened design that's specifically made for running Ethernet cables across more awkward areas. It helps hide cables under baseboards, carpets, across doorways or under trim, etc. Use this option if you are worried about visibility or need to squeeze an Ethernet cable in a tight space without damaging it.

Some cables come bundled with clips and straps for better cable management. If you are only running a couple of cables along the floor, you probably don't need to worry about this. Clips are more useful when for binding cables under a desk, running them up a wall, or just keeping them out of the way. Straps and color combinations are key features for managing cable bundles in server rooms, but they aren't as useful elsewhere.

No, adding an Ethernet cable to a router won't take bandwidth away from your Wi-Fi network, as the cable is a separate channel. Actually, Ethernet cables can take some strain off crowded Wi-Fi networks by removing devices for an Ethernet-only connection and freeing up additional bandwidth.

The maximum distance for the best ethernet cables is 328 feet (100 meters). Past that, data degradation and interference can become real problems, especially for older versions of Ethernet cables. Heat can also play a role, and hotter conditions may introduce problems at shorter lengths.

Signals travel through Ethernet cables very, very quickly. A completely unshielded cable has a delay of around five nanoseconds per meter, so going the maximum suggested 328 feet/100 meters would create a delay of 500 nanoseconds or 0.0000005 seconds. And that's an unshielded cable, while most Ethernet cables today have some kind of shielding. So no, you're not going to notice any delays in longer cables until you start going well over the maximum suggested length.

Can't decide which cable is right for you? Check out our guide on how to choose an Ethernet cable to learn the speed differences, why Cat-7 is a bit of an oddball, and which type may be the best for your setup.