What is Cat 8 Ethernet Cable?

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With the rapid development of FTTx technology and optical fiber, many people think that Ethernet cables have already been a thing of the past. Things can be different. In the past years, Ethernet cables have continued to develop and the latest development is Cat 8 Ethernet cable.

What is Cat 8?

Cat 8 is the latest category of Ethernet cable officially recognized by the IEEE and EIA, which can be seen as a giant leap in the development of copper wire. The international standard ISO/IEC 11801 defines two classes of Cat 8: Class I and Class II. Cat 8.1 is compatible with RJ45 connectors, while Cat 8.2 is not designed for RJ45 connectors (usually compatible with GG45).  

cat8 ethernet cable

Different from other Ethernet cable categories, Category 8 Ethernet cables are always shielded to reduce crosstalk and noise. Cat 8 Ethernet cable has a higher data transmission speed and bandwidth than previous standard of network cables. Cat 8 can support 25 Gbps and 40 Gbps at the maximum length of 24 meters (78 feet) and 30 meters (100 feet).

Let’s take a look at the basic specification of Cat 8 Ethernet cables and explain the technical terms that are often seen in the cable specifications.

cat8 Ethernet cable specification

 

  • AWG: American Wire Gauge (AWG) is the standard way to measure wire size in North America. In general, the larger the wire size, the smaller the AWG. For example, a wire rated at 24 AWG is smaller and has less copper than a 22 AWG wire.
  • Jacket: This is a layer of insulation that covers the cable to protect it from moisture and chemical and physical impact. Cable jackets usually have different ratings with different protection requirements.
  • CM: CM stands for “Communications Multipurpose” cable, which means that the cable is suitable for in-wall installations. CM cable can be regarded as the minimum jacket rating for in-wall applications and it should be approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • PVC: This is short for “Polyvinyl Chloride”, which is one of the most common cable jacket materials. And it is usually recommended for indoor use.
  • S/FTP: Short for shielded with foiled twisted pairs. It means that four twisted pairs are wrapped in foil tape with an overall strong braid screen. The foil on the twisted pairs is designed to further reduce crosstalk and noise.
  • Bandwidth: It means the maximum capacity of an Ethernet cable to transmit data in bits per second (Bps).
  • OD: Short for “outside diameter”, and it is used to measure the diameter of a cable. When you want to install a home network yourself, it is important to know the OD of a cable, or the cable may not fit the connector.

Ethernet Cable Comparison

Ethernet cable is an essential part of a LAN cable with a long history. There are many different types of Ethernet cables with different limitations of speed, bandwidth, and distance. You can see Cat 5, Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6a, and Cat 8 on the market, what about Cat 7? Cat 7 has not been recognized by EIA/TIA, but it is also provided by many suppliers. Take a look at the following comparison chart and see how is Cat 8 different from other category Ethernet cables.

Cable Types

Shielding

Maximum Bandwidth

Maximum Speed

CAT5

Unshielded or shielded

100 MHz

100 Mbps

CAT5E

Unshielded or shielded

100 MHz

1 Gbps

CAT6

Unshielded or shielded

250 MHz

1 Gbps

CAT6A

Unshielded or shielded

500 MHz

10 Gbps

CAT7

Only shielded

600 MHz

40 Gbps

CAT8

Only shielded

2,000 MHz

25 Gbps / 40 Gbps

PoE

Power over Ethernet (PoE) is a technology that allows Ethernet cables to deliver data and power at the same time. PoE technology helps reduce the cost of installing other electrical cables.

Cat 8 Ethernet cables also support PoE technology, which can save space in date centers or server rooms. In addition, it also cuts the cost of cabling installation. But Cat 8 cable installation can be a bit more expensive than previous standard cables as Cat 8 Ethernet cables have a higher performance.

Is Cat 8 Ethernet Cable Good for Gaming?

Of course, you can use Cat8 Ethernet cables for gaming as they can support a bandwidth of up to 2,000 MHz and the maximum speed can reach 25 Gbps or 40 Gbps, but it may be overkilled. As is known to all, latency is very important in gaming. Latency is not only affected by the Ethernet cables but also by your ISP, router, and other network hardware. So even if your Ethernet cable supports a high speed, the ISP and router will limit your Internet speed.

cat8 ethernet cable for gaming

Currently, most home applications work well with Cat 6 or Cat 6a Ethernet cables, and most home equipment cannot work at the speed of CAT8 Ethernet cables. While Cat 8 Ethernet cables are overkill for your online gaming, a wired connection can always be your first choice for gaming. If you want to learn more about the difference between wired and wireless connection, read the article: What's difference between wired and wireless network?

But if you are looking for a future-proofing network cable, you’ll never go wrong with Cat 8 network cables.

Is Cat 8 Worth It?

Is it worth getting a Cat8 Ethernet cable? It depends on your own circumstances. Cat 8 Ethernet cables may be unnecessary for your home network, but it is the best choice for data centers and server rooms with requirements for high-speed networks. Cat 8 Ethernet cables are compatible with RJ45 connectors, so they can suit most network equipment. If your business needs a speed of more than 10 Gbps, Cat 8 Ethernet cables can be the most cost-effective solution to upgrading your network.

data center

With the development of technology, Cat 8 Ethernet cables can be more affordable and they can be your excellent option for “future-proofing” networks.

FAQS

  • Is CAT 8 backward compatible?

    CAT 8 uses standard RJ45 connectors, so it is backward compatible with previous-category Ethernet cables.

  • CAT 7 vs CAT 8, which is better?

    The first thing you should consider is that CAT 8 is recognized by TIA/EIA, but CAT 7 has not been approved. And CAT 8 Ethernet cable has a higher performance than CAT 7, so CAT 8 is more recommended for you when upgrading your network.

  • Will CAT 8 work with any router?

    Yes, but actually most home network equipment cannot work at CAT 8 speed.

  • Is CAT 8 suitable for home networks?

    CAT 8 Ethernet cables can be more suitable for data centers and server rooms, but if you have a higher requirement for network speed, CAT8 is future-proofing.

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