Best ethernet cables for 2021

The humble ethernet cable might not be one of the first things you think of when you are looking for that all-important speed boost in your home. In fact, it may well be one of the last, but how wrong you would be. Whether you are cabled up to the nines with your own home network resplendently living in its own cabinet, or you only have a tired old Cat 5 cable shoved under the door to your room this relatively inexpensive upgrade could really make a noticeable difference to what you do with your PCs

There’s a lot of cable out there. Fundamentally it should all be the same (within its specifications obviously), but like most things, not everything is made equal. Also, it’s not always true in this scenario that the most expensive is the best. Just like with HDMI cables, there are companies out there professing that their brands are premium, when ultimately what they are selling is the same as the cheaper stuff. We have picked cables here that will do the job you need them to do. That is, give a nice fast network and also stand the test of time, so we are looking for durability as well.

Testing speed across our home network (we are still locked down here folks) we transferred 2GB files around the place across various lengths and runs through a standard gigabit ethernet switch from TP-Link.

Our Recommended

Best ethernet cables for 2021

PROS

Great performance around the home

Lengths to suit most purposes

CONS

Not the fastest bandwidth

One color option

That quality cable comes from Amazon and lives in their Basics range might surprise you, but we have found in a lot of cases that Amazon Basics cables of all variety tend to be of good standard. It can be ordered in various lengths ranging from 1m to 15m. While it certainly may not have the bandwidth of the more expensive cables – 259Mhz and 1Gbps speed, for the majority of people, they probably wouldn’t see massive benefits on their home networks anyway. Still, they would also see a marked reduction in the amount of cash in the wallet.

If you just need a cable to upgrade your network or connect somewhere new in your house, without all the fuss and expense of pro-level cabling solutions, this will do the job perfectly.

The cable boot around the jack is textured and holds the underlying sheath in position. It comes in one color – black, and that might not be ideal for all situations if hiding it in the walls or trunking isn’t an option; in fact, this might turn out to be its biggest downfall for you.

If a stark, obtrusive looking cable is no problem for you however, then take a good look at whether you actually need to spend any more than this.

PROS

Looks premium

Good performance and bandwidth

CONS

Question mark over flat cable durability

If you aren’t sure about the differing standards when it comes to your Cat 5 and your Cat 7s worry not. What if you don’t even like cats? It’s okay to be a dog person too. Well, worry not because just check out our FAQ section at the end of this Buyer’s Guide and all will be explained. As a rule of thumb though, the higher the number the more recent the cabling standard.

Cat 7 cable will give you a reliable connection at a decent speed for many years to come, and this flat cable from Jadaol lives up to that standard.

This may be the first time you have become aware of flat ethernet cables, and they certainly look less obtrusive. They work by laying the wire side by side rather than twisting them into a cylinder. This can lead to durability problems as they aren’t as sturdy. They are also more difficult to pull through holes in the wall if you are hiding your cables completely out of sight. I once had an engineer tell me the performance could be worse too, but I have never experienced that and I have used a lot of flat cables around my own house.

The build quality on this particular flat Cat 7 is excellent. The bandwidth os 600Mhz so nearly three times that of the Amazon Basics, but it is more expensive. It still remains affordable and a good option if you are looking to tuck it away out of sight.

It’s also white which is much less obtrusive. The wires are all copper, and it has gold-plated contacts that won’t tarnish. These are well met by a nice shield boot to complete the look.

You won’t find better Cat 7 for this money.

PROS

Choice of length

Comes in a two-pack

Great build quality

CONS

Only Cat 6

Limited color choice

If you don’t feel the need to go for Cat 7 or even Cat 8 at this stage of your networking adventure, you will be in the market for the best quality Cat 6 cable you can find, and if this offering from Ultra Clarity isn’t the best, it sure must be pretty close.

Available in sizes from as little as 3 feet all the way up to 25 feet, the high performance of this cabling take it up above the majority of Cat 6 out there.

Pricing is great too when you consider it is built from 24AWG stranded bare copper wire and has gold-plated contacts. It’s good for up to 10Gbps speeds and the best bit – you get two in a pack, a blue one and a black one. Not great colors for hiding away, but if you have a means of keeping it out of the site, then this is the Cat 6 we’d go for.

PROS
CONS
PROS
CONS

Things To Consider

Is there any need to get Cat 7 or Cat 8 cables?

We’d always suggest future-proofing by getting the highest-rated cable your budget will allow, especially if you are taking on the awkwardly nightmarish job or burying your cables in the wall. The last thing you want to do is make a future upgrade that much tougher than it needs to be. Technology around networking and internet connectivity continues to move at quite a pace, and you can be sure Cat 6 will run out of usefulness at some point in the near future.

How long can my cable run be?

That depends on the standard of cable. An older cable like Cat 5 will max out at about 100 feet or so. Cat 6 will travel for maybe 300. All these lengths are longer than most houses will need, but if you are cabling a mansion, you might well need Cat 7 or 8 to run all the way to your cinema room from the pool.

What is the difference between Cat types?

This handy graphic should help explain things.

Our Verdict

Cable is cable right? Wrong. Ethernet cables aren’t all made equal The number after the Cat might well affect most of your choice, but there matters such as build quality and quality of the internal wiring to think of. So much will depend on your network, but for most people at the moment Cat 6 will be enough. We’d recommend the Jadoal Cat 7 entry if you are burying your cable or running it through your loft or crawl spaces, but if you are laying a cable that can more easily be changed out then Cat 6 will be fine, and at the price point and multi-pack option you can’t go wrong with the Ultra Clairy Cat 6. The Amazon Basics is still a great piece of wire, though if you need to shave even more off the budget.

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PC guide
Been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision. Spent over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title. Has written tech content for GamePro, Official Australian Playstation Magazine, PlayStation Pro, Amiga Action, Mega Action, ST Action, GQ, Loaded, and the Daily Mirror. Twitter: @iampaulmcnally

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2 thoughts on “Best ethernet cables for 2021”

  1. I had the chance to use Jadaol cat 6 ethernet cable in my previous computer network wiring project. And I have to say: this is a reliable wire that can transmit data signals without any issues.

    Reply
  2. I do have to say that the “flat noodle” design of the cord makes it difficult to install in angled spaces. Nonetheless, it is still a great product that I’d once again use for setting up LAN connections if given a chance.

    Reply

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