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Cat 8 vs. Cat 6 Ethernet Cables: What‘s the Difference and Which is Better?

You may have heard about the newest Ethernet cable standard – Cat 8 (Category 8) – and wondered how it compares to the popular Cat 6 cables many of us use today. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll compare Cat 8 vs Cat 6 in speed, bandwidth, compatibility, cost, and ideal use cases so you can decide which cable type makes sense for your needs.

An Overview of Ethernet Cable Standards

Ethernet cables are used to connect devices in local area networks (LANs). There are different category standards for Ethernet cables indicating maximum supported speeds:

  • Cat 5 – up to 100Mbps
  • Cat 5e – up to 1000Mbps (1Gbps)
  • Cat 6 – up to 10Gbps
  • Cat 6a – up to 10Gbps
  • Cat 7 – up to 10Gbps, better shielding
  • Cat 8 – up to 40Gbps

Higher category numbers support faster theoretical maximum data rates, but whether you achieve those speeds depends on all connected components.

Key Differences Between Cat 8 and Cat 6 Cables

Feature Cat 6 Cat 8
Max Speed 10Gbps 40Gbps
Max Bandwidth 500MHz 2000MHz
Shielding Sometimes Always
Ideal Use Home/office networks Data centers, high-performance networks

In a nutshell:

  • Cat 8 supports far higher speeds – up to 40Gbps vs. 10Gbps for Cat 6
  • Cat 8 has superior bandwidth supporting over 4X more MHz
  • Cat 8 cables are always shielded to minimize interference

Let‘s explore some of these differences in more detail.


Cat 8 cables can theoretically transmit data at 40Gbps, which is 4 times faster than the 10Gbps supported by Cat 6 cables. This means Cat 8 can move vastly more data per second.

That said, your actual speed depends on your networking equipment. If your router only supports 1Gbps speeds, for example, upgrading cables alone won‘t instantly give you 40Gbps transfers.

Still, by future-proofing with Cat 8 you‘ll be ready to take advantage of faster speeds down the road.

Bandwidth and Frequency

Bandwidth refers to the range of frequencies that can be transmitted over the cable. Cat 8 supports massive bandwidth up to 2000MHz, compared to 500MHz for Cat 6.

Higher frequency support allows more data to be in transit at once. This results in lower latency and less likelihood of congestion during peak network usage.


Cat 6 cables may or may not be shielded. Cat 8 cables are always shielded, meaning they have an additional protective layer that prevents electromagnetic interference between cables and from nearby devices.

This shielding allows reliable performance even in environments flooded with wireless signals and high power equipment.

Ideal Use Cases

When to Use Cat 8 Cables

  • Data centers
  • High performance computing clusters
  • Financial trading systems
  • Scientific research labs
  • HD video editing workstations
  • Gaming PCs/networks
  • Future-proofing networks as speeds increase

When Cat 6 Cables Remain Ideal

  • Home and office networks
  • General purpose computing where 1Gbps is sufficient

Cat 8 shines for high throughput applications or future bandwidth needs. Cat 6 remains a good fit for more everyday networking uses.

Pros and Cons Comparison

Let‘s summarize some key advantages and potential drawbacks when choosing Cat 8 over Cat 6 cables.

Cat 8 Ethernet Cable Advantages

  • Up to 40Gbps maximum speeds
  • Supports bandwidth up to 2000MHz
  • Always shielded to prevent interference
  • Ideal for cutting edge applications
  • Future-proof for higher network speeds

Potential Cat 8 Disadvantages

  • More expensive price tag
  • Max cable runs limited to 30 meters
  • Backward compatible but may not reach max speeds
  • Network gear often lacks 40Gbps support currently
  • Supply still ramping up

In a pinch, you can use Cat 8 cables with older Cat 6 network switches and routers. However, you won‘t achieve Cat 8‘s blazing fast potential speeds in this configuration.

And while 30 meters cable runs meet most needs, some specialty setups require longer runs still best served by Cat 6‘s 55 meters range.

As cutting edge tech, expect to pay around 2-3X more for Cat 8 cables today – but future bandwidth needs may justify the extra cost.

Bottom Line Recommendations

When to Choose Cat 8 Cables:

  • Building a high performance network from scratch
  • Upgrading networks with equipment supporting 25Gbps-40Gbps
  • Maximizing future-proofing for higher speeds

When Sticking with Cat 6 Makes Sense:

  • Home or office networks with 1Gbps equipment
  • Cost sensitive basic networking needs
  • Long cable runs over 30 meters

As flagship data centers demonstrate, Cat 8 cables are capable of astonishing 40Gbps throughput. For everyday networking, Cat 6 provides a reliable, affordable backbone.

Consider your budget, existing equipment, anticipated bandwidth requirements and future-proofing needs. This determines whether Cat 8 cables are a smart investment or overkill.

Hopefully this overview gives you the knowledge to pick the right cable standard for your needs! Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions.