The Best Ethernet Cable for Gaming
Written by Don Schultz, trueCABLE Technical Manager, BICSI INST1, INSTC, INSTF, Fluke Networks CCTT
You want to frag—not lag! Pick the wrong Ethernet cable, and you may get killed on the virtual battlefield fast. More likely, you will simply spend far too much and get little to nothing in return if you don’t have the best Ethernet cable for gaming.
You already likely know that WiFi is an inferior way of gaming online when compared to wired internet. Heck, if we are talking about reliability then WiFi is the last technology you want to use. See more about this here: Ethernet vs WiFi, Is Wiring your Network Worth It?
The market is flooded with Ethernet cable, and in a huge variety. You can buy them round, flat, shielded, and with any number of fancy frills. Each one claims to be better than the next. Talk about confusing. Well, let’s unravel this giant ball of cabling, shall we?
The short answer is the best Ethernet cable for gaming is the one you may already be using. If you need to purchase one, then always purchase high quality cables from reputable brands. High quality and reputable does not equate to expensive, however.
This blog post is going to assume you are using Ethernet patch cables (stranded) plugged directly from your switch or WiFi router directly into your gaming rig or console. Solid copper is very good for in-wall and permanent runs, but is NOT a good choice for cabling that may be frequently handled.
What You Should Really Look For
- If you have an Ethernet cable that supports 1 Gigabit and is known to work correctly, then use that. You can stop your research and enjoy your game.
- If you are purchasing your Ethernet cable, do not pay more for marketing hype and claims of extreme performance. You won’t be going faster than your network equipment and gaming device will allow no matter what Ethernet cable you are using. You are likely to find that Category 6 (Cat6) patch cables are no more costly than Cat5e. There is no reason that you should opt for a lower Category cable, but it does not cause an issue if that is what you have handy.
- Avoid unknown manufacturers. Beware of reviews that are paid or seem suspicious. Do some research and learn to avoid nonsense claims.
- Make sure the cable jacket is stamped “ANSI/TIA 568 Certified”, at least to B.2 (C.2 and 2.D are fine as well)
- Don’t bother with Cat6A Ethernet patch cable unless you are getting a great deal and it costs no more than Cat5e. The reason has to do with speed over distance. Cat6A cable is designed to support 10 Gigabit speeds to 328 feet. Cat6 Ethernet cable can support this speed to 110 ft under normal circumstances, and even to 165 ft on a case-by-case basis. If the distances are very short, say less than 20 feet, then even a lowly Cat5e will support 10 Gigabit. I know, as I have bandwidth tested Cat5e cable on 10 Gigabit equipment at a short distance. I achieved 10 Gigabit easily, so the best Cat cable for gaming depends on your circumstances.
- If you are going long distances with your patch cable (75 feet or more), then this is a potentially different situation and I suggest researching more on our Cable Academy or giving us a call. You may need solid-copper structured cabling.
Stuff That Costs More, But Gets You Nothing
You won’t reach 10 Gigabit (assuming we are talking about a typical desktop gaming PC or console). The reason is simple. The vast majority (99%) of all network speeds are still stuck at 1 Gigabit. If your gaming PC or console only supports 1 Gigabit then that is the speed limit. If the rest of your network equipment is operating at 10 Gigabit it still will not make a difference...your fastest ethernet cable for gaming will be stuck at 1 Gigabit.
Stuff That Costs More and Might Actually Hurt Your High Score
Now, let’s talk about shielding. Shielded must be better, right? Only in specific circumstances that the home user is unlikely to face. In fact, it might cause you trouble. Shielded Ethernet cable must be properly grounded and all components in the link should be shielded as well. Doing otherwise may cause ground loops and floating cable shields which can generate mayhem. This blog article will detail more on that subject: Shielded vs Unshielded Cable.
Nonsense Claims or Counterfeit Cable
Shopping around you might have noticed Cat7 patch cables. They seem like the way to go, as they are typically shielded and promise extremely high performance. The truth is that Category 7 is not an ANSI/TIA recognized standard. It does not exist in North America. There is an ISO International standard that addresses Cat7, but how can you trust that the cable has been certified to this level of performance? I do not recommend this type of patch cable. Like many others, I was initially confused and thought this cable must be somehow “better” because I did not always work for an Ethernet cable manufacturer and was not Certified at the time.
Not sure what type of Ethernet cable you have? If cable jacket printing confuses you, you are not alone. Take a look at Ethernet Cable Identification for Beginners: Reading Print Legends.
There you have it. Hopefully all of your questions have been answered by now concerning the best Ethernet cord for gaming. If not, feel free to reach out!
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