RG59 vs RG6: Key Differences And Which Coaxial Cable Is Best For You

RG59 vs RG6: Key Differences And Which Coaxial Cable Is Best For You

Written by Dave Harris, trueCABLE Technical Specialist, BICSI INST1, INSTC Certified


Coaxial cables are an essential component in many audio and video systems, including cable television, CCTV installations, and satellite TV signals. When it comes to choosing the right coaxial cable, two common options are RG59 and RG6. These cables differ in terms of their construction, bandwidth capabilities, and applications. In this article, we will explore the differences between RG59 and RG6 coaxial cables, their applications, and the factors to consider when selecting the appropriate cable for your needs.

A quick note on nomenclature

In this article, we will focus on two common types: RG6 and RG59 coaxial cables. The name “RG6” has recently been changed to be “Series-6.” Similarly, “RG59” has been renamed to “Series-59.” To avoid confusion, this article will use the terms “RG6” and “RG59,“ as they remain the terms in common use.

What is a Coaxial Cable?

Before delving into the differences between RG59 and RG6 cables, let's first understand what a coaxial cable is. A coaxial cable is a type of cable that consists of a center conductor enveloped by insulation and grounded protection of braided wire. The primary purpose of a coaxial cable is to carry high-frequency signals with minimal interference.


structure of coaxial cable

Figure 1. Structure of a coaxial cable


Coaxial cables are widely used in various industries, including telecommunications, audio and video systems, and networking. They are known for their reliable signal transmission capabilities and effective shielding against external interference.

You can learn more about the construction of coaxial cable in our Cable Academy blog article, Coaxial vs Ethernet cable - What's the Difference?

What Does RG Mean?

Coaxial cables use RG ratings as a classification system to differentiate between different types of cables. RG stands for "radio guide," which is an old military term. The RG ratings are randomly assigned numbers that distinguish the different cable specifications. In this article, we will focus on two common types: RG6 and RG59 coaxial cables.

RG6 Coaxial Cable: High-Bandwidth Applications

RG6 coaxial cable is a heavier gauge cable designed for high-bandwidth, high-frequency applications. It is commonly used for internet, cable TV, and satellite TV signals. The larger conductor and thicker dielectric insulation of RG6 cable allow for better signal quality and improved performance.

One of the key advantages of RG6 cable is its ability to handle higher frequencies. If your equipment operates at frequencies above 50 MHz, such as satellite receivers or broadband internet, RG6 is the recommended choice. RG6 coaxial cable also features a different type of shielding, which enables it to effectively handle Gigahertz-level signals.

The shielding of RG6 coaxial cable is typically a combination of foil and braided shielding. The foil shielding protects against high-frequency electromagnetic interference (EMI), while the braided shielding offers protection against lower-frequency interference. This dual shielding ensures a high level of signal integrity and minimizes signal loss.

RG59 Coaxial Cable: Low-Bandwidth Applications

RG59 coaxial cable is a thinner cable primarily recommended for low-bandwidth and lower frequency applications. It was commonly used for analog video signals and CCTV installations. However, with the advent of digital technology and higher frequencies, RG59 cable has become less popular in recent years.

Compared to RG6 cable, RG59 has a smaller conductor and thinner dielectric insulation. These factors result in limited signal quality, making it less suitable for high-frequency applications. The shielding of RG59 cable is designed to handle relatively long waveforms of megahertz interference, making it ideal for low-frequency signals below 50 MHz.

RG59 coaxial cable typically features braided shielding, which provides protection against lower-frequency interference. It is commonly used for composite or component video signals and closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems. RG59 cables are also available in a Siamese coaxial cable configuration, which combines RG59 cable with a 2C power cable, allowing for simultaneous power and video transmission in CCTV installations.

Differences Between RG59 and RG6 Cables

To summarize the key differences between RG59 and RG6 coaxial cables:

rg59 vs rg6 comparison chart

It is important to consider the specific requirements of your equipment and the frequencies it operates at when choosing between RG59 and RG6 coaxial cables. RG6 is generally the more versatile option, offering better signal quality and bandwidth capabilities for a wide range of applications.


shielding exposure between rg59 and rg6 coaxial cabling
Figure 2. RG6 cable, pictured above an RG59 cable, both prepared for termination. Note the thinner center conductor in the RG59 cable, and the smaller diameters of the dielectric and the jacket.

Shielding Effectiveness and Signal Loss

Shielding plays a crucial role in preserving signal quality and minimizing interference in coaxial cables. Coaxial cables typically feature two types of shielding: braided and foil.

Braided shielding consists of multiple small wire strands braided around the outside of the dielectric, which is the white insulating material surrounding the center conductor. Braided shielding is effective against lower-frequency interference. On the other hand, foil shielding involves an aluminum or mylar foil bonded to the dielectric, providing protection against high-frequency electromagnetic interference (EMI).

RG59 coaxial cables usually utilize braided shielding, while RG6 cables incorporate both braided and foil shielding for enhanced protection against interference. Some newer RG6 cables feature a high-percentage braid, offering improved performance without the bulk of quad-shielded cables.

Signal loss, also known as attenuation, is an important consideration when selecting a coaxial cable. Signal loss occurs over the length of any cable, and longer cable runs tend to experience more significant signal loss. It is advisable to keep installation lengths as short as possible to minimize signal loss.

In a 100 ft. length of cable, RG59 experiences higher signal loss compared to RG6 at different frequencies:

  • Loss at 50 MHz: RG59 - 2.4 dB, RG6 - 1.7 dB
  • Loss at 100 MHz: RG59 - 3.4 dB, RG6 - 2.3 dB
  • Loss at 400 MHz: RG59 - 7.0 dB, RG6 - 4.8 dB
  • Loss at 900 MHz: RG59 - 11.0 dB, RG6 - 8.0 dB

It is crucial to consider the desired signal quality and the cable length required for your specific application when choosing between RG59 and RG6 coaxial cables. You can learn more about signal loss in coaxial cable and distance restrictions in our blog article, How Long Can I Run Coaxial Cable?

Other Factors to Consider When Buying Coaxial Cables

In addition to the differences between RG59 and RG6 cables, there are other factors to consider when purchasing coaxial cables for your installations. These factors include:


The jacket of a coaxial cable provides protection against environmental factors and ensures the cable's durability. There are different jacket types available, including plenum-rated jackets and outdoor jackets.

Plenum-rated jackets are designed for installation in plenum spaces, which are areas used for air ventilation in buildings. Plenum spaces can pose a fire hazard, and plenum-rated cables are specifically engineered to have low smoke and slow-burning properties in case of a fire.

Outdoor jackets are designed to withstand outdoor conditions, including exposure to extreme temperatures, weather elements, and chemicals. If you are planning to run the coaxial cables in outdoor spaces, it is recommended to choose cables with outdoor-rated jackets for optimal performance and longevity.


Impedance refers to the resistance of a cable to the flow of electrical current. Coaxial cables typically have an impedance of either 50 ohms or 75 ohms. The choice of impedance depends on the specific application and the equipment being used.

50-ohm impedance cables are commonly used in data communication and networking applications, including Ethernet connections. They are suitable for high-frequency digital signals and provide better performance over longer distances.

75-ohm impedance cables are primarily used for video and audio applications, including cable TV and audiovisual systems. They are designed to carry analog video signals and provide optimal signal quality for these applications. Both RG6 and RG59 are 75-ohm impedance cables.

Cable TV Considerations

If you are considering using coaxial cables for cable TV installations, it is essential to understand the specific requirements of your cable TV provider. Different cable TV providers may have specific recommendations or requirements for the type of coaxial cable to be used. It is advisable to consult with your cable TV provider or refer to their guidelines to ensure compatibility and optimal performance.


When it comes to choosing between RG59 and RG6 coaxial cables, it is important to consider the specific requirements of your applications and equipment. RG6 cables are generally recommended for higher-frequency applications such as internet, cable TV, and satellite TV, offering better signal quality and bandwidth capabilities. RG59 cables are suitable for lower-frequency applications, such as analog video and CCTV systems, where signal quality and distance requirements are not as demanding.

Remember to consider factors such as shielding effectiveness, signal loss, jacketing, and impedance when selecting the appropriate coaxial cable. By understanding the differences between RG59 and RG6 cables and considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and ensure optimal performance in your audio and video systems.



trueCABLE presents the information on our website, including the “Cable Academy” blog and live chat support, as a service to our customers and other visitors to our website subject to our website terms and conditions. While the information on this website is about data networking and electrical issues, it is not professional advice and any reliance on such material is at your own risk.

    1 out of ...