Cat 8 Ethernet Cable Explained

April 1, 2020 Tripp Lite
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From the desktop to the data center, IT networks need to move more data than ever before, and they need to move it quickly. The right infrastructure cabling will facilitate maximum speed and performance. IT managers who are designing or upgrading a network have a number of cable options to navigate, including where and when to use Cat8 cable.

What is Cat 8 Ethernet Cable?

Category 8, or just Cat8, is the latest IEEE standard in copper Ethernet cable. It represents a significant leap in data transfer speed over the earlier Cat7 and Cat6a cables. It uses standard RJ45 connectors and is backward compatible with previous standards.

cat 8 cable

One of the key differences in Cat 8 cable is its shielding. As part of the cable jacket, a shielded or shielded twisted pair (STP) cable employs a layer of conductive material to protect the internal conductors from electromagnetic interference (EMI), resulting in faster data transmission speeds and fewer errors. Cat8 cable goes one step further, wrapping each twisted pair in foil to virtually eliminate crosstalk and enable higher data transmission speeds. The result is a heavier gauge cable that is quite rigid and difficult to install in tight spaces.

How Fast is Cat 8 Cable?

Cat8 is the fastest Ethernet cable yet. Its data transfer speed of up to 40 Gbps is four times faster than Cat6a, while its support of bandwidth up to 2 GHz (four times more than standard Cat6a bandwidth) reduces latency for superior signal quality.

Ethernet Cable Speeds and Bandwidth

Cat 6 vs Cat 8

  Cat 6 Cat 8
Frequency 250 MHz 2000 MHz
Max. Speed 1 Gbps 40 Gbps
Max. Length 328 ft. / 100 m 98 ft. / 100 m 

 

Cat 6a vs Cat 8

  Cat 6a Cat 8
Frequency 500 MHz 2000 MHz
Max. Speed 10 Gbps 40 Gbps
Max. Length 328 ft. / 100 m 98 ft. / 100 m 

 

Cat 7 vs Cat 8

  Cat 7 Cat 8
Frequency 600 MHz 2000 MHz
Max. Speed 10 Gbps 40 Gbps
Max. Length 328 ft. / 100 m 98 ft. / 100 m 

 

What is Cat 8 Cable Used For?

Cat 8 Ethernet cable is ideal for switch to switch communications in data centers and server rooms, where 25GBase‑T and 40GBase‑T networks are common. Its RJ45 ends will connect standard network equipment like switches and routers, allowing for 25G or 40G network upgrades that do not require a complete equipment overhaul.

Shielded foil twisted pair (S/FTP) construction includes shielding around each pair of wires within the cable to reduce near-end crosstalk (NEXT) and braiding around the group of pairs to minimize EMI/RFI line noise in crowded network installations.

PoE on Cat 8

Cat8 cable supports Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology for delivering power and data over a single cable. By eliminating or reducing the need for power cords, Cat8 cable can save space in crowded server rooms and simplify edge computing installations. With a maximum range of 98 ft. (30 m), Cat8 cable can reach PoE devices like security cameras and wireless access points when they are not conveniently close to an AC power source.

Should I Use Cat 8 Ethernet Cable for Gaming?

You certainly can use Cat8 for gaming but it's really designed for high-speed switch to switch communication in a data center. Plus, the heavier gauge Cat8 cable is quite rigid, making it more difficult to install and terminate. A better, more cost-effective choice for a "future-proofed" home network, and the best Ethernet cable for gaming, would be Cat6 or Cat6a cable.

Will Cat 8 Work with My Router?

Yes, but for most home applications Cat 6a is more than sufficient. Most home network equipment cannot operate at Cat 8 speed, so Cat 8 cable is overkill. Because it's much faster than most people need, Cat 8 cable is best suited for data center applications.

Is Cat 8 Worth It?

Since Cat 8 speed is theoretical, a legacy device that’s incapable of operating at 40 Gbps won’t do so simply because you use a cable that is. Network transmission speed depends on whether all connected components are able to operate at higher speeds. Unless they are, there’s no point in using a faster cable, and you’re better off with an earlier, more affordable version. Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a and Cat7 cannot compete with Cat8 in terms of frequency and speed, but they’re much better suited for home applications.

Tripp Lite Cat 8 Cables

If your equipment can handle Cat8 speed, and your internet can support it, Tripp Lite offers Cat8 cables with lengths ranging from 3 ft. (0.9 m) to 60 ft. (18.3 m). All models support PoE and offer convenient snagless RJ45 connectors, integral strain relief and a lifetime warranty.

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    From desktop to critical infrastructure, Tripp Lite products and solutions power and connect the computers, networking equipment and electronic devices that form the foundation of our digital world. Headquartered in Chicago since 1922, Tripp Lite has offices and partners worldwide.

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