Cat 7 Vs Cat 8: Which One Is Better For Your Needs?

Understanding the distinction between CAT 7 and CAT 8 ethernet cables is essential for selecting the best cable. This will help you get most out of your device when accessing the internet.

Cat 8 supports a data transmission rate of 40 gigabits per second for a distance of 30 meters, while Cat 7 supports it for only 10 meters.

There are several advantages to Cat 8 cable over Cat 7, except that Cat 7 is cheaper and thinner. Despite that, Cat 7 is adequate for home networks.

As a network enthusiast, I will explain the differences between Cat 7 and Cat 8 Ethernet cables.

Let’s dive into the details!

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The Differences Between Cat 7 vs Cat 8 Ethernet Cables

There are two latest generations of Ethernet cables: Cat 7 vs Cat 8. Cat 8 is the newest one.

There are several clear improvements from the older generation to the newer one, despite a few similarities.


CRITERIA

CAT 7

CAT 8

Max Speed

40 Gbps at 10 meters

25 Gbps at 100 meters & 40 Gbps at 30 meters

Lifespan

15 years

15 years

Power over Ethernet

No

Yes

Frequency

600MHz

 2,000MHz

Crosstalk

Twisted cables help eliminate crosstalk

Similar to Cat 7

TIA/EIA Recognition (More on this later)

No

Yes

Average Cost

$0.60 per foot

$0.70 per foot

What Is Cat 7?

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Cat 7, or Category 7 cable, is utilized for the infrastructure of Gigabit Ethernet.

The seventh generation of Ethernet cables is a robust choice for office buildings & data centers. It provides high-speed Ethernet communication of up to 40 Gbps at 10 meters (32.8 feet).

Cat 7 cables offer optimal noise resistance and frequency achievement with shielding.

These cables work at 600MHz, significantly higher than the 250MHz or Cat 6 cables. Because of this, the cable can transfer data at speeds up to 40 Gbps.

Cat 7 has strong data transfer rates, even at extended distances. Therefore, it is a good choice for office LANs.

Pros
  • Excellent noise resistance from shielding
  • Exceptional transfer rates compared to the previous generation cables
  • High operating frequency than the previous generations
  • Backward compatibility.
Cons
  • Operates similarly to the Cat 6a system
  • Costly than previous generations
  • No TIA/EIA recognition.

What Is Cat 8?

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Category 8, also known as Cat 8 cable, is the newest Ethernet cable standard. It is currently the best, most up-to-date choice available. The Cat 8 cables are improved in comparison to Cat 7. They use a two-connector channel and operate at frequencies up to 2,000MHz, which is much faster than all previous generations.

Cat 8 specification has been improved to support up to 30m at 40 Gbps, compared to 10m for Cat 7. The quality of transmission with Cat 8 cables improves with protective shielding. Its overall appearance is similar to previous generations and may terminate in either RJ45 or non-RJ45 connectors.

There shouldn’t be any issues using a Cat 8 cable with previous generations because they are backward compatible.

The newest Ethernet cable, Cat 8, presents its fair share of pros and cons. A few of the highs and lows of Cat 8 include:

Pros
  • High frequency than Cat 7
  • Power over Ethernet capability
  • Speed up to 40Gbps at 30 meters & 25 Gbps at 100 meters
  • Backward compatible with the previous generations.
Cons
  • A home network doesn’t utilize much performance
  • Not made for long-distance connections
  • Costlier than the previous version.

Cat 7 vs Cat 8 Cables: What’s the Difference?

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When deciding between Cat 7 vs Cat 8 data cables, you should compare and contrast the features and capabilities of both types of cables before making an informed decision for your data and internet requirements.

Let’s examine the critical distinctions in features and performance of cat 7 and cat 8 cables: 

1

Maximum Cabling Length

The maximum cabling length of the Cat 7 cable is 100 meters and provides a maximum frequency communication speed of up to 10 Gbps. Cat 8 cables limits to a maximum cabling length of 30 meters and have a frequency speed of 25 Gbps or 40 Gbps.

The shielded cabling of both cables is long enough for home or office use compared to previous versions, such as the Cat 5 or Cat 6 cables, which allow up to 100m of cabling.

2

Performance

The Cat 7 cable supports frequencies up to 600 MHz, while the Cat 8 cable achieves performance rates of up to 2000 MHz (2 GHz). When comparing cat 7 vs cat 8, the speed frequency is still quite decent compared to cat6, which only reaches a frequency of up to 250 MHz.

3

Pricing

Since the Cat 8 cable employs premium wiring material, it is more expensive than the Cat 7 cable. Therefore, the Cat 8 cable costs more than the Cat 7 cable because of its unique attributes.

4

Connectors

The Cat7 cable has a 4-pin shielded wiring channel. Twisted wires create a full shielding screen (Screen foiled twisted pair or Screen shielded twisted pair). This eliminates alien crosstalk, and noise resistance improves. The connector is non-RJ45.

The Cat7 cable requires modern test equipment, which may be an additional expense for wiring, network equipment, and other applications during testing.

The Cat 8 cable has a two-connector channel like the Cat 7 cable. Like the Cat 7 cable, the Cat 8 cable requires shielded cabling. 

Although the physical appearance looks similar to lower category wires like the Cat 6 or Cat 7 cables, the Cat 8 cable is backward compatible with RJ45 connector connections for Class 1 or non-RJ45 connections for Class 2 due to its RJ45 connections.

Cat8 cables are compatible with ethernet standard connectors such as Cat7 but not Cat5e and Cat6 cables.

Is Cat 8 The Best Ethernet Cable?

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The Cat8 ethernet cable is the fastest one. It has the highest data transfer speed, up to 40 Gbps (gigabytes), four times faster than the Cat6a cable.

A Cat8 cable can handle bandwidths up to GHz, four times more bandwidth supported by the Cat6a cable. The Cat 8 cable type provides better signal quality and reduced latency with improved support and key added features.

How to Visually Tell Cat 7 and Cat 8 Cables Apart

The visual difference between Cat 7 and Cat 8 (Class II) cables is minimal, so telling them apart is difficult. You will notice that Cat 8 is a bit thicker and has some additional shielding inside.

The category or cat, followed by a number, is usually printed on an Ethernet cable’s sheath. Look for this text to discover what sort of cable you have.

Are There Other Cat Options? 

Yes, there are alternatives to Cat 7 & Cat 8 cables. One option is Cat 5e cables which support speeds up to 10Mbps, 100 Mbps, or 1000 Mbps.

Cat 5e’s distance limit is 100 meters & it performs at up to 100MHz. Another option is Cat 6. A Cat 6 connection can reach up to 1 Gbps at 100 m. Additionally, it can send signals at 250 MHz. 

Cat 6a can operate up to 500 MHz and has a maximum data rate of 10 Gbps. Although Cat 5e and Cat 6 improvements to Cat 7 and Cat 8 are apparent, the improvements are evident.

Can I Upgrade from a Cat 7 to a Cat 8?

You can upgrade from Cat 7 to Cat 8 using a Cat 8 Class II cable. As Cat 8 cables are backward compatible with previous versions, you will not face any problems with upgrading.

Which is Best for You, Cat 7 vs Cat 8?

Cat 8 cables are better than Cat 7 cables. But, for home networks, Cat 7 cables will be sufficient. Therefore, I suggest you get Cat 7 or Cat 6 cables for your home network.

However, Cat 8 (Class II) may be appropriate for operating a data center. It has GG45 connectors that are compatible with commercial networking equipment.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on Cat 7 vs Cat 8

1. Is Cat7 or Cat8 better?

Cat 8 cables have a higher maximum download speed than Cat 7 cables. Cat 8 cables can achieve speeds of up to 40 Gbps for around 30 meters, while Cat 7 cables can achieve speeds of up to 40 Gbps for about 10 meters.

2. Do I really need a CAT 8 Ethernet cable?

Cat8 cabling offers up to 78′ of 40 Gbps or 25 Gbps of 100′ throughput. From 100′ to 328′, the same 10 Gbps performance is provided as with Cat6A cabling.

3. Is it worth getting Cat7?

Due to their higher bandwidths and faster transmission speeds, Cat 7 Ethernet cables are significantly more expensive than Cat 6 cables. If you are seeking better performance, the extra price is worth it. Cat 7 cables can reach 100 Gbps at a distance of 15 meters.

4. Does Cat7 make a difference?

A Cat7 cable allows for a higher frequency than a Cat6 cable. The frequency of a signal determines how often it can traverse a cable. Therefore, a Cat7 cable can transmit 10,000 Mbit/s signals 10,000 times per second at a frequency of 1,000 MHz. A Cat7 cable will therefore transfer data faster than a Cat6 cable.

Summary: Cat 7 vs Cat 8

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There are many factors to consider while deciding between cat 7 vs cat 8 as a cable network. 

Your primary goal should be to connect to the Internet and achieve high data transfer rates within the network, regardless of the number of cable or wire categories available. If you are on a budget, choose a reasonable cable or wire that meets your network needs.

Although many individuals won’t even use the full performance capability in a home network setting, Cat 8 cables offer multiple advancements from Cat 7 cables. In addition, Cat 8 cables tend to be pretty pricey.

However, you should select the option that best suits your personal needs. Cat 7 and Cat 8 cables provide excellent performance and should meet your needs quickly.

Mark Dalio

Mark Dalio

Mark is a tech-obsessed serial entrepreneur who also enjoys reading and writing. He has a strong urge to keep learning and talking about technology, which led him to become an author. Mark has co-founded two successful startups, one of which was acquired in 2018.

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