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What does AWG mean for Ethernet patch cables?

What does AWG mean for Ethernet patch cables? What is the AWG for Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6a cables?

AWG stands for American Wire Gauge. It is the common measurement used in the U.S. and Canada to determine the thickness of a wire made for electrical purposes. First established in 1857, AWG originally measured basic solid wire. Now it is used to measure stranded wire as well, which can lead to some confusion when looking at a cable to determine AWG. Stranded wire contains air pockets, which can make a cable look much bigger than it is.

Gauge size can be counterintuitive for some, as smaller numbers mean larger wire diameters, which means there is less resistance for the signals carried through the cable. The wire in Cat6 and Cat6a patch cables, with their improved performance abilities, run slightly thicker than their Cat5E counterparts, giving you a better quality of throughput.

Cat5e cables usually run between 24 and 26 AWG, while Cat6, and Cat6A usually run between 22 and 26 AWG.

One of the newest types of Ethernet cables on the market, Slim Run Patch Cables, actually have a 28 AWG wire. This allows these patch cords to be at least 25% smaller in diameter, than standard Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6a Ethernet. While the higher AWG in slim Ethernet cables limits the length of the cable you can run without creating resistance, these cables are beneficial for high-density networks and data centers, as well as a lot easier to install and manage.

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