What is Slim Ethernet?
A major part of network design is picking the right cables. Some cabling decisions are made for you, as you want to minimize costs while maintaining specifications. Many times, you will only have one viable cable choice after you consider bandwidth needs, run length, form factor, and all the rest.
But sometimes, you get subtle choices that can make big differences. A perfect example involves Cat6 cables. When Cat6 is ideal for your performance and cost needs, you can still choose between cables of different diameters. In particular, slim Ethernet cables provide interesting benefits that can translate to major performance changes for your network.
How Slim Is Slim?
Before we get into the detailed benefits of choosing a cable with a smaller cross section, it helps to understand the physical differences between regular Cat6 cables and slim variants.
Generally speaking, a slim cable is going to use a 28 AWG wire, as compared to a standard Cat6 cable that uses 24 AWG. If you want numerical distinctions between these gauges, a 24 AWG wire is going to have a conductor diameter of 0.51mm. Meanwhile, the 28 AWG has a conductor diameter of 0.32mm.
Extend that to the fully sheathed wire, and you see that Cat6 cables have a standard diameter of 6.5mm while slim cables get down to 4mm diameters. That is more than a 50-percent reduction in size, and when leveraged correctly, the size difference can lead to meaningful benefits.
Benefits of Slim Ethernet Cables
Keep in mind that even though the slim cables are smaller, they operate on many of the same specifications. Data speeds are the same, as is the form factor. The smaller diameter does lead to higher resistance, which ultimately limits PoE capacity. Outside of that, you’re looking at identical performance whether your cable is slim or not.
With that in mind, we can explore the advantages of using slimmer cables.
Clearly, the great strength of a smaller cable is that it saves space. Especially in a dense patch panel, the slimmer cables provide considerable space savings, and those savings are important in a number of ways.
First, they improve airflow. Better airflow leads to more efficient cooling, and that is incredibly important for ultra-dense networks. In fact, many data centers can ultimately support higher bandwidth with slimmer cables, solely for this reason. The improved cooling allows for a greater number of connections within limited spaces, improving the maximum capacity of the data center.
Granted, that’s an extreme case, but free cooling is always nice.
In another sense, slim cables aid in cable management in a general sense. The increased space makes it easier to follow and control cables within a dense network, and improved cable management can yield better efficiency in network management.
The other primary benefit of thinner cables is flexibility, and this expresses in two ways.
First, the thinner cables are physically more flexible. They can bend more, and that makes them ideal for cable runs that might be impossible for thicker cables. This flexibility opens up design options, and that freedom is always nice.
This leads to the second expression of flexibility, which is figurative. Because thinner cables open up space and conform to more configurations, they increase design flexibility. You have more ways to approach network design, which can ultimately lead to a more powerful, efficient, and/or cost-effective network.
Slim Cables from CablesAndKits
If you want to explore slim Ethernet cables, or any other cables, we’re here to help. With a wide selection and experts ready to answer any questions, you can find the hardware you need to make competitive networks at reasonable costs.
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