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How to Choose Ethernet Cables for Gaming

What's the Best Ethernet for Gaming

It’s good that you are looking at Ethernet internet options. As a gamer, you likely understand the horror of laggy games. When it comes to home networks and gaming, latency is a huge deal and can make or break your whole experience - and in the game, whether you live, die, or succeed. Latency is always with us; it’s just a matter of how significant it is. Wi-Fi simply isn’t as stable as Ethernet, and it leads to slower effective experiences due to higher chances of interference. Slow internet speeds can ruin the entire game, so you want something that can keep up. At the same time, you don’t want to spend a life’s fortune just on cables.

The good news is that Ethernet has a lot of options for you these days. From Cat5 to Cat8 cables, there is an option out there that matches the performance you want without committing you to too much money out of your pocket.

Start With Your Internet Service

Before you even think about which Ethernet cables might be right, you need to lock in your internet service. If you already have internet service, then you know that it comes with maximum download and upload speeds.

There is no value in using cables that exceed those limits. Faster cables cost more money, and if they won’t actually improve your experience, then it’s a waste.

Let your ISP arrangement be your first guide. If you are not investing in fiber optic or Gigabit internet service, you can save money on your Ethernet cables and stick with options that fit your budget.

Map the Cable Run

Now that you know the speeds you’re trying to achieve, you can think about how the cable will run through your home (or office). This is important to do before you make any purchases because cable performance varies with length. Longer cable runs can slow down your connections and be a problem for gaming.

While latency is more of an issue with a wifi connection, it can still happen with a wired connection. EMI (electromagnetic interference) can still affect the quality of play. Usually, there isn’t typically enough interference around your home, dorm, or business to cause major problems when running your cable, but more stability is always better. To be on the safe side, you might want to look at using shielded ethernet cables for your longer Ethernet runs (heck, we say use it for the shorter ones too).

For the most part, cable runs are fine as long as you keep them shorter than 100 meters. It is possible to successfully achieve speeds up to and above 25 Gbps, but that depends on your cable type and the total length of your run. For instance, if you use a shielded Cat8 ethernet cable, you could successfully achieve that 25 Gbps mark up to 10 meters.

To clarify, Cat7 and Cat8 cables can provide 10 Gbps connections at distances up to 100 meters without significant signal loss or delay. You have to really push the limits on Ethernet performance before shorter distances become necessary.

Look at Prices

Basically, you get what you pay for when it comes to Ethernet cables. Cat5e. is the cheapest, and it cannot support Gigabit speeds. Cat6 is still in the affordable range, and it can hit Gigabit speed.

With Cat6a, things start to get a lot faster and a little pricer. These cables can hit 10 Gbps, and Cat8 cables get even faster. At the high end, Cat8 cables are capable of 40 Gbps speeds. Essentially, they are designed for data center use.

It’s unlikely that you would need Cat8 for gaming. So, match the performance you want with the price you like. For most hardcore gamers, Cat6 or Cat7 will be the optimal choice (assuming you have Gigabit or faster internet service).

Think About Durability

As you pick your Ethernet cable variant and data rates, there are still plenty of options before you. You can get different cord styles, and they impact durability. This part of the decision comes down to lifestyle.

Another item to keep in mind is whether to use CCA (Copper Clad Aluminum) cables or pure copper cables. The performance (and safety) of CCA cables vs pure copper is radically different. Aluminum patch cables often marked as CCA or CCE (for Copper Clad Ethernet), have higher attenuation than pure copper cables, which results in a greater loss of data, because packets have to be re-transmitted. The more data that is re-transmitted, the slower your network performs. These problems are compounded by every foot of cable you use - the longer the cable, the worse the performance. Plus, aluminum network cables violate TIA and IEC standards for Cat5e and Cat6 cables.

If you don’t have specific concerns, standard round cables will be the cheapest.

You can have amazing gaming internet run on Ethernet cables. It’s a matter of hammering out a good ISP agreement and then investing in the right cables. Ethernet can handle high-end gaming needs these days. It’s just a matter of weighing performance and cost.

Cat6 Ethernet Patch Cable, Snagless, UTP, 3 ft, Black

Cat6 Ethernet Patch Cable, Snagless, UTP, 3 ft, Black

Cat5e Ethernet Patch Cable, Snagless, UTP, 3 ft, Blue

Cat5e Ethernet Patch Cable, Snagless, UTP, 3 ft, Blue

CAT6A Shielded Ethernet Patch Cable, 10 ft, Blue

CAT6A Shielded Ethernet Patch Cable, 10 ft, Blue

CAT8 Shielded Ethernet Patch Cable, 40Gbps, Snagless, 3 ft, Black

CAT8 Shielded Ethernet Patch Cable, 40Gbps, Snagless, 3 ft, Black

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