We have been conditioned to understand that the newest of something is always the best version of something. That may be true in a number of instances. At the same time, just because a new version of something has come onto the market, it doesn’t mean that the new version is better for everyone in every situation.
Take Apple’s iPhone, for example. So far, Apple has released nine generations of the iPhone and, as a result, has become the largest smartphone vendor on the planet in terms of shipment as of 2015. Now, there are a large number of people who have grown out of their current iPhone. They need more storage, a better camera, better screen protection, etc. For these folks, the latest iPhone is just what they need.
At the same time, there is an equally large number of people who have not even begun to need all that their present iPhone can do. They have hardly maxed out the capabilities of their current phone and their lives would be no better because they spent the money on the new one.
The same can be said of the ethernet cables on the market today. The Cat6A supports the fastest speeds and highest bandwidths out there to date. At the same time, the older Cat5E cables can do almost everything the Cat6 Ethernet cables can do, only less of it. Depending on what you need your cables to accomplish for you, sticking with the less expensive model could very well be your best move.
The notion that category 6 ethernet cables are automatically better than cat5 cables in every situation is much like putting an oven meant for a restaurant into an RV. The restaurant oven is bigger and better but it is too much for a recreational vehicle to handle. It would do no good in the RV.
All ethernet cables have four wires that are twisted into pairs. Alexander Graham Bell discovered with his telephone wires that if you twist wires at certain intervals, there will be less interference in the communication. The same is true for ethernet cables. The different category the cable the difference in the capability to manage speed and crosstalk. So, what matters, then, is what you are using the cable for and what type of speeds you want to achieve. An office complex, for example, would be a much different situation than your home where you might only have one computer in use.
Physically, you can use Cat5E cables for your home and obtain 1 Gb speeds, though it would depend on your ISP. Even though a 10 Mbps Ethernet cable is perfect for households using up to three computers, people tend to think faster is better and buy cables like 100 Mbps thinking that their speed will increase. that might not necessarily be the case. You have to check all of your connections to make sure they can handle the speeds before your cables will do any good. For most of the latest personal devices, the Cat5E cables are as fast as you would want to be.
In terms of the cables themselves and how they will last over time, the Cat5E cables and the Cat 6E cables share a very similar construction. They both have RJ45 plugs at the ends of the cable and are good for somewhere around 1,000 to 2,000 insertions. If you do not plan to move them much, they should last you a good long time.
Also, in addition to the twisting of the wires in the construction of the cables, the Cat6 cable has a nylon spline that will further help eliminate crosstalk. Some manufacturers of the Cat5E cables will use a nylon spline. If you do some research, you can find a quality Cat5E cable that will do just as well for you for your home use.
We have all been made to believe that when a thing is bigger it is better and that the newest model of something is the best version of that thing. Just by taking a time to look around and compare, we often find that those adages are not necessarily true for our purposes. For our purposes, that something older might be better than something new.