Friday, December 28, 2012

Rosewill 25' Cat 6 Network Cable

Rating: 5 out of 5
Pros:Inexpensive, good quality, works well
Cons:None if you like the little rubber clip protectors

I recently decided to redo my home network setup with all new parts in an effort to get my cable company to step up and provide the service they are supposed to. You see, they like to blame slow network speeds on customer equipment 100% of the time no matter what, so I thought I would just nip that in the bud. One part of the upgrade involved replacing all the old Ethernet cables in the house; after some research I decided to go with Category 6 network cables, and after some price and quality comparisons I decided to go with the Rosewill brand.
 
For my network, the cable modem plugs into a wireless router which then plugs into the two computers in the main room. From that router, a 25 foot Ethernet cable goes up the wall and across the ceiling into the other room, where it plugs into a network switch that in turn plugs into two additional computers. For that 25 foot cable length I replaced my old Cat 5e cable with this black Rosewill 25' Cat 6 Network Cable. I also replaced the router, the switch, and all the patch cables going from the network devices to the individual computers.
 
The first thing to note about Cat 6 cable is that it is backwards compatible with Cat 5/5e cables, which means you can swap it into existing applications without issue. Both cables use the same connectors and contain four pairs of twisted wires inside a sheath, but Cat 6 cables typically use larger (22 AWG) wire than Cat 5 cables (24 AWG) to help reduce impedance, crosstalk and structural return loss.
 
This particular cable came packaged in a sealed plastic and foil bag. It was coiled up nicely in a big coil to prevent kinking, and twist-tied together on one side. The first thing I noticed when I opened the package was that the cable was noticeably thicker than the Cat 5e cable it replaced, and thus wasn't quite as flexible. It still had plenty of flex to it, but if I laid it down on the floor it tended to fall back into a coil shape or a straight line rather than just flop all over the place. I had no problem routing it up the wall and the along through some looped hooks in the ceiling.
 
One thing I don't particularly care for that others might like is the little rubber protective cover that surrounds the clip on each end of the cable. This makes it so you don't snag the clip on things and break it off, but at the same time it makes the cable harder to remove since the rubber is a little stiff. Personally I grabbed a pair of wire cutters and cut off the protective cover on all my new cables to make it easier on myself later.
 
Network speeds are the same as before, with the hard drive being the limiting factor in transferring across the local area network and the terrible 1.5mbit cable being the limit over the internet for me. I went with 10/100 BASE-T networking, but this Cat 6 cable would work just as well for Gigabit Ethernet if I had chosen to go that route. It meets all EIA/TIA Cat 6 TIA/EIA- 568-B-2.1, draft 9 standards and has a gold-plated RJ-45 male standard connector on each end.
 
I'm very happy with this cable. It's currently selling on Amazon for $5.99 and on Newegg for $4.49 with free shipping; when I purchased my cables a couple of months ago on Newegg it was $4.99 and had a 20% off promotional code, which made it a heck of a deal. I picked up a second one to keep in my box of extra cables as a spare, and I would easily recommend this cable.

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