You’ve heard the term “network cable” or “ethernet cable” before, but do you know what they are?
First off, the terms “Ethernet cable” and “network cable” are interchangeable. So if someone says to you “just go to the store and get an Ethernet cable” and everything is labeled “network cable”, you’ll know it is the same thing.
Secondly, there are two types and three varieties of Ethernet cables: Patch(also called “Internet”) cables and crossover cables. Patch/Internet cables connect your computer to the high-speed modem; crossover cables connect one computer to another. These two type are NOT interchangeable.
With patch/Internet cables the three varieties are Category 5 (usually labeled as “cat5”), Cat 5e and Cat6. These labels refer to the type of wiring inside the cable itself.
Normally, you want Cat5e patch (“Internet”) cable. If you need higher speed cable, look for Cat6 “Gigabit” cable.
Finally, a word about speed. Ethernet cables are rated for three levels of speed:
The oldest and slowest is 10Base-T, this isnt usually sold any more.
The next-newest is 10/100, which you can still buy.
The newest and fastest is Gigabit Ethernet, or 10/1000. Gigabit Ethernet is new enough that budget computers and pre-built computers more than 3 years old usually dont have it built in.