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Good choice for a home network
on March 21, 2012
Just a quick primer on different kinds of network throughput:
Wireless standard 802.11g can support about 54 megabits per second, while the more recent 802.11n standard goes up to 300 Mbps. Wired Ethernet connections using Cat 5e cable can safely support 100 megabits per second and might be able to go higher. Wiring with Cat 6 can support up to 1,000 megabits per second. And Internet downlink speeds for companies like Comcast are in the range of 20-25 megabits per second ( some vendors might be higher). Network controllers are also a constraint, with older controllers supporting 54 Mbps (wireless) and 100 Mbps (wide) and newer controllers supporting 300 Mbps (wireless) and 1,000 Mbps (wired).
What does this mean? Basically, for home networks, whether you go wireless or wired, Cat 5e or Cat 6, you're still likely to have throughput capacity that exceeds what your Internet service provider is using. So you really can't go wrong. Commercial networks have different considerations, which I'm not addressing here.
My own home network supports in the range of 6-8 devices. The split is pretty even between those devices that are hardwired and those that are wireless. I use cabling where I want to be absolutely certain I have enough throughput capacity to support things like large downloads and video or audio streaming. That tends to mean hardwiring my desktop, my Ethernet-ready Blu-Ray player, and my Roku box. Everything else is wireless.
For me, Ethernet cabling has become a generic commodity where price and convenience trump more technical considerations. I have cables from MediaBridge, RiteAV, and Cables To Go. They're all pretty much the same in that they are soundly constructed, have decent connectors, are snagless, are not susceptible to crosstalk or other interference, etc. Being able to pick different colors is, for me, more important than a specific brand. Also, I tend to buy Cat 6 these days although there is really no noticeable difference in throughput no matter what spec I am using.
These cables are fine. If you decide to go wired rather than wireless, they are a good choice. I purchase cables of 3-6 feet to link equipment on the same rack, 9-12 feet for units alongside my controller, 20 feet for units across the room from the controller, and 50 feet for units in the next room. This is for a two-bedroom apartment. Different colors help me to distinguish between the different network links.
I hope this helps.