Cat 5, 6, 7, and 8 - what's a reasonable "future-proof" choice?

Running some ethernet in new construction, it will be connected to video sources (Shield TV, smart TV, etc.) and laptops occassionally.

Wondering what's an appropriate choice these days for "future proofing" ethernet cabling w/out buying something that is not above usable/reasonable specs. Thanks!

At this point, I would personally stick with Cat 6A at most. It's got 10Gbps capability and it sticks with the RJ45 connector standard.


CAT6A is more than you ever need in a domestic I would say.


Thanks, @BorrisTheCat & @harold.min.

Just found one 50' run of Cat 7 that I didn't remember I had (I will NOT admit that to the wife of course, mums the word). If I already have that, no problems/compatibility issues if I use it, correct?

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As always, it depends on the application and the location of the run, the potential timeframe we're talking about, and how tech heavy you expect to be in the future. Running heavily shielded and properly grounded cable can help in high interference areas such as around power runs. Longer runs would benefit from higher-rated cable if the area might need to support faster speeds in the future. Good candidates for that would be entertainment centers and bedrooms/offices. In the last 10 years or so there has been a big push in the corporate environment to support faster and faster speeds. Those technologies eventually propagate to residential.

My grandmother wouldn't notice a difference between a 1mb connection or a 10gb connection. She just doesn't use much data so I'd say it depends on the person/family.


Shouldn't be an issue. If it is, you can just use it as a really expensive pull string? :slight_smile:


Isn't GG45 or ARJ45 (or whatever its called now) supposed to be backwards compatible with RJ45?


Apparently so! I'm behind.


Thanks, guys, appreciate the info. I've just realized I have another potential issue... the length of the runs I'll end up with is a little odd due to issues w/getting runs through my attic.

I have one 100' run that goes from a switch to the attic. That run will connect to a switch. Then from that switch I'll need a run of 75' to connect to the TV area. So that's 100' to the switch, then 75' to the TV. 175 total seems like I'm going to be pushing things a bit too much.

If I have to I can shorten the first run to 50' (will be painful process, but could do it) if that is required.

Combined length doesn't matter. That's two separate runs. Plus, 175' shouldn't be an issue anyways.


The switch repeats the signal so the run length is actually just 100' and then 75'. For gigabit ethernet anything under 300' is pretty much guaranteed to work assuming you don't run it next to electrical the whole way. For 10Gb the length depends on the hardware its connecting to as much as the cable it uses.


Cat 5E or later is good enough for gigabit Ethernet (not Cat 5). Cat 6A is good enough for 10Gbps. Given those as the minimum, go with whatever is cheapest.

I ran Cat 5E 10 years ago and my 1Gbps is way more than I'll ever need in my house. At the time Cat 6 was 4x the price. Of course, my FiOS is 1Gbps up/down these days, but I don't come close to maxing that out.


There is no such thing as future proof. Cat5 was 'future proof' until Cat6 came out and then people replaced their Cat5 with Cat6 because they wanted to be 'future proof'. And now Cat7 is coming. Do you think that will give you 'future proof'?

When Cat5 hit the scene, companies installed it like crazy because it could handle 'anything' (voice, data, video, security, industrial control, etc.). But it wasn't long before lots of that was pulled out and replaced with Cat5e because that will be 'future proof'. A few years later Cat6 was being pushed by the cable manufacturers as the new 'future proof'. But many people realized that Cat5e was still good enough. Some people upgraded, but many didn't. Prices of Cat6 have dropped since then so its a good choice for new installations assuming you can get it for a reasonably small premium in price.


Whatever you run make sure it is in conduit so it can easily be replaced!


Yeah, I think that's truly the only "Future proof" cabling option, but when I talked my electrician about it last week he wanted to charge me an arm and a leg for putting it in (and maybe understandingly, the routing is a bit tortured), and I don't want to deal w/doing it myself, so I'm just going to use the Cat 7 and other cable (6e I think) that I had left over and not worry about it any more.

Yup - I get that, that's why "future-proof" is in quotes in my post title. :slight_smile: Kind of chasing a unicorn... :wink:

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I recently hard wired some of my Google Mesh devices. I found that there was a huge difference in speed depending on the type of cables, and also the number of “in between” devices.

I ended-up using either Cat7 or Cat8 (Can’t recall for sure) and found that I got the best (closest to gigabit) speeds with those. When I was using Cat6, the speed was way lower. Slowed down as well with every device between the router and the AP.

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When I first ran ethernet in my house, 21 years ago, I ran Category 5e. 1 run to each room. 10 years ago I started a structured wiring project, 24 gigabit ports + Access points with additional ports (routers). I repurposed the Cat5e for VoIP, and ran Cat6 as it was literally a dollar a box more than 5e.

I have gigabit internet service and honestly it supports everything I do, including more or less 24x7 streaming on multiple devices with LOTS of headroom.

I don't see a need for anything faster than gig in the foreseeable future, however new technologies can change that in a hurry just like streaming video did.

The problem I would have with anything newer than cat 6 is backwards compatibility with Fast, and gig ethernet devices which I still have in abundance in the house.

So for me, and my applications as far out as I can see, Category 6 is more than enough. HOWEVER, I did run the cable so that back pulling newer cable would be a negligible effort...

Do what you will, how you will, but I made my choice and am happy with it.


I figure with the way that media resolutions have been going, along with the popularity of home media streaming/hosting, 10Gbps is not going to be a bad thing to have in the next 5-10 years. Especially if you have multiple concurrent streams happening. This can still be achieved with CAT6A so that's still probably fine for a good while when "future proofing." (with, as @lewis.heidrick pointed out, CAT7 used in specific situations where the additional shielding would be beneficial)

I've got CAT6A throughout my house and consistently get the full 1Gbps up/down between any hardwired device and my NAS. (All Unifi equipment in between, if that's valuable)

Truly YMMV.

I just want to put this out there, not judging per se anyones choices.

You would need an awfully big house or extremely poor switch / router location to need 6a.

Category 6 will carry 10GbaseT over copper for a max of 55 meters.

At least in my case my house is simply not big enough. My longest runs possible are 75 feet.

The least expensive 10GbaseT switch with any decent port density, a Netgear managed 24 port, runs a little over $100.00 per port. PCI Express 10GBaseT card runs $180.00 per... Costs for 10GBaseT would need to come down massively just to get it into the range of affordability for residential applications.

GIgabit was like this 20 years ago, but VERY quickly dropped in price. 10 Gig has been much slower to come down in price...

However if you can hold off until prices come down on 10GBaseT AND have an installation with runs within the specified limits, why spend the extra on more expensive cable? Now if I was in a larger 2 story home with long runs, then yeah, spend the extra on 6a...