Thursday, August 18, 2022

Cat6A Shielded vs Unshielded: Explained

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If you are planning to use Cat6a cables for your home or office network, you are making the right choice. The 6th augmented category of ethernet cables is capable of supporting gigabit and 10-gigabit applications. High-quality materials ensure its high performance, reliability, and durability. 

There are two types of bulk Cat6a cables. Shielded and Unshielded.  As the name implies, the shielded cables have extra layers around the conductors to enhance their performance. And the unshielded ones do not feature any protective layer for enhanced performance. 

We will discuss the differences between shielded and unshielded Cat6a Cables in this article. Read on to also understand more about the design, application, and cost of UTP and STP Cat6a.

Shielded Vs Unshielded Ethernet Cables

MThere are shielded and unshielded types of Ethernet cables available in most categories. The purpose of making the same cable with different features is to serve the needs of different network applications.

Unshielded Twisted Pair Cables (UTP) have 8 bare copper conductor wires at the core. The cables are twisted together to prevent electromagnetic interference (EMI) and crosstalk. The twists in the wires are crucial to keeping different interferences at a minimum.

Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) cables have at least one layer of shielding to protect the wires from EMI and external noise. Conductor wires in STP cables are also twisted in pairs to enhance the flow of signals.  

The unshielded twisted pair cables are less expensive than the shielded twisted pair cable because the shielding adds extra cost. 

On the other side of the coin, unshielded twisted pair cables are easier to install. Because the protective shielding in STP cables can make them hard. 

STP cables are better for voice and video transmission because the shielding helps to keep interference out of the signal. UTP cables can also be used for audio and video transmission. And the effect of interference will be almost unnoticeable.  

Shielded Cat6a cable

Shielded Cat6a cables have a bandwidth capacity of 750 MHz and a data transmission rate of 10 Gbps. It can maintain its high speed at the maximum standard length which is 100 meters. The conductor is made out of pure copper only which ensures the high performance of the cable. You can use it for all high-performance ethernet applications such as the following: 1000Base-T (IEEE802.3), 10Base-T, 100 Base-TX, PoE, PoE+, and PoE++.

Pros: 

  • 10 GB data transfer rate at 100meters
  • Bandwidth capacity of 750 MHz
  • Minimum EMI and Crosstalks
  • Long-lasting and durable
  • Efficient for long lengths
  • Pure Copper Conductor

Cons:

  • Slightly more costly than UTP cable
  • Tricky to install 

Uses:

STP Cat6 is best utilized in hospitals, offices, data centers, schools, etc.

Unshielded Cat6a Cable

Unshielded Cat6a differs from its shielded counterpart in only one factor, which is the lack of shielding around the conductor wires. This UTP Cat6a cable also supports up to 10 Gbps data transmission rates and 750 MHz bandwidth capacity. 

The conductor material, jacket, twisted pairs, and everything is just the same as the other variant of this ethernet cable. That is why you will see it being used in all of the applications of the other variants such as 1000Base-T (IEEE802.3), 10Base-T, 100 Base-TX, PoE, PoE+, and PoE++.

Pros:

  • 10 Gbps data transfer rate
  • 750 MHz bandwidth capacity
  • Easy to install
  • Inexpensive
  • Minimum Cross-talk and EMI
  • Durable and Long Lasting

Cons:

  • Entertains slightly more EMI and Crosstalk
  • 100-meter run-length limitation

Uses:

This cable is used in all ethernet applications such as homes, offices, factories, schools, data centers, etc. 

Cat6a Shielded or Unshielded: How to choose?

Now, choosing between shielded and unshielded Cat6 is a bit tricky. If you need high-performance at a slightly lower cost, then unshielded Cat6a is highly recommended. But if you need high-performance and you have zero tolerance for annoying external noise (crosstalk) and EMI in your signals, go get the shielded one. 

Note that both types are exquisite cables with exceptional features. They are durable and long-lasting as well. 

Conclusion

Cat6A shielded and unshielded are both cutting-edge networking cables. These cables are capable of delivering the required bandwidth and transmission speed for your business. However, if you need to run a cable in an area that is prone to interference, shielded cables are recommended. Otherwise, unshielded Cat6a cables can handle all high-performance network applications.

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