Flat or Round Cat6 Cable, Which to Choose?

Updated on Feb 17, 2024 by

Cat6 Ethernet cables are commonly used today and can support speeds up to 10 Gbps. However, most people only know about round Cat6 network cables and do not know that there are flat Cat6 network cables. Apart from their difference in design, they differ in terms of material construction, insulation, and maintenance as well. In this article, we will explain in detail the differences between round Cat6 network cables and flat Cat6 network cables to help you choose the right one for your application.

What Is Flat Cat6 Cable?

The flat Cat6 cable is a flat form of copper wire with twisted pairs arranged side by side rather than square shape. Most of the flat Ethernet cables are unshielded because it's very difficult to place an overall shield on a flat Ethernet cable. This makes external EMI protection of flat Ethernet cables not readily available. Due to the lack of insulation and shielding, flat Ethernet cables are relatively cheap. What's more, flat Ethernet cables are thinner and more flexible, making them easier to roll and install in compact spaces.

Flat Cat6 Cable

What Is Round Cat6 Cable?

The round Cat6 Ethernet cable is round form insulated wire that contains some layers of filler substances to keep the original circular shape. It helps in minimizing the heating because of friction. These filler materials protect the cord against some outer elements. Round cables can isolate any heat generated by the internal wires and protect them from small shocks and elements. They are commonly used in data centers, places that require longer cable lengths, or situations that require Ethernet cables to pass through walls.

Round Cat6 Cable

Cat6 Flat vs. Round Ethernet Cable: What's the difference?

Transmission Distance

The flat Cat6 network cables consist of closely adjacent cores without conductor separator support, resulting in weaker resistance to interference. Most flat network cables available have a maximum length of around 30 meters, making them unsuitable for long-distance transmissions.

Round Cat6 Ethernet cables are not very vulnerable to attenuation over long distances, because the two related wires are designed to be entangled with each other inside the round cable. It can effectively mitigate the interference superimposed on it by the outside environment. Round Cat6 network cables can transmit up to 100 meters, making them a superior choice for extended-distance transmissions compared to flat network cables.

Insulation & Attenuation

Flat Cat6 cables do not have filler and insulation like round cables. They use insulation with similar electrical properties. Therefore, flat cables are more affected by EMI, they may be attenuated over long distances.

Round Cat6 cables are less susceptible to attenuation, meaning they experience less degradation or loss of data over long cable lengths. Round Ethernet cables also provide more insulation compared to flat cables. In a word, round Cat6 cables offer better protection against EMI.

Installation & Application

Flat Ethernet cables are flexible, ultra-thin, and flat, making them perfect for flexible wiring. The thin design simplifies cable routing and management, making them a popular choice for residential and office environments. The thing that is convenient about flat Ethernet cable is the size of the wires and the ability to lay your cable flat on surfaces, on the ground or anywhere under surfaces. which is why it is a great choice for installing under carpet.

flat Cat6 cables under a carpet

Round cables can be cast through walls hassle-free freely than flat cables, so if you need to run cable in the walls, then a solid round Cat6 cable is the choice. They're also more durable because of the protective insulation, filler, and shielding. They need less maintenance. Moreover, they have a longer lifespan than flat Ethernet connections.

Because of their differences, flat and round Cat6 cables have different suitable application scenarios. For example, in some homes or offices where extra space is minimal, flat cables can fit exactly as you want them. On the contrary, when building an office, industrial settings, data centers, and outdoor installations, round Cat6 cables are more popular due to their durability and robust insulation.

Durability & Flexibility

Since a flat Ethernet cable is designed specifically for permanent installation, they require more maintenance than the rounded ones. They are not able to provide as high uptime as rounded cables.

Contrastingly, the round cables require very little maintenance and provide more uptime.The round Ethernet cable comprises some layers of filler substances that help sustain its round shape and reduce heat production. Moreover, these components prevent the cable from other external factors.

Cat6 Flat vs. Round Ethernet Cable: Which to Choose?

Through the above analysis, we can find that both the flat and round cables have their advantages and disadvantages. Your decision should be based on your actual applications. Before making a decision, you should take a minute to think about where you are going to install the cable, how long the distance is and whether you need a strong insulation function. When choosing between flat vs. round Ethernet cables, it is important to consider all these factors comprehensively and make a choice based on your specific requirements.

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