Cat6 cable is a common Ethernet cable type. It is used mainly for computer networks reaching a GB, 1000 Mbps or 1 Gbps of data transfer speed (DTR) or higher. When you are setting up a wired network up to 10Gbps, Cat6 cable is the first thing you need to add on your shopping list. But most of us don’t know Cat6 cables can be divided into flat and round according to cable shape. Here, we will talk about flat and round Cat6 cables and their differences.
The flat Ethernet Cat6 cable is a flat form of copper wire with twisted pairs arranged side by side rather than square shape. Most of the 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 cable not readily available. Since they lack insulation and shielding, they’re more inexpensive, lighter, and roll up or package much easier than round cables.
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.
Flat and round Cat6 cables, which one to choose? How do they differ from each other? Of course, the most obvious difference is the shape. But in addition to appearance, they are also very different in functions and application scenarios. Now, we will explore more about flat vs round Cat6 cable in five points below.
Flat Cat6 Cable comes with a thin multiple stranded cable, which is weak, most flat cable in the market is not more than 30m lengths, performance does drop at a longer length, so they are not preferred for long distances.
Round 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 offset the interference superimposed on it by the outside environment. Therefore, the round wire can be as long as 100 meters, while the flat wire is generally just a short jumper, the longest is about 2 meters.
Flat Cat6 cables do not have filler and insulation like round cables. It uses similar insulation as electrical properties. Therefore, flat cables are more affected by EMI, they may be attenuated over long distances.
Round Cat6 cables are not as susceptible to attenuation, or the degradation (loss) of data over long cable lengths. Round Ethernet cables also have more insulation than flat cables. In a word, round Cat6 cables are better protected against EMI, they’re more insulated, and also shielded for more durability.
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.
But round cables can be cast through walls hassle-more freely than flat cables, so if you need to run cable in the walls, then a solid round Cat6 cable is the choice. It also comes with standard solid core wire, which is enhanced with good reliability and makes it suitable for longer distance cabling.
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.
Since a flat 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.
Figure2: Flat and round Cat6 Cable
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, data center or professional outdoor network, round Cat6 cables are more popular because of the sturdy and durable filling layer and better anti-shielding performance.
Flat or round cables both 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. After knowing your actual requirements and all the differences between the two cables, making a choice shouldn’t be too difficult.