The 5 Best Ethernet Cables of 2021

Get the most out of your internet connection using one of our favorite Ethernet cables.

  • Best overall
    DbillionDa CAT 8 cable
    DbillionDa CAT 8
    • Gold-plated connectors
    • Quadruple shielding
    • UV resistance
    • $7.99–$69.99
  • Best braided Ethernet cable
    DanYee CAT 7 Braided Ethernet Cable
    DanYee CAT 7
    • Braided, flat design
    • Gold-plated connectors
    • Four colors
    • $7.99–$39.99
  • Best value Ethernet cable
    Amazon Basics CAT 7 Cable
    Amazon Basics CAT 7
    • Gold-plated connectors
    • Durable PVC jacket
    • Cat 7 speeds
    • $7.57–$15.31

Our pick: Which Ethernet cable is best?

DbillionDa’s Cat 8 Ethernet cable is our top pick for the best overall cable. It’s based on the latest Category 8 (CAT 8) specification for wired transfer speeds up to 40 Gbps. That’s a lot of data you’ll likely never need to push across its tiny copper wires unless you’re managing a data center. However, we chose this cable because it optimizes your connection for the best performance, whether it’s snaking along your baseboards or buried outside in the dirt.

Pro tip:

Want a fast internet connection to complement your gigabit Ethernet cables? Enter your zip code below to see what’s available in your area.

 

The 5 best Ethernet cables

Best Ethernet cables

Best forModelPriceLengthCategorySpeedGet it
Best overallDbillionDa$7.99–$69.993–100 ft.CAT 8Up to 40 GbpView on Amazon
Best braided Ethernet cableDanYee$7.99–$39.991.6–100 ft.CAT 7Up to 10 GbpsView on Amazon
Best flat Ethernet cableJadaol$13.99–$23.9925–100 ft.CAT 7Up to 10 GbpsView on Amazon
Best Ethernet cable extensionUGREEN$9.99–$11.991.5–6 ft.CAT 7Up to 10 GbpsView on Amazon
Best value Ethernet cableAmazon Basics$7.57–$15.313–25 ft.CAT 7Up to 10 GbpsView on Amazon

What should you look for in an Ethernet cable?

The first feature you need to keep in mind is speed. You don’t want to purchase a 100 Mbps Ethernet cable if you have a 400 Mbps internet connection. Ethernet cables are designed to supply a specific amount of bandwidth across a specific length. They’re divided into “categories,” so you can better distinguish one from the other, given most Ethernet cables look identical. A CAT 8 cable is the fastest you can get right now, while a CAT 5 cable is the slowest.

Second, you should consider shielding—a protective layer that blocks data-slowing interference. It suppresses electromagnetic interference (EMI) and crosstalk that can lower your cable’s overall performance. CAT 7 and CAT 8 cables all include shielding, but some CAT 6 cables and all older cables do not.

Finally, choose an Ethernet cable with gold-plated connectors, as they don’t corrode and are highly conductive.

Best overall—DbillionDa

Best overall
DbillionDa CAT 8 cable

Price: $7.99–$69.99

Specs

  • Based on Cat 8 specification
  • Supports up to 2,000 MHz
  • Supports up to 40 Gbps
  • Includes gold-plated connectors
  • Uses 26 AWG wires
  • Includes quadruple shielding
  • Works outdoors and indoors
  • Features a rugged, UV-resistant PVC jacket

DbillionDa’s CAT 8 cable is simply great for any home or office setup. It uses oxygen-free copper (OFC) for the best electrical conductivity, resulting in better performance over great distances.

Inside this cable are twisted-pair wires (26 American Wire Gauge, or 26 AWG) individually wrapped in Mylar-based aluminum foil shielding. They’re bundled within a layer of 90% aluminum braid shielding that protects them from external interference. On the outside, a rugged, UV-resistant PVC jacket allows you to bury the cable for outdoor use.

However, we can’t lie to you: DbillionDa’s CAT 8 cable seems overkill for even the fastest home internet connections. Yet its overall design and high performance make it ideal for local area network gaming, streaming media from a local server, and moving files to and from a network-attached storage device.

If anything, use this Ethernet cable to tether your standalone router to your modem.

Pro tip:

Do you really need gigabit internet? Consult our Mbps vs. Gbps guide to see if you need gigabit speeds and where to get a gigabit internet plan.

Alternative: If DbillionDa’s cable is out of stock, Dacrown’s CAT 8 Ethernet cable is a great alternative. It’s ideal for outdoor use as well.

Pros

  • Supports up to 40 Gbps
  • Provides additional shielding

Cons

  • Comes only in black

Best braided cable—DanYee

Best braided cable
DanYee CAT 7 Braided Ethernet Cable

Price: $7.99–$39.99

Specs

  • Based on CAT 7 specifications
  • Supports up to 600 MHz
  • Supports up to 10 Gbps
  • Features a braided nylon exterior in black, blue, white, or gold
  • Uses gold-plated connectors

DanYee’s braided CAT 7 cable is a good option for indoor use if you need a sturdy cable. It not only utilizes a nylon braided exterior but also features a semi-flat design that makes it great for mounting along baseboards and running under rugs.

Nylon braiding is stronger and more flexible than the PVC and rubber jackets commonly used with Ethernet cables. It’s less prone to damage caused by wrapping around edges and corners and the general scrapes that can typically pierce PVC and rubber.

This cable uses stranded copper conductors (30 AWG) wrapped in a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) jacket and a second aluminum foil shielding layer. A thin PVC casing wraps around the twisted wire pairs, followed by the nylon braided exterior. You can purchase this cable in black, blue, white, and gold colors.

Pro tip:

Need a router that supports gigabit speeds? Check out our guide about the fastest routers for gigabit internet.

Pros

  • Supports up to 10 Gbps
  • Sits flat against baseboards
  • Comes in four colors

Cons

  • Doesn’t support outdoor use
  • Doesn’t ship with mounting clips

Best flat cable—Jadaol

Best flat cable
Jadaol CAT 7 Flat Ethernet Cable

Price: $13.99–$23.99

Specs

  • Based on CAT 7 specification
  • Supports up to 600 MHz
  • Supports up to 10 Gbps
  • Features a flat design
  • Includes clips for mounting

If you don’t need a braided flat Ethernet cable, Jadol’s CAT 7 cable is a cheaper alternative. You can mount it flush against baseboards using the provided translucent clips and safely bend it around corners. It’s ideal if you need long runs that extend from room to room.

The cable’s 100% base OFC conductors are wrapped in an HDPE jacket and a second aluminum foil shielding layer. The outer PVC jacket isn’t meant for outdoor use but is sturdy enough to prevent conductor breaks within. Gold-plated connectors ensure a corrosion-free, stable connection.

Pro tip:

Want to supply your own modem that supports gigabit internet? Check out our guide on the best modems for gigabit internet.

Pros

  • Supports up to 10 Gbps
  • Sits flat against baseboards

Cons

  • Comes in only three lengths 
  • Comes only in black and white

Best extension—UGREEN

Best extension
UGREEN CAT 7 Ethernet Extension

Price: $9.99–$11.99

Specs

  • Based on CAT 7 specification
  • Supports up to 500 MHz
  • Supports up to 10 Gbps
  • Uses a gold-plated connector
  • Includes a built-in female end

If you have Ethernet cables on hand, but they just can’t reach your devices, UGREEN’s Ethernet extender cable may be what you need. It includes one male connector and a female Ethernet port that’s compatible with all cables CAT 7 and older.

This cable uses pure stranded copper conductors wrapped in an HDPE jacket, but there’s no foil shielding. The male connector uses gold contacts encased in nickel plating. The sturdy PVC jacket allows you to bend the cable at least 1,000 times before the copper conductors break.

Pros

  • Supports 10 Gbps
  • Supports CAT 7 and older cables

Cons

  • Comes in only three lengths

Best value—Amazon Basics

Best value
Amazon Basics CAT 7 Cable

Price:$7.57–$15.31

Specs

  • Based on CAT 7 specification
  • Supports up to 10 Gbps
  • Uses a durable PVC jacket
  • Relies on gold-plated contacts

This CAT 7 cable from AmazonBasics is about as basic as you can get. It’s a bare-bones cable with standard HDPE shielding, gold-plated contacts, and gold-plated siding on each connector. A PVC jacket surrounds the twisted wire pairs for better durability against accidental nicks. It’s a good solution if you won’t want to pay lots of money for long Ethernet runs.

Pros

  • Supports 10 Gbps
  • Uses a durable PVC jacket

Cons

  • Lacks foil shielding
  • Comes only in white

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Ethernet cable specs and features

There are certain traits you should keep in mind when shopping for Ethernet cables. Consider what you need regarding internet connectivity and what you may require for network-side tasks, like transferring large files to another PC or streaming video from a local server.

Speed

Speed should be your primary reason over everything else. If you pay for gigabit internet, you don’t want an Ethernet cable that can handle just a tenth of that speed. Then again, an Ethernet cable supporting 40 Gbps speeds feels like overkill when you’re just surfing the internet using a 100 Mbps or slower connection.

If you don’t have any wired connections outside the router, your only concern is having the correct Ethernet cable that matches your plan’s speed. A CAT 5 cable is best for 100 Mbps or slower plans, while CAT 5a cables and newer are ideal for 200 Mbps and faster.

High-speed Ethernet cables are ideal for transferring large files to a local server or a network-attached storage (NAS) device. They’re also ideal when playing multiplayer games with others on the local network. In these three scenarios, you want the fastest performance possible for speedy uploads and downloads and extremely low latency.

Pro Tip:

Are you ready to upgrade to gigabit internet? We provide a guide on how to get gigabit internet to get you started. You can also enter your zip code below to see the internet speeds available in your area.

Durability

You need a cable that can handle a busy home or office. Shoes, pets, and small children can play havoc on your wiring. Even simple bends around a corner or over the edge of a desktop can cause the copper wires inside to break over time.

Generally, most Ethernet cables of the same length cost the same. For example, DbillionDa’s CAT 8 cable costs $14 for 10 feet, while the Amazon Basics CAT 7 cable is $12. However, DbillionDa’s cable gives you the added CAT 8 bandwidth, better shielding, waterproofing, UV resistance, and better gold plating for the two extra bucks.

Shielding

Shielding is essential, as it protects the copper wires against electromagnetic interference caused by other cables, fluorescent lights, appliances, motors, and so on. Shielding also guards against crosstalk, which is interference caused by signals spilling from other wires. All this interference can reduce performance and cause errors.

Shielding can be in the form of a braided material or foil wrapped around each wire. Some designs also wrap all shielded wires like a burrito using an added layer of braided material or foil.

CAT 6 cables introduced shielding, although some CAT 6 cables do not shield their wires. CAT 5 cables and older do not have shielding.

Connectors

Gold-plated connectors are ideal because they don’t corrode and are highly conductive. The cables listed above have gold-plated connectors, but not all do—especially those that target value over performance. Standard metal connectors aren’t as durable as gold-plated connectors, requiring you to replace the cable sooner.

Gold plating is typically advertised in microns. This thickest is 50 microns and ensures that you will maintain a stable and fast connection. Thinner plating will wear out quicker and cause connection issues. Sometimes this measurement is front and center, while other product listings bury it in the specs—if at all. Jadaol lists 50 microns while DbillionDa does not.

Design

One of the drawbacks of using Ethernet cables is that you have all these ugly vines hanging in your electronic jungle and running along baseboards, threatening to overtake your home. It’s not a pretty sight, especially if you’re avoiding wireless altogether by wiring your different devices in multiple rooms.

One way to ease your visual pain is to use flat Ethernet cables. You can run white flat cables along your white baseboards and around door frames to keep them camouflaged. The cable is held in place by clear, plastic clips that typically ship with the cable. If you’re old-school and accustomed to seeing telephone wires strung all over the house, this shouldn’t be anything new to you.

If running along baseboards isn’t a priority, check to see if a manufacturer sells its Ethernet cable in various colors. There’s a good chance you can find a cable that matches the color scheme of your room, like a brown cable against a wooden TV stand.

Our verdict

DbillionDa’s CAT 8 Ethernet cable is our top pick for the best overall cable for many reasons, but at first glance, it may seem like overkill for your needs. After all, a maximum speed of 40 Gbps is more than anyone needs—unless you manage a data center. The fastest internet connection available to homes right now is 2 Gbps, so why would anyone need a cable that fast?

Because the key takeaway from DbillionDa’s CAT 8 cable—or any CAT 8 cable—is performance. It’s fast, sure, but it has exceptionally stable and consistent performance. Shielding keeps the EMI and crosstalk at bay, ensuring that your network signals remain uninterrupted. It’s future-proofed, too, until 40 Gbps becomes the new dial-up-like speed.

Pro tip:

Does your internet connection match the Ethernet cables you want to replace? Take our speed test to determine your plan’s current speed.

Run the Speed Test

FAQ about Ethernet cables

What is an Ethernet category?

The term “category” signifies a generation. It refers to a cable’s design and how it handles crosstalk and signal bandwidth. The Electronic Industries Alliance created the standard, but it’s currently maintained by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). 

Each new category improves on the standard and enables better performance. For instance, a CAT 8 cable will outperform a CAT 5 cable under the right conditions.

Here are the different Ethernet categories:

CategoryMax data rateMax bandwidth# of twisted pairsRangeShielding
CAT 310 Mbps16 MHz2328 ft.Unshielded
CAT 5100 Mbps100 MHz2328 ft.Unshielded
CAT 5e1,000 Mbps100 MHz4328 ft.Unshielded
CAT 61,000 Mbps250 MHz4328 ft.Shielded and Unshielded
CAT 6a10,000 Mbps500 MHz4328 ft.Shielded
CAT 710,000 Mbps
40,000 Mbps
100,000 Mbps
600 MHz4328 ft.
164 ft.
49 ft.
Shielded
CAT 7a10,000 Mbps1,000 MHz4328 ft.Shielded
CAT 8.1/8.225,000 Mbps
40,000 Mbps
2,000 MHz498 ft.
79 ft.
Shielded

Ultimately, a category defines how a cable should perform on an electrical level over a specified distance. That includes the frequencies needed for electrical signals to move data at specific speeds over specific distances.

Why does a cable’s megahertz matter?

Megahertz (MHz) is the rate at which a wave can change states each second. The faster the wave can change state, the quicker the data rate for a specific range. For instance, if a CAT 5 cable has a bandwidth of only 100 MHz, the signal can change between one million and 100 million times per second.

A higher megahertz is better because it enables faster speed. A CAT 6a cable with a 500 MHz bandwidth can move ten times more data than a CAT 5 cable.

What is a twisted pair?

A twisted pair is two conductors of a single circuit that are twisted together to help reduce the interference caused by other devices and equipment, like fluorescent lights and appliances. This interference can create crosstalk between the circuits, lowering the cable’s data rate.

Ethernet cables that support up to 100 Mbps use two twisted pairs, while cables that support 1,000 Mbps or higher use four twisted pairs. All twisted pairs can have stranded or solid copper wires, depending on the target installation.

Stranged vs. solid: What’s the difference?

A stranded cable includes multiple copper strands that form one wire (or conductor). This design gives an Ethernet cable more flexibility and is most often used in short patch cables. Cables with stranded wires are not meant for long runs across the floor.

A solid core cable uses one copper wire per conductor. This type of Ethernet cable is designed for long distances and is less flexible than a stranded cable.

What is American Wire Gauge (AWG)?

American Wire Gauge, or AWG, measures the thickness of a wire (conductor) inside a cable. Here are four popular types:

24 AWG

This wire type is the largest of the four and is primarily used in solid core cables. However, they’re also used in stranded cables for high performance due to the amount of conductive copper inside.

26 AWG

This wire type is mainly used in stranded cables. It’s ideal for short runs and typically ships with foil shielding wrapped around the individual pairs.

28 AWG

This wire type is used primarily in stranded cables and is ideal for short runs and high flexibility. Performance drops at longer distances due to the low amount of conductive copper inside.

30 AWG

This wire type is the thinnest of the four. It has similar restrictions in performance and distance as the 28 AWG type.

Shielded vs. unshielded: What’s the difference?

A shielded cable suppresses electromagnetic interference and crosstalk, while an unshielded cable does not. Cables based on CAT 6 and newer standards include shielding for better performance over older generations. Shielded cables also typically have a “drain” wire used for grounding to protect the cable against electrical surges.

Shielded cables are thicker and less flexible than unshielded cables. They’re also typically more expensive due to the added materials. Here are the different forms of shielded and unshielded cables:

  • Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) — The twisted pairs are bare inside the cable jacket.
  • Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) — The twisted pairs are covered in a braided shield inside the cable jacket.
  • Foiled Twisted Pair (FTP) — The twisted pairs are covered in foil inside the cable jacket.
  • Outer Foil Shielded/Unshielded Twisted Pair (F/UTP) — The individual twisted pairs are bare, but a foil shield wraps around all twisted pairs.
  • Outer Braided Shield/Unshielded Twisted Pair (S/UTP) — The individual twisted pairs are bare, but a braided shield wraps around all twisted pairs.
  • Outer Braided Shield/Foiled Twisted Pair (S/FTP) — Foil wraps around each twisted pair, which are separated by a cross divider. A braided shield wraps around all twisted pairs and the divider.

What are the Ethernet connector types?

Ethernet cable connectors feature an 8-position 8-contact (8P8C) modular plug design. Each wire inside the Ethernet cable (remember, four twisted pairs) slips into each position in the connector. Here are the three types of connectors:

Registered Jack 45 (RJ45)

A registered jack is an interface connecting equipment to a networked device. The “45” aspect simply means there were 44 registered devices before the Ethernet connector. This connector is most commonly used on computers, routers, modems, game consoles, and other devices that support Ethernet connections.

There are two wiring standards for the RJ45 connector: T-568A and T-568B. The latter is typically used for new networks while the government requires the former T-568A wiring scheme.1

etherCON RJ45

This is a ruggedized and lockable version of the RJ45 connector developed by Neutrik. It’s designed for network-enabled stage lighting, pro video, and pro audio devices.

GigaGate 45 (GG45)

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standardized this connector for CAT 7 and CAT 7a (along with the non-RJ TERA connector).

Also known as Augmented RJ45 (ARJ45), this design moves two of the four twisted pairs to the other side of the connector, providing 12 contacts combined. A switch on the connector is activated by a compatible port that enables the cable to use its new contacts. Otherwise, the connector uses the eight standard contacts for backward compatibility.

CAT 8a and CAT 8b use the standard RJ45 jack.

What is oxygen-free copper (OFC) and is it important?

Oxygen-free copper is refined copper ore that includes around 0.001% oxygen. Since raw copper has impurities, it must be refined, which introduces oxygen into the mix. Oxygen-free copper is the result of using a refinement based on copper sulfate and sulfuric acid.2

Oxygen-free copper supposedly increases conductivity in wires of over 50 feet, but it’s not noticeable at shorter lengths. The big takeaway from OFC is that you want a cable that uses pure copper, and OFC is close to that level. You have a better chance of reducing signal loss by choosing cables with OFC wires than those with copper-clad aluminum wires.

Will a new Ethernet cable automatically increase my internet speed?

A new Ethernet cable will not increase your core internet speed. It may solve speed issues related to a bad Ethernet cable, but if you pay for a 400 Mbps plan, then 400 Mbps is the maximum speed you’ll see from your internet connection.

Do my Ethernet ports support the max CAT 6a, CAT 7, and CAT 8 speeds?

Your Ethernet ports probably don’t support those maximum speeds.

Mainstream desktops, laptops, modems, routers, set-top-boxes, smart TVs, and game consoles generally include at least one Gigabit Ethernet (1,000 Mbps or 1 Gbps) port. You may see Fast Ethernet ports (100 Mbps) on some budget devices to keep the cost low. Multi-Gig Ethernet ports (2.5+ Gbps) have become more common in recent years thanks to Wi-Fi 5, but Gigabit Ethernet is generally the most used wired connection in today’s devices.

That said, the current gigabit cap in nearly all wired devices in the home is probably why most internet providers do not offer plans faster than 1 Gbps. These devices just don’t support faster speeds.

However, you can purchase modems and wireless routers that support faster wired speeds along with compatible Ethernet cards for desktops and network switch boxes that can handle up to 10 Gbps.

Ethernet adapters can support up to 10 Gbps if they use a USB 3.2 or Thunderbolt 3/4 port. Older USB 2.0 ports can support up to only 480 Mbps.

NameMaximum speedPort type
USB 2.0480 MbpsUSB-A
USB 3.2 Gen 15 GbpsUSB-A, USB-C
USB 3.2 Gen 210 GbpsUSB-A, USB-C
USB 3.2 Gen 2×220 GbpsUSB-A, USB-C
Thunderbolt 340 GbpsUSB-C
Thunderbolt 440 GbpsUSB-C

USB-A and USB-C ports that support the USB 3.2 standard (formerly 3.0 and 3.1) are typically blue and have the SuperSpeed USB symbol stamped to the port’s left or right. USB-A ports based on USB 2.0 are dark and do not have the SuperSpeed USB symbol.

As for Thunderbolt connectivity, USB-C ports supporting this tech have a “striking” thunderbolt symbol with an arrowhead at the end. This symbol isn’t to be confused with the lightning bolt symbol with no arrowhead seen next to USB ports, which indicates that the port can charge an external device.

Resources

  1. Esticom, “What’s the Difference Between T568A and T568B,” February 23, 2016. Accessed July 28, 2021.
  2. CustomCable, “Oxygen Free Copper and Its Applications,” March 24, 2010. Accessed July 30, 2021.

Disclaimer:

Amazon.com Prices as of 8/25/21 1:15 EST. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Highspeedinternet.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

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Author -

Kevin Parrish has more than a decade of experience working as a writer, editor, and product tester. He began writing about computer hardware and soon branched out to other devices and services such as networking equipment, phones and tablets, game consoles, and other internet-connected devices. His work has appeared in Tom’s Hardware, Tom's Guide, Maximum PC, Digital Trends, Android Authority, How-To Geek, Lifewire, and others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on internet security.

Editor - Rebecca Lee Armstrong

Rebecca Lee Armstrong has more than six years of experience writing about tech and the internet, with a specialty in hands-on testing. She started writing tech product and service reviews while finishing her BFA in creative writing at the University of Evansville and has found her niche writing about home networking, routers, and internet access at HighSpeedInternet.com. Her work has also been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ, and iMore.

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