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Ethernet CCA vs Copper Cable

Discussion in 'CAT5 Cabling' started by zoink, Feb 14, 2012.

  1. zoink

    zoink Member

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    While Copper Clad Aluminium (CCA) Ethernet cables are in some cases a third of the price of Copper cables, there is still this unsolved dilemma - Which cable is good for what and from what point do you decide which cable to go for?

    I have searched on here and through the internet, found a few articles that state people should avoid CCA cables like the plague, others said it's OK but not for intensive purposes, while others said that you might experience problems with HDMI...

    From what I understand (from online articles) is that CCA has a higher packet loss rate due to the small amounts of copper smeared on the aluminium strands, therefore while data applications can put up with lost/corrupt packets on the way, video will be more sensitive to it and one will experience undesired side effects.

    But is this "video", video of a 1080p resolution being streamed to 4 TVs in the house simultaneously or even simply streaming Youtube 1080p to one PC that one will be experiencing problems?

    Will you experience problems streaming 5GB MKV video file and transferring large files simultaneously on CCA rather than copper?

    Have any of you installed CCA cabling and noticed any drops in performance, quality or an increase in packets loss?
  2. mickevh

    mickevh Active Member

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    Ethernet is a packet oriented transmission mechnism.

    Most packet oriented transmission mechanisms are "atomic" in that a packet either arrives fully intact, or not at all (in which case they are usually discarded.) You don't (or at least very rarely) get "damaged" or "partial packets."

    Ethernet doesn't "know" what type of data is being conveyed in it's payload any more than your postman "knows" what's in the content of your letters. So as far as ethenet is concerned, there no reason why it shouldn't convey a 1080p video packet asd well as a recipe for flapjacks. As far as ethernet (and certainly the cable) is concerned it's all just "packets-of-data" that need to be moved from A to B.

    Packet loss is a symptom of a failure for a packet to get from device A to device B, whether it be down to interference, dirty connectors or crap cable that cannot sustain the signal to specification.

    If your cabling says it's certified to "cat5e" or better, then it should be just fine for 10/100/1000 ethernet no matter what it's made of. The whole point of the "cat" standards are to assure a particular level of quality to fulfil a particular application.

    To borrow a rather colourful metaphor I rather like from another regular contributor here - if piece of wet string was certified to cat5e, then it should perform just as well as a copper cable.

    That all said, I've never knowing used any CCA cables, (and I've used a lot of UTP cables over the years) but then it's just as likely I've used hundreds of them without knowing it.

    Most "problems" I have with cables are due to broken plugs, poor termination, directy connector, (very occasionally) over zealous builders and (very, very, very occasionally) hungry rodents. I can't recall ever having had a problem with quality of conductors.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2012
  3. MT01

    MT01 Member

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    There is no such thing as CCA Cat5e as the technical standards specify a solid copper conductor must be used. Therefore if CCA cable has Cat5e anywhere on the cable/packaging/marketing then it's a lie. There are a lot of unscrupulous factories in the far east that will stamp anything you want onto a box of cable, so don't trust it blindly. That doesn't mean that ethernet won't run over CCA, but from recent seminars attended and journals read it seems that 30M is as far as you'd want to push it. Then there are the risks of cabling overheating when running Power over Ethernet (PoE) and the risk of the conductors snapping (aluminium is much more brittle than copper).

    To quote the economist John Ruskin:

    "It’s unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little.

    When you pay too much, you lose a little money -- that is all.

    When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.

    The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot -- it can’t be done.

    If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better."
  4. zoink

    zoink Member

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    Thanks for the informative posts guys! That's why I come here!

    I have found decent CAT5e copper cable on Black Box. All certified and someone users from here have used them too.
  5. MT01

    MT01 Member

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  6. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand Active Member Assured Advertiser

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    Keep in mind the vast majority of HDMI over Twisted Pair solutions are not sending ‘packetised’ data – which is why for HDMI transmission it’s best to go with solid core CAT6; screened is preferable if you have the potential for electrical noise in the areas where the cables are running.

    For HDMI transmission it’s also best to avoid any breaks in the cable runs between the Tx (Transmitter) and Rx (Receiver) device.

    Joe

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