Network panels


Novice Member

Apologies if this is in the wrong thread but I have also posted this within the Homebuying/Building forum.

I have seen recommendations for all sorts of networking cabling and am going with good quality CAT6a mainly for networking TVs and NAS. I will be putting several feeds into each room but I have a question that nobody seems to have asked: Does the port quality matter?

If I am spending money/time/effort on putting in a great cable, does it matter what port I have on the wall or does this not affect the quality of the signal one bit? Is one network port from a manufacturer the same as another?

An extension to this, does anybody know where I can get something that looks prettier than plastic white? Or, again, is this pretty much the absolute standard. Many thanks


Distinguished Member
The "cat" of all the patch panels, ports and so forth matters if you want to achieve any particular "cat" of installation. (Not to mention that some cats of UTP have thicker gauge wires that others and need IDC terminators to match.) But that's not the half of it - there are also very many installation stipulations that must be observed and strictly speaking you don't have a "cat" anything installation unless it's been tested/certified using some very expensive test equipment. My cable monkey told me he spent about 8K on their latest tester to be able to "do cat 6."

If you want to scare yourself silly about how stringent the cat6 (never mind 6a) install requirements are, have a read of the following:

Installation Pitfalls in Cat6 Cabling | Automated Home

Some of us would argue it's a waste of money for DIY's to shell out on the higher cats of cable, especially if all you want it for is something like Gbit ethernet. Of course, by buying cat6a cable (and ports) you stand a better chance of achieving a cat6a install, but it isn't a cat6a install just because you bought cat6a cable (and ports, etc.)

Look at it from a use case point of view: If "all" you want is GBit ethernet, cat5e is good for that and has lots of life in it yet. Indeed, I'm currently managing the data network installation for two new schools and we're not bothering with cat6. We just don't see the need for it any year soon, so we're saving (admittedly not much) money and using cat5e. It's easier to work with and you have to do a spectacularly bad job of installing it for GBit ethernet to not work.

In the case of ethernet, it doesn't work any "better" because you run it over higher cat cable (or conversely, doesn't work any "worse" because you "only" used cat5e.) 10/100/1000 ethernet work the same "speed" over any cat cable (provided it's high enough cat to meet requirements which these days effectively means cate5e or better for GBit ethernet.) Gbit ethernet over cat5e is the same as Gbit ethernet over cat6 (or whatever) unless you do a spectacularly bad job of installation.
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