Cat 5 Vs Cat 6 for Music Server

Having just switched to Lifetime, it’s time to seriously consider moving my Roon core off of my Dell XPS 15 laptop onto a Nucleus or other server device. That brings me to a question regarding cat 5 vs cat 6.

I have a cat 5 cable running from my router upstairs to my office (bedroom #4). I could put any device up there as long as cat 5 would work well.

If cat 5 is not adequate, I would want a fanless, totally silent Nucleus to put next to my Oppo 203 and just below my Bose system. In this case, the connection is cat 6 to my router.

So, is there any reason I should avoid using the cat 5 connection upstairs? If so, that will rule out any device that is not fanless and totally silent.

Thanks for your input.

Cat 5 is perfectly fine for 100-megabit ethernet. Short runs of Cat 5 will work fine for gigabit ethernet, but longer runs will require Cat 6.

I would just plug in a laptop and see what speed you’re getting. It’s fairly likely you’re getting gigabit speed in the office, in which case, the cabling is fine.

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Thanks. I have 50 mbps internet service from AT&T U-Verse. The cat 5 is a 50 feet long cable.

I was referring to the ethernet speed between devices on your LAN, not the speed of your internet connection to the outside world.

50 feet is reasonably short. I’ve gotten gigabit speeds over Cat5 with comparable lengths. But, again, just plug in a laptop and check.

Just FYI, Cat5e (which is just about every “Cat5” cable manufactured since 2001) is rated for 1000Base-T up to 100 meters (300 feet). 50 feet should be no problem.

Thanks again. I knew what you meant about speed test, but I don’t want to dig the cable out of the wall right now to plug it into my router. I think you have given me the info I need for now. I’m still leaning toward a Nucleus. I’ve got some money coming in January from IRA RMD, so I may grab one then.

Look at the sonicTransporter family. You get more bang for your buck and you have more flexibility down the road if you want to use software like HQPlayer.

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This is not correct. CAT5e (I assume they really mean 5e when they say 5 as I don’t know you can even purchase non-e any more) does GigE to 100m just fine (and is part of the spec). CAT6 is for 10Gig (up to ~50m) and CAT6a is 10Gig to the full 100m.

Then there is the new multi-Gig standard that allows 2.5Gig and 5Gig over CAT5e to various lengths…

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This is a cat 5 cable I installed about 15 to 20 years ago. I don’t know more than that.

If you are worried about it, run a new cable…

Short runs of Cat 5 will work fine for gigabit ethernet, but longer runs will require Cat 6.

This is not correct. CAT5e (I assume they really mean 5e when they say 5 as I don’t know you can even purchase non-e any more) does GigE to 100m just fine (and is part of the spec).

I really did mean 1000Base-T over Cat5 (not Cat5e).

I know that anything newer that (say) 15 years old meets the Cat5e spec and is therefore certified for 1000Base-T up to 100m. But for shorter distances, even older Cat5 cabling (if that’s what you happen to have in your walls) will work.

You’re right, though, about not needing Cat6.

That’s not going to happen. I’m simply trying to decide if the EXISTING cat 5 cable is usable with no ill effects. Otherwise, I’ll get a Nucleus and put it next to my Oppo 203.

Go with the CAT 6 and a fan-less, silent NUC next to the Oppo 203. I have CAT 6, connected to a NUC 7 i5 installed in a Akasa Plato Fanless case. The great part of this is running the Roon Rock Linux software. It is dedicated, slick, very fast and responsive. Rock solid, unlike the windows based Roon software where windows is constantly updating itself and set up to do so many more things than simply loading Roon to search and play music.
BTW, check out the OEM XS INC site on Amazon, you can now get a NUC 7 for around $140 to $180. Then add a Akasa Plato X7 Fanless case Sold by: Amazon Global Store UK for $82. Then you just add some DDR4 2400 Memory and a PCIe M.2 SSD. After you add the Roon Rock software you have built a very fast and slick Roon Nucleus for around $420 bucks! You now have money left over to buy a quiet linear power supply.

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I just want to say that if you are thinking about building an officially supported ROCK based NUC, then you need to use the hardware options in the official FAQ. While ROCK might work on other hardware, it will not be tested against it and nor will it be guaranteed to work in the future with it. And that includes fanless cases.

Building such things, known as MOCKs, is squarely in the Tinkering section.

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Thanks for the replies. I’m not really interest in building anything. I’ve been through that using Raspberry Pi building and selling ADS-B devices on eBay for use in airplanes. I think I built and sold over 10 of them. Mine is for sale now on eBay as I just retired from flying. More money for music!

There’s a good chance the cable you have is Cat 5e since this has been used since 2001. Also, Cat 5 and Cat 5e are identical in the way the cables are arranged so the only way to tell is looking at the printing on the cable. In the real world you’re not going to notice a significant difference transferring information within your own home network either.

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Exactly, and I’ve seen more people get into trouble using higher grade cable because of the shielding issues… well, you get my drift.

Could you give a link? The NUC 7s that I see in that price range (e.g. this one) are all Celeron machines. So only one SATA connector and no M.2 slot.

The i3 NUC 7s that I can see are all in the $250-$350 range.

Unlikely that you will have any issue with using cat5. Even the lower possible speed should be more than enough to handle your audio streaming needs. And as you probably know, the only issue is whether the data is delivered to endpoints properly (assuming correct installation).** There are otherwise zero “sound quality” issues in comparing cat 5, 5e, 6, etc. They will either work or not…there will be no subtle sound changes.

** normal install with normal cables is almost always correct. The only bad situations I’ve seen is folks using “audiophile” cable with incorrect shield grounds, etc.

The cost of cables in the 5e to 6 spec is really here nor there … go cat 6

The cat 5 is already installed in the wall. I’m just trying to understand if I can use it or put a Nucleus next to my Oppo. I already have cat 6 to the Oppo.