Is Cat 5e ethernet wiring still current? Do I need to rewire the house?

I don’t remember when I wired my house with ethernet cable. It was in place by 2005, but I might have done it earlier than that. It says it’s category 5e. Am I supposed to replace that with newer stuff? Would I notice anything work faster?

Almost everything in the house that uses the internet or TCP/IP is hardwired with this – the “smart” television set, network drives, IP clocks, security cameras, and a couple of wireless access points. Our cell phones are the only things I can think of that use wireless. We have cable internet service with VOIP. I’m not aware of any malfunctions.

Is 16 year old computer stuff up to date?


5e is not up to date, but it really depends on what Internet speed you’re being provided. If everything is wired correctly and tightly, it should be fine for now. In theory it can just handle gigabyte speed. (1000 Mbps)

What speed are you provided?
Do you have any switches or hubs and are they gigabyte speed? These are more likely to be the problem.
Have you tested your speed directly off the router itself?
Then test it are the most remote point and what’s the difference?

I’m using Cat 7 but I just moved in and ran it myself in January.
The longer the run, the more likely to lose speed.

There is a good chance all is well.

To test speed, go to Google and just type speedtest and run the Google speedtest.

You should be able to get up to 5GBASE-T (I haven’t personally tried it with more than gigabyte speed, but it should work). If you really need 10 gigabits or more then it won’t work.

I was getting around 100 to 150 MB per second down, 10 to 15 up. Then a year ago I upgraded our ISP service from 100/10 to 200/20. Since then I’ve been getting 200 to 250 down, 20 to 25 up.

My only switch is gigabit, according to the label.

I’m not sure how to test network speed purely internal to my network, which would leave my ISP out of it.

I do some CFD work for which I sometimes have to download or upload files of up to 9 GB (the largest I recall). The uploads certainly are a wait. My ISP doesn’t appear to have an option to increase just the upload speed. For the CFD work the motivation for speed would apply equally to up and down.

We watch Netflix and Amazon Prime, and generally have no complaints. But perhaps if the next TV is a higher resolution, we would. We bought this one a few years ago, maybe 5 to 10 I think.

With the speeds you get, 5e should be fine.

The best test is just figure out the longest run in the house and do the Google Speedtest. If the speed close to the 200-250 you’ve been seeing, you’re fine.

Keep in mind, if you do see a low speed, often the patch cable or the ethernet card might be the culprit. I run an older PC that is only 100MB ethernet, so that is its limitation.

I’ve seen a Cat-5 10’ cable badly kinked and lightly mangled that was still connecting at about 60MB and the problem was hidden behind a desk.

I can tell you one anecdote: once I had problems with an Ethernet cable, so I used a cable tester on it, and it turned out it was bad. The problems went away after I re-crimped new plugs onto it.

Other than that, if your switch is only gigabit, then the Cat 5e should be OK, it’s the 10GBASE-T that requires 6 or 6A or above. How to test it… hmm… if you have two computers, you could try transferring your 9 GB file from one to the other. That will definitely give you a rough idea of whether you are getting a full gigabit or not.

Off topic,


I am paying for 500 Mbps, and I am getting 591 Mbps.

My house is wired with Cat 5e, done by the previous owner about 15 years ago.

I have Gigabit fibre to the house and have no issues with getting 1Gb on any of my wired computers.

The easiest way to tell if you’re getting full gigabit speed is probably to look at the lights on the switch. It might light 2 for gigabit, but only one for 100, or green and orange. Unfortunately some switches only have a link light, and don’t report the speed.

If some ports are only at 100 it is very possible that it is because the device connected only does 100, and the 5e wiring is just fine.

Similarly, individual devices may have lights or a status page which will tell you the link speed of the connection. Windows and Mac computers have status pages which report this.

Running speed tests will only determine if an individual device can can use the full speed of your external connection, which is useful information, but doesn’t necessarily tell you its ethernet link speed.

I would not bother to rewire 5e unless the wiring was broken.

If you have any ethernet hubs in your system, they too need to be up to spec. I have a 250mb internet plan but was only getting ~90mb at my desktop; I had to junk the old hub I used for my 2 computers and backup disk on my desk, and get a 1gb-compatible one.

ETA: and I have cat 5e throughout my house.

Second what others have said - be sure all your devices are 1Gb or you won’t get 1Gb. If it’s an older switch or router, they may be 100Mbps ports.

You don’t need anything better, as (a) all devices are typically 1Gb so what’s the point, unless you are setting up a $10,000 Windows Server Edition device. (b) if your problem is the internet - it’s never going to match the 1Gb inside the house, unless you are Bill Gates.

Things to check -
-double check wire layout for circles. Your wiring should only be a star. Smarter switches will turn off redundant links. For other lesser switches. broadcasts will repeat around the circular route connection until they time out, flooding the network with excess traffic.
-is your TV service from the cable box on the same network? Some TV service versions, the cable box will send Tv signals to all the TV’s on the same network as data, if that’s how they are connected - thus adding to traffic.
-is it wired properly? One fellow wannabe tech wired his dad’s office - punched down the cables 12345678. That worked for the 20 foot runs but not the 50 foot ones. the colour-coded pairs should be 1-2, 3-6, 4-5, 7-8. (Google this); for intermediate runs improperly wired, you may be dropping a lot of packets but not everything, resulting in multiple rebroadcasts and slow response.
-I’m presuming no wire is hitting the 300-foot limit in a single home. (I recall a case where the limit almost but was not reached, but there was a jumper between patch panels - which simulates extra length -and the response was so slow, you could watch it list a folder contents a line every 2 or 3 seconds. Put a switch where that jumper cable was, and ZOOM!
-are all you jumper cables 5e or better. If it’s been around a while, they may be older. I presume too none of your cable ends or sockets are in a setting where they would corrode from excess moisture…

You could also test, if response time is horrible, by the tried and true method of disconnecting the parts of the network one at a time to see if it results in a dramatic improvement. Killing one leg and suddenly everything zooms will clue you that there may be a device on that leg creating a huge amount of traffic. then try disconnecting each device on that leg to find the culprit. Sometime a device deliberately or through equipment failure will flood the network with traffic.

Your cameras if possible should be on their own network if they are streaming 24-7 to a dvr… switches are cheap nowadays, I recently bought a 5-port 1Gb switch for $20 so my Apple TV and Smart TV and cable box could all be wired not wifi. .

Thanks for all this!

Our television set doesn’t get cable television, it gets DirecTv satellite. But our ISP delivers by cable television table, with added internet service and also added VOIP service. Their price for television access is so much higher than the satellite that I go to all the trouble of maintaining the satellite dish for television, and leave the television signal disabled on the cable company’s “modem”. It’s about 150’ away on the back of the barn roof way up high, because we’re in such deep woods with so little sky, and it’s a pain!

When I ran all my ethernet cables and punched down the connectors, I looked up the color coded pairs and did it accordingly. But, the way I remember it, there were two different wiring conventions, “B” and “A”. I spent a while figuring out that “B” was more standard, somehow – I think maybe I looked at prewired jumper cables, and found lots of votes online. I did try to run ethernet about 120’ to the barn, and could never get a signal out there, even though that’s less than half of the 300’. Should I revisit what the color coding should be? I do think I remember wondering how the two different standards could coexist, because the pins on the connectors wouldn’t be twisted together with the same other pins.

Thoughts on this? How do I know which of the two standards to follow???

Hmm, now I don’t remember what I used, but Wikipedia says

ANSI/TIA-568 recommends the T568A pinout for horizontal cables.

(“B” is “optional… if necessary to accommodate certain 8-pin cabling systems”), so the official answer seems to be that “A” is more standard.

I guess it won’t matter that much, assuming you don’t mix them up on the same cable :slight_smile:


In the next year or so I’ll be gutting my house down to studs. In that process I’d like to add ethernet. Looking to futureproof the job, within reason, would the solution be CAT6? I’m enough of a freak that I would consider running PVC conduits from the attic space down the walls to the outlets to make upgrading my work (20 years or so down the road?) even easier–would that be stupid overkill?

The beauty of Ethernet is that the standard applies to each individual run of cable, not every run of cable. As long as you have either A or B at both ends, it doesn’t matter what is in between. Your patch cables can be either and still work.

That being said, I’m a “B” guy.

I would go with Cat6 and OM3 multi mode fibre. Conduit is even better if you can, even Smurf tube works (blue ENT flex conduit).

The key with wiring is - the “twisted pairs” are the color-coded pairs that are wrapped around each other. Ethernet typically uses 1-2 and 3-6. There are super-high-speed schemes I understand that use more. But for you and I - 1-2, 3-6. (One pair is transmit +/-, the other receive +/-) I even once made a splitter box pair that used 4-5 and 7-8 at both ends so I could run 2 ethernet drops on one cable. The “standard” colours are just to ensure that nobody gets confused. Beyond a certain distance, if the +/- are not twisted around each other, the signal does not travel well. As I mentioned, I saw this problem manifest at about 50 feet.

(You will find odd cables that are straight thru for non-ethernet purposes 12345678 - typically these the individual wires are 8 colors, not ethernet’s blue-green-brown-orange, color matched with color-white. there are also crossover cables, where 1-2 goes to 4-5 on the other end and vice-versa. Often these cables are red. They were to connect two switches (transmit on switch is receive on the PC or other device, but switch to switch reversing transmit and receive was needed) but nowadays most devices are smart enough to adapt to what’s on the other end and standard ethernet is all you need.

I guess it the very early days, someone said. "hey - you can use the same wiring for phone and ethernet. Make 4-5 the live phone line, and your RJ-11 phone plug will work in the same socket, so in your office you can use that wall socket for phone or ethernet. But… I never saw this implemented in real life. Most office phones quickly became fancy affairs with multiple lines, and special buttons, needing their own dedicated wiring or coexisting on ethernet as VoIP.

If you can’t get a signal 120 feet over the cable, even with Cat 5, double check your cable punch-downs. I have had erratic luck putting on those clear plastic (“Crystal”) ends, but with socket punch-downs, if done with the right tool, they should be foolproof. Something is wrong. Next I would suspect crimped or broken wiring. (It goes without saying, don’t use a high-powered stapler to tack down ethernet. The pro installers I’ve seen have either screw-down or peel and stick loops where they can tied down the cable with tie-wraps)

There are some not-too-expensive ethernet cable testers on Amazon.

if you are spending good money on a full rewire job, I would go Cat 6 just for future-proofing. (If you are redoing the drywall and I assume the electrical, the cost difference for top-end ethernet should be minimal) Also note that the sockets, patch cables, etc. come in CAT5, CAT5e and Cat6 so be sure to get the right terminations too. For longer runs, you might also consider running 2 cables, even if you only terminate one and leave the other in the wall. An earlier incarnation of TV service preferred a direct run from the main TV box to each TV - otherwise it would overload the network and slow traffic. I would also seriously consider a separate wiring for PoE/IP security cameras to their DVR. There are plate fittings where the faceplate can be attached to this minimal bendable metal frame, instead of a full metal electrical outlet box - but with many new devices (such as security cameras) using PoE, some code may now require PoE to be terminated in a grounded box, and surface runs in conduit. In fact, may apply to all new ethernet installs, in case the run is later used for PoE - check your local electrical code. separation from 120V is certainly something to pay attention to. Several provinces in Canada require ethernet commercial installs to be done by a qualified electrician.

Also consider that you may need to plug in the device that uses the ethernet so locate it near a power plug. One of best choices I made when building my house 14 years ago was to also put a drop wherever a TV would go, as well as in each room. I now have 5 switches, almost all full, and it’s scary how many wired and wifi devices are listed on my router. 2 printers, 3 PC’s (including the XP one), 2Mac minis and a Macbook Air, 4 virtual PC’s, Apple TV, 2 smart TV’s, Nest thermostat, Airport and the Control4 and audio distribution system it’s connected to, 2 stereo amps, a cable box router and 3 distribution TV boxes, not to mention 2 iPhones and 3 old iPhones that I power on and charge monthly.4 iPads, 3 apple watches, a new Paperwhite Kindle and an original Kindle that no longer connects on WiFI, and a Samsung tablet, an old Wii and Reolink security camera. Oh, and my Tesla connects to the WiFi when parked. Just imagine when you appliances start connecting. And that’s just for my wife and I…

I have too much shit.

Nope. I ran conduit from the roof space where I keep my server and network switch, down through a false wall and under the house for wiring rooms and fitting jacks. Made life easy.

The best tool (in my experience) for measuring network performance on your own network is iperf - available for unix/linux/MacOS/Windows. It was an invaluable tool as I tried to ensure that all the links in my home network were running at 1Gb where it was supported. This was to match the 1Gb internet I upgraded to when I started working from home during the pandemic.

I had one dodgy punchdown jack in patch-panel that I bypassed to get 1Gb from the router to the external interface of the server. That was a critical link to fix. 1Gb to the switch, 1Gb to the wifi access point, and to the jacks I tested. My biggest problem was the server (based on Centos 7). Both network interfaces were connected at 1Gb, but I couldn’t get 1Gb across the server - more like 100Mb. Eventually I diagnosed a driver issue on one interface (the onboard one, natch), and a driver update later, I was getting 1Gb speedtests from inside the network. I was very happy …

Do you have any equipment with ports that would benefit from faster connections than 1Gbps?