Patch Cable?

What is a patch cable? I’m thinking that it is the same thing as a network cable. A search on didn’t turn up anything.

You’re correct, although for the most part (way back when I worked as a computer wonk) we only used the term “patch cable” to refer to the cables that connected the patch panel (where the cables from each room came together) to the network hubs.

A patch cable is usually a relatively short cable used to connect two pieces of equipment, sometimes two connections on the same piece of equipment. Originally used on “patch boards” of mainframe computers. Often with matching connectors on each end.

Depending on the purpose/equipment, it could be almost any type of cable: Coax cable, audio cable, Cat5 network cable, single conductor, even fiber optic.

Generally speaking, you’re right - but it depends (of course) on the physical layout of your patchfield/wiring cabinet. These days, most computer network people use the term “patch cable” to denote a short (say, 0.5 -3 m) UTP/STP straight-through cable, terminated in RJ-45 plugs.

But one might use the term referring to whatever cabling is currently used in the installation one is working on: punch blocks, fiber, diax, Token Ring type 1 (feh) etc.

S. Norman

The other common use for a patch cable is from the wiring port to the computer at the user’s end, although some shops call those “station cables” to differentiate the intended use of the cable, not to denote any physical difference in the cable itself. Some comanies I’ve done work for were picky about the color of “station cables” but I’ve rarely heard of complaints about the color of patch cables. Category 5 UTP 4 pair wire comes in a wide variety of colors with blue gray and white being the most common and pink and black (looks too much like coax) being rather uncommon.

One common difference between patch cables and premise wiring cables (the runs in the walls and ceilings) is that pre-made patch cables are often made from stranded cable while premise wiring is nearly always solid cable. This results in improved flexibility for the patch cables at the expense of reduced strength and slightly higher cost.