Can I get by with Cat5e or do I need Cat6 to stream HD content - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 6 Old 05-16-2010, 09:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Can I get by with Cat5e for my basement build to distribute audio and video or would it be a mistake to not do Cat6?

I am wanting to distribute audio and video through a few zones in my house (2 zones downstairs and 2 zones upstairs). I want to stream HD content at 1080p and BD files and plan to (someday) have it setup to have each zone independently be able to select their media source from the server like watch Blu-Ray "Toy Story" in Zone 1 and at the same time watch 1080p recording of "Dancing with the Stars" in Zone 2 (Hey, I know you pretend to "put up with the it too for the wife" but deep down you like watching those HD ballroom-dancing chicks too!).

I have Cat5e upstairs (at least I am quite sure that is what I have upstairs in my finished area). The walls are open in my basement and I have secured access to the upstairs for the 2 zones I want to control upstairs. I want the downstairs and my 2 upstairs zones to be networked and I really don't care about the other rooms that have Cat5e already because I am not planning on putting them on the network (They would be sharing the phone line in those rooms).

I don't mind spending a bit extra for Cat6 (@Monoprice) if it is really necessary to be able to do those things but I also would like to be as thrifty as I can and use money elsewhere on my build if I can use Cat5e.

What say the masses?

My Home Theater and Game Room Build -- IN PROGRESS
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post #2 of 6 Old 05-16-2010, 10:21 PM
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I know this is a touchy subject for some. People tend to have really strong opinions when it comes to this for whatever reason. I'm voting for Cat 5e. Partially because that's what I did for my home and it was sooo easy! I'm not a professional crimper (done maybe 3 terminations in my life before this project) but I was able to get all my runs (including one that's at least 80') to transmit 1080p the first time. You can definately 'get by' with 5e and a gigabit router. I only have a 10/100 router and a 10/100 switch and i'm sending HDTV 1080p to one set and a 1080p Blu Ray rip to the long 80' run at the same time without breaking a sweat.
I think you should go with 5e because it's cheaper, it's easier to terminate, it's going to fulfill all your needs and then some, and it's more 'forgiving' than Cat 6 as far as how delicate it is.

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post #3 of 6 Old 05-17-2010, 02:37 PM
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I can only speak from my experience...I used Cat6, not that Cat5e wouldn't have worked, but Cat6 is not that much more and I don't know how much harder it is to work with than Cat5e, but I can tell you that terminating the Cat6 was absolutely no problem what-so-ever. If you can separate wires by color and use a punch down tool (which is you can pick up the tool in the first place then you can use it) then you have pretty much mastered punching down Cat wire.
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post #4 of 6 Old 05-18-2010, 01:52 PM
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Assuming you are going to use the category cable and baluns to distribute a/v Cat6 would be the way to go. Many of the baluns out there require cat6 for max distance at 1080p. If you really want to use cat5e then at the very least use a cable raceway that you can pull cat6 or better later as technology changes.
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post #5 of 6 Old 05-18-2010, 06:42 PM
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Depends on what you're going to do:

1) if using Ethernet to pull files from a NAS or file server to local playback devices - then you'll be using Gigabit ethernet (1 Gigabit/sec), and Cat 5E is more than enough. Encoded DVD files are only around 8 Megabit/sec, and Blu-Ray files are mostly between 20-40 Megabit/sec bit rates. Gigabit ethernet can handle several of each with no problem.

2) if you're going to do "video distribution" and push raw HDMI (uncompressed) over dedicated cables - that's more like 1-2 Gigabits/sec each, and then I'd suggest Cat6.
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post #6 of 6 Old 05-21-2010, 01:45 AM
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As long as your CAT5e meets specifications, it will transmit at Gigabit speeds.
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