How to test my new long CAT5e run?? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 02-03-2013, 11:02 AM - Thread Starter
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I hope this is in the right section. I have a question regarding testing my new CAT5e cable run.

I have a two story house. My Man Cave is upstairs where my projector, surround, HTPC, & PS3 is located. My office is downstairs where the modem, & my router is located. I'm still running an older Linksys WRT54G router, but I've modded it using DD-WRT so it works pretty decent for Wi-Fi, but at the end of the day its still Wireless G vs N and with everything getting higher and higher in quality the streams to my PS3 upstairs are starting to get choppy / lag more than I'd like.

So my solution was to buy some CAT5e cable. I ran about 100-125ft (estimated as I was pulling it off the 1000' reel) terminated the end upstairs to hook in my 5 port HUB and terminated it into a wall plate down in the office. Hooked it up and everything works, but I'm curious to see how I can test the speeds of the cable.

I've used my PS3 to do a speed test using their connection test tool, but its all over the board and I've read that its not even close to reliable. I then hooked it up using my laptop to run speedtest.net and it was better but I was ranging from 8mb/s to 18mb/s whereas my desktop downstairs on a 6' CAT5 cable from the modem was registering 28-31mb/s using speedtest.net.

I have Comcast for my ISP, and am paying for 20MB service. I completely understand that it will fluctuate based on how many other people are on. I guess what I'm looking for is a way to make sure that I'm getting reliable connection speeds over my new long run.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 15 Old 02-03-2013, 01:07 PM
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have you taken your hub out of the loop to make sure that wasnt causing the bottlekneck? Thats the 1st think I would check, then cut as man things out in the middle that you can....
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post #3 of 15 Old 02-03-2013, 05:03 PM
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First off...get rid of the hub if you want any real performance. All the Cat5 cabling I've worked with has the distance in footage printed on it. read both ends then you can calculate the footage if you really need to know. max distance is about 325 feet.

The cheapest way to test for you is a pc on each end (no cost to you) running iperf server and client. I doubt you'll have an EXFO. smile.gif
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post #4 of 15 Old 02-04-2013, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input. I'll look into iperf server & client. I know my run isn't anywhere near 325ft so I should be good there.
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post #5 of 15 Old 02-04-2013, 10:56 AM
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Testing a CAT5e run can really only be done with a good tester. I use a certification test tool and it runs through all the parameters required of a CAT5e or whatever type of cable certification I need. Then it tells me exactly where in the cable any problems are and what they are. Neat, but expensive. The cheap continuity testers are practically useless, except for miswired cables. Probably you don't have access to the good testers, but it is what you really want.

The problems that cables have are many and varied. But from your post, if your cable is not performing up to snuff, there are a couple likely culprits, namely how 'well' the cable ends were attached by yourself and your tools and the quality of the cable itself. Making your own cables is troublesome. Female ends need to be of the correct type CAT5e, CAT6, etc. for the intended network speed, the cable has to be stripped just so, and not unwound too much and according to spec, and the crimp tool has to make a uniformly good crimp. Metal, not plastic tools are best with good metal crimp dies. Of course, the cable itself has to be 'good', and unfortunately there is 'bad' cable out there and it's impossible to tell without a tester. It all sound too simple, but these little things can cause many problems.

The best way to avoid pitfalls is to only buy name brand high quality patch cables with molded ends for the length you need. Or get someone with the right equipment to make custom cables for you. The cheap patch cables you can buy often have lots of problems, I've tested many that are total crap.

But back to your issue, network cables will work 'sort of', even if they are not up to spec. The nature of Ethernet is such that it can detect errors in transmission as a result of cabling problems ... and then just do a resend. or many resends of the same packets. So what you may see is a slow transmission, or breaks in transmissions, or nothing really noticeable at all. Which is why a good tester is essential for making cables.
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post #6 of 15 Old 02-04-2013, 11:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Great information! Thanks for the post. I bought this 1000ft reel off monoprice so who knows what quality the cable is. I've typically had good luck with them in the past with my purchases. At this point I'm going to just continue to work with it and see how it performs. I can already tell its better than my wi-fi setup that I "replaced" it with, so that's an improvement.

I have a Klein Tools crimping tool so I think the ends were terminated OK. I'll continue to test things out like transferring a file from one computer downstairs to the one up there and see how long that takes to give me an "idea" of how quick it is compared to a shorter cable. I know its not a benchmark test so to speak, but it'll at least give me an idea.
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post #7 of 15 Old 02-04-2013, 11:30 AM
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Good luck. I've thought of running cable in my old house, but it is such a pain to do. Fortunately, wireless has worked out ok recently, once I got the right high power WiFi equipment and wireless 'n' came to give reasonable throughput for streaming HD.
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post #8 of 15 Old 02-04-2013, 11:46 AM
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Cat5e is capable for 1Gbs. Your hub may be the issue. also, is the jack rate as Cat5e or Cat5? Just my 2 cent . smile.gif
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post #9 of 15 Old 02-04-2013, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ichibanrhino View Post

Cat5e is capable for 1Gbs. Your hub may be the issue. also, is the jack rate as Cat5e or Cat5? Just my 2 cent . smile.gif

The wall plate jack is labeled CAT5e. I'll remove the hub and see if it makes a difference. The only reason I have it there, is because I have my PS3 and my HTPC that I'm trying to hard wire.
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post #10 of 15 Old 02-04-2013, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spin9k View Post

Good luck. I've thought of running cable in my old house, but it is such a pain to do. Fortunately, wireless has worked out ok recently, once I got the right high power WiFi equipment and wireless 'n' came to give reasonable throughput for streaming HD.

Yeah just upgrading my router to a good quality Wireless N would probably have been the easiest choice. However, I like a good challenge, and at this point, I've already climbed all over under my house, in the attic of the garage and in the attic of the 2nd story, through a bunch of spray in insulation (I'm a glutton for punishment haha). So I'm committed to the hard wire solution. In the end, hard wire (if done properly ) is the better solution as far as reliability and overall speed purposes.

The biggest thing I've found since I posted my original comment, was how unreliable the speed test results on my PS3 are, so I think my setup is actually OK. Trying a file transfer from PC to PC this evening will prove / disprove this assumption.

Thanks again everyone for chiming in!
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post #11 of 15 Old 02-04-2013, 12:37 PM
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I didn't notice before, but if you really have a **hub** and not a **switch**, junk it and get a switch. They are not the same, so a new switch could help a lot.
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post #12 of 15 Old 02-04-2013, 01:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks. Yeah I know the difference between a hub and switch. I just didn't have another switch laying around but had a 5 port hub. I'll ditch that for testing purposes especially.
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post #13 of 15 Old 02-04-2013, 05:46 PM - Thread Starter
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OK, so I got home from work tonight and did a little testing of transferring files across my network as well as some more speed tests.

I hooked up my old laptop to the new roughly 150 foot CAT5e run upstairs and ran speedtest.net about 5 times in a row. All five times I saw 20-25mb/s which is where it should be. At the same time i was using the Speedtest.net app on my iphone over Wi-fi and was seeing similar results, all of which were just a tad lower than the hard line.

Next I hooked up the new CAT5e cable run to my 5 port powered hub (not switch) then ran a line from port 1 to my laptop, line 2 was hooked to my HTPC, which was in power standby mode and ports 3,4,5 were empty. I ran speedtest.net once again and got the same results; 20-25mb/s. Same thing with my iPhone on Wi-Fi and again similar results, but a tad slower.

The next test I did was copy and pasting a 1.36GB movie from my laptop to my desktop downstairs. I did this three different times, the first was with the new CAT5e run through the hub, the second was hard lined to the laptop and the third was of me taking the laptop downstairs, unplugging the 6' cable that goes from the Router to the wall plate that connects the 150' run upstairs and hook it directly into the laptop. Here's the results I got:

CAT5e hooked through hub = 2 minutes 55 seconds
CAT5e hooked directly to laptop = 3 minutes 4 seconds (I thought this would be faster than with it hooked through the hub)
6' Cat5 cable hooked from router to laptop = 2 minutes 39 seconds

Now, I'm no network expert, and I understand that at any given time, there could be a variety of things going on "behind the scenes" (anti-virus running an update, Adobe updates, etc.) as far as network traffic goes, but I think these numbers are close enough to imply my long cable run is up to par.

Any thoughts?
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post #14 of 15 Old 02-05-2013, 08:03 AM
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Sounds to me like everything is working OK. I'd just use it and not worry about optimizing speed.

One thing you could do that might boost performance is placing a gigabit switch at the router end and using gigabit connections on the user end. Connectors and terminations are lossy spots. I decided not to use wall plugs and just run the Ethernet cable out of the wall straight to my device. that eliminates 4 termination points in the chain.
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post #15 of 15 Old 02-05-2013, 08:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanPackMan View Post

Sounds to me like everything is working OK. I'd just use it and not worry about optimizing speed.

One thing you could do that might boost performance is placing a gigabit switch at the router end and using gigabit connections on the user end. Connectors and terminations are lossy spots. I decided not to use wall plugs and just run the Ethernet cable out of the wall straight to my device. that eliminates 4 termination points in the chain.

I totally agree with skipping the wall plates. Just seems to open the door for more potential points of issues. However, for a more finished look in our office I opted for the wall plate there, but the cable just comes out the wall in the Man Cave, as its all hidden behind the entertainment center anyways. If I end up having issues in the future and want to simplify things, I'll take that plate out and terminate the end.

Thanks for your input.
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