Ethernet Cable Colors: How Much Do They Matter?

Buying an ethernet cable is not as easy as it seems. It has many varieties based on its types, lengths, and colors.

This article will discuss ethernet cable colors and what matters while picking an ethernet cable.

Understanding Ethernet Cable Colors 

Ethernet cables come in different colors, like all other cables.

Commonly, you will see gray, yellow, white, orange, and blue colors in them.

One color is not better than the other, but the colors help you to identify the cable for its intended application. 

Let’s understand this with an example. In the Department of Defense, the government uses several colors for all the ethernet cables to classify them based on data transmitted through that cable.

Red cable for mid-level, blue cable for unclassified data, and yellow cable for some confidential data.

Colors help in cable management. Imagine that you have a business where you have a server or a server room.

It may have a particular color scheme, and organizing your cables according to that color scheme will make your network infrastructure more efficient.

In addition, the differently colored cables make identifying and troubleshooting problems easy.

LAN network ethernet cable. 

LAN network ethernet cable. 

Color code for Ethernet Cables

Although no industry codes exist for a particular color, the industry tries to maintain consistency in some colors.

Gray Ethernet Cable

Gray Ethernet cables indicate standard Ethernet connections in commercial and residential networks.

Green Ethernet Cable

This color generally classifies crossover connection through which you connect different devices or computers directly.

Yellow Ethernet Cable

Generally, technicians use yellow ethernet cables for power over internet connections.

The IEEE developed this standard to classify the cables that deliver 30W current at the port when used with twisted cable pair ethernet cables.

Blue Ethernet Cable

This color is for terminal server connections. You can connect multiple systems to the LAN network with a terminal server connection without using a modem or any other network interface. 

Colored ethernet cables

Colored ethernet cables

Do Ethernet cable colors matter?

There is no relation between ethernet cable color to its performance.

Cable vendors only give specific colors to the ethernet cables to understand their use and connection type and differentiate their connections from their competitors.

Colorful network cables 

Then what matters?

Since colors do not enhance performance, you should consider other characteristics that matter when looking for one.

Ethernet cable Cat

Here we will describe the performance and use of each cable type except cat3 and cat5, as they are slow and discontinued.

Cat5 and Cat5e: Here, the “e” indicates enhanced features.

You compare cat5 and cat5e; you will find no physical differences.

The only difference is that manufacturers have followed more stringent testing standards to eliminate crosstalk (unwanted transferring of signals between communication channels). 

Cat 5e Ethernet cables are the most used as they have low production costs and support high-speed signal transfer.

Cat6 And Cat6a:

Cat6 cables support higher bandwidths than cat 5 and 5e, so they come at a higher price.

So, you can choose foil or braided shields to protect the twisted wires inside the cable.  

In Cat 6a cable, the letter “a” stands for augmented.

These cables are one step better than Cat 6 cables, and support bandwidth doubles that of Cat 6 cables.

So, you can get high transmission speeds over long lengths.

Cat 6a cables have shields and sheathing that are thick enough to eliminate crosstalk. 

Cat 7 and Cat 7a: These cables support higher bandwidth (100Gbps at a range of 15 meters) and faster signal transmission.

Additionally, these shielded cables use a GigaGate45 connector that shows backward compatibility with RJ45 Ethernet ports.

Although the GigaGate45 connector is a proprietary component with backward compatibility, manufacturers still faced issues with the Cat 7 cable’s previous standards.

As a result, they avoid it and use cat 6a instead.

Similar to Cat 7, Cat 7a also has high specifications. It supports 40-gigabit ethernet connections up to 50 meters with some improvement.

However, it only supports a few networks and is expensive, so you must prefer it only in some exceptional cases.

Cat 8: These ethernet cables have the highest specifications as they support a max frequency of 2,000 MHz with a speed of 40Gbps at 30m.

As these cables are always shielded to support such high frequency. 

t 8 ethernet cables support two connectors; thus, you can only connect three cables with a total length of 30 meters. 

High specifications make them overkill for regular residential use.

So, the cable meets the newest IEEE standards, which makes it a good choice for future-proofing despite its high cost. 

Caption: Cat and performance

Ethernet connectors

Ethernet cables use special ethernet connectors with a unique design, as these connectors have eight pins that keep the cable locked into place.

Typically, you can call them an 8P8C connector.

However, there are several 8P8C connectors with differences, which put the ethernet cables into different categories.


RJ45 stands for Registered Jack 45, the standard form that almost all ethernet cables (Cat1-Cat 6 and Cat 8) use.

Based on the wires’ color and arrangement, you will find two variations in them.

Is the T568B standard (more common and popular) and the T568A standard (less common and less important)?

GG45: as mentioned before, these are specific connectors for Cat 7 cables, and these connectors have some additional connectors to give versatility in frequency.

T ough it has backward compatibility with the RJ45 connector, this new connector seemed unimportant, and thus Cat 8 cables resumed RJ45 connectors.

Ether CON RJ45: RJ45 connectors are very easy to use, but there is doubt about their durability as they have built-in plastic chips which break easily.

As a result, manufacturers developed a rugged version of RJ45 connectors.

You can use them in professional Audio/Video applications that need long-term durability.

Ethernet Cable shields

Based on the outer shielding, twisted wires in the Ethernet cables are divided into the following categories.

Unshielded twisted pairs or UTP: You will find no foil or intertwined protective cover in these twisted pairs.

These designs make the cable flexible and highly inexpensive.

However, UTP cables may not have excellent signal quality, and you may experience crosstalk.

Shielded twisted pair or STP: These ethernet cables have a robust, braided shield T is a shield comprising copper or any other conductive material.

As an s result of this shield, these cables deliver good signal quality with reduced noise.

Foiled Twisted pairs or FTP/SFTP: You will find a foil shield that covers the twisted wires inside these cables to boost connectivity, reduce noise and enhance signal strength.

Ethernet cable compatibility

The best part about ethernet cables is that you can interchange them.

However, you may face issues with old cables like Cat 5 related to the fast data transfer speed. 

You can easily insert a cat 5 cable into a router with the newest 10G Ethernet interface, but the cable will slow the data transfer speed.

You can also plug a Cat 7 cable into a long-standing router that does not support high speeds, but it will work fine.

Ethernet Cable length

The standard measurements are 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 5, 10, and 20 meters Y; you can get these cable lengths from almost every supplier.

If you want long ethernet cables, measurements up to 75 meters are available but are more expensive.

You can get a big ethernet cable reel if you want cables for a house or any other permanent wiring.

There are reeled up to 500 meters or more. 

Ethernet cable jacket rating

Depending on the location, different types of cable jackets are based on the material. 

CM-rated cables: Have ethernet cables run from your personal or office computers to the wall port?

These are CM-rated cables commonly known as patch cords.

These cables are available in a stranded form; thus, they are very flexible, so you can connect short runs to your PCs to server racks.

CMR-rated cables: In these CM-rated cables, R stands for the riser M only; these cables are used as riser cables rather than patch cables, i.e., these cables run through the top or bottom of the walls or basement to the upper floor. 

You can also use CMR cables for residential applications.

They have to undergo a burn test to prove their self-extinguishing nature, but these cables are less strict regarding fire requirements than CMP cables.

But they are more flexible, so if you use them at home for networking, it would be easier to arrange them.

CMP-rated cables: Here, the P stands for the plenum M style; you will find these cables in homes and offices if networking is done through ducts.

Ethernet connectors and socket 

Ethernet connectors and socket 


The color code of the outer plastic jacket in the Ethernet cable does not indicate anything.

However, engineers sometimes use colored cables in different zones in local area networks to understand each cable’s purpose.

Tough color does not matter; quality does.

If you want high-quality ethernet cables for your home or office networking, contact Cloom.

Hey, I am John, General manager of Cloom and OurPCB.

I am a responsible, intelligent and experienced business professional with an extensive background in the electronics industry.

Reach me at [email protected] to get a quote for your projects.


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