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Slight OT, but since we all use ethernet cables, here's a FYI

 

NOTE: I pondered long about posting this tidbit because it is  not directly related to "fine art photography." On the other hand, we all use computers; our printers may be connected by ethernet; our monitors may be connected by HDMI.  I decided to post this because those are both "in our workflow" and if I can help make your working environment better... well, IMHO it's worth a post. And no: I'm not affiliated with BJC in any way. Just a happy customer.

The new cable is here! The new cable is here!
(an homage to Steve Martin...)
 
BlueJeanCable is the real deal for ethernet and hdmi (and other) cables. It's also expensive.
 
I have a DOCIS 3.1 modem, and an Linksys EA9500 router/wifi. I've got 1 Gb service, and I probably have 30 (or more) things hard wired up to the network.
 
I have just installed some BlueJeanCable CAT 6a certified ethernet cable. It runs from my modem, 23 feet to my router, and 23  feet back to my 24-port gigabit switch. It is significantly fatter, and not as flexible as CAT 5 or 6.   (I had been using certified CAT 6  - no "a" on the end).
 
Do you remember when the internet was described by some politician as "a series of tubes"?
 
Well, and this is just anecodatal, but the difference between the cables (CAT 6 vs 6a)  makes it feel like someone "greased the tubes." Access now just flows.
 
No, I didn't test it... this is purely subjective. Things are just "snappier" now.
 
I'd hope so since the two 23' cables cost almost $90 with shipping. Like I said "expensive."
 
 
(FWIW, I also use their HDMI cables. Also a noticeable improvement.)
 
Finally, I do NOT use BJC cables everywhere... they are just too expensive, so I  only use them at critical junctures.

I hope this helps (or at least intrigues) someone.
 

 

This is not a very scientific response, snappier? Why don’t you run some real tests, for your own satisfaction that this cable really is better before doing this post? Also, isn’t the speed bottleneck the devices connected and not the cable?

On Aug 16, 2019, at 5:01 PM, Tracy Valleau <tracy@...> wrote:

No, I didn't test it... this is purely subjective. Things are just "snappier" now.

 

Those are all good questions, Mark. Thank you.
 
Ah... assumptions.  I didn't say things were "faster" - if that was the case, I would simply run some timing tests: downloads and file transfers. And for those to be valid, the difference would have to be easily discernible with a stop watch, (since I don't have exotic testing equipment.)  The actual speed differences will likely be tiny.
 
In fact, I carefully did NOT say things were faster, because I didn't want to mislead anyone into expecting overwhelming results. The gains, if any, are modest, and I wanted to be clear about that. I chose to post because subjectively, I noticed a difference. I've got over 40 years sitting full time at my computer, so I trust my observations.
 
So, with your question, I started looking around to find the difference between the cables. 6a can handle 500 MHz bandwidth for data, which is 5 times the bandwidth of regular Cat 6.
 
This page shows you the potential data difference between 6 and 6a:  https://www.cablesys.com/updates/cat6-cat6e-cat6a-differences/
 
Now, to actually -use- all that difference, I would have to be using a 10Gb network, while mine is only 1Gb. (Anyone who -is- using a newer 10Gb network really -needs- cat 6a, or they are just throwing away their money...)
 
So the "snappier" I'm noticing is likely less need for data retransmission/correction, rather than a "speed boost". (For example, with better HDMI cables, my 4K system produces better yellows, and there are no occasional artifacts.  But as a mere mortal, I'd have no way to test that.)
 
Switching from 6, to 6a, is "an edge case". That's why I mentioned my gear. My modem and router, along with my access speed, are at the spec-limit of cat 6. Cat 6 -should- carry it all just fine, but without any left-over headroom. The 6a provides headroom.  At times Comcast feels generous and gives me a boost. The headroom will be nice for that.
 
So, part of the answer as to why I didn't test and publish results is simple: the difference in speed on such an edge case may only be a couple of seconds over several minutes, well within the margin of error of a stop-watch test.
 
The other reason is that any test file transfers would take place over regular cat 6, not 6a, which would invalidate them. (My "subjective" is based on my own main computer, which is 6a from the switch. I'm not running 6a to individual devices, just from modem to the router to the switch.)
 
My choice to use the better cable to and from my router was to provide the 24-port switch with the best data stream possible. That way -all- those items hooked up to my network will have access to the best incoming data. Better that than to "crimp the  hose" on the way in, and potentially reduct the performance of -everything-.
 
Most of the stuff on my network is WAY below those data speeds (printers, amps etc) but some (such as streaming 4k on an AppleTV) really can benefit from better data.
 
Those were my thought processes, Mark, and why I intentionally choose to express a modest subjective opinion.
 
Thanks for helping me clarify the post.

Rick Verbanec
 

Well said, Tracy ... appropriately modest.  Thanks for the info.


On Sat, Aug 17, 2019 at 10:30 AM, Tracy Valleau
<tracy@...> wrote:
Those are all good questions, Mark. Thank you.
 
Ah... assumptions.  I didn't say things were "faster" - if that was the case, I would simply run some timing tests: downloads and file transfers. And for those to be valid, the difference would have to be easily discernible with a stop watch, (since I don't have exotic testing equipment.)  The actual speed differences will likely be tiny.
 
In fact, I carefully did NOT say things were faster, because I didn't want to mislead anyone into expecting overwhelming results. The gains, if any, are modest, and I wanted to be clear about that. I chose to post because subjectively, I noticed a difference. I've got over 40 years sitting full time at my computer, so I trust my observations.
 
So, with your question, I started looking around to find the difference between the cables. 6a can handle 500 MHz bandwidth for data, which is 5 times the bandwidth of regular Cat 6.
 
This page shows you the potential data difference between 6 and 6a:  https://www.cablesys.com/updates/cat6-cat6e-cat6a-differences/
 
Now, to actually -use- all that difference, I would have to be using a 10Gb network, while mine is only 1Gb. (Anyone who -is- using a newer 10Gb network really -needs- cat 6a, or they are just throwing away their money...)
 
So the "snappier" I'm noticing is likely less need for data retransmission/correction, rather than a "speed boost". (For example, with better HDMI cables, my 4K system produces better yellows, and there are no occasional artifacts.  But as a mere mortal, I'd have no way to test that.)
 
Switching from 6, to 6a, is "an edge case". That's why I mentioned my gear. My modem and router, along with my access speed, are at the spec-limit of cat 6. Cat 6 -should- carry it all just fine, but without any left-over headroom. The 6a provides headroom.  At times Comcast feels generous and gives me a boost. The headroom will be nice for that.
 
So, part of the answer as to why I didn't test and publish results is simple: the difference in speed on such an edge case may only be a couple of seconds over several minutes, well within the margin of error of a stop-watch test.
 
The other reason is that any test file transfers would take place over regular cat 6, not 6a, which would invalidate them. (My "subjective" is based on my own main computer, which is 6a from the switch. I'm not running 6a to individual devices, just from modem to the router to the switch.)
 
My choice to use the better cable to and from my router was to provide the 24-port switch with the best data stream possible. That way -all- those items hooked up to my network will have access to the best incoming data. Better that than to "crimp the  hose" on the way in, and potentially reduct the performance of -everything-.
 
Most of the stuff on my network is WAY below those data speeds (printers, amps etc) but some (such as streaming 4k on an AppleTV) really can benefit from better data.
 
Those were my thought processes, Mark, and why I intentionally choose to express a modest subjective opinion.
 
Thanks for helping me clarify the post.

Jim Kasson
 

Tracy, I’ve found the various category speed ratings to be hugely conservative. To give you an example, I discovered recently that one long 1 GbE run in my house – about 300 feet – from the main server room to a switch in a remote satellite distribution utility room, that I thought had been configured to run over multimode fiber, was actually running over plain old Cat 5. It ran just as fast as the fiber connection over cable that was being used way outside of its spec. I’ve even run 10 GbE over Cat 5 for short distances just to see what would happen, and it worked fine, but my working 10 GbE runs are all using multimode fiber.

 

Jim

 


--
Jim Kasson

ImageMaker

Blog: blog.kasson.com

Gallery: www.kasson.com

Jim Kasson
 

Most of the stuff on my network is WAY below those data speeds (printers, amps etc) but some (such as streaming 4k on an AppleTV) really can benefit from better data.

 

With my Apple 4K TV, average downlink speeds typically run about 15 Mb/s, with peaks to 60 or 70 Mb/s when first filling the buffer. Thats on an AT&T 250 Mb/s IPFlex. None of that is going to stress a 1 GbE cable.

 

The only time I see the full 250 Mb/s is when I back up to BackBlaze, or for some update downloads from the big software companies like MathWorks or Adobe.

 

Jim


--
Jim Kasson

ImageMaker

Blog: blog.kasson.com

Gallery: www.kasson.com

 
Edited

Thanks, Jim.
 
That's two pushbacks from people I greatly respect. It is my intent here to post only based on my own personal experience, and particularly to never mislead people. So let me begin by noting that I specifically did not mention "speed". I resorted to adjectives because I had to.
 
Jim's network (edit: I should say "internet access) is 1/4th the speed of mine, so that he'd happy with cat5 and 6 does not surprise me.
 
However, because of the reply posts, I thought again about the differences between the cable specs and why speed (ie file transfers) doesn't seem to be affected, and now I believe I understand where the benefit of 500MHz cable comes from. That is, where my "greased the tubes" subjective experience came from.
 
I think it's not "one-off" use, but rather when the LAN is loaded with active devices. That is either multiple users all accessing the network at the same time, or in my case, effectively the same thing:  multiple devices all battling for data. I just counted up the devices attached to my LAN, and I have 45 of them. I have never see my network activity monitor drop to zero. Something, usually several things are always checking for updates, filling in television guides; parsing for email; or merely assuring themselves that they are still connected. In short, there is a continual background hum of activity. Each of the 45 likely modest, to be sure, but still, omnipresent, and in the aggregate, likely significant.
 
I suspect this is why  I "noticed" a subjective difference. Cat6a offers the bandwidth for a busy office, or in my case, a busy home. It does not "increase  the speed" per se.
 
Again, I'm concerned that anyone here feels like I mislead them. I do not believe I have done that. I tried to make sure in my post, and in this one, that it was clear I wasn't over-selling what I saw.
 
Cat6a is "a real thing" not just a gimmick to sell more expensive cable. (Here I should point out again that I am in NO WAY related to any cable merchant.)
 
6a is meant for offices and heavy-traffic sites. I expect that in such an environment, the difference in cable choices would be even more obvious, and conversely, that I  noticed anything at all in my solo personal environment, a bit surprising. (That's why I hesitated to post in the first place.)
 
However, my experience is what it is, and I stand by my own subjective reaction. It should be, by now, perfectly clear that I'm not exhorting people to run out and buy new cable!
 
As to Cat 6a vs other ratings, here are three links that explain it, and which tend to support my hypothesis here that it's not speed, it's bandwidth:
 
https://www.nojitter.com/enterprise-networking/what-you-need-know-about-cat-6a-cable
 
https://www.sfcable.com/blog/why-cat-6a-cables-future-proof-products
 
https://www.cablinginstall.com/cable/article/16477222/cat-5e-vs-cat-6-vs-cat-6a-which-should-you-choose
 
I hope I don't sound too defensive here; I'm just fascinated that I have one experience, and others are pushing back. I'm a curious kind of guy.
 
Again, my thanks to my fellow group readers (and my friends.)
 
Tracy Valleau, moderator
www.valleau.art

Jim Kasson
 

Tracy, if you’re using switches as opposed to hubs (and who uses hubs anymore?), each cable only sees the traffic to the endpoint of that cable. Only the switching fabric sees the aggregate traffic. As to my Internet speed figuring into my experience, I should note that I have 3 Synology NAS boxes and 3 Windows Server instances in my local network, and they are limited only by the wire speed of the internal – fiber, for the backbone – connections, not by any ISP.

 

By the way, the drop in 10 GbE fiber ports over the last few years has been amazing, and the cables themselves have gotten a lot cheaper, too. Not everyone need 10 GbE, but those folks who have decided it’s too dear should take another look.

 

Jim


--
Jim Kasson

ImageMaker

Blog: blog.kasson.com

Gallery: www.kasson.com

Jim Kasson
 

As to the relationship of transfer speed and bandwidth: the bandwidth of the cable is an inherent property, and the transfer speed is what the system experiences when using that cable. The cable bandwidth is one of the things that determines the transfer speed – and far from the only one – but the speed is what the user cares about, no matter how it is obtained.

 

Jim


--
Jim Kasson

ImageMaker

Blog: blog.kasson.com

Gallery: www.kasson.com

 

Thanks Jim. It's nice to know that 10Gb has come down in price. In my own situation, however, none of my devices are 10Gb,  so I'm happy with my 1Gb rigging.



 
--
Tracy Valleau, moderator

www.valleau.art

Jim Kasson
 

By the way, if your cables are limiting your speeds, it will show up as dropped packets. You can see if that’s happening by telnetting into your managed switch, if you have one:

 

 

“Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr B4:FB:E4:51:59:C9

          inet addr:10.10.24.30  Bcast:10.10.24.255  Mask:255.255.255.0

          inet6 addr: fe80::b6fb:e4ff:fe51:59c9/64 Scope:Link

          UP BROADCAST RUNNING PROMISC ALLMULTI MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1

          RX packets:1770671 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0

          TX packets:157024 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0

          collisions:0 txqueuelen:500

          RX bytes:419762745 (400.3 MiB)  TX bytes:79872697 (76.1 MiB)”


--
Jim Kasson

ImageMaker

Blog: blog.kasson.com

Gallery: www.kasson.com

Michael Fryd
 

While there are various advantages to higher category cables, you don’t need to spend $90/cable.

There are lots of companies that sell certified cables at lower price points.

For instance, BestLinkNetWare.com sells 25 foot Cat 6A cables for under $8/each.  A 25 foot shielded Cat 8 cable is under $22.

Monoprice.com has 25 foot Cat 6A cables for under $10,

Even Amazon offers a variety of Cat 6A rated cables.

The real question here is not whether Cat 6A cable can provide better performance than Cat 6 but whether a $90 Cat 6A cable provides better performance than a $10 Cat 6A cable.


 
Edited

Thanks, Michael

To be clear, the cables were not $90 each, but about $39 each.

I know there are cheap cables around. 

But I choose to believe this:
http://www.bluejeanscable.com/articles/is-your-cat6-a-dog.htm

Addition: here's a bit of roudn-about validation from Ars Technica:
https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/07/340-audiophile-ethernet-cable-gets-a-marginal-pass-on-the-test-bench/

I note from that Ars article that BJC will test your favorite cable too. I've never done it, and have no idea what, if anything, it costs to have done.

and now only use generic cables (Monoprice, Amazon etc) to hook up generic accessories. I use more expensive cables where I think (and apparently I'm alone in this) the quality is more critical. Perhaps all it does is make me feel better, and my impressions of improvement are entirely in my head. After all, a Toyota and a Mercedes will both get you there!

I appreciate your comments!
--
Tracy Valleau, moderator

www.valleau.art

Michael Fryd
 

It’s a thorny issue because the equipment to verify cables is expensive. This makes it difficult for consumers to verify claims.   Pretty much every cable vendor claims that their cables meet the specs.   This includes the fine people at Blue Jeans Cable.   However, Blue Jeans Cable goes a step further and claims that competing cables don’t meet the spec.   Most of us are not in a position to verify that claim.  However, I think it’s fair to say that the Blue Jeans Cable are not an unbiased third party.  They have a horse in the race, and they are claiming their horse is faster.

This is not unexpected, as their web site proudly claims, their business is marketing and engineering.  Clearly, marketing is an important component of their business model.

One would expect that even if Blue Jeans Cables were the same as the others, that Blue Jeans Cables would cost more.   The company prides itself on either making the cables by hand in the US, or shipping US made bulk cable to China to have it connectorized there.

If they are shipping Cable to China to be finished, then not only is it the same Chinese quality as everyone else’s cables, but shipping heavy cables back and forth across the globe is wasteful of resources and bad for the environment.  If they are making the cables in-house by hand, they are actually less likely to meet Cat 6A standards (unless employees have very tiny fingers).




But we are also missing an important part of the equation.   If a cable and installation meets the specs for a particular category, then the communication channel should be error free under worst case conditions.  This would typically be the longest allowable cable length, the most allowable connectors/transitions, and the most and sharpest allowable bends in the cable.  If you’re allowed a 100 meter cable run, and you have only 25 feet, then you should still get the full throughput, even if the cable is not quite 100% to spec.

For instance, if you bend the cable with a radius sharper  than 4 times the cable diameter (about 1 inch) the cable no longer meets the specs.  That’s true even for Blue Jeans Cables. This is not to say that a tight bend will prevent your cable from working, just that it no longer meets spec, and therefore may give you trouble as you get close to the installation limits.   


If you are happy with Blue Jeans Cables, then by all means use them.  I have no reason to doubt your claim of a performance boost when you installed them.  However, I suspect the performance benefit is due to an issue other than the quality of the cable.  Perhaps the old cable was kinked?  Perhaps the old cable had corroded connectors?  Perhaps the old cables were routed too close to a power cable?   Any of these are more likely reasons than the brand of the cable.

-Michael





On Aug 19, 2019, at 2:49 PM, Tracy Valleau <tracy@...> wrote:

Thanks, Michael

To be clear, the cables were not $90 each, but about $39 each.

I know there are cheap cables around. 

But I choose to believe this:
http://www.bluejeanscable.com/articles/is-your-cat6-a-dog.htm

and now only use generic cables (Monoprice, Amazon etc) to hook up generic accessories. I use more expensive cables where I think (and apparently I'm alone in this) the quality is more critical. Perhaps all it does is make me feel better, and my impressions of improvement are entirely in my head. After all, a Toyota and a Mercedes will both get you there!

I appreciate your comments!
--
Tracy Valleau, moderator

www.valleau.art


 

Thanks, Michael. Each and every point is well made. You no doubt noticed that they never mentioned any of their competitor by name, and that the Fluke Corporation (at least according to BJC) found exactly the same results.

And I trust them because of articles such as this one:
http://www.bluejeanscable.com/articles/bad-reasons-to-upgrade-hdmi-cable.htm
in which they say that you really -don't- need to buy a new cable from them (most likely.)

I don't have a $10,000 device to verify their words either. I can only go on results I experience, and their stellar reputation in the industry.

At this point, I'll stop replying. The forum is really about photography and printing, and this got way off track. While it fascinates some of us, others are round-filing these by now.

Thanks to everyone who replied, even if you think I'm a gullible and ignorant old man.  :-)
--
Tracy Valleau, moderator

www.valleau.art