Is CAT9 Ethernet Really Better Than CAT8? The Truth Revealed


Ethernet cabling standards have evolved over time to support faster speeds and greater bandwidth. The original Ethernet standard released in the 1980s supported up to 10 Mbps over thick coaxial cables. In the 1990s, Category 5 (Cat5) unshielded twisted pair cabling was introduced, supporting speeds up to 100 Mbps for Fast Ethernet. Around the early 2000s, Category 5e (Cat5e) became popular, providing gigabit speeds up to 1000 Mbps. In the mid to late 2000s, Category 6 (Cat6) cabling gained adoption, supporting 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Most recently, Category 6a (Cat6a), Category 7 (Cat7), Category 8 (Cat8), and Category 8.1 cabling standards have emerged, supporting speeds up to 40 or 100 Gbps. Newer standards aim to enable higher bandwidth applications and keep up with demands on modern networks.

This article provides an in-depth comparison between two of the latest Ethernet cabling standards – Category 8 (Cat8) and the emerging Category 9 (Cat9). It examines key differences in speed, frequency, shielding, cost, compatibility, and use cases to understand how these cable categories compare.

CAT8 Overview

Category 8 Ethernet cables (CAT8) were released in 2016 to support even faster speed capabilities for networks. Some key specifications for CAT8 cables include:

  • Speed – CAT8 cables support speeds up to 40 Gbps and above. This is a big leap from CAT6 cables which only supported up to 10Gbps. The faster speeds allow for a higher rate of data transfer.

  • Frequency – CAT8 cables can operate at frequencies of up to 2 GHz, compared to CAT6 cables which operated at 250 MHz. Operating at a higher frequency allows more data to be transferred per cycle.

  • Shielding – CAT8 cables have additional shielding when compared to other category cables. They are shielded for both external and internal interference. This helps maintain the signal integrity at high speeds and frequencies.

In summary, CAT8 cables were designed to support much faster network speeds by operating at higher frequencies and incorporating more robust shielding.

CAT9 Overview

CAT9 Ethernet cables are not yet an official standard, but will likely offer faster speeds and better performance than CAT8 cables when released. According to Khaled Ibrahim on LinkedIn, CAT9 cables are expected to support speeds up to 50 or 100Gbps 1. This is a significant increase over the 40Gbps supported by CAT8.

To achieve these faster speeds, CAT9 cables will utilize higher frequency rates up to 2000MHz, compared to 2000MHz for CAT8. The increased frequency allows more data to be transmitted per second. CAT9 may also employ additional shielding techniques to reduce crosstalk and electromagnetic interference.

Key features expected for CAT9 include:

  • Speeds up to 100Gbps
  • Frequencies up to 2000MHz
  • Enhanced shielding

Speed Comparison

CAT8 Ethernet cable offers maximum speeds up to 40 Gbps, while CAT9 Ethernet cable offers maximum speeds up to 100 Gbps per cable. This means CAT9 can support up to 2.5 times faster speeds than CAT8. The key factor enabling these faster speeds with CAT9 is the increase in bandwidth from 2,000 MHz for CAT8 up to 3,600 MHz for CAT9. With more bandwidth available, CAT9 can transmit much more data at faster rates.

Both CAT8 and CAT9 far exceed the speeds and bandwidth required by common networks today, which typically max out at 10 Gbps. However, for future-proofing networks, building to accommodate 100+ Gbps speeds, or implementing bleeding edge technology, CAT9’s superior speed capabilities make it the better choice over CAT8.

Frequency Comparison

CAT8 Ethernet cable is designed to support network speeds up to 40 Gbps. It utilizes frequencies up to 2 GHz. This allows CAT8 to handle high-speed applications like 25GBASE-T and 40GBASE-T Ethernet.

CAT9 offers even higher potential frequencies, up to 3 GHz. This means CAT9 cables can theoretically support network speeds up to 100 Gbps. So far, applications that require these frequencies have not been standardized. But CAT9 provides headroom for future speed increases.

The key difference between CAT8 and CAT9 in terms of frequency is that CAT9 supports frequencies up to 3 GHz, while CAT8 only goes up to 2 GHz. CAT9’s higher frequency capabilities future proof it for speeds beyond 40 Gbps.

Shielding Comparison

Both CAT8 and CAT9 Ethernet cables use shielding to protect against electromagnetic interference (EMI) and crosstalk, but CAT9 has enhanced shielding capabilities.

CAT8 cables have individual foil shielding around each twisted pair as well as an additional braided shield covering all 4 pairs. This offers shielding from external interference as well as between the pairs in the cable. However, CAT8 shielding is only rated up to 2GHz frequencies.

CAT9 cables utilize a foil-shielded twisted pair construction with an additional braided shielding. But the key difference is that CAT9 shielding performs at frequencies up to 2,000 MHz and is tested up to 2,000 MHz. This allows CAT9 cables to handle extremely high bandwidth applications.

Additionally, CAT9 specifies more stringent cable geometry requirements and has enhanced internal componentry to further reduce crosstalk at high frequencies. The improved shielding enables reliable performance at speeds up to 100 Gbps in network applications.

In summary, both CAT8 and CAT9 use shielding to protect against interference and crosstalk, but CAT9 provides enhanced shielding capabilities rated for up to 2,000MHz frequencies compared to CAT8 which is only rated up to 2GHz.

Cost Comparison

When comparing the costs of CAT8 and CAT9 cables, CAT9 is generally more expensive due to its higher performance capabilities. According to sources, CAT9 cable costs approximately 1.5-2 times more per foot than CAT8 cable on average.

CAT8 Ethernet cable typically costs around $0.50-1.00 per foot for solid core cable or $1.00-1.50 per foot for shielded twisted pair (STP) cable. In comparison, CAT9 cable ranges from around $0.75-1.50 per foot for unshielded twisted pair (UTP) and $1.50-3.00 per foot for shielded cable.

The exact pricing can vary between cable manufacturers and sellers. But in most cases, CAT9 represents a 30-100% premium over CAT8 cable depending on the construction. This added cost comes from the more stringent requirements of CAT9 regarding crosstalk prevention and higher frequency support.

For high performance networks where CAT9’s capabilities are required, the extra cost may be justified. But for networks not needing speeds over 40 Gbps, CAT8 can deliver significant savings on cabling installation and infrastructure without much compromise on speed.

Backwards Compatibility

CAT9 cables are fully backwards compatible with CAT8, CAT7, CAT6, CAT6A, CAT5e, and CAT5 cables. This means that CAT9 cables can be used interchangeably in networks using lower category cables.

According to experts, CAT9 offers complete backwards compatibility with all the previous cabling categories like CAT5, CAT5e, CAT6, CAT6a, CAT7, CAT7a and CAT8 ( The key benefit is that CAT9 cables and connectors are designed to be fully interoperable with the existing installed base of CAT5, CAT5e, CAT6, CAT6a, CAT7 and CAT8 cabling infrastructure.

Furthermore, CAT9 connectors have the same physical dimensions as CAT6A and CAT8 connectors which allows seamless interoperability ( So CAT9 cables can simply be plugged into CAT8 and lower category jacks and work without any issues.

In summary, CAT9 maintains complete backwards compatibility while offering increased performance capabilities. Users can upgrade seamlessly to CAT9 without having to replace existing CAT8 and lower cabling.

Use Cases

CAT9 Ethernet cable is designed for extremely high-speed data transfer applications where CAT8 would fall short. The two key use cases where CAT9 shines are:

Short-run cabling for data centers – CAT9 can maintain maximum speed for lengths up to 30 meters, whereas CAT8 is only specified for distances up to 30 meters when running at 40Gbps. This makes CAT9 better suited for short data center runs between top-of-rack switches and servers (Source).

Future network upgrades – While 40Gbps networks are common today, upgrades to 50, 100, 200Gbps and beyond are coming. CAT9 will be able to support these faster speeds over longer distances than CAT8, meaning less recabling for future upgrades (Source).

Additionally, CAT9 provides more headroom or margin on Signal-to-Noise Ratio at 25-50GHz frequencies compared to CAT8. This makes it more robust for noisy environments.


So is CAT9 Ethernet cable definitively better than CAT8? The answer is not so straightforward. When it comes to raw speed and performance, CAT9 can theoretically achieve faster speeds up to 400 Gbps vs CAT8’s maximum speed of 40 Gbps. However, these extreme high speeds are currently not practical or necessary for most home and business networks. The prices are also very different, with CAT9 costing significantly more than CAT8.

For most users today, CAT8 offers more than enough bandwidth headroom for the foreseeable future. It can easily support emerging multi-gigabit connections over 1/2.5/5/10 Gbps. Unless you need to futureproof for cutting edge speeds above 40 Gbps, CAT8 represents the better value and practical option for now. However, for those needing to maximize bandwidth capacity for growing bandwidth needs, CAT9 does provide notably higher performance potential.

In summary, for typical home and small business applications today, CAT8 is likely the better choice. But CAT9 offers more futureproofing and extremely high speed potential for those with more demanding needs. As infrastructure and devices catch up to support these faster multi-gig and emerging 100Gbps+ speeds, CAT9 cables will become more practical and necessary in the coming years.

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