If you’re reading this, you probably find yourself in one of two scenarios when it comes to finding the best Ethernet cable for gaming:
A) You have seen the light and realized that competitive gaming over WiFi is the worst, especially if you have a Nintendo Switch, or don’t have an amazing WiFi 6 gaming router. As a result, you’re ready to start hardwiring your gaming PC and gaming consoles into your router. You’re having problems with lag, disconnects and/or packet loss and haven’t figured out what the issue is yet.
B) If you’ve exhausted all your options when it comes to your internet service provider, your hardware (such as your cable modem and WiFi router) or your network settings, then it’s possible your Ethernet cable that you use for gaming could be causing you issues.
In 99.9% of instances, any Ethernet cable that’s rated Cat 5e or higher will perform identically on the average home network for gaming. Assuming interference is not an issue, ping times should be the same. And while there are different tiers of Ethernet cables — Cat 5, Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6a, Cat 7 and Cat 8 — all of them except for a Cat 5 cable are going to perform identically on your home network. And even for the purpose of gaming, the Cat 5 cable will probably be fine.
The main difference between Ethernet cables are the speeds that they’re rated for and the level of protection they have against interference. But because most online and cloud gaming requires speeds under 50Mbps, the speed rating of Ethernet cables for gaming is irrelevant. They’re all fine.
But where upgrading your Ethernet cables might benefit your gaming performance is when it comes to interference. If you have an older Cat 5 cable buried in a rats nest of power cords and HDMI cables and audio wires behind your TV, it’s possible it could be suffering from crosstalk which would affect network performance.
And so for clarity, let’s break down the differences between Ethernet cables:
- Category 5: This is the original Ethernet cable that has been used for decades. Fitted with the all-too-familiar RJ45 jack and rated for speeds up to 100 Mbps, you won’t find these cables in stores anymore because they’re too slow for most modern internet connections. On top of that, they’re the most prone to interference. If your Ethernet cables were going to be the cause of your network troubles, it would be because you were using a Cat 5 cable.
- Category 5e: The “e” in Category 5e stands for enhanced, and that means that this cable is rated for speeds up to 1 Gbps and has increased protection against interference. The average Ethernet cable you’re likely to see these days is probably a Category 5e, although we wouldn’t be surprised if it also became obsolete over the next decade.
- Category 6: Rated for speeds up to 10Gbps and wired to protect against the types of interference you’d find in most households, this is the Ethernet cable you’re most likely going to use going forward. While you won’t be taking full advantage of its capabilities now, it’s only a matter of time before that changes.
- Category 7 & 8: These are cables that are designed for professional-grade networks and don’t really offer a practical benefit to the average consumer. These cables are guaranteed to transfer data at speeds of 20Gbps and 40Gbps and can protect against heavy interference. But again, barring some special circumstance, we wouldn’t really consider these unless you know for a fact that it will fix your problems.
If you think it could be time to buy some new Ethernet cables for gaming, we’ve assembled a few good options that are affordable and are guaranteed to suit your needs. In addition, we’ve also included a few accessories that can help improve your cable organization, which in turn could help further prevent any possible crosstalk between wires.
1. Amazon Basics 10-Foot Cat 6 Ethernet Cable
BEST ETHERNET CABLE FOR GAMING OVERALL
If you’re struggling with slow internet speeds, packet loss, low ping times or lag spikes, it’s possible that the problem could be your existing Ethernet cable. More specifically, if you have an old Cat 5 cable, it only has a max speed rating of 100Mbps and is far more prone to interference. And if you’re going through the trouble of buying new cables, you might as well do a little bit of futureproofing and opt for this Cat 6 Ethernet cable from Amazon Basics.
Not only does Cat 6 offer further protection against interference than Cat 5e, but Cat 6 is also rated for speeds up to 10 Gbps (compared to 1 Gbps for Cat 5e). While you’re unlikely to need (or be able to find) internet speeds faster a gigabit in 2021, it’s likely that we’ll start to see ISPs offer faster speeds in the coming years.
2. Cable Matters 7-Foot Cat 6 Ethernet Cable (5 Pack)
BEST BUDGET BUY
While a single Ethernet cable for gaming isn’t terribly expensive, it’s easy to get nickel and dimed if you need to connect multiple devices. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, this five-pack of Cat 6 cables from Cable Matters will let you connect your Gaming PC and any consoles that are within striking distance of your router while lowering the cost per cable to a few measly bucks. And while a 7-foot cable should be long enough to connect your devices and prevent cable chaos, you can always step up to 10 or 14-foot cables if you need longer runs.
3. Jadaol 25-Foot Cat 6 Flat Ethernet Cable
BEST LONG ETHERNET CABLE
When it comes to practical benefits outside of technical performance, flat Ethernet cables have their benefits. They’re less likely to tangle, and if you have to run them across a room they can be far less noticeable since they slip under a rug or hug up against a floorboard. This 25 foot flat Cat 6 Ethernet Cable from Jadaol will help you disguise your gamer habits while still allowing you to have the strongest possible connection so you can frag the competition. And if you’re handy with a hammer, it even comes with some nail clips so that you can keep this cable pinned to the wall.
4. DBillionDa 15-Foot Cat 8 Ethernet Cable
BEST FOR EXTREME CIRCUMSTANCES
For most gamers, a Cat 8 Ethernet cable for gaming should be completely unnecessary. But if you’re somehow having major issues with wireless interference and crosstalk in your home and you need the max shielding possible, this Cat 8 Ethernet cable from DBillionDa should do the trick, especially if you’re running it over a distance longer than 10 feet. Not only are the wires shielded to the max, but this cable also has a shielded plug to further prevent interference. Furthermore, if you’re running Ethernet cables in the walls or outside your house in order to link your devices, these cables are fully weatherproof, which ensures they won’t be affected by rain, snow, dust or heat. This means you don’t have to worry quite so much about these degrading over time.
5. OmniMount OECMS Neoprene Cable Sleeve
GREAT FOR PREVENTING INTERFERENCE
If you’re running multiple Ethernet cables for your gaming PC and consoles across a desk or entertainment center, things are going to get real chaotic real fast. Thankfully, there are plenty of great accessories to keep all those wires in one place. Furthermore, keeping your Ethernet cables separate from your power cords and HDMI cables could also help prevent any extra interference. This OmniMoint OECMS Neoprene Cable Sleeves is a quick and easy way to section off your different types of cables and secure them with velcro. Even better, there are various openings that they can easily link up with their intended device.
6. J Channel Cable Raceway
GREAT FOR HIDING DESK WIRES
If you want a sleeker, but more involved option to organize your Ethernet cables for gaming, you can also opt for a J Channel Cable Raceway. Typically, this molded plastic track sticks to the underside of a desk to minimize the appearance of wires even more than a cable sleeve. But since it only uses 3M adhesive, you can stick it anywhere you want to make it fit your needs.
7. ChefBee Cable Clips
GREAT FOR RUNNING ETHERNET CABLES
If you’re running an Ethernet cable across the room and want to make sure that a wire sticks to your desired route, you have a number of options which include staples or nail clips. But if you want an option that doesn’t require tools, these cable clips can stick to a wall or desk to keep your Ethernet cables in place with simple adhesive.
8. Velcro One-Wrap Cable Ties
This may be the simplest item on this list, but there are few things more effective for grouping wires together than a simple velcro strap. Minimal and affordable, you can slap a few of these Velcro brand One-Wrap Cable Ties on each bunch of wires you have and it will work wonders. Best of all, once you have all your wires sorted, it will only take a few minutes to attach these.