Ethernet Cable vs Patch Cable


Ethernet cable and patch cable are very common in our daily life. However, confusions about Ethernet cable vs patch cable is common too. Today this post will focus on the difference between the two and the usual confusing questions about Ethernet cable vs patch cable, trying to help you guys make sense of the two terms.

ethernet cable vs patch cable

Ethernet Cable vs Patch Cable: What’s the Difference?

What is an Ethernet cable? That’s the first question one should know. “Ethernet” is a type of protocol that defines the way that bits of information travel over a particular medium. The cables such as fiber optic cable, twisted pair or coaxial cable and category cable belongs to Ethernet cable. And the two common types of Ethernet cable are copper network cable and fiber optic cable. Usually, to simplify the appellation, people get used to call category Ethernet cables like Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6 as Ethernet cable.

Then what about the patch cable (sometimes also called patch cord)? It’s a length of cable with connectors on both ends that are used to connect an end device to something else like a power source. Similar to Ethernet cables, there are fiber patch cable and Ethernet patch cable like LC fiber patch cable or Cat6 RJ45 patch cable. And patch cables are often used for short distances in offices and wiring closets. Ethernet patch cable can link a computer to a network hub, router or Ethernet switch, which is useful to people constructing home computer networks.

ethernet cable and fiber patch cable

Therefore, in simple terms, Ethernet cable refers to types of cable. While patch cable has connectors at both ends and belongs to a part of Ethernet cable. That’s the difference between them.

Ethernet Cable vs Patch Cable: Confusing Question Need to Know

To illustrate clearly the differences between Ethernet cable and patch cable, the following confusing and frequent-asked questions about them may be helpful.

Are All Ethernet Cables the Same?

No. According to the explanation above, there are various types of Ethernet cables such as optical fiber cable, Ethernet crossover cable and category copper cable. They have different specifications and applications. For example, optical fiber cable is used for long distances or for applications requiring high bandwidth or electrical isolation. While Ethernet crossover cables are used in buildings.

Is Patch Cable a Straight Through Cable?

Straight-through wired cables are most commonly used to connect a host to a client. Here take cat5e patch cable as an example. The straight-through wired cat5e patch cable is used to connect computers, printers and other network client devices to the router switch or hub (the host device in this instance). However, when it comes to fiber patch cable, there is no such thing as straight-through cable.

Can I Use Patch Cable as an Ethernet Cable?

Yes. In most cases, an Ethernet cable and a patch cable can be the same thing in copper networks. But the later is usually shorter to “patch” in from your patch panel to your switch. For example, there is a need to use 100ft Cat6 Ethernet patch cable to wiring home network. In this situation, the 100ft Cat6 patch cable can be used as Ethernet cable.


Ethernet cable types are diverse, which is the essential difference between Ethernet cables and patch cables. Therefore, when it comes to Ethernet cable vs patch cable, making sense of their types and applications is the key to compare and understand them.

Related article:How to Get a Wired Home Network With Ethernet Cable?

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