If your preferred cabling provider was not included, feel free to explain why you use them in the comments and what advantages they have. We are happy to include more in future versions. Please do not post one line complaints.
Thanks for pointing that out. We actually had two errors. First, the charts munged together link and channel testing, so results were not the same. Second, 150' and 300' were transposed when we were finalizing graphics.
I've updated the charts in the report with the accurate numbers. Competitively, things remain unchanged:
Belden and WCW are consistently high.
Hik Cat 6 does very well, but headroom is very low on Cat 5e (slightly worse than Navepoint, which straight up fails certification).
Honeywell 5e does very well, but Cat 6 is notably lower than others in the test.
Navepoint fails both Category tests.
Note that with these numbers, Belden's headroom still goes down on the shorter cable. It appears to be due to some more drastic spikes in NEXT than in the longer cable, which cut into the test margin, though it is still 4+ dB over minimal.
Some clarity for those unfamiliar with interpreting cable certification reports: A cable can have positive headroom but still fail a certification due to other factors. Headroom is a ratio of attenuation to crosstalk, presented in decibels, and does not take other test factors such as insertion loss or return loss into account.
The Navepoint CCA cables in this case failed due to high insertion loss and return loss, while crosstalk was within acceptable parameters. This is why the Hikvision Cat 5e cable may have less headroom than Navepoint, but still pass certification, because it did not suffer from these loss issues.
There are two values for headroom, NEXT and Return Loss. On the longer cables, NEXT from the far end will attenuate and be less significant than on shorter runs. A real challenge for connector hardware and cable is a test of a short run where the NEXT from the far end does not attenuate as much on the return trip.
I prefer the old style WCW boxes. The new 1000’ put ups are the double wide boxes, which are considerably heavier and take up much more room in the truck. You can ask your rep to provide the smaller/original style box when you order.
We asked them to only ship the older thinner boxes and they have been doing it for us. You should ask for that. For me it was about how many reels I can fit on the shelf in our inventory room and in the truck shelf.
Yes, I did the same and they have continued to send the thinner boxes. When I first started ordering from them years back, I complained because I wanted to see pricing per box with box/materials charge included in the price per box so it was easier to enter the price/ft when receiving the boxes without dividing the materials among the amount of total boxes. They have done that ever since.
I was rather cautious as I thought I was going to open the report to find the cable I've been using fell to the bottom of the list or something. Thankfully, that wasn't the case.
A cable is a medium through which data is Transmitted and indeed a good quality cable is key. However, it might have not been given much attention by average installers and replacing poor quality cable with a good quality is quite painful, costly and time consuming.
This article is informative and a workup call for our industry.
Can you please clarify this part? I didn't understand it but it sounds interesting:
Additionally, although not demonstrated here, Windy City Also includes the ability to track cable via a unique QR code on each box, as well as custom cable box assembly options, with up to four cables on separate spools in one box, neither of which are common among competitive cable options.
Awesome report, especially with all the performance tests. Not everyone has test equipment so I wanted to add some tips and tricks for ensuring you're getting a good quality cable:
Profit margins for manufacturers on cables are thin. They live on volume. My estimate is that cable factories have an average profit margin of 5% per cable. So they do everything to cut costs including:
The number of twists per length is something they play around with sometimes. While the Cat 5/6 standards set out these rules, a lot of manufacturers will BEND (get it??) them a little allowing them to use less raw materials per box. You will notice the difference between these two cables that both claim to be Cat 6. A lot of the time though the difference is much more subtle than in this photo.
Similarly the standards set certain twists per length as a whole. So the separator itself will twist and all the pairs will twist along with it. This 'rate of twists' if you will, can be less than the standard allowing manufacturer to save on raw materials by a bit.
Copper composition - even within pure copper cables there are grades. When it comes to CCA there different copper percentage compositions. In general there are two main processes for combining copper with aluminium to produce CCA, one is a mechanical process and the other is a chemical electrolysis process. The former can give you higher copper compositions and the latter will give much lower. The mechanical process will give you higher conductivity obviously since there is more copper and will be more expensive. You can ask your vendor about the copper percentage composition in their CCA. Most sales people won't know but they may give you clues. Some CCA cables can even pass fluke tests. With that price level I suspect Hikvision and Honeywell are using a high copper composition CCA cable. From a physics point of view, most electrons travel on the surface of the cable. So it might be wasteful to use too much copper.
A reliable way to test for the combination of copper composition and gauge in one test is to do a basic resistivity test. Take a length of each wire separately and test its resistance with a good multi-meter. Resistivity is ohms/meter. If you have a vernier scale you can also normalize your results.
Another basic way is to burn the wire with a lighter. I think Brian smokes so you can borrow his lighter, strip 2 wires and light up the ends simultaneously. The one that begins to melt first probably has less copper and more aluminium.
Some manufacturers, and I have seen this with high end names too, will use less copper composition, less twists per length, and/or less gauge on only 2 pairs (typically blue and brown pairs for obvious reasons).
Rip cords - not particularly important for surveillance applications and don't affect pricing much. But I personally don't like manufacturers who go this far in cost cutting.
Making cables slightly shorter than 1000'. Of course not all will be exactly 1000', there is always a margin of error but generally a length decrease of even 1% will significantly increase their margins. Many times, the OEM you're buying from will be cheated themselves by the original manufacturer. While a 10' shorter cable may not affect you too much. But factories that do things like this are likely to also cheat you with other things like copper composition and other specs.
Similarly, you may see slightly lower thickness but AWG23 quoted in the datasheet. Use a vernier scale and check on your vendor from time to time.
For Cat 6 at least, Hikvision cable is actually CMX according the datasheet you linked, unless I've missed something. The Belden and Windy City are CMR.
I really love the fact that WCW omits the rip cord. I rarely have needed it. My stripper tool has never nicked a conductor jacket yet that I have found. It also makes a much cleaner jacket edge for inserting into an 8P8C/RJ45 connector.
About the CMX/CMR jackets, were you assuming it made any difference in performance, other than maybe the jacket removal subject? I would be curious if the jacket affected any measured testing.
Abaas - Thank you for the great comment and sorry for the confusion. It looks like the link is incorrect. We tested CMR cable. I just pulled the cable in font of the box label and snapped a picture of each to ensure that CMR was used, shown below:
You do need to be careful sometimes with WCW though. To compete with lower cost cable they were offering siamese coax and I simply thought the lower price was because it was imported and not made in the USA. However, the lower cost was really due to the fact they were using CCA. I asked them why they would even offer it and only offer solid copper.
They do offer plain boxes without Made in the USA so you get the benefit of the WCW spool but with imported cable they offer that is solid copper.
We use Ubiquiti's TC-PRO TOUGHCable for outdoor connections, but that pull box absolutely sucks. For a small fee you can have the cable shipped from BH Photo to WCW and they will repackage the cable on their nicer cable system and send it to you.
They have been great to work with and keep offering products that aren't just bulk cable.
A reliable way to test for the combination of copper composition and gauge in one test is to do a basic resistivity test. Take a length of each wire separately and test its resistance with a good multi-meter.
Abaas, have you actually used this technique yourself and found it reliable?
The above 3 cable comparisons were from the same manufacturer claiming pure copper, 55% copper composition in one CCA cable and 8% in another CCA. When questioning further they claimed that it wasn't 55% copper but "55% conductivity" which obviously makes no sense because percentage is not a measure of conductivity. Same gauge on all wires.
We pulled 200m of each wire (measured after unwinding and stretching out) and measured resistance when they were connected in parallel (see rows 4, 7, 10, 13) just as a checksum. Then measured each wire individually (see rows 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15). We measured resistance for each stretch of wire using a Pro'skit general purpose multi-meter.
But, when comparing OFC pure copper vs other pure copper options, there was no noticeable difference (even when we tried 305m) probably because the difference in resistance was less than the multi-meter's own tolerance.
So when comparing different CU content percentages in CCA it's fairly accurate. But when comparing different grades of CU in pure CU cables, I suspect you'll need huge cable lengths and more accurate test equipment.
- We pulled 200m and counted # of twists then divided it by 20 to make comparison more readable. Also measured resistance for 200m and divided by 2.
It was 200m of untwisted and stretched out wire. We did not want twisting to skew our resistance readings as the twist rates were different.
The idea for resistivity testing on cables with same gauge is to estimate copper composition in the cable. So same absolute lengths were used.
We counted number of twists (rows 4, 7, 10, 13) initially before unwinding as a secondary test. You will notice that cables with low copper compositions also had less twist ratios in order to further reduce costs. The manufacturer's rationale is that low end customers will not mind cables with less twist ratios and less copper composition.
A reliable way to test for the combination of copper composition and gauge in one test is to do a basic resistivity test.
This is a very important point about the cables. The TIA-568 standard requires loop resistance of less than 25 Ohms for a 300 ft / 100 m link. The problem with cable that is made with Aluminum is that it has much higher resistance. In the test reports, you can see that the CCA almost exceeds 25 Ohms of resistance on even the 150 foot link.
This has a big impact on PoE. the PoE devices are expecting these lower resistance values. Higher resistance values mean that you 'lose' more energy as you transmit down the cable so they will be less efficient. Also, they may not be able to provide the wattage that you are looking for at all.
I can't recall and I could be wrong but I though WCW sources most of their cable from one of the major cable manufacturer's. Their big selling point is the cable dispensing system. I want to say it was Commscope but I could be wrong. They mentioned it to me on the phone a while back.
If you're a manufacturer not following cat 5/6 standards, then you should mention "twisty-ness" in your datasheet.
On the right is either a Cat 5 cable or a Chinese "Cat 6 cable".
Even within each cable you will notice discrepancy between the twist-rates. On the left the brown and orange pairs are twisted pretty well. On the right orange and blue seem to be twisted slightly better.
Pretty cool guys. Now how about adding more typical data cable manufacturers to the mix, like Berk-tek, Superior Essex, etc. And UBNT makes a nifty exterior ruggedized STP cable that I like to use for cameras.
4 of the 5 cables you tested are very rarely purchased by the integrator in this industry because they are very expensive. These 4 vendors charge enough to make a very good cable so the results of quality are expected. There are numerous brands you did not test that make up the majority of cable purchased and these cables are many times not only poor quality but are not built to spec at all. For example, many of the lower cost cables claim to be CMR (riser rated) but the jacket is standard CM. They mark it CMR and it is a lie. Do the industry a favor and test the cables that are used mostly. Out the brands that are frauds and in some case dangerous because they are listed as CMR but when a flame is applied to them they burn vertical like a wooden match stick. Know what your industry uses and test those items. Show the best value as a combination of Price and quality by expanding your brands tested.
Interesting report! We use WCW for everything but cat6. We have a cabling division so we just use what's on the shelf. Typically Hitachi but some customers specify Systimax and Comscope. I'm going to look into WCW now. We also just got a box of Paige GameChanger cable to give it a try as well. We have also been using the Siemon Z-Plug, which is awesome. http://www.siemon.com/us/convergeit/z-plug/
In our report on the most common cable brand used the largest brand specific response was only 10% for Honeywell, followed by Belden and Windy City Wire which is why we selected those brands for the test. The largest response was 45% for other brands. We added Hikvision since they are the largest camera manufacturer, and were interested to see how their cable tested. Dahua also makes cable, which we ordered, but it did not arrive in time for the test. We tested Navepoint CCA to cover the many responses that were basically stating they use the cheapest available, as well as to highlight the pitfalls using copper clad aluminum cable. It just was not feasible to test every brand and each subset of cable listed.
I think it probably just illustrates the regionality of the product, but this side of the pond we would look for CE conformity (UL irrelevant) and the major differentiator apart from avoiding CCA, is always to use LSOH (LSZH/LSF) as best practice.
Nice review. Now that you've admitted you are capable of using a cable tester (clearly none of you are integrators ;-) could you please test OSDP/RS-485? Perhaps over Wiegand cable and/or proper RS-485 4-conductor. Can you show the audience how you'd confirm the cable is ok for RS-485? Perhaps toss in 120Ohm resistors at one end or the other? People are scared of the 120 Ohm terminator boogieman. Perhaps you could help with that...
this is part of the mystery. RS-485 is made to be tough - it should run over "barbed wire and spit". I am told that all wiegand wire, since it could only ever be 500 feet max, "should be" ok. When you do your test, check the PACS for link status. That is of course a trick question since most of them fail to provide that AFAIK...
The End-of-line resistor is interesting too, because it essentially is not used for Wiegand.
minor terminology quibble, “Terminating resistor” and “End-of-Line” resistor” should not be used interchangeably, since they imply different purposes, the former to reduce reflections in transmission media, the latter used to supervise circuits. also, one cannot be used in place of another, because the typical resistance values are not in the same range.
I cannot think of a single job speck that would allow CCA. Is it UL rated? Even though I have not done any large cable installs for 5 years or so most all of the bid specks spelled out the acceptable brands and specks. Most of the jobs were Cat6. I do not know if it is and issue but I have heard that while cat5e will carry the data loads with no problem the upside of cat6 is the 23 gauge wire may be able to handle higher POE requirements as opposed to 24 gauge typical cat5e. The article talks about cmr but it is prudent to know, either from the specks or your knowledge of the site whether plenum is required.
As a structured cabling company prior to security, it’s interesting to see what the camera guys do for cable! Keep in mind J that 23awg isn’t a requirement for Cat6 specification although there are many newer “extended distance” options out there that utilize larger wire gauge.