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Flat Ethernet Cable vs Round Cable, what's the Difference?

Author Yana

Date 06/01/2023

This article highlights the key differences between flat Ethernet cables and round cables, allowing readers to understand the contrasting features and make informed decisions for their networking needs.

Flat Ethernet cable vs. round cable: Two options, one purpose - transmitting data. But what sets them apart? In this article, we'll unravel the dissimilarities between flat cable and round cable. Join us as we explore the distinctive features of each cable type and delve into the world of flat vs. round Ethernet cables to help you make an informed choice for your networking needs.

This article will use Cat6 cable as an example to help you better understand Flat Ethernet Cable vs Round Ethernet Cable, what's the difference?


What are Flat Cat6 Cables?

Definition of Ethernet Flat Cables


Cicoil, the pioneer of Ethernet flat cables, originally designed them for IBM computers, aiming for easy packaging, user-friendliness, reduced electronic noise, and minimized vibration during operation. These cables feature twisted pairs arranged side-by-side, forming a flat shape with copper wire.


Due to the inherent design challenges, Cat6 flat Ethernet cables are mostly unshielded, making external EMI protection difficult to implement. However, this lack of insulation and shielding contributes to their affordability, lightweight nature, and ease of rolling up or packaging compared to round cables.


The Main Characteristics of Flat Ethernet Cables


Superior electrical quality conductivity

Cat6 flat cables demonstrate outstanding electrical quality conductivity by positioning the conductors in a side-by-side configuration. Unlike round cables, the electrical quality of flat cables remains constant, which is a notable achievement.


Convenient Storage and Installation 

Ethernet flat cables offer reduced volume and weight, making them easier to store and install.


Cost Advantage

Flat Ethernet cables offer a more budget-friendly option compared to round cables.


Maintenance and Crosstalk Challenges 

The absence of exterior protection and shielding in flat Cat6 cables necessitates increased maintenance due to their structure. Additionally, they exhibit higher levels of crosstalk, resulting in electromagnetic interference between cables.


What is a Round Cat6 Cable?

Definition of Round Ethernet Cables

The Round Cat6 Ethernet cable is formed by wrapping insulated copper wires in a circular configuration, along with multiple layers of fillers that provide complete shielding. These fillers serve to reinforce the round shape of the cable while reducing the heat generated by friction within the Ethernet cable.


These cables are widely used in data and telecom centers, as well as in residential and office environments where wired networks are required. They are particularly useful in scenarios such as running cables through walls or where extended cable lengths are required, as their shielding effectively protects against interference.


The Main Characteristics of Ethernet Round Cables


Perfect for PoE Devices

Round Cat6 cables, featuring robust construction and effective shielding, are an ideal choice for Power over Ethernet (PoE) devices. Additionally, their ability to produce less heat adds to their suitability for such applications.



Round cables possess a combination of desirable traits, including flexibility, simplicity of installation, and durability. These user-friendly characteristics contribute to their appeal and practicality in various applications.


Enhanced Uptime and Longevity

Round Ethernet cables have a higher uptime or operating level. They exceed the life of flat Ethernet cables.


Higher Price

Ethernet Cat6 Round cables come at a significantly higher price point compared to flat cables.


QSFPTEK offers a variety of round Ethernet cable types, including Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a, Cat7, Cat8, as shown in the table below.



Ethernet Cable Type

Cat5e Snagless

Cat6 Snagless

Cat6a Snagless

Cat7 Snagless

Cat8 Snagless


Shielding Type






Data Rate


1000BASE-T and Maximum to 10GBASE-T




Gauge (AWG)

24 (7/0.20mm)

24 (7/0.20mm)

26 (7/0.20mm)

26 (7/0.16mm)

28 (7/0.20mm)

Cable Outer Jacket

PVC CM (Round)

PVC CM (Round)

PVC CM (Round)

PVC CM (Round)

PVC CM (Round)


Flat vs Round Ethernet Cable, what is the Difference?


To simplify your decision-making process and alleviate any lingering confusion, let us provide you with a comprehensive comparison between round and flat Ethernet cables. By the conclusion of this analysis, we aim to empower you to select the most suitable cable shape for your specific needs.


The table below shows the difference between a flat Ethernet cable and a round Ethernet cable.



Flat Cable

Round Cable


Thin and flexible, often ribbon-like

Cylindrical shape, similar to traditional cables


Generally less durable due to thinner design

More robust construction, suitable for long-distance and rugged environments


Highly flexible

Less flexible

Cable Management

Easy to conceal and navigate around corners and under carpets

Bulkier, can be more challenging to manage and hide


Easy to install

Requires more effort


Suitable for short to medium distances, ideal for residential or small office setups

Excellent performance over longer distances, commonly used in data centers and professional installations

Distance Limitation

Shorter distances

Longer distances


Usually more affordable

Slightly higher cost due to enhanced construction and performance


Ethernet Cable Flat vs Round, which one is Better for You?


In general, there are notable distinctions in terms of appearance, durability, and cost between flat and round Ethernet cables. To select the appropriate cable for your requirements, it is important to take into account factors such as cable length, space limitations, and frequency of usage. Ultimately, the choice of cable type should be based on its compatibility with your specific needs.


In the case of typical home and small network configurations, there is usually minimal disparity, and you can freely select the type of cable that you find most comfortable or already possess. The choice between the two types does not have a significant impact on performance or functionality.


If you are planning to install ethernet cables in a data center, for long-distance connections, or if you need to thread the cables through existing walls, round cables are generally considered a more suitable option.


If cost-effectiveness is a priority for you, you are not concerned about lower durability, and you prefer enhanced cable management options, then flat Ethernet cables may be the preferred choice for your installation.


Before choosing between flat and round Ethernet cables, it is important to carefully evaluate the pros and cons, consider your existing cables, and gain a full understanding of what is appropriate for your specific application.Once you have familiarized yourself with the differences, the choice should not be too difficult.



Summary of Flat Ethernet Cable vs Round Cable: Flat Cables offer advantages in terms of flexibility, space-saving design, and ease of cable management. On the other hand, Round Ethernet Cables excel in durability, suitability for longer distances, and installations in data centers or walls. The choice between flat Ethernet cables and round cables ultimately depends on your specific needs, preferences, and the demands of your networking environment. Flat vs Round Ethernet Cable, what's your choice?












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