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I recently decided to run some CAT6 cabling and wanted to ensure that my Crimpmaster RJ45 die would work fine for the CAT6A shielded connectors. I noticed that several people had trouble using the CAT6 connectors (eg, from Monoprice for one) for different reasons, one of which seemed to be compatibility with their crimpers (eg, bad pin contact). There are EZRJ45 connectors that need a special crimper (Platinum Tools), and that crimper seems to work for standard connectors as well... but not AMP; so EZRJ45 just seems to be a proprietary connector. I've used my Ideal Crimpmaster for years for CAT5e and never knew there to be a difference in connectors needed; Ideal says that its die is AMP.

I came across this tidbit on Wikipedia, but I can't seem to find more detail: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RJ45_%28computers%29#Types_and_incompatibility Only after looking for the differences do I find that some crimp tools manufacturers make different WE/SS and TE-AMP compatible crimpers with further explanation, but in all my years I've never heard of different RJ45 standards to be concerned about. I know that solid and stranded connectors can use different pins to make wire contact, and that CAT6A and CAT7 cable diameters can be larger than CAT5, but I've seen no mention that new crimpers must be used for CAT6A/7 vs CAT5. Is it time to upgrade my tools and connectors?!

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As I recall (and I will admit I am too busy ATM to go research this myself), the RJ standards define the mechanical characteristics of the connector (shape, size, contacts, etc). They do not define the manner of crimping the connector to a cable.

Each manufacturer could make their own decisions on the manner of crimping, but there isn't really much you can vary in this process. The result is that there were two major crimp dies and types of connectors that provided at least the majority (or possibly the entirety) of the market.

This is true prior to Cat6. With Cat6 it is more difficult to adhere to the standard when making terminations, as you have very little room to "untwist" pairs and need to maintain proper separation of the pairs.

This led to a whole new range of connector products and tools that may or may not be compatible with older tools. For instance, I have seen Cat6 connectors where you wire the cable to an "insert" that is then inserted and crimped into the connector.

Morale of the story is that you need to do your research and make sure that you are getting connectors that work with your current tools or buy the right tools with the connectors. On top of that you need to know what you are doing or you may produce cables that will only pass a Cat5 certifications at the extra costs of Cat6.

My advice generally, and especially if you are looking to do Cat6 or better, buy your cables pre-manufactured. The failure rate of hand made cables is much higher and can cost more in troubleshooting/downtime in the long run. Especially since many of these are made in organizations that are "trying to save money" and also don't have the tools to properly test the cables they are making (certification testers are not cheap).

  • That makes sense considering what I've read. The "standards" are new, so everyone has their own version of it, but are generally backwards compatible with connectors fitting jacks and such. And very large installations will decide on such minutae that have heretofore have been taken for granted. – Mike Sep 2 '13 at 23:51

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