How Do Ethernet Cable And Crossover Cable Differ?

If you have a computer network in your home, there is a good chance that at least one Ethernet cable is involved. It might connect your computer to a router, a modem, a wall socket, or even hook a wireless router up to the outside world. Whatever it does, your Ethernet cable is a vital part of your network. However, there is another similar type of cable that is known as a crossover cable. While it has many similarities with an Ethernet cable, the exact purpose of it can be unclear.

Ethernet cable

Introduction to Crossover Cable and Ethernet Cable

A crossover cable, occasionally called crossed cable, connects two Ethernet network devices to each other. They were created to support temporary host-to-host networking in situations where an intermediate device like a network router is not present. Crossover cables look almost identical to ordinary, straight through (or patch) Ethernet cables until their internal wiring structures are compared.

An Ethernet cable is one of the most popular forms of network cable used on wired networks. Ethernet cables connect devices together within a local area network, like PCs, routers, and switches. There are different types of Ethernet cables to perform certain tasks in particular situations. For example: cat5e cable (or CAT5 enhanced) is designed to better support Gigabit Ethernet speeds (up to 1000 Mbps) by using all four wire pairs; cat6 cable support Gigabit Ethernet data rates of 1 gigabit per second. Ethernet cables come in different colors.

Differences between Crossover Cable and Ethernet Cable

There are many functional differences between crossover cables and Ethernet cables. For one thing, crossover cables have their pins configured differently than Ethernet cables, even though they have the same number and connect to the same port. This difference is not very obvious, but it is possible to tell between a crossover cable and an Ethernet cable by examining their connectors. This is because the different pins are labeled by color, so the different configuration between Ethernet and crossover cables is made clear visually.

The difference between configuration of crossover and Ethernet cables has an important function. Ethernet cables are for connecting two different types of devices. However, crossover cables are used for networking two similar devices directly, without using hubs or routers. Trying to use an Ethernet cable in place of a crossover cable will simply not work, and vice versa.

Different Applications of Crossover Cable and Ethernet Cable

Crossover cables, because they are designed to connect two similar devices, serve many purposes that Ethernet cables cannot. For example, you can use crossover cables to connect two network hubs together. This allows you to share information between the hubs, and gain extra ports that are all on the same network. This is a great way to connect many computers or external devices together, particularly ones without wireless capabilities. However, crossover cables cannot perform the numerous functions of Ethernet cables, which are all very important.

Ethernet cables, unlike crossover cables, are for connecting two different types of devices. This is a much more common type of connection, which you will see in almost every network. For example, an Ethernet cable could be used to connect a computer to a modem. Alternatively, it could connect a computer to a splitter, which connects to several external devices, such as printers. Ethernet cables are very useful and more common than the specialized crossover cable.


This post briefly introduces the difference between Ethernet cable and crossover cable, though look similar, have functional differences and different uses. If you want any of these cables, or any ideas about networking deployment, welcome to visit for more information.

Author: Miko Wang

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