Best Network Cable Testers [2021 Edition]
Faults in a data network can be very disruptive. The old adage that time is money, is most appropriate here. If it’s your job to diagnose the issue you will be under a lot of pressure to rectify it as fast and efficiently as possible.
Damaged cabling is very often the culprit in a malfunctioning network. That’s why lines should be tested for faulty connections, signs of damaged fibers, splices, and other relevant problems.
Network cable testers allow you to test the strength and connectivity within a line. A tester will also provide data on the performance (or lack thereof) of specific high-speed cables.
So with such a wide range of network cable testers on the market, how do you choose which is the most suitable option for you?
Well, you are in the right place with this ultimate (almost 7000 word!) guide. We have pulled out all the stops to bring you the most in-depth information on 5 top-rated cable testers currently available.
Here are the results…
- Top Picks
- Network Cable Tester Reviews
- 1. EDITOR’S CHOICE: Fluke Network Cable Tester, MS2-100 MicroScanner2
- 2. BEST BUDGET: Klein Tools VDV501-825 Scout Pro-2 LT
- 3. NETSCOUT LinkSprinter-300 LSPRNTR-300
- 4. Fluke Network Cable Tester: MT-8200-60-Kit with IntelliTone Pro-200 Toner
- 5. BEST TOOL KIT: InstallerParts 15-Piece Network Installation ToolKit
- What to look for when buying a cable network tester
Editor’s Choice: Fluke Network Cable Tester, MS2-100 MicroScanner2
- Copper cable verifier for testing voice/data/video with integrated RJ11, RJ45, and coax cable, test ports support low voltage testing with no need for adapters, ensures high quality installations and expedites cable problem resolution in active network environments
- Includes MicroScanner2 cable verifier with detachable wire map adapter, user guide, (2) AA alkaline batteries, carry pouch, 1 year warranty
- Oversized backlit LCD screen displays clear results in bright light or complete dark with intuititive icons, shows 4 test modes at once: Graphical wire map, pair lengths, distance to fault with TDR, cable ID, and far end device, detects 10/100/1000 Ethernet, POTS, and PoE
- Cable Tests include Length (460 meter or 1500 feet with resolution to 0.3 meter or 1 feet), wire map to TIA 568A/B standards, remote ID locators. Coax F connector for 75 ohm, 50 ohm, 93 ohm cables; PoE detection: Solicits and detects the presence of 802.3af compatible PoE (Power over Ethernet) devices to rule out power as source of problems
- Rugged housing with integrated rubber easy grip holster and magnetic strap, locates virtually any cable or wire pair with Intellitone digital and analog toning, probe sold separately
The MS2-100 MicroScanner2 is a high-performance and intuitive, feature-packed verification tester that affords service detection for voice, data, and video (VDV) signal transmission through copper cables.
It verifies continuity in voice and data UTP ethernet cables and displays the results on a revolutionary user interface that is a large LCD screen that is backlit to display icons.
The tool can perform 4 innovative tasks; assigning cable IDs to each balanced line, calculating lengths of each balanced line, detecting a far-end device, and creating a graphical wire-map of the ethernet cable connections.
It also detects and locates signal performance faults based on discontinuity in the conduction paths, and thereafter calculates and displays the distance to fault on the display screen.
Overall, its durable build quality, reliability, and high performance-to-price ratio make this, in our opinion, the best network cable tester in 2021.
Best Budget Option: Klein Tools VDV501-825 Scout Pro-2 LT
- Tests voice (RJ11/12), data (RJ45) and video (F-connector) coax connections
- Updated model, Scout Pro 3, now available: Cat. No. VDV501-852
- The self-storing Test-n-Map Remote (#1) tests, maps and IDs a cable run in a single step
- Utilize the 19 LanMap and CoaxMap Location Remotes to identify cable runs
- Test for open, short, miswire or split-pair faults
The Scout Pro-2 LT from Klein Tools is a modular VDV verification tester for performing continuity tests in UTP and co-axial Ethernet cables. It comes with a tone generator that can produce 4 distinct analog tones.
It also features 3 Ethernet test ports at its top – an RJ45, RJ11/12, and F-connector port. These ports allow for verification tests on all categories of UTP cables (from Cat 1 to Cat 7), phone cables, POTS, coaxial and video cables, and RG6 and RG59 cables.
Apart from continuity tests, this model can assign cable IDs to each balanced line, calculating lengths of each balanced line, and create a graphical wire-map of the ethernet cable connections, as well as to detect and locate signal performance faults based on discontinuity in the conduction paths.
All of this comes at a very reasonable price, making the VDV501-825 our best budget option for 2021.
Best Tool Kit: InstallerParts 15-Piece Network Installation ToolKit
- Lightweight Hard Case : The Tools Are Conveniently Secured In Place In A Lightweight Yet Durable, High-Quality Portable Case That Is Perfect For Home, Office, Or Even Outdoor Use. The User’S Manual Makes It Easy To Use By Professionals And Amateurs Alike. No More Fumbling Around Looking For The Tools That You Need.
- High Quality Network Crimper: The Rj11/R45 Crimper Is Ergonomically Designed Crimping/Stripping/Cutting/Twisting Tool That Is Perfect For Cat5E/Cat6A/Cat7/Cat7A/Cat8 Connectors, Shielded (Stp) And Unshielded (Utp) Cables And Other 20-30 Gauge Wires. Blade Guard Helps Reduce Risk For Injury While Still Maintaining Blade Sharpness.
- Electric Network Cable Data Tester: Easily Tests For Connection For Lan/Ethernet Cat5/Cat6 Cable That Is Necessary For Any Data Transmission Installation Job (9 Volt Batteries Not Included).
- 66 110 Punch Down Installation Tool: This Tool Is Professionally Designed For Work On High-Volume Punch Downs Of Cat5 To Cat6A Cable Installations.
- Multifunction Screwdriver And Knife Set: The Kit Comes With A 2 In 1 Screwdriver And A Razor Sharp Utility Knife Ideal For A Variety Of Uses.
The InstallerParts 15-Piece ToolKit is a complete network installation kit for installing ethernet cables to network hardware and hosts to form a functional cabled network, and then measure the performance of signal transmission through these ethernet cables.
The toolset features a WireTracker STM-806R LAN data tester and an accompanying receiver – the WireTracker STM-806 audio probe; as well as an RJ11/45 Crimper, 20-30-gauge wire stripper, 2-in-1 screwdriver, utility knife, and a 66-110 punch down, along with 5 cable boots and 10 RJ45 plugs.
These items are housed in a well-compartmentalized hard case made of tough plastic. Additionally, its premium-quality modular diagnostic cable tester allows the emitter and receiver to be used together to perform continuity tests in Cat 1 – Cat 6e UTP cables.
Put together and you have our top tool kit choice for 2021.
Network Cable Tester Reviews
1. EDITOR’S CHOICE: Fluke Network Cable Tester, MS2-100 MicroScanner2
In this Fluke Microscanner2 review, we are dealing with an innovative, high-performance modular diagnostic tool for performing continuity tests in two types of transmission media – the UTP and co-axial cables.
It can perform verification tests on all-but-one categories of UTP cables, from Cat 1 to Cat 6e (as Cat 8 is basically an STP cable with Cat 7 DTR).
It can also detect the far end device (that is, the node to which the cable is connected, for example, to a switch, hub, or router), as well as calculate lengths of wire pairs and identify each wire with a unique cable identification number (ID).
Cable ID is assigned automatically based on the pin configuration in the 8P8C connector, which means that each wire is assigned a number from 1 to 8.
This tool also integrates a LAN toner technology called SmartTone which provides digital and analog toning at a frequency of 500Khz and 400hz/1Khz respectively.
Toning is basically a process of sending a high-frequency audio signal through the cables which can be picked up by a specialist probe called an audio probe, which in this case is the Intellitone Probe (discussed further in Product Review #3).
Toning allows one to trace a cable wire, as well as locate this wire from a cluttered bundle of wires. Digital toning is designed to work well with high-grade data links, which is Cat 5 to Cat 6e UTP cables.
These innovative features make this model an enterprise-grade verification tester, and it comes with a detachable wire-map adapter that also serves as the protective cap for the Ethernet ports.
This model can test continuity is patch cables connected to each other via connectors, as long as the total cable length does not exceed 460 meters.
This feature-packed and innovative model is designed and manufactured by the legendary manufacturer of cable testers, Fluke Corporation, as part of its Fluke Networks series of ethernet cable testers.
It is usually manufactured in Malaysia and is marketed as a MicroScanner-2 (MS2) because of its capabilities to trace and locate wires, as well as create a graphical display of how the wires are arranged to transmit signals through their connectors.
This compact and lightweight tool features the basic parts of a continuity tester, which are the battery, voltage indicators, and a switching/scanning arrangement for sequentially testing multiple wires.
This switching and scanning arrangement allows for wire connections to be visually displayed on a large screen as a graphical wire map, whereby the conductive paths in the ethernet cable are displayed as pairs on an LCD screen.
This also means that if a fault exists in any wire, then its conductive path that is displayed will be shorter than that of its pair, hence showing the technician that a discontinuity exists in the faulty wire. To make work easier for the technician, the distance to the discontinuity (from the tester) is also calculated by the tester and displayed on the screen.
For example, if there is a break in the RD+ wire of a 60-meter long 100BaseT ethernet cable, then the wire map display of the second pair shows two conductive paths of unequal length with the shorter conductive path being that of wire 3 (as compared to its pair – wire 4), with the length of wire 3 conductive paths indicated as 40 meters, which means that the break is 40 meters away from the tester.
This shows that this tester can verify that all connections exist, and as well as accurately detect miswired (or misconnected), open, closed, and short circuits.
Likewise, the wire map can display open and closed circuits, in addition to calculating the distance to fault in open circuits; besides showcasing miswired connections and possible short circuits.
This also means that this model can detect if an ANSI/TIA-568B straight cable has been connected directly to an ANSI/TIA-568A cable by showing that there is no straight-through data transfer as wires 1 and 2 in one cable communicate directly with wires 3 and 6 in the other cable.
This allows the technician to detect such kind of miswiring and repair it without interfering with any networking hardware. Additionally, it can confirm that the transmitting plug pins and the receiving socket pins operate as desired with regards to signal delivery and reception respectively.
Ultimately, this tool helps a technician to verify that ethernet connections allow packet headers to reliably direct the packets to the right destination nodes in packet-switched networks. The aforementioned continuity tests are based on low voltage testing.
This compact device weighs about 13 ounces and is 6.4inches long, 3inches wide, and 1.4 inches thick with the wire-map adapter fitted to the main body.
It is shipped as a package that includes the MS2-100 tester, multilingual user guide, instruction CD, and carry pouch.
The MS2-100 is housed in an ergonomic wrap-around rubber holster that is molded over the tester, and this enhances grip as well as protects its plastic surface from scratches and dents (especially when it falls down).
It also has a protruding Coax connector for testing audio and video coaxial cables. The front plate features a large LCD screen that covers more than half of the entire area, and below the screen are 4 push buttons labeled PORT, Up, Down, and MODE respectively.
These pushbuttons allow the user to choose how to use the tool. There is also a power button in the bottom right sector of the device. Its LCD screen is backlit so that it can display crystal-clear results in either dark or brightly-lit environments.
Even so, it is powered by 2 non-rechargeable size-AA batteries, which means that the user must access the battery compartment repeatedly when changing batteries.
This provision for opening up the device denies it water-resistant qualities as water can seep into the battery compartment (through junctions between batter cover and plastic housing) and then easily flow onto the circuit board and cause short circuits that can damage the tool.
The use of 10BaseT and 100BaseT protocols of the Ethernet standards allows for 2 pairs of wires to be used for data exchange while the other 2 pairs are free.
These free pairs can be used to deliver power to appliances, and this type of cable configuration is called Power over Ethernet (PoE).
PoE can deliver power that does not exceed 30 watts, as higher amounts of electrical power are associated with a high current that generates more heat in the wires due to impedance, and this could easily sear their insulations hence exposing the wires to shorting.
Even so, delivery of lower-than-expected voltage to a network node would cause it not to be powered, hence disrupting data transmission. This tool is applicable in this situation as it can confirm PoE voltage.
The details displayed on the LCD screen are stated hereafter.
On the extreme left top corner is the digital toning icon, and below it is a set of large digits that indicate the cable length (in feet or meters), and directly below it is the PoE detection icon that lights up when PoE connection exists, as well as provides notification that insufficient power is being transmitted to a network node hence causing failure of data exchange.
Underneath the PoE detection icon is a magnifying (search) lens icon which is indicative of the detail mode that allows one to get additional information about a test status.
Below it is a pictogram icon of the tester on whose top are connector plug icons that indicate whether an RJ45/11 or coaxial connector has been fitted to the tester.
The graphical wire-map occupies the entire lower right quadrant of the screen, and it shows numbered discontinuous straight lines labeled 1 to 8, with an additional straight discontinuous line in the far right.
Above the graphical wire-map are icons that indicate what the cable (represented as the curved discontinuous line) is connected to, whether a switch, router or hub.
Regarding connector compatibility, this tool features test ports for Coaxial and RJ45 connectors.
The test port for RJ45 can also be used to test cables crimped to RJ11 connectors that are 6P2C connectors for either POTS (plain old telephone service) cables (which can be substituted by Cat 1 UTP), or UTP Cat-2 telephone cables that can support voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP).
Likewise, the RJ45 test port can test continuity in high-grade Cat 6e F-UTP. Additionally, this tool can identify voltage conducted through a POTS line.
This shows that this tool can test Cat 1 – 6e cables, audio, and video cable. The Ethernet test port is compliant with IEEE 802.3 standards, which allows it to identify cable protocols as 10BaseT, 100BaseT, or 1000BaseT; and then perform an appropriate continuity test.
Regarding the coax connector in the tester, it is an F connector for testing 50 Ω, 75 Ω, and 93 Ω cables.
The gray wire-map adapter also features co-axial and RJ45/RJ11 Ethernet ports that can serve as a terminator when an Ethernet cable is connected to it and the other end is connected/terminated into the cable tester.
The reason for terminating the cable into the adapter is to check whether it (the adapter) is recognized as the far end device, hence confirming that continuity exists in some or all four balanced lines.
Likewise, terminating the cable in the adapter serves to confirm that the balanced pairs are configured properly, with the wires arranged appropriately in their modular connectors.
This model benefits from a 12-months limited warranty. Even so, it is not suitable for testing cables that terminate in dimensionally-indexed connectors, unless one uses a compatible adapter.
- Related Content: Best fusion splicers on the market – top 5 reviews
2. BEST BUDGET: Klein Tools VDV501-825 Scout Pro-2 LT
This is a compact, portable, high-performance modular VDV verification tester for performing continuity tests in UTP and co-axial Ethernet cables. It comes with a tone generator that can produce 4 distinct analog tones.
It also features 3 Ethernet test ports at its top – an RJ45, RJ11/12, and F-connector port. These RJ test ports allow it to perform verification tests on all categories of UTP cables (from Cat 1 to Cat 7), phone cables, and POTS; while the F-connector allows for continuity tests on coaxial cables and video cables, as well as RG6 and RG59 cables.
Additional RJ45/11/12 test ports are built into detachable adapters called Remotes, which are numbered from 1 to 8, and each remote plugs into the tester via an F-connector located at its base.
The remote performs 3 functions – test for continuity, assign Cable ID to each wire, and map the conductive path of each labeled wire; and for this reason, it is called test-and-map remote.
Remote 1 comes with RJ45 and RJ11/12 test ports on one side, while the other side has an F-connector port; and it is immediately detected by the tester with the Remote ID #1, hence its designation as self-storing test-and-map.
Therefore, there are 5 ethernet test ports available when the self-storing test-and-map remote is fitted to the tester.
The remaining 7 remotes have RJ45 tester port on one end and an F-connector on the other end. Moreover, there are also adapters that can be fitted to coaxial and UTP cables, and these are called CoaxMap and LANMap Location ID remotes respectively because each adapter is labeled so that it is identified by the tester using its assigned remote ID.
There is also a female-to-female barrel F-connector. It is therefore evident that this model comes as a kit with a tester, remotes, and connectors.
This feature-packed model is designed and manufactured by the reputable manufacturer of hand tools that was established in 1857, Klein Tools. It is part of Scout Pro-2 LT line of cable testers, and its model number is VDV501-825.
This premium-quality, professional-grade cable tester uses a tone generator for toning through cables so that one can trace and/or locate a cable using a compatible audio probe. However, this probe needs to be purchased separately.
One is also required to input the mode to be used for the test, for example, data mode, or voltage measure mode. Relatedly, unlike Fluke MS2-100 MicroScanner2, this model does not detect the far end device.
On the upside, like Fluke MS2-100 MicroScanner2, this Scout Pro-2 LT model can calculate lengths of wire pairs, identify each wire with a unique cable ID, and also features toning for cable tracing, even though its analog tone generator is not at par with the versatile SmartTone.
This means that its performance when using toning to trace high-grade data links like Cat 6e cables will be inferior compared to that of Fluke MS2-100 MicroScanner2.
This kit is shipped in a carrying case that is well compartmentalized to hold the tester and its accessories, and the entire package weighs about 2.12 pounds.
This kit is 12inches long, 9.2 inches wide, and 2.2inches thick. In the kit are the tester, self-storing test-and-map remote, tri-lingual instruction guide, a 9-volt non-rechargeable battery and a barrel F-connector, as well as two kits – the LANMap kit that holds 19 location ID remotes, and the CoaxMap kit that holds 19 F-connector location remotes.
The 7 test-and-map remotes are not necessarily included in the kit, which means that one needs to be careful when ordering the kit so as to pick a kit that comes with the full set of 8 test-and-map remotes.
The tester is housed in a hardened plastic case that features two ergonomic hand-grip regions on either side of the tester.
Unlike Fluke MS2-100 MicroScanner2, the Coax F-connector in this model is protruding. Even so, the Klein Tools VDV501-825 features an LCD screen located towards the top, and it covers about a third of the entire front plate area.
Below the screen are 5 push buttons labeled with icons for telephone cables, UTP ethernet cables, LAN network, power (which is also used for identification of the remotes based on their ID), and tone generation (the tone generator button).
These pushbuttons allow the user to choose how to use the tool. Its LCD screen is backlit so that it can display crystal-clear results in either dark or brightly-lit environments.
Its other unique features include voltage warning, auto power-off, shield detection, and a low battery indicator. This modular tester has a yellow and dark-gray color scheme.
This model can generate a wire map that shows the 4 balanced lines, but not what the Ethernet cable is connected to.
As expected, this tester can verify that all connections exist, and as well as accurately detect miswired, open, closed, and short circuits.
This is because the wire map displays open and closed circuits, in addition to calculating the distance to fault in open circuits; besides showcasing miswired connections and possible short circuits.
This model can also perform test continuity is patch cables connected to each other via connectors, as long as the total cable length does not exceed 610 meters.
It can also measure voltages in PoE and POTS cables. Based on the current draw of this tester, the 9V battery can power it for 425 hours when in use.
Like Fluke MS2-100 MicroScanner2, the use of a non-rechargeable battery in this model deprives it of water-resistant qualities.
This Klein Tools product benefits from a 12-months limited warranty.
Even so, just like Fluke MS2-100 MicroScanner2 it is not suitable for testing cables that terminate in dimensionally-indexed connectors unless one uses a compatible adapter.
- Related Content: Network cable tester buyer’s guide
3. NETSCOUT LinkSprinter-300 LSPRNTR-300
This is a premium-quality, high-performance smart pocket-sized qualification tester with an inbuilt WiFi server that supports end-to-end connectivity testing of LAN networks, with its automated cloud-based reporting allowing for the findings to be filed and archived in its proprietary LinkLive Cloud service.
Pairing the tester with this cloud management system allows for annotation and time-stamping of test results which aid in troubleshooting and record keeping.
This model can be powered by 2 size-AA non-rechargeable batteries or power drawn from PoE connections, which makes it a versatile tool as it can be used even when the batteries are fully discharged but power-sourcing equipment (PSE) is delivering power to nodes through PoE.
This easy-to-use model is designed to provide results in a very short period of time – within 10 seconds. It is built to perform 5 basic tasks which are:
- testing of PoE connection and its voltage level(s),
- verifying the existence of the Ethernet connection,
- fetching an IP address from a DHCP server (also called DHCP IP addressing),
- and pinging a gateway router,
- as well as performing a ping test to confirm that a device is connected to the internet or a desired cloud device.
Unlike Klein Tools VDV501-825 Scout Pro-2 LT and Fluke MS2-100 MicroScanner2, this smart tester lacks a graphical display because it does not an LCD screen, and instead uses colored LED indicators to provide color-graded notifications which are explained further below.
Likewise, this LinkSprinter model comes with only one RJ45 ethernet test port. This model is designed and manufactured by NetScout Systems, Inc; as part of its NetAlly line of cable testers.
This compact, lightweight product is shipped in a package that weighs 2.5 pounds; and contains the tester, 2 size AA dry batteries, and a multilingual user guide.
The cable tester weighs 4.2ounces and is 5.4inches long, 3.6inches wide, and 1.6inches thick. The tester is housed in a hardened plastic case that features a wrist strap. The RJ45 test post in located at the bottom of the device.
On its front plate are 5 backlit icons that are lit up by tri-state LED indicator lights. The LED lights are red, yellow, and green; and this allows for color-grading of test results as explained below.
The five icons are – from top to bottom – PoE icon, Link to Switch (LtS) icon, DHCP connection icon, Gateway connection icon, and Internet connection icon. A WiFi icon is placed atop the power button. This standalone portable tester has a green-and-black color scheme.
This model is built for managing large cabled networks, and the detailed nature of its results provide an in-depth understanding of the network, including the performance of each data link, as well as mapping of the data link to their connected nodes and terminal nodes.
Mapping of terminal nodes allows the user to visualize how LAN endpoints, such as wall jacks and computing devices, are connected to switch slots and ports of networking hardware such as switches, routers, and hubs.
It has only one push-button which is the power button. This means that its operations are controlled by inbuilt firmware which also integrates a small inbuilt WiFi server into a unified controller that performs sequential scanning of network parameters and measuring of their values.
This controller uses an auto-test sequencer to perform the functions described hereafter. Once the power button is switched on, the WiFi server is powered and it begins to search for a WiFi signal and if it detects one, its Blue indicator LED lights.
At the same time, auto-test controller starts testing other network parameters in a sequence that follows the bottom-to-top arrangement of the icons as explained hereafter. Nonetheless, before this is done, one must plug in an 8P8C connector crimped to an Ethernet cable connected to the network being tested.
The first test is the PoE test. If PoE icon is lit by the green indicator LED, then PoE voltage is sufficient, but if it is lit by the yellow indicator LED, then PoE voltage is insufficient which could be due to switch port failure, or a bad or a very long cable.
If the indicator light is off, then there is no PoE and one cannot expect the network being tested to power the tester. the next test is the Ethernet link test; and as expected a green indicator lights up the LtS icon to show that a working link exists.
However, if the link is not established, the green indicator blinks to show that no more tests can be done. On the other hand, if the LtS icon is lit yellow, then it means that a link exists but runs at a low speed than expected, usually at 10Mbs or 100Mbs on a 1Gbs data link.
Likewise, its LinkSprinter user-interface (UI) in mobile devices or computers can reveal distance to fault. Once the ethernet link is established, the next test – the DHCP test – is done.
This is a test to find out whether a server, called the DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server can assign IP (internet protocol) addresses to hosts that communicate via UDP or TCP data links.
If the icon lights green, then IP addresses can be assigned appropriately, but if it lights up red, then the DHCP server is unresponsive or it has assigned an IP address is similar to an already existing static IP address, that is, a duplicate IP address.
Even so, if the user has set the network to use a static IP address, then this DHCP test will be omitted.
The fourth test involves pinging the gateway router 3 times. If all 3 pings respond (that is 3/3 success rate), the green indicator is lit, but if none of them responds (0/3 success rate) then the red indicator is lit.
If the ping response is 1/3 or 2/3, then the yellow indicator is lit to show that the gateway is handling high network traffic or is busy.
The last test is the internet connection test where the tester pings the default google server; and lights up green if ping response is 3/3, and red if the response is 0/3.
If a ping response is 1/3 or 2/3, the icon is lit yellow. This internet test can also be used to test for connections in an internal cloud by changing the destination address to the IP address of a specific computing device.
Its operating frequency is the narrow ISM band that ranges from 2.412-2.484 Ghz; while the frequency channels supported are the 802.11 Channels 1 through to 11, with the default channel set to channel 11.
As mentioned earlier, this model lacks a screen so how can one visualize where a transmission fault is? The answer is that this model provides a user interface through a proprietary cloud program that runs of a browser.
What this means is that an internet-enabled computing device that has a monitor, for example, a smartphone, tablet, or even a laptop is needed to visualize the network connections.
Using this computing device, one log into the Link-Live Cloud Service web portal at Link-Live.com, and the signs up to activate an account, which then linked to the tester by tying the account to the MAC (media access control) address of the tester (found at its lower back panel).
This basically connects the tester to the Link-live cloud service, which is a free online proprietary system for viewing network maps and test results, organizing and archiving test results, as well as tracking the tester.
As expected, test results and network maps are automatically uploaded to this loud service once an internet connection is established.
This tester can also be connected to a smartphone. Its WiFi allows for smartphone integration, and this connected smartphone serves as a gateway to the internet and the Link-Live cloud service.
The tester WiFi server is named LinkSprinter and this is the WiFi SSID that is seen on the phone WiFi menu. Once this WiFi SSID is selected, one can a proprietary mobile interface by launching a smartphone browser and then inputting either of these two addresses: ui.linksprinter.com or 172.16.9.9.
So, where does the network connection come from when this tester uses WiFi to upload data to the Link-live cloud service?
The answer is simple, the network being tested provides internet access which also means that LANs not connected to the internet cannot be tested efficiently with this device.
This model is backed by a 12-month limited warranty.
NetScout LinkSprinter-300 LSPRNTR-300 is a high-performance, smart pocket-sized qualification tester with an inbuilt WiFi server that supports end-to-end connectivity testing of UTP LAN networks, with its automated cloud-based reporting allowing for the findings to be filed and archived in its proprietary LinkLive Cloud service.
Pairing the tester with this cloud management system allows for annotation and time-stamping of test results which aid in troubleshooting and record keeping.
It can be powered by 2 size-AA dry batteries or by power drawn from PSE through PoE connections. Also, this easy-to-use model is designed to provide results within 10 seconds.
Most importantly, it is built to perform 5 basic tasks which are: testing for PoE connection and its voltage level(s), verifying the existence of an Ethernet connection, fetching an IP address from a DHCP server (DHCP IP addressing), and pinging a gateway router, as well as performing a ping test to confirm that a device is connected to the internet or a desired cloud device.
4. Fluke Network Cable Tester: MT-8200-60-Kit with IntelliTone Pro-200 Toner
This is an innovative, premium-quality modular diagnostic tool that comes paired with an Intellitone Pro-200 probe for performing continuity tests in UTP and co-axial cables, as well as perform continuity test on speaker wires using the provided alligator clips.
The tester is IntelliTone Pro 200 LAN Toner, which is one of the precursors of Fluke MS2-100 MicroScanner2, and as such, lacks most enterprise-grade features, including a graphical display.
Nonetheless, it comes with all the premium-grade functionalities including the ability to perform verification tests on Cat 1 to Cat 6e UTP cables, but it cannot detect the far end device. Likewise, it does not feature a detachable wire-map adapter.
Even so, the tester can assign Cable ID automatically to each wire in the Ethernet cable based on the pin configuration in the 8P8C connector.
As expected, this tester integrates SmartTone which provides digital and analog toning at a frequency of 500Khz and 400hz/1Khz respectively.
SmartTone produces 4 different tones. Analog toning allows for cable tracing, while digital toning offers an additional advantage of eliminating noise and false/unwanted signals.
This kit is designed and manufactured by Fluke Corporation, as part of its Fluke Networks series of ethernet cable testers. The part number for this kit is MT-8200-60-KIT.
IntelliTone Pro-200 LAN Toner is a compact and lightweight tool featuring all components of the continuity tester, including a battery, voltage indicators, and a switching/scanning arrangement for sequentially testing multiple wires. Just like NetScout LinkSprinter-300 LSPRNTR-300, this model does not feature an LCD screen and instead uses backlit icons to relay test results.
However, the scope of its test results is limited to only two types of results – whether continuity exists or not, and what type of Ethernet connection exists.
This kit is shipped in a package that weighs about 1.1 pounds and is 12-inch long, 5.8-inches wide, and 2 inches.
The package contains IntelliTone Pro-200 LAN Toner and matching Probe, Coax F-connector adapter, Test leads connected to alligator clips, 2 RJ11 patch cables, 2 Lanyards, 2 RJ45 patch cables, 2 9-volt non-rechargeable batteries, and a quick-start guide.
The tester is housed in an ergonomic hardened plastic case that can withstand falls and scratches. Both the tester and probe have wrist wraps, and they share the same yellow-and-gray color scheme.
The IntelliTone Pro-200 LAN Toner features 2 ethernet test ports at its top-plate – an RJ45 test port and a Coax test port – along with 2 Banana Jacks that can be used with the alligator clips to test for continuity is electrical wires.
The most prominent feature on its front plate is an off-center thumbwheel that slightly protrudes over the edge of the device to allow a user to easily rotate it using his/her thumb.
This time-saving, easy-to-use thumbwheel allows for simple task-oriented operation of the tester by allowing the user to select the testing mode, or power it on or off.
On the left edge of the thumbwheel are 3 service icons that indicate the mode of the tester, and these icons are for toning, coaxial cable testing, and UTP cable testing.
Near the left edge are three backlit icons for toning, Ethernet connection, and cable continuity. Therefore, this tester cannot make PoE measurements as it lacks that capability but can measure continuity in normal electrical cables.
The Intellitone Pro-200 is a handy portable audio probe that completes the functionality of the LAN toner tester. This probe is encased in an ergonomic plastic housing and has a centrally-placed thumbwheel at it mid-section, while a speaker occupies its top section.
On the top edge of the thumbwheel are service icons for analog toning, test cable continuity, and cable tracing when far away and near the cable bundle.
Under the thumbwheel is a SYNC backlit icon and a series of backlit icons labeled 1 to 8, and these lights up to indicate that all wires in the Ethernet cable are transmitting signals when the cable is terminated into the tester and probe.
This allows the user to know if one of the wires is faulty, though the distance to fault cannot be displayed, one can use the probe to locate where the signal terminates inside the cable which marks the point where there is a wire break.
Therefore, this kit allows one to verify that all connections exist, and as well as to detect open, closed, miswired, and short circuits. These aforementioned continuity tests are based on low voltage testing.
This model benefits from a 12-months limited warranty. Even so, it is not suitable for testing cables that terminate in dimensionally-indexed connectors, unless one uses a compatible adapter.
Fluke Networks MT-8200-60 is a premium-quality, modular diagnostic kit that pairs an IntelliTone Pro 200 LAN Toner with an Intellitone Pro-200 probe so that it can be used together to perform continuity tests in UTP and co-axial cables, as well as ordinary electrical cable speaker wires using the provided alligator clips.
The tester and probe can be used together to detect and locate signal performance faults based on discontinuity in the conduction paths, as well as assign cable IDs. Likewise, its SmartTone produces 4 different tones.
Analog toning allows for cable tracing, while digital toning offers an additional advantage of eliminating noise and false/unwanted signals.
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5. BEST TOOL KIT: InstallerParts 15-Piece Network Installation ToolKit
This is a complete network installation kit for installing ethernet cables to network hardware and hosts to form a functional cabled network, and then measure the performance of signal transmission through these ethernet cables.
The toolset features a WireTracker STM-806R LAN data tester and an accompanying receiver – the WireTracker STM-806 audio probe.
Other tools in this set are the RJ11/45 Crimper, 20-30-gauge wire stripper, 2-in-1 Screwdriver, Utility Knife, and a 66-110 punch down; and all these tools along with 5 cable boots and 10 RJ45 plugs are housed in a well-compartmentalized hard case made of tough plastic.
This kit is designed for both professionals and enthusiasts, and it comes with a user guide that makes the process of installing, terminating and troubleshooting networks easy.
All the aforementioned tools are professional-grade and they are assembled together into a kit by InstallerParts. The part number of this kit is 22811 and is written on the external surface of the carrying case.
This kit is shipped in the case, and it weighs about 3.55 pounds, and the case is 14inches long, 10 inches wide, and 3.3inches thick. The tester and audio probe have an orange-and-black color scheme.
Regarding the cable tester kit, it is a premium-quality modular diagnostic kit that pairs a WireTracker STM-806R Emitter LAN data tester with a WireTracker STM-806 Receiver audio probe so that they can be used together to perform continuity tests in UTP cables.
The LAN data tester comes with a low battery warning and can perform verification tests on Cat 1 to Cat 6e UTP cables.
Still, it cannot detect the far end device but unlike the IntelliTone Pro 200 LAN Toner, this LAN tester can verify that all connections exist in the Ethernet cable as it has 8 indicator lights labeled 1 to 8 that light up when their wires complete a circuit when the cable is connected to a node while the other end terminates into the tester.
Even so, the receiver (audio probe) also has these 8 labeled indicator lights. The tester features an RJ45 test port on its top plate, and it assigns Cable ID automatically to each wire in the Ethernet cable based on the pin configuration in the 8P8C connector, and this allows for the afore-described verification of individual wire connections.
Additionally, this tester has an integrated tone generation technology that produces an audible tone when its signal is detected by the receiver.
Also, like the IntelliTone Pro 200 LAN Toner and probe, this kit cannot confirm if a PoE connection exists.
The tester has an inbuilt battery compartment for holding the non-rechargeable battery and a switching/scanning arrangement for sequentially testing multiple wires.
Also, like IntelliTone Pro 200 LAN Toner, this tester uses its backlit icons to relay test results, whose scope is limited to only two types of results – whether continuity exists or not, and what type of Ethernet connection exists.
However, unlike the IntelliTone Pro 200 LAN Toner and probe kit, this tester and audio probe lack thumbwheel and instead each has a single push-button for powering the device on and off, while a slider button on each item can be slid along to choose one of 3 modes – scan, off, and test modes.
As expected, using the LAN tester and its receiver allows the user to know if one of the wires is faulty, though the distance to fault cannot be displayed, one can still use the probe to locate where the signal terminates inside the cable which is where a wire break exists.
Therefore, this kit allows one detect open, closed, miswired, and short circuit. These aforementioned continuity tests are based on low voltage testing.
What to look for when buying a cable network tester
There are a number of factors you should consider before buying a cable network tester. Let’s take a look at some of them now.
Cable network testers will vary in the type of cable network system they can connect to. Premium devices will have a greater range of connectivity than a budget option.
First and foremost you should think about what kind of cable compatibility you need, and ensure that the tester you buy has that ability.
Essentially, if you are a professional network technician, the device you choose should support as many cable types as possible. A home test kit will not need to be so universal.
Cable length testability
The amount of length the device can measure (without you needing to moving through the entire cable) is an important consideration. The longer the cable length testability, the more time you save when using the tester.
Many units can measure up to 300m under 5 seconds. High-end devices can measure up to 1km of cable in a similar length of time.
Home users will unlikely need to measure more than 300m of network cable, however, professional technicians may often need more.
Types of test
Network testers vary in the types of tests they can conduct. Continuity checks, voltage checks, length of cable checks, pin and connection testing, and port location tests can all be carried out using one of the versatile devices.
As with cable compatibility, superior units will feature more built-in testing capability. It is important to understand your own requirements and then buy a device that fits the bill.
A quick check of the specifications should inform you of what the tester is capable of.
Accuracy of results
Accuracy and performance level go hand-in-hand. Generally speaking, this is best ascertained by reading user reviews to see how previous customers have got on with the tool. Brand reputation is another factor here.
Your chosen tester needs to be as accurate and reliable as possible. Short of road testing a device yourself, other, unbiased opinions are your best bet.
Some units will have a built-in screen that will display the results of the test. Others may have sound or light indicators or an analog needle to provide the test readings.
These days, an LCD screen approach is preferred as these can convey more information, work well in low light conditions, and can be seen if the area you are working in is noisy and a sound alert won’t be heard.
A professional technician will also want a display model as the voltage and/or cable length data is best reported this way.
The main differentiator is the price. LCD display models cost more.
A model with a generous warranty not only speaks of the manufacturer’s trust in their own product, but it also gives you peace of mind that your tester is covered should things go wrong.
This is especially important for a professional user where a fast turnaround on getting the unit replaced or fixed is necessary. You do not want to be arguing with a manufacturer of the small print.
A clear, several-year warranty is what you should aim for.
Finally, there is the issue of price. A professional technician should not scrimp on price as buying a premium device that will cover all your needs will reap benefits over the long term.
A home user may be better off with a budget option as their needs are less. Essentially, balancing your requirements with the appropriate budget is the best approach.