Network Cable Tester Buyer’s Guide
Modern network cable testers are ethernet cable testers that feature a simple build design and are built to be durable, portable, and user-friendly.
As mentioned in our recent overview of the network cable tester, the pins in the connector provide a terminal to test for cable connections, and these testers not only test for conductivity but also pin configurations and estimated DTR at each pin.
For DTR calculation, there is an inbuilt firmware in the hardware circuit of the network tester that converts the voltage measurements and resistance values to estimated DTR values and signals attenuation intensities respectively.
The main considerations that you should make before purchasing a network cable tester are described hereafter:
What to consider when buying a Network Cable Tester
Type of Tester
As mentioned earlier, there are three main types of ethernet cable testers – verification, qualification, and certification tester.
Each one is built for specific purposes as discussed above; and therefore, you should choose a tester that suits the complexity of your network or networking task.
Generally, a qualification tester is recommended for technicians, while a certification tester is recommended for network experts.
A special type of qualification tester uses audio beeps to provide audio notifications, and these are called audio testers.
Regarding build and design, there are two main forms of cable testers – the portable handheld device that is basically a single tool that has an inbuilt battery compartment that houses a battery.
The other form is the detachable modular unit that has at least one component that can be detached from the main tester, usually the power unit, power cables, or remote unit.
Most high-powered models come as detachable units. You should choose a design that suits your needs, and is easy to operate, considering that portable handheld models are easier to operate than modular units, though modular units come with more features.
You should also consider if the tester has a strap and whether it is water-resistant or waterproofed. This is important if you plan to perform some of the cable tests outdoors or in a humid environment.
Likewise, strapping ensures that the tester does not fall from your hand or shoulder when it is not being used.
Length of Ethernet Cable
As mentioned earlier, each wire in the ethernet cable has an intrinsic resistance value which causes signal attenuation, and as expected, the longer the cable, the more resistance the EMF (voltage) must overcome in order to pass current along the wire; and this means that DTR is affected by cable length.
Likewise, the voltage delivered by the network tester can only be conducted optimally on a limited length of the conductive path (the wire), and for this reason network testers provide details of the maximum length of cable they are able to measure at different voltage values.
You should, therefore, check this out to ensure that it is matched to the length of your network cables.
As mentioned earlier, the Ethernet cable terminates into connectors on either end, which allows it to be plugged into a computing device or networking hardware.
This also implies that the network tester must have a compatible port for the connector which allows the connector to be securely plugged into the tester so that cable parameters can be tested.
This port should support one or more of the standard connectors including RJ45/8P8C, Coax (coaxial) connectors, and SC/SFP for fiber optic cables.
Still, you can purchase adapters that provide additional connector compatibilities.
You should also consider versatility, and this requires you to go for a model that can work with two or more ethernet cable connecters, especially RJ45.
Usually, having a model that features an Ethernet port for RJ45 and SC/SFP for fiber optic cables is suffice for managing most modern networks.
Support for WiFi Testing
Some of the networking hardware in modern networks include a WiFi modem and routers. WiFi stands for wireless fidelity, and it uses cellular networks to transmit data wirelessly, with attention paid to the fact that DTR should closely approximate that of ethernet cables, hence the designation fidelity, which basically stands for fidelity to the wired network.
High-quality network cable testers feature an option for testing WiFi networks. It is recommended that you acquire such a model as you may need to test a WiFi network in the future.
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Enterprise-grade network cable testers are pricey, and a warranty is justified so as to shield you from additional losses should the tester malfunction due to factory defects.
Also, high-quality models come with guarantees against factory defects. Ideally, you should choose a warranted model over an unwarranted model.
This is a straightforward consideration as the model you choose should fit your budget. Even so, the entire purpose of this overview is to give an idea of what to look for in a network cable tester.
This will help you perform cost-efficiency assessment on-the-fly when you have two or more models that are within the same price range, and then choose the model with the best price-to-performance ratio.
This ensures that you choose an easy-to-use and durable model that suits your current networking needs.