Coaxial cables, sometimes simply called coax cables, are commonly used when it comes to home electronics for broadcast, cable, and satellite television hookups. In some cases, coax cables are used for audio devices and at one time where even used to network computers together.


While they might all look the same to the untrained eye, not all coaxial cables are created equal. In fact, there are many different types of coax cable that are better – or worse – when used in specific situations. Here’s what you need to know in order to choose the perfect coaxial cable for the job – whatever job that may be.


Know the Code


Since different types of coaxial cables look so similar to one another, manufacturers assign codes to these cables to make it easy to select the right one for your needs. Coax cable uses the “Radio Guide” standard – usually abbreviated as RG, followed by a number or sometimes a letter.

There are three main types of coax cable that are used in residential settings. They all work in the same way – providing audio/visual signals to home electronics – but some types are better used in certain settings. RG6 cable, for example, is the current industry standard for when it comes to carrying information from a satellite or cable television provider to a set-top box or a television directly, while the older RG59 standard was designed to work well with broadcast television with the aid of an antenna. Meanwhile, the last type of commonly encountered coax, a version of RG59 known as “slim coax” or “slim RG59,” is best used in very specific situations where the distance between connected devices is very short.


How These Cables Differ


So what are the differences between RG6, RG59 and slim RG59, especially if they all do the same thing? It all depends on signal loss. The longer any cable gets, the more signal loss you can encounter – and that means at the end of the line, where you connect your coax to your television or your cable box, the quality of your TV signal is worse than it would be if your cable was shorter.

Port forwarding is a process that provides an added layer of security to networks. Routers, firewalls, and other network gateway devices have the ability to regulate how network data flows by opening and closing certain ports and then relegating certain types of network data to exclusively use these ports. Port forwarding can therefore stop any unwanted network traffic coming in remotely by limiting it to a specific port number – a number that only those authorized for remote access would have knowledge of. Port forwarding helps to keep a network as secure as possible without cutting off access to the outside completely, and it’s practically a requirement to keep your data safe from unwelcome eyes.

Over short distances of around five feet or less, this loss isn’t noticeable. However, when this distance lengthens, signal loss intensifies– if you have a broadcast antenna or a satellite dish attached to your home, you’ll typically encounter less signal loss than if you have cable television, as your source could be several hundred feet from your home.

Your best bet to avoid signal loss from long distances is RG6 coax, as it typically has the thickest shielding. For much shorter runs – typically 50 feet or less – RG59 has enough shielding to keep signal quality high. Slim RG59, by comparison, is really no good over 5 feet runs, which is typically how far a television or a set-top box would be from a cable jack built into a wall.