Network cable testers for the techs in the field and review of our favorites.

Okay, time to start a heated debate or get blasted with our choices. It’s okay, we have thick skin and over a decade we have been leading Philadelphia in network computer wiring installation. We can take it 🙂

So setting a new network in the new office, congrats! With the current economy we all always amazed for the opportunity to see new companies set up or more growth. So hitting the ground and into laying in cabling for the office is always the first step.

After running the cabling through out the walls and terminating the ends into a patch panel or network jack it’s that time……time to test. Or you could hope for the best and expect a few service calls down the road. I have to admit something real quick, a brag more, Bridge Cable techs are always shocked when we test our finished cables and find a bad pair or termination. I swear we can do network cabling punch downs in our sleep. Okay, enough of the back patting….for now. Back to the project! Different levels on the cabling is with any company. Let’s review what you might need or expect with your installation.

Basic Connection: First run on most network computer wiring should be a simple LED test. What? Simple testers from China, Ebay or Home Depot will test the connections of the pairing of the wiring. Typical CAT5e or CAT6 wiring has 4 pairs running in each cable. When connecting the wiring from one end point to another the pairs for the most part should match, relax….there are other pin outs or configurations. So real quick, the brown pair on both ends will need to match on the termination points. Typically the start of the cable goes into a patch panel and then ending up into a network jack at the user’s location/desk.

Standard $10 China Tester, various names.

Standard $10 China Tester, various names.

Home Depot $30 Special - Same as above but a tad bit more durable.

Home Depot $30 Special – Same as above but a tad bit more durable.

Mid-Range Testing: So what is awful on the above basic testing is that even though the connections might be transmitting a signal this does not mean a solid network. Loose wires and terminations might be on the patch panel or network jacks. Typically when our installation team punches down the connections we eyeball the jacks or panel. By the way, punching down is stripping the jacket off the cable and then using a punch down tool to insert the wiring into the teeth of the termination points. Back to a loose a connection, due to the space or size of the wiring it is possible to have a bad connection for data. The above testers will just check to see “if anyone is home” more or less. A great mid range tester tests the speed of the connection of the wiring and as well some stress testing. A GREAT tester that is very affordable is Byte Brother’s Real World Tester which more information can be found on their site, http://www.triplett.com/shop/real-world-certifier-rwc1000k/

Great Mid Range Network Cable Tester from Byte Brothers

Great Mid Range Network Cable Tester from Byte Brothers

Some great points about this tester is the pricing! Overall tests different cabling with stress testing and speed testing as well. Print out reports for the clients or yourself can be done with this unit which is great! One flaw is the tests could be tainted or changed by a tech if there is a bad cable and then just want to sweep it under the carpet. So with most service ticket vendor outfits, like Field Nation, they will not accept these reports for completed work. However if the price typically under $400 most techs can carry this tester in their gear daily. Imagine even your newest tech carrying a tester like this, installation “proof” or their workmanship is at another level. The other month a larger computer cabling installation company was about to buy 1 Fluke, see below, tester for around $5000 and decided on outfitting all their 9 trucks with these testers instead. The speed tests on these testers really do the job with clients. We use these testers on 50% of our installations as most of our clients do not even require testing or cabling reports on our installs. Just nice to give the client for peace of mind!

High Level Testers….the top of the top! FLUKE. Yes, every in the business has heard and respected this name. Dependable testing and rock solid reporting is know with Fluke. Really not much needs to be written with the Fluke testers. For enterprise level clients or printable reports for the clients this is the best way to go. Fluke runs a series of tests on the cables and then creates PDF report for each cable. The testers are built rock solid as well so they are meant to last for years, with a price of around $5000 you would expect that. A great option for smaller outfits to to rent the testers for a week to avoid such a huge cost to the project. Typically the only compliant is the life of the batteries in these units here at Bridge Cable. Buy a spare! So most techs will agree fluke is the top of the line and not much is need to be written, if you need more information or this name is new to you then we would suggest just using the Byte Brothers unit.

The leading TOP network tester is Fluke....for years now!

The leading TOP network tester is Fluke….for years now!

Let’s taking the time to read this and would love some feedback below. Newer tester? Tell us your two cents!

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Working with network cabling since 1999 and still loving the work as well as the people I meet.
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