The Cable Conundrum: Identifying Your Computer’s Lifeline


“I’ve recently assembled a computer and came across a cable with eight pins and four colored wires visible through its transparent connector. I’m currently away from home and unable to verify it myself, so I’m seeking expert advice to determine whether this is a telephone cable or an Ethernet cable. Regrettably, I’m unable to provide a photo for reference. Your assistance is greatly appreciated!”


When setting up a new computer, identifying the correct type of cable for connectivity is crucial. Based on your description, you’ve found a cable with eight pins and four colored wires, which leads to a common question: is it a telephone cable or an Ethernet cable?

Firstly, let’s consider the physical characteristics. Telephone cables and Ethernet cables may look similar, but there are key differences. A standard telephone cable, typically an RJ11 connector, usually has four or six pins. In contrast, an Ethernet cable, with an RJ45 connector, has eight pins. Both connectors can fit into an RJ45 socket, but only the RJ45 connector will fit into an RJ11 socket.

Wire Count and Color Coding

You mentioned that the cable has eight pins but only four colored wires. This is a strong indication that the cable is likely an RJ45 Ethernet cable. Ethernet cables can have eight wires (four pairs), but not all are necessarily used. For example, older or cheaper Ethernet cables might only use two pairs (four wires) for data transmission.

Usage and Compatibility

The intended use also helps in identification. Ethernet cables are used to connect devices to networks, such as connecting your computer to a router or switch. Telephone cables are used to connect telephones to telephone lines. If you’re setting up a computer, an Ethernet cable is what you would typically need for internet connectivity.


Given the eight-pin configuration and the presence of four colored wires, it’s probable that you have an Ethernet cable. However, without a photo or the ability to test the cable, this cannot be confirmed with absolute certainty. If possible, check the cable for printed text, as Ethernet cables often have specifications printed along their length, which can provide further clues to their identity.

In summary, while the physical characteristics suggest an Ethernet cable, verification upon return home is recommended to ensure proper connectivity for your newly assembled computer. Your attention to detail in cable management will serve you well in your computer setup endeavors.

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