A good Internet connection depends on more than a good Internet service provider. Internet connectivity relies on equipment to provide you with the best Internet speed possible. You need modems and you need wireless routers.
Most major cable Internet providers want to make things easier for you. One of the ways they do this is by giving you the option of renting equipment through them. While this option is convenient, it’s not the most cost-effective.
Your Internet plan is more flexible than you may realize. You don’t have to stick to the rentals. If you want to achieve a certain Wi-Fi speed, you can choose the equipment that works best for you. There are options.
Because when you own your modem/router combo, you save about $100 per year on rental fees. What’s more, with your own modem/router combo, you have the power to choose which combo unit works best.
This guide will walk you through the best modem/router combos available on the market. Plus, give you a run-down on all the basic information you’ll need to know to make the best choice.
Your cable company provides you with a service. But only you can decide what works best for your Internet needs. Here’s everything you need to know about the best modem/router combos of 2023.
Now that you have a better understanding of how to choose the best cable modem/router combo for you, you can move through the following options with a lot more ease. Here are the top five combos in the market today.
If you want the absolute best modem/router, then the Motorola MG7700 will be the ideal candidate. Motorola describes this combo as a cable modem with a dual-band Wi-Fi gigabit router plus a power boost.
This is a high-performance cable modem that supports multimedia and Internet video. With a built-in AC1900 3×3 wireless gigabit router, the MG7700 provides you with a lot. Including ample range and wireless Wi-Fi speeds. The only real downside to this device is the lack of USB ports.
In simple terms, this modem/router combo packs all the best features into one sleek package. One such feature is what Motorola calls the “Wireless Power Boost.” This feature allows you to extend the range and amplify your wireless signal. All without the need for Wi-Fi extenders. You can have a strong signal range everywhere, no matter what.
The Arris SURFboard SBG7600AC2 is one of the most modern combos available on the market. It offers more speed and network capability than other popular combos. It also offers unparalleled performance.
The Arris SURFboard SBG7600AC2 offers powerful Wi-Fi speeds of up to 600 Mbps. This device is perfect for households with multiple devices. Extra perfect if many users are engaging in different online activities.
It comes with 32 downstream and eight upstream channels. These will make gaming, sharing, and streaming a breeze. Plus, you can track suspicious activity from your mobile phone or tablet.
There are two great things about the NETGEAR Nighthawk C7000. This cable modem and Wi-Fi router give you fast Internet speeds and reliable Wi-Fi. All separate devices around your home can enjoy the same connectivity. Plus, it supports Wi-Fi 6.
Because of its features, your chances of experiencing latency issues are minimal. This is the best device you can get if you’re looking for gigabit speeds. You’ll be sure to experience up to 1.9Gbps combined Wi-Fi speed for extreme gaming and streaming.
You’ll get one coaxial cable port, one USB 2.0, and four-gigabit ethernet ports. The three built-in antennas increase its performance. Plus, the device offers you plenty of flexibility to adjust settings to your liking.
If you’re someone that’s looking for quality without breaking the bank, this is your best option. The ARRIS SURFboard SBG10 is budget-friendly while remaining efficient and offering you a decent Internet speed. Think of this modem and wireless router combo as the most powerful, but economical choice you can make.
This device comes with two-gigabit ethernet ports and the ability to monitor and manage your account through your mobile phone or tablet. It’s compatible with most Internet providers and it’s the perfect upgrade if you have a home network with lower bandwidth.
Overall, the SBG10 is user-friendly and budget-friendly. As far as performance, this modem/router combo supports up to 300 Mbps download speeds. And the dual-band support will allow you to comfortably connect multiple devices without slowing down your Internet speed.
The downside is that wired connections are limited. There are no USB ports and you only get two gigabit LAN ports.
This particular model of modem/router combo is cost-effective and able to provide you with strong wireless signals without compromising speed. Out of all the cable modems and routers described in this guide, the Motorola MG7550 can work on Wi-Fi DFS frequencies. This means that it can make your connection less vulnerable to interference from anyone outside your network.
It features 16 downstream and four upstream channels that can reach up to 123 Mbps uploads. The MG7550 features a full-band digital tuner that allows you to reach the fastest connection by selecting the channels with the least traffic. All in all, the MG7550 is a solid option that doesn’t break the bank.
The first thing you need to know about buying your own modem/router combo is that there are a lot of options out there. Not everyone is tech-savvy enough to know what to look for. And if you’re confused, it’s easy to jumble the information.
The best modem/router combos should have an array of features that will make life easier for you. This will help you make the distinction between what you’re looking for and what you can afford to bypass. For example, Wi-Fi 6 technology. Is it something you’re looking for in the ideal combo?
The reality is that the majority of modem/router combos are not yet able to support the Wi-Fi 6 standard. So, instead of focusing on a feature that’s not available for combos yet, focus on what you can get.
A modem/router combo with Wi-Fi 5 support will be able to provide you with everything you need. And that’s available everywhere.
You can always splurge on a nice Wi-Fi 6 router if you want one. But, the idea here is to get the most bang for your buck. Try to choose the modem/router combo with the best chances of giving you the Internet speeds you want.
This is the most important tip in this guide. If your modem/router combo doesn’t support your ISP, there’s not much you can do with the equipment.
All major cable Internet providers need the equipment to meet different requirements. Before you commit to the perfect modem/router combo, check your ISP’s requirements.
If you can’t find the specs, don’t worry. Most modem/router combos will list supported cable Internet providers. And if that’s not an option, there’s yet another way for you to check compatibility.
There are websites available that can help you decipher specs. They give you the detailed information you need before you make your final decision. Websites like approvedmodems.com can help you throughout this process.
They usually feature a list of compatible modems and modem/router combos to choose from. This will help you narrow down your choices to ones that are compatible with your ISP.
Most major cable providers service a large part of the United States. If you’re in an area with limited access to major ISPs, you’ll have to find another way to get the information you need. You’re not likely to find specs for smaller ISPs on national websites.
When in doubt, call your provider and ask them what requirements they ask for equipment. They will guide you about what modem/router combo is compatible with their service.
Remember, you’ll have to install the equipment yourself. Check with your ISP and get a grasp of the activation process. Do this before you start installing so that you can avoid unnecessary hassle.
While some Internet providers offer automatic activation, this isn’t the norm. Different types of providers have different processes. For example, DSL providers might have a different process than cable providers. The activation process varies depending on your ISP.
Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications, or DOCSIS, is a particular standard. It’s what a cable modem abides by to support speeds over a certain number of Mbps. Although DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 are the most common standards, they’re not the only ones.
At some point, most modem/router combos came with DOCSIS 2.0. But, they were soon updated to DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1. These updates allowed DOCSIS to support Internet speeds over 40 Mbps.
Although DOCSIS 4.0 exists, today most users’ bandwidth falls within DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 standards. What this means is that your devices can handle download speeds of up to 1 Gbps. They can also support upload speeds that reach up to 200 Mbps. And that’s only for the DOCSIS 3.0 standard.
The DOCSIS 3.1 standard gives devices the capacity to perform at a download speed of 10 Gbps. This also includes upload speeds of up to 1-2 Gbps.
With a speed of 10 Gbps, you can download a 4K movie in less than 30 seconds. This is the main reason it’s important to consider the standard of the equipment you’re buying.
As your hunt for the perfect modem/router combo progresses, you’ll want to be aware of key terms. It’s important to understand what “downstream and upstream channels” mean. This will help you make a more educated decision. Don’t let them confuse you too much. Here’s what it refers to.
For your cable modem to work, it needs to communicate with your Internet provider. It does this through channels. Industry experts refer to them as upstream and downstream channels.
Downstream and upstream channels are important. They are in direct connection with your bandwidth and Internet speed. When the data travels through the channels, it dictates the speed of the content. This is how fast you can upload and download data.
The higher the number of channels, the better your chance of having blazing speeds. To give you a better idea of how the channels work, it’s helpful to visualize what they look like.
Most modem routers will come with a number that looks something like this: 16 x 8. The first digit represents the number of downstream channels. This is a marker for the downstream speed. Whereas, the second digit, is the number of upstream channels.
The higher the number of downstream channels, the faster the downstream speed is. This will make it more likely for you to experience a Wi-Fi speed that is consistent and sturdy.
As for upstream, having a device with four channels is standard. But make use of gaming consoles, try aiming for eight upstream channels instead. This will give you faster upload speeds and fewer lagging issues.
Earlier in this guide, you read about the standards that cable modems support. A cable modem with DOCSIS 3.0 should be able to reach a download speed of up to 1 Gbps and an upload speed of up to 200 Mbps. But this is not a guarantee.
Although most modern routers can handle these speeds, the final results can change. It will all depend on the model of the modem/router combo that you get. That’s what will dictate the maximum speed you can reach. Older models don’t have the necessary protocols to support gigabit speeds.
To be sure of the maximum download and upload bandwidth for each device, it’s best to check them one by one. This will give you the most accurate answers.
When in doubt, check the reviews. The best modem/router combos will have plenty of official reviews. Make sure to take a look at user reviews, too. They can give you a better idea about speed performance and compatibility.
The main advantage to owning a combo instead of each separate device is the fact that it’s two for one. You can save space, maximize multi-gigabit speeds, and get more ethernet ports. But there are also a few more reasons why combining the two devices works best.
If you’re still on the fence about getting a combo, consider some of the downsides.
Currently, the most powerful modem/router combo in the market is Netgear C7000. The reason behind this is that it’s the combo that’s compatible with most providers.
It has powerful capacities to support the DOCSIS 3.0 standard and can reach up to 400 Mbps. It’s moderately priced and it has an excellent range.
There are plenty of reasons to consider owning separate devices. But, overall, you’ll benefit more from a combo. Unless you have very specific needs or wants for the features that you want in a wireless router, it’ll be easier to group them as one.
Think about your needs and consider whether it’s worth investing in two separate devices. Most modern modem/router combos have complex capabilities that can support multiple devices and users. In the end, those are some of the features that will make your life easier for connectivity.
If you’re worried about what to look for, try to focus on the basic features a modem/router combo should have. They are 1) compatibility with your ISP, 2) DOCSIS standard, and 3) speed. Don’t forget to check the specific specs that your ISP wants in the ideal package. This will make the shopping process much easier and less of a hassle.