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Which Modem Router Should I Buy

With that in mind, here's an updated guide that can (hopefully) demystify modem specs. I can't tell you which modem is right for your home, since that depends on your cable provider, your internet service package and your budget. But once you understand what all the arcane terminology means, you'll find that there are probably a handful, rather than dozens, of choices worth considering.

which modem router should i buy


First things first: How happy are you with your router? If you upgraded your router recently but bought your modem sometime around the signing of the Declaration of Independence, you probably just need a standalone cable modem. Modern routers are compatible with just about every modem on the market, so just make sure your firmware is upgraded, and you'll be all set.

(If you're still using a router provided by your cable company, you should send it back and buy a new router immediately. As with modems, cable companies usually charge exorbitant rental fees for subpar routers, and it takes less than a year for a new router to pay for itself.)

When you look at a modem, you'll often see a number somewhere in its description, which can be anything from 8 x 4 to 32 x 8. It's not at all clear what the average user is supposed to glean from this. The good news is that it's simply a description of how many downstream and upstream channels a modem has.

Don't sweat this part too much, unless you want the absolute top-tier packages your cable company can provide. Just remember that all other things being equal, higher numbers are better. Any new modem you buy should have at least 16 downstream channels; anything less is probably either old or underpowered.

The last thing you'll have to check is whether your modem is compatible with your ISP. Most modems are compatible with any cable company, but some aren't. Big companies like Comcast and Cox support just about anything, but smaller networks may not. There's no hard-and-fast reason for this; it's just the way it is. Cable companies run enormous networks, and they want to be 100 percent certain that a product is compatible before they authorize it for use. The company must also be willing to push out firmware updates on a regular basis, which is easier for some modems than for others.

Finally, you can always just call your ISP. You may have to sit on hold for a while, but it's the only way to get a 100-percent definitive answer on whether a modem you want to buy is supported. (If your ISP cannot give you a definitive answer, ask to speak to a manager or a specialist, or consider getting a new ISP; this should not be a hellaciously difficult question.)

Unlike routers, which have settings you can adjust to make them more secure, there's not a lot of security considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a router. That said, the occasional security issue does pop up. For example, a software vulnerability in modems that use Broadcom's systems-on-a-chip could allow a hacker to seize control of the modem and serve up malicious websites. Broadcom says it's issued a fix, so you can always check with your ISP to make sure that your modem is secure. (You're dependent on your ISP to issue these firmware updates, and they don't always come out in a timely fashion.) Investing in one of the best antivirus programs also offers some, though not total, protection.

Motorola's MG7700 (view at Amazon) checks all the right boxes when it comes to delivering the performance and features most users need in a cable modem/router. If you're looking for even broader coverage, then Netgear's Orbi CBK752 (view at Amazon) combines a top-rated Wi-Fi 6 mesh system with a fast (and future-ready) cable modem to let you take full advantage of the fastest internet plans in even the largest of homes.

A cable modem/router combo is a single device that combines the capabilities of a cable modem with the features of a Wi-Fi router. You plug it directly into your coaxial cable just like you would a cable modem, and then connect your computers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices directly using either wired Gigabit Ethernet connections or via Wi-Fi.

Buying a cable modem/router combo can save you quite a bit of money since these all-in-one units are usually far more affordable than buying a cable modem and a router separately. And if you're renting your cable modem, you can save even more by returning that to your ISP, reducing your monthly bill. That said, while modern cable modem/routers are very capable if you have more advanced needs, there are many more options and advanced features to be found among the best wireless routers.

Fortunately, most major cable providers in the U.S. have already "pre-approved" the cable modems from all the big manufacturers. You'll normally find this information on the packaging or on the manufacturer's website. However, if you're still not sure, you can always ask your cable provider if the modem/router you're considering will work with their network.

The MB8611 supports gigabit internet plans (up to 1000 Mbps or 1 Gbps) as well as multi-gig plans (between 1.2 and 2.5 Gbps). It supports those faster speeds using a 2.5 GbE (2.5 gigabit Ethernet) port on its back panel, just above the usual coaxial (round Cable TV-style) cable. The modem's port will connect to older routers with 1 gigabit Ethernet ports up to single gigabit speeds, and newer routers and mesh networks with 2.5 GbE ports at 1.2 to 2.5 gigabit speeds.

The Arris SURFboard S33 and the Netgear CM2000 have 2.5 GbE ports, which can connect to Wi-Fi 6, 6E, and 7 routers that support the 2.5 GbE standard. The CM2000 shows promise, but it is priced too high compared with the Motorola MB8611, our new upgrade pick. The Netgear also has a shorter, one-year warranty and charges for tech support beyond the first 90 days of ownership.

A modem-router combo is a great way to save some shelf space and still route your internet connection to all your devices.Sometimes modem-router combos are a little more expensive than a standalone modem or router, but keep in mind you\u2019re still technically purchasing a piece of equipment that serves two different functions.If you do choose a modem-router combo, check out our guide on what to look for in a router for some extra tips." } }, "@type": "Question", "name": "How do I set up my modem?", "acceptedAnswer": "@type": "Answer", "text": "Most modems are easily set up by connecting it to your main computer or device, plugging in your DSL line or coaxial cable, and then plugging the modem into the nearest outlet.If you\u2019re running into trouble with your modem, check out our internet setup guide or visit your modem\u2019s support site. Here are support portals for some common modem brands:ARRISMotorolaNETGEARTP-LinkZyxel" , "@type": "Question", "name": "How do I keep my modem secure?", "acceptedAnswer": "@type": "Answer", "text": "Because it connects to the internet, your modem can come down with a nasty case of malware or a virus just like your computer. Luckily, you can keep it safe with a few easy steps:Don\u2019t use the default username and password for logging into your modem\u2019s interface.Don\u2019t use your modem brand, username, or password when you name your Wi-Fi network (this name is called an SSID).Do use encryption settings\u2014preferably WPA2.Do keep your modem\u2019s firmware updated." , "@type": "Question", "name": "Do modems need to be updated?", "acceptedAnswer": "@type": "Answer", "text": "Most modems automatically update the firmware periodically. But it comes down to what kind of modem you have, and it doesn't hurt to check manually every so often to see if your modem needs an update.If you have an older modem, and you're noticing it needs to be reset frequently, your internet connection is super slow, or your modem makes a lot of noise, it may be time to upgrade your router to a newer model.\u00a0" ] }] (function(w,d,s,l,i)w[l]=w[l])(window,document,'script','dataLayer','GTM-WG67XFH'); skip to main content Go to AU Edition

Your cable modem also comes with channel bonding technology, which tells you how many channels the modem has for download and uploading data. The more channels it has, the more data that can travel between your devices and the modem.

If you have an older modem, and you're noticing it needs to be reset frequently, your internet connection is super slow, or your modem makes a lot of noise, it may be time to upgrade your router to a newer model.

If speed is your need, this ARRIS cable modem router combo really delivers. With a maximum throughput of up to 1,000 Mbps, this little fella can handle plenty of internet traffic. Four gigabit Ethernet ports let you plug your devices straight in for optimum speed, or you can take advantage of the built-in AC2350 Wi-Fi.

The GreenWave C4000 BG works with any ADSL or VDSL service with profiles up to 17a. That essentially means this DSL modem router combo has a maximum downstream rate of 150 Mbps and a maximum upload of 50 Mbps.

If you have unusually fast internet, like a gigabit plan, make sure the modem router you choose can support it. Most modern routers and modems can handle these speeds, but inexpensive models or older stock may not have the necessary protocols.

A modem router combo (or wireless gateway) merges the two devices into one standalone unit. It saves space and makes the purchase and configuration easier, although that comes at the expense of flexibility and upgradeability.

Check your monthly bill for a rental fee; Comcast, Cox, Optimum, and Spectrum all add a charge, depending on your plan. Some providers say they provide a free modem in certain bundles, but they usually charge an extra Wi-Fi service fee if you use a modem/router combo unit (like Spectrum, pictured above). 041b061a72


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