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The 9 Best Cable Modem/Router Combos of

In a Hurry? Here's our verdict

Final Verdict

Motorola’s MG (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 CBK (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.

What to Look for in a Modem/Router Combo

Bandwidth

To take full advantage of the bandwidth your ISP provides, you'll need a modem/router combo that at the very least matches, and ideally exceeds, the top speed promised by your provider. The maximum bandwidth is indicated in gigabits per second (Gbps) and is usually prominently displayed in a modem/router's title or description.  

Bands

Routers increasingly are offering multiple data bands (think of traffic lanes) in an effort to reduce bottlenecking and increase efficiency in directing network traffic. Dual-band devices typically supply GHz and 5GHz bands, with the 5GHz band providing more peak bandwidth. Tri-band routers provide an additional 5GHz band to sort devices into, further reducing congestion when multiple devices are attached to a network at once.

Range

If you live in an apartment or modest home, nearly any modem/router combo will provide ample coverage for your entire living space. For larger homes, however, pay close attention to the range indicated by the model you're considering, and you also may want to consider a modem/router with something called beamforming technology, which shapes the signal from the router into a tighter beam to direct it towards specific devices, delivering a stronger and faster signal. alternatively, you may be better off with a separate cable modem and a mesh network.

Ethernet ports

Make sure your router has enough Ethernet ports for the devices you'll want to plug in, and if you have an internet plan that offers speeds above Mbps, you'll want to get one with Gigabit Ethernet ports to take maximum advantage of your plan.

Wi-Fi standards

Unless you have a fairly basic internet plan, you'll want support for relatively modern Wi-Fi standards. On the Wi-Fi side, a cable modem/router combo works the same as any other wireless router, meaning you'll be choosing from the same Wi-Fi standards and frequencies, such as nand ac, which have recently been redesignated as Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5, respectively to make life easier. You may also have heard of the newer Wi-Fi 6 ax standard, which is starting to appear. It's not a bad idea to invest in technology for the future, but it will be a while before you're likely to really need Wi-Fi 6 in your home, or even be able to fully take advantage of it.

FAQ

  • 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.

  • DOCSIS, which stands for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications, is the standard cable companies use to give your home internet access. It's been around for over 20 years, so there are lots of different version of it. Unless you've got a really high speed internet connection, it's not usually something to worry about.

  • The speed of your cable modem is determined by the DOCSIS standard it supports and the number of channels that it offers, although your ISP also has to support these standards on the other end. Buying a DOCSIS cable modem won't give you any better performance if your cable provider only supports DOCSIS , although it could still be a good investment for the future. Further, even though channel DOCSIS modems offer theoretical speeds of up to 1Gbps, most cable providers top out at Mbps over DOCSIS , so if your ISP is offering multi-gigabit plans, you'll almost certainly need a DOCSIS modem to take advantage of those speeds.

  • In most cases, yes. Since your cable modem has to be registered with your ISP to work properly, it’s important to buy one that’s guaranteed to be compatible. While some ISPs may let you register any cable modem, most will refuse to set up one that isn’t on its approved list. 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 manufacture’s website, but 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. 

  • When a cable provider tests a modem and certifies it as compatible with their network, they also specify the maximum speed that they’re willing to guarantee on their network. This number is usually lower than the maximum possible speed of a cable modem, and it’s not always the same for each ISP. Think of it like the difference between how fast your car can actually go and the varying speed limits on your local highways. You might get better performance than the ISPs maximum rating, but don’t count on it. 

About Our Trusted Experts

Jesse Hollington is a freelance writer with over 10 years of experience writing about technology and three decades of experience in information technology and networking. He's installed, tested, and configured just about every type and brand of router, firewall, wireless access point, and network extender in places ranging from single-family dwellings to office buildings. university campuses, and even coast-to-coast wide-area network (WAN) deployments.

Don Reisinger is a full-time freelance writer based in New York City. He has been covering technology, video games, sports, and entertainment for more than 12 years. He is an expert in consumer technology, which includes cable modems and router combos.

Bill Thomas is a Denver-based freelance writer who covers technology, music, film, and gaming. They reviewed the Netgear Nighthawk C on this list.

Sours: https://www.lifewire.com/best-cable-modem-router-combos-to-buy

The 9 Best Cable Modem/Router Combos of 2021

Final Verdict

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.

What to Look for in a Modem/Router Combo

Bandwidth

To take full advantage of the bandwidth your ISP provides, you'll need a modem/router combo that at the very least matches, and ideally exceeds, the top speed promised by your provider. The maximum bandwidth is indicated in gigabits per second (Gbps) and is usually prominently displayed in a modem/router's title or description.  

Bands

Routers increasingly are offering multiple data bands (think of traffic lanes) in an effort to reduce bottlenecking and increase efficiency in directing network traffic. Dual-band devices typically supply 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, with the 5GHz band providing more peak bandwidth. Tri-band routers provide an additional 5GHz band to sort devices into, further reducing congestion when multiple devices are attached to a network at once.

Range

If you live in an apartment or modest home, nearly any modem/router combo will provide ample coverage for your entire living space. For larger homes, however, pay close attention to the range indicated by the model you're considering, and you also may want to consider a modem/router with something called beamforming technology, which shapes the signal from the router into a tighter beam to direct it towards specific devices, delivering a stronger and faster signal. alternatively, you may be better off with a separate cable modem and a mesh network.

Ethernet ports

Make sure your router has enough Ethernet ports for the devices you'll want to plug in, and if you have an internet plan that offers speeds above 100Mbps, you'll want to get one with Gigabit Ethernet ports to take maximum advantage of your plan.

Wi-Fi standards

Unless you have a fairly basic internet plan, you'll want support for relatively modern Wi-Fi standards. On the Wi-Fi side, a cable modem/router combo works the same as any other wireless router, meaning you'll be choosing from the same Wi-Fi standards and frequencies, such as 802.11nand 802.11ac, which have recently been redesignated as Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5, respectively to make life easier. You may also have heard of the newer Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax standard, which is starting to appear. It's not a bad idea to invest in technology for the future, but it will be a while before you're likely to really need Wi-Fi 6 in your home, or even be able to fully take advantage of it.

FAQ

  • 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.

  • DOCSIS, which stands for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications, is the standard cable companies use to give your home internet access. It's been around for over 20 years, so there are lots of different version of it. Unless you've got a really high speed internet connection, it's not usually something to worry about.

  • The speed of your cable modem is determined by the DOCSIS standard it supports and the number of channels that it offers, although your ISP also has to support these standards on the other end. Buying a DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem won't give you any better performance if your cable provider only supports DOCSIS 3.0, although it could still be a good investment for the future. Further, even though 32-channel DOCSIS 3.0 modems offer theoretical speeds of up to 1Gbps, most cable providers top out at 600Mbps over DOCSIS 3.0, so if your ISP is offering multi-gigabit plans, you'll almost certainly need a DOCSIS 3.1 modem to take advantage of those speeds.

About Our Trusted Experts

Jesse Hollington is a freelance writer with over 10 years of experience writing about technology and three decades of experience in information technology and networking. He's installed, tested, and configured just about every type and brand of router, firewall, wireless access point, and network extender in places ranging from single-family dwellings to office buildings. university campuses, and even coast-to-coast wide-area network (WAN) deployments.

Don Reisinger is a full-time freelance writer based in New York City. He has been covering technology, video games, sports, and entertainment for more than 12 years. He is an expert in consumer technology, which includes cable modems and router combos.

Bill Thomas is a Denver-based freelance writer who covers technology, music, film, and gaming. They reviewed the Netgear Nighthawk C7000 on this list.

Sours: https://www.lifewire.com/best-cable-modem-router-combos-to-buy-4082541
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