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Tech tip: the 6 top expert-reviewed modems

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I’ve explained within the CyberGuy feature Tips on how to lower your Web service bill  that owning versus renting a modem can chip away at overpaying. In lots of cases, you will have more control over your modem and privacy. Go check your bill from last month and in case you see that you simply are paying a fee to rent your modem and/or router, it might be time to speculate in your individual to get monetary savings in the long term.

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Top 6 Picks for Best Modems

For the most effective modem, try the list below. The main focus is on cable modems primarily because DSL is an older technology that’s being phased out and fiber-optics is a more recent technology that will not be available in lots of locations.

LAPTOP SCREEN TOO SMALL? TOP PORTABLE MONITORS MAKE EVERYTHING BIGGER

MOTOROLA MB7420

Amazon review (at time of publishing): 72% 5-star reviews out of 6,667 reviews

Pros:

  • Reasonably priced
  • DOCSIS 3.0 (16x faster than DOCSIS 2.0 modem)
  • Sits taller than wider so smaller footprint whether it is sitting on a desk
  • Real easy, color-coded connection ports
  • US-based customer support
  • Two-year warranty
  • Works with Top Cable Providers: Comcast, Spectrum, Cox

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have a telephone adapter or phone jack
  • Not as small as another modems

Get the Motorola MB7420

Motorola MB8611

Amazon review (at time of publishing): 76% 5-star reviews out of 25,496 reviews

Pros:

  • DOCSIS 3.1 Technology means it is quicker than DOCSIS 3.0 and it’s backward compatible
  • Multi-gigabit ethernet speed so it’s maximizing speed to routers
  • Sits taller than wider so smaller footprint whether it is sitting on a desk
  • US-based customer support
  • Two-year warranty
  • Works with Top Cable Providers: Comcast, Spectrum, Cox

Cons:

  • More Expensive than a number of the older modems and it will probably pay for itself in a few 12 months depending on how much you pay per 30 days for a modem

Get the Motorola MB8611 

The router connects to the modem via ethernet and you may then connect your WIFI devices corresponding to mobile phones and tablets to the web without having to attach them to the modem via ethernet cable.
(CyberGuy)

NETGEAR Cable Modem CM700

Amazon review (at time of publishing): 72% 5-star reviews out of 6,257 reviews

Pros:

  • DOCSIS 3.0 technology
  • Sits taller than wider so smaller footprint whether it is sitting on a desk
  • Works with Top Cable Providers: Comcast, Spectrum, Cox
  • Different price points for various max download speeds (so you may pay roughly depending on how much speed you would like)
  • Works with any router
  • As much as 800Mbps speeds

Cons:

  • Technically optimized to be compatible with Nighthawk routers, that are routers that this brand makes
  • No phone jack
  • Limited One-year warranty

Get the NETGEAR Cable Modem CM700I-SPY: CHANGE YOUR COMPUTER’S SETTINGS TO STOP PROGRAMS SPYING ON YOU

NETGEAR Nighthawk Cable Modem CM1200

Amazon review (at time of publishing): 75% 5-star reviews out of seven,439 reviews

Pros:

  • DOCSIS 3.1 Technology means it is quicker than DOCSIS 3.0
  • Sits taller than wider so smaller footprint whether it is sitting on a desk
  • Works with Top Cable Providers: Comcast, Spectrum, Cox
  • Works with any router
  • Multi-gig ethernet integration
  • 4 ethernet ports

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Not compatible with Verizon, AT&T, CenturyLink, DSL providers, DirecTV, DISH, and any bundled voice service

Get the NETGEAR Nighthawk Cable Modem CM1200

ARRIS SURFboard SB6190

Amazon review (at time of publishing): 71% 5-star reviews out of 5,155 reviews

Pros:

  • DOCSIS 3.0 technology
  • Works with any router
  • As much as 800Mbps speeds
  • Compatible with major U.S. Cable Web Providers including Cox, Spectrum, Xfinity & others

Cons:

  • Not DOCSIS 3.1
  • Not compatible with ATT, Verizon, CenturyLink, or other DSL or Fiber web providers.

Get the ARRIS SURFboard SB6190

ARRIS SURFboard SB8200 

Amazon review (at time of publishing): 76% 5-star reviews out of 16,392 reviews

Pros:

  • DOCSIS 3.1 Technology means it is quicker than DOCSIS 3.0
  • Two 1-Gigabit ethernet ports
  • Hurries up to 1 Gbps
  • Approved for Cox, Xfinity, Spectrum & others

Cons:

  • More Expensive than a number of the older modems and overall it pays for itself in about 2 years depending on how much you pay per 30 days for a modem
  • Not compatible with ATT, Verizon, CenturyLink, or other DSL or Fiber web providers

 Get the ARRIS SURFboard SB8200 

Tips on how to Buy the Best Router

Displays devices using WiFi from the same Wifi router/modem.

Displays devices using WiFi from the identical Wifi router/modem.
(Cyberguy)

Modems hook up with routers via ethernet cables. Most routers have a further ethernet port for wired connection to your devices. Most routers have Wi-Fi capabilities so once your modem is connected to a Wi-Fi router, it allows your devices to connect with the web via Wi-Fi.

Features to search for in a router:

  • Network Type: Routers assist you to create Wi-Fi networks. There are two general types:
    802.11ac: Latest and fastest technology that’s backward compatible with older Wi-Fi devices. If you will have many devices to attach via Wi-Fi, that is your best bet.
    802.11n: That is older technology with a regular speed of as much as 600 Mbps, whereas the newer 802.11ac routers have throughputs as fast as 1 Gbps. One profit is that it has an extended range.
  • 802.11ac: Latest and fastest technology that’s backward compatible with older Wi-Fi devices. If you will have many devices to attach via Wi-Fi, that is your best bet.
  • 802.11n: That is older technology with a regular speed of as much as 600 Mbps, whereas the newer 802.11ac routers have throughputs as fast as 1 Gbps. One profit is that it has an extended range.
  • Wireless Band: It’s a variety of frequencies that transmit data out of your router to your devices. Below are 3 types:
    Single: Uses 2.4 GHz band or 5 GHz
    Dual: Uses each 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
    Tri: Uses 2.4 GHz and a couple of separate 5 GHz
  • Single: Uses 2.4 GHz band or 5 GHz
  • Dual: Uses each 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
  • Tri: Uses 2.4 GHz and a couple of separate 5 GHz

2.4 GHz bands are great for connecting devices like smart bulbs and wireless appliances. Whereas devices like tablets and laptops fare higher on a 5 GHz band. Having a router that has multiple devices helps to parcel out the network traffic by device types.

  • Beamforming: This enables the Wi-Fi router to direct signals to where it is required essentially the most. That is great for big spaces where devices and routers are further apart or situated in less reachable places.

For the Top Router Picks, head over to CyberGuy.com and search “top routers” 

Pros & Cons of Combination Devices

Wireless router with three antennas and cable connected. Man using smartphone in background

Wireless router with three antennas and cable connected. Man using smartphone in background
(iStock)

While there are some modem-router combination devices, it is usually higher to get them individually. 

Normally, if a provider requires you to make use of their equipment to attach, they sometimes require the modem to be rented or purchased from them. They sometimes assist you to pick your individual router. Some additional explanation why a separate router and modem is best than a mix device, include:

  • Easier to troubleshoot. If is there an issue with the connection, it is normally apparent if the issue is stemming directly from the ISP vs. your internal hardware issues (router) if devices are separate because you’re going to get specific signals on a modem vs. a router. Whereas, if you will have a mix device, it normally doesn’t delineate between problems with the modem or router.
  • Sometimes cheaper. Should you may not have the opportunity to barter the price of the modem, but in case you should buy the router individually, you may probably find a greater ideal
  • Higher technology. While you might be stuck with whatever technology that the ISP is providing you modem-wise, in case you can select your individual router, you may buy the newest and best router to maximise the speed you’re paying for.
  • Pay less in Taxes. You’ll be taxed only on the equipment you’re renting.
  • Easier to interchange. If the modem breaks, you continue to have a working router, and vice versa. Whereas, with a mix device breaks, all of it’s broken.

The one real downside to not purchasing a mix device is that sometimes you do need to pay for 2 separate devices. Again, you may save by getting a greater price on those two separate purchases.

When Should You NOT Buy Your Own Equipment

In fact, you are encouraged to do your individual research to search out out exactly what providers are literally available in your area and what the corporate you choose will allow.

Below are top reasons NOT to purchase your individual equipment:

  1. Against the corporate’s policy.  There are still some ISPs that make it an element of their terms and services that you have to rent or buy their equipment.
  2. Free equipment. While not as common, some Web Service Providers, corresponding to AT&T, actually provide equipment for gratis to their customers. Unless the equipment they supply is an actual ‘fossil’ that features yesteryears technology, it’d just be nice to utilize the free equipment. It’s already included in the price of your monthly service.
  3. Setup Woes. Should you’re not savvy with technology and like to have another person come by and arrange the equipment, it is advisable to rent or buy the equipment out of your Web Service Provider and have them set it up. In cases like ViaSat, there may be installation of specialty equipment corresponding to a satellite that cannot be easily purchased or used without the corporate’s help.
  4. Repairs/replacements. If rented equipment breaks or malfunctions, the ISP normally replaces or repairs it. Should you purchased your individual, you then are accountable for repairing or replacing it.

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For more of my home tech picks, head over to cyberguy.com/home-tech and be sure you join for my free newsletter.

Copyright 2023 CyberGuy.com.  All rights reserved.  CyberGuy.com articles and content may contain affiliate links that earn a commission when purchases are made.

Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson is an award-winning tech journalist who has a deep love of technology, gear and gadgets that make life higher along with his contributions for Fox News & FOX Business starting mornings on “FOX & Friends.” Got a tech query? Get Kurt’s CyberGuy Newsletter, share your voice, a story idea or comment at CyberGuy.com.

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