Best Motorola Modems

Updated April 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
18 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best Motorola modems

Many factors can contribute to underperforming home internet service, but a major one is the equipment one uses. Most ISPs (internet service providers) will rent a modem to residential customers, but these tend to be bare-bones models that are slower or less reliable. Purchasing your own modem (and/or router) not only can help deliver the kind of internet connection you desire, but usually does so with a long-term savings.

While many manufacturers make modems, Motorola is a brand with a long track record, and that familiar name gives it broad appeal. When choosing a Motorola modem, you should first ensure that the model is compatible with your ISP. After that, let the features you desire or expect to use guide you to a comfortable decision.

In this guide, we explore the array of features and considerations available with Motorola modems. To make your shopping quest even easier, we provide information about some of our favorite Motorola modems on this page.

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Depending on your ISP, you may need to call the technical service line before connecting the Motorola modem you have purchased.

Key considerations

When seeking a Motorola modem, you first will need to determine whether you want simply a modem by itself or a modem-router combination. Motorola offers several models that fit either category.

With either type of modem from Motorola, the format will be a vertically aligned piece of hardware that’s almost the size of a hardcover book.

Modem-router

Most residential users choose a modem-router combination. A router is hardware that allows the modem to share data with devices that are connected wirelessly or with cables. Having both functions bundled in one device is a convenience.

The Motorola modem-router combination allows the creation of a WiFi network, but the device also includes ports on the back for making hard-wired connections. The majority of Motorola modem-routers have four Ethernet ports, at least one of which supports Gigabit Ethernet speeds.

Motorola modem-router combinations nearly always support dual-band WiFi, meaning it can choose between the faster 5 GHz band or the previous-standard 2.4 GHz band. This ability to alternate between the two bands allows the device to avoid interference on either of the bands, improving the performance and reliability of your WiFi network.

Modem

If you pick a standalone model from Motorola, it will have only one Ethernet port on the back, used for connecting the separate router, which would then give you the ability to create a WiFi network.

Some cable ISPs do not allow customers to use a combo modem-router, so this is a case where you’d have to go with a modem-only piece of hardware and add a router on your own.

If you have older devices connected to the Motorola modem that do not support the current security standards, you can change settings to be in line with the older devices’ security protocols.

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Features

Motorola modems offer a number of features. Before buying, it’s important to understand the options and decide which to prioritize based on your planned uses.

DOCSIS

DOCSIS, short for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification, is a protocol used in modems. Some Motorola cable modems support DOCSIS 3.1 (the fastest current standard), allowing for maximum data transfer speeds and the most reliable connection signals. Others support the previous standard, DOCSIS 3.0, which still delivers plenty of speed for most residential users.

Some ISP subscriptions don’t have enough data transfer speed to justify using DOCSIS 3.1, but the standard is backward-compatible with older versions of DOCSIS. So while buyers may save a little with a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, it comes at the expense of missing potential future upgrades by the ISP.

Active Queue Management (AQM)

AQM is a technology available under DOCSIS 3.1 in some Motorola modems that uses software to speed up high-bandwidth processes such as online gaming or videoconferencing.

Channels

Motorola modems use separate upload and download channels. The more channels a modem has, the faster its potential data transfer speed.

Most modems have more download channels than upload channels, as users download far more data than they upload. Motorola modems have 8 to 32 channels for downloading and 4 to 8 upload channels. The cost of a modem typically rises with the number of channels, but the increased performance will be well worth it for those who stream video or play online games.

Telephone ports

Those who choose a telephone/internet bundle from their service provider will want a Motorola modem-router with telephone jacks.

A related option with some Motorola modems is a backup battery that powers the phone for several hours in the case of a loss of power at home.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Motorola only makes cable internet modems, and they are not compatible with DSL internet service.
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Motorola modem prices

Lower-end: Motorola modems generally cost a little more than modems from most other manufacturers. For the most basic modems from Motorola, expect to pay between $50 and $100. These typically are modem-only pieces of hardware.

Higher-end: For a modem-router combination from Motorola, prices range from $75 to $250. Pricier models deliver the most speed and performance.

To determine whether purchasing your own Motorola modem makes financial sense, find out what you are paying your ISP each month to rent equipment. It’s likely that, by purchasing a modem and not paying rental fees, the device would pay for itself within 18 months.

Using a Motorola modem at the same coaxial wall outlet that connects your TV will require a coaxial splitter.

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Tips

If you are having trouble with your Motorola modem or modem-router, try these troubleshooting tips.

  • Upon connecting a modem for the first time, you may be prompted to enter your cable ISP account number to allow the connection to work.
  • Motorola modems and modem-routers often have stickers on the bottom of the devices with information needed for setup. This may include the model number, the security key, and a preset password.
  • A Motorola modem will have a series of indicator lights on the front of the device that let you know exactly what functions it is performing. Look there for clues about any difficulties.
  • For the best performance and speed, place the modem as close as possible to where the internet signal enters your home.
  • If you believe you are not receiving the internet connection speed from your ISP that you are paying for, use an internet connection speed test app to determine your average rate of speed.
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The software included with your Motorola modem may allow parental controls, such as restricting certain devices or limiting some device connections to certain times of day.

FAQ

Q. Do I have to give guests access to my secured wireless network through my Motorola modem-router?

A. Not necessarily. Some Motorola modem-routers give you the ability to create a guest network that is separate from your password-secured network. Guests can access the network without risk of them gaining access to your personal files.

Q. Can I connect my TV to the Motorola modem?

A. Yes, as long as it is a modem-router combination. If it is a modem-only, you must connect the TV to the router that is connected to the modem.

Q. Is it difficult to set up a Motorola modem and router?

A. Not really, although some people have the devices professionally installed. Much of the time, your devices can access the modem-router automatically, which makes things extremely easy during setup. However, if you want to control all aspects of the modem’s features and connectivity, you can adjust these advanced settings through the software included with the modem.

Q. Does it really help to turn the modem off and turn it back on to try to troubleshoot it?

A. Yes. In fact, turning off the modem for up to a minute on a regular basis can promote a more reliable internet signal.

 

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