Best NETGEAR Modems

Updated November 2019
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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 we never accept free products from manufacturers. 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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Why trust BestReviews?
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 we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
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 we never accept free products from manufacturers. 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 
How we decided

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

13 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
250 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

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

Netgear is known for its line of great and affordable modems that work with most modern ISPs such as Xfinity, or Comcast. With options that can support fast gigabit speed plans, many of these modems are perfect for video streaming, multiplayer games, and other data-intensive online activities. Remember to find a modem that is rated for speeds close to your specific ISP plan so you are not left with a slow connection even though you are paying for something faster. A router will also be required for a WiFi network, so check out Netgear's internet routers or bundled options to save some extra money.

Buying guide for best NETGEAR modems

Last Updated November 2019

Most internet service providers (ISP) are more than happy to rent you a cable modem — the device that takes their internet signal and makes it available for your devices — but rental fees add up, and in most cases you’re better off buying your own cable modem outright. In fact, most cable modems pay for themselves within two years when you take rental fees into account.

Finding the right cable modem can be a little tricky, though, because it’s a matter of finding one that’s compatible with your ISP, fast enough to deliver the speeds you pay for, and that will work well in your home environment. One of your safest bets is to go with a brand you know, which is why we recommend NETGEAR modems. NETGEAR makes some of the best consumer networking hardware around, and its modems are well known for lasting forever.

Ready to find the right NETGEAR modem so you can keep all your gadgets online? Here’s everything you need to know, as well as a few of our favorites.

If you’re buying a NETGEAR modem with built-in WiFi, keep a hardwired device around to test the connection before you start setting up the WiFi. If there’s a problem with your connection, save yourself from troubleshooting the WiFi when you don’t have to. Handle the setup from a wired connection, make sure everything works, then set up the WiFi.

Key considerations

Before you start shopping, it’s important to answer two questions, which will give you a basic idea of what kind of modem you’re looking for.

How fast is your internet connection from your ISP?

The single most important thing to know while you’re shopping is what speed your ISP account delivers. Internet speed is measured in terms of both download speeds and upload speeds in megabits per second (Mbps), so note both, and be sure the NETGEAR modem you buy supports those speeds. Keep in mind that you may want to increase your speeds in the future, and if you do, you’ll need a modem that can keep up, so get a modem that gives you room to grow, too.

Do you want a modem with built-in WiFi?

Many modems are combo units that include both modem functionality and a built-in WiFi router, so you don’t have to buy them separately. That’s great if you’re a fan of one-stop shopping. On the other hand, WiFi standards evolve faster than modem standards do, so you run the risk of getting stuck with outdated WiFi if you go with a combination unit (although you can always add another WiFi router later).

For those who feel the need for speed

The NETGEAR C7800, sometimes called the Nighthawk X4S, is one of the fastest modems in the industry. It’s a DOCSIS 3.1 modem, meaning it supports gigabit internet speeds, and it can handle up to 2,000 Mbps, which is enough to support hundreds of devices at once. On top of all that speed, it’s got four gigabit Ethernet ports, ultra-fast 802.11ac WiFi, and it works with most major ISPs. Make no mistake about it: this is NETGEAR’s top-shelf offering.

NETGEAR modem features

It’s no exaggeration to say that most NETGEAR modems look the same. So how do you tell them apart? Pay attention to these three key features.

Upload and download speeds

The biggest difference between NETGEAR’s modems is how fast they can transport data. Every modem shows both upload and download speeds. If you’re not sure how fast a modem you need, get a copy of your latest ISP bill and see what level of internet speed you subscribe to. Most internet subscription plans refer to their download speeds in the title, so if you have “Super Blast Plus Pro 300” internet service, there’s a good chance that means you’re looking for a modem that can handle at least 300 Mbps download speeds.

Built-in WiFi

NETGEAR makes standalone modems as well as all-in-one units that have both a modem and a WiFi router. Combination units tend to be a little pricier but can often be a good fit for environments where space for multiple devices is limited.

Additional Ethernet ports

All NETGEAR modems have at least one Ethernet port to provide internet signal to a WiFi router, network switch, or wired device, but in some cases, it’s handy to have a few more on board. Additional Ethernet ports are typically only available on NETGEAR modem/WiFi router combo units, but they may be worth looking into because they save you from having to buy a separate network switch.

EXPERT TIP

When you’re ready to set up your NETGEAR modem to connect to your ISP, first look on the bottom or back of the modem and note the MAC address and serial number. Call your ISP tech support team and have someone walk you through the process. In most cases, you’ll need to register your modem with the ISP before you can get service, so calling is a necessary step no matter what.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you need to connect multiple devices to your modem (and it doesn’t have any or enough extra Ethernet ports), you’ll need a network switch, which creates multiple Ethernet ports so you can hardwire devices to your network. Wired connections are always faster than wireless.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

To get a sense of how much money you’re saving by buying a modem, check your ISP bill for your current modem rental fees. In most cases, buying a new one pays for itself in a year or two, and modems can last several years longer than that.


Staff  | BestReviews

NETGEAR modem prices

Up to 400 Mbps: If you’re looking for a NETGEAR modem that gets speeds up to 400 Mbps, plan on spending between $60 and $1,020. These models are all solid, and they vary by the speeds they support or whether they include a built-in WiFi router. Our take: if you work from home or use multiple video streaming devices simultaneously, plan on spending around $100. If you’ve only got one or two users or you don’t use the web a lot, a less expensive model will be fine.

More than 1,000 Mbps: If you subscribe to “gigabit” internet speeds (those higher than 1,000 Mbps), plan on spending between $150 and $400 for your modem. NETGEAR modems in this price range are also differentiated by the speeds they deliver, which is a good thing because most of them include premium features like additional Ethernet ports. Most home users will be fine with a model that costs around $150. If you’re buying a NETGEAR modem for a small office or a house full of roommates, plan on spending closer to $400.

Best modem for the basics

If you’re on a budget, or you don’t need a modem that supports super fast speeds, take a look at the NETGEAR CM500. It gets a respectable 300 Mbps down, and it’s dead simple to set up. The CM500 is a reliable modem-only solution that’s perfect for non-techies or those who simply like to “set it and forget it.”

Tips

  • Locate your main internet connection in your home before choosing built-in WiFi. You’re going to connect your NETGEAR modem directly to your ISP’s signal in your house, so consider whether or not that’s also a good location for your WiFi broadcast signal. If you need your modem and WiFi router to be in different locations, get a NETGEAR modem without WiFi and buy the wireless router separately.

  • Check the grade of your Ethernet cables. Ethernet cables come in different standards, each faster than the last. We recommend using cables that are a minimum of 5e. Check all of the Ethernet cables you’re using to connect devices to your modem and make sure they say Cat 5e, Cat 6, or Cat 7 on the plastic coating. If it says Cat 5, but not Cat 5e, discard it and get a faster cable.

  • Keep your NETGEAR modem upright. NETGEAR modems need to keep cool to operate smoothly, so they’re designed with built-in ventilation and plenty of room to pass air through. However, the ventilation only works when they’re standing up. They aren’t designed to operate while lying on their side.

Other products we considered

If you’re looking for a modem with built in WiFi, consider the NETGEAR C6250. It’s a good middle-of-the-road model. It supports speeds up to 300 Mbps, it’s got two Ethernet ports, and the included WiFi is strong enough to cover an apartment or small home. The C6250 isn’t just functional, though; it’s also darn pretty, and it’s one of NETGEAR’s few models that’s more than just a black box. If you need a modem that’s got built-in WiFi and has a voice modem, too, check out the NETGEAR Nighthawk C7100V. It supports speeds up to 400 Mbps, it’s got 802.11ac WiFi, and it can work with up to two different voice lines. If you’ve got an all-in-one subscription with your ISP that includes TV, internet, and phone, and you want an all-in-one modem and router to match, this is the one to get.

If you’re buying a NETGEAR modem and you need a separate solution for WiFi, check out the company’s WiFi routers. NETGEAR’s quality and user-centric design extend across all of its hardware, and it has dozens of models based on different needs.

FAQ

Q. If I buy a NETGEAR modem, will it work with WiFi routers from other brands?

A. Yes. NETGEAR’s products are agnostic when it comes to working with other hardware, so you’re not required to use the company’s products.

Q. How do I find out if a modem is compatible with my ISP?

A. Most providers publish their own lists of modems that are compatible with their services, but in general, user reviews and product pages are a better reflection of what actually works with a given ISP. For example, a lot of NETGEAR modems explicitly state which ISPs they support. Once you’ve picked out a NETGEAR modem, triple-check that it’ll work with your internet service — give them a call and ask their technical support team whether the model you’ve picked out will work.

Q. Are there any benefits to renting a modem from my ISP?

A. Not really. In theory, rented modems are covered by your ISP, so if you rent one and it breaks, they’ll replace it for free. Also, most ISPs will also upgrade you periodically if you’re renting hardware from them. However, modems rarely fail, and ISPs are slow to keep up with evolving standards. Save yourself the monthly fees and buy your own cable modem.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Jaime
    Jaime
    Writer
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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