It’s the biggest sales weekend of the year. Shop our favorite deals now ahead of Cyber Monday.
DOCSIS 3.1 model capable of handling 6-Gbps cable plans. WiFi 6 coverage over 3,000 square feet. Includes 4 ethernet ports plus one 2.5-Gigabit port for super-fast wired connections. Works with all major cable providers.
Some reports of dropped connections. Customer support is not good.
Boasts DOCSIS 3.1 speeds for plans up to 1.2 Gbps. Broadcasts WiFi at up to 3 Gbps. Offers 4 ethernet ports plus one 2.5-Gigabit ethernet port for multi-gig wired networking.
Can only be administered via a wired network connection.
Features 4-Gigabit ethernet ports and powerful WiFi connectivity. Beamforming technology focuses on the devices you are currently using. Supports 2 phone lines.
This model exclusively works with Comcast Xfinity. Does not support gigabit speeds.
DOCSIS 3.1 modem plus WiFi 5 router delivers speeds up to 3.2 Gbps. Router features beamforming and MU-MIMO for good coverage and smooth streaming. Offers 4-Gigabit ethernet ports for wired networking.
A bit pricey. Not WiFi 6.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Subscribing to internet service through a cable provider can entail a whole new set of fees in addition to your base subscription price. Most notably, there are rental fees for the cable modem and router that can add $100 or more per year to your cable bill. Over the service life of this equipment, a cable subscriber could shell out hundreds of dollars. What’s more, the modem and router often aren’t the latest models, so not only are they prone to breaking down sooner than expected, they may not be able to properly handle a high-speed internet connection.
There’s a solution to this dilemma. Getting a cable-modem router combo, gives you control over the quality of your internet and cable connections and eliminates one or more rental fees from your cable bill. What’s not to like?
A cable modem-router combo is a highly efficient setup. It receives a data signal from the cable provider via a coaxial cable running from a nearby network node to the device. That data signal is processed by the cable modem and delivered wirelessly throughout the house via its onboard WiFi transmitter. It’s important, before making a purchase, to make sure a particular cable-modem router would deliver optimum performance for your particular internet setup.
That screamingly fast cable modem-router combo at the top of the price range may not be the right device for your needs. It must be compatible with the service and internet speed your cable company delivers. For example, if you have a 50Mbps (megabits per second) internet connection, a cable-modem router designed to handle 1Gbps (gigabits per second) is overkill. And if the cable company doesn’t support the cable-modem router, it won’t work at all.
Internet speeds continue to rise, and the WiFi spectrum is evolving, too. A cable modem-router combo must be compatible with new technologies for at least a few years after its purchase.
Most cable-modem routers advertise fast download speeds (the speed at which you receive data, such as streaming video) but downplay upload speeds (the speed at which you send data, like uploading photos to Facebook). Upload speeds are typically much slower than download speeds.
One downside to the cable modem-router combo is that putting both a modem and a router into a single device limits some of your options. For example, if the router becomes obsolete or can’t be upgraded through a software update, you may need to replace the entire combo. Also, combo routers tend to have fewer features than standalone routers.
The tradeoff for fewer features and options is a single device that takes up less space, is easy to set up, and will run reliably for quite some time.
Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) is an international telecommunications standard. You want to pay attention to which version the router adheres to because gigabit connections require DOCSIS 3.1. Check your service provider bill to see what speeds you’re paying for.
Before you choose a cable modem-router combo, consider the kind of WiFi it supports. Does it support WiFi 6 speeds, or only up to WiFi 5? The more users and devices that will use a WiFi network, the faster you'll want the network to be.
Also, consider if you need a mesh networking system. Mesh WiFi systems use a series of modules placed around your house to create a strong WiFi signal everywhere. If you have a large house, a mesh networking system may work best.
Most models will work with major Internet Service Providers (ISP), but you'll want to double-check before you buy. Most ISPs publish a list of cable modem-router combos that they work with.
On the surface, a cable modem-router combo seems to have just a few features: randomly blinking lights, a smooth outer shell, and perhaps a couple of Ethernet ports. Of course, much more is going on inside the unit.
This part of the combo receives the signal from the internet service provider and can connect that signal to just one device.
Connecting to multiple devices, both wirelessly and through an Ethernet port connection, is accomplished by the router.
Cable modem-router combos typically have at least four Ethernet ports, giving users the option of a direct-wired Ethernet connection to the internet.
Users with a WiFi-enabled device and the cable-modem router password can access the internet from anywhere in the home.
Cable-modem routers increasingly include a guest WiFi network option. It’s a separate WiFi network with a separate password that provides internet access, but doesn’t allow access to any other devices or information on your local network.
Look for a combo with at least 16 downstream channels to handle faster internet speeds.
There will always be fewer upstream than downstream channels. For example, there may be 24 x 8 — 24 downstream and 8 upstream channels.
Low-end cable modem-router combos start as low as $63 and range up to about $105, though they may not have the performance you need.
For just a bit more, starting around $120 and moving up to $190, you can get a reliable device with a range of features that are compatible with most cable companies’ DOCSIS standards.
For peak performance in the gigabit-plus speed range and compatibility with fiber-optic internet providers, cable-modem router combos start around $250 and go as high as $350.
A. Check your cable company or internet service provider’s website for a list of compatible devices, or call or chat with their customer service department directly. Some independent websites can also provide information on which cable-modem routers are supported by your internet provider.
A. The speed of your internet service is determined by two big factors: the internet plan you subscribe to and the limits of the cable company’s network. Traditional cable companies overwhelmingly use the DOCSIS delivery protocol. While this delivery method is pretty close to miraculous, it’s still much slower than fiber optic cable-based networks. If your internet service is capped at 50Mbps, for example, buying a cable-modem router that delivers gigabit speeds wouldn’t make your service any faster than 50Mbps.
The main reason to buy a faster cable-modem router is to future-proof it against major speed upgrades from your provider in the next few years. Call your provider (or check the news) to find out if a speed upgrade is planned. If so, buy a cable-modem router that matches that planned speed. If no speed upgrades are planned, save your money.
A. That number figure, or similar figures like 32 x 8, describe the number of downstream channels vs. upstream channels the modem has. Almost all modems have more downstream than upstream channels. This is a good thing, especially if you’re planning to stream video or play online games. A cable modem-router combo today needs at least 16 downstream channels to handle high-speed internet.