Updated May 2023
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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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Best of the Best
NETGEAR Nighthawk Multi-Gig Cable Modem CM2000
Nighthawk Multi-Gig Cable Modem CM2000
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Expert Recommended
Bottom Line

Those with a high-speed internet plan of over 2 gigabits per second will love this reliable modem.


This cable modem supports DOCSIS 3.1 technology for blazing-fast internet speeds of up to 2.5 gigabits per second. It works with all major internet service providers, including Xfinity, COX and Spectrum.


It's overkill for casual users who may not have an internet plan that justifies a modem that supports speeds over 1 gigabit per second.

Best Bang for the Buck
Motorola MB7621 Cable Modem
MB7621 Cable Modem
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Simple Yet Solid
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A sturdy and capable DOCSIS 3.0 modem that's easy to set up with the major internet providers.


Recommended for most households not requiring gigabit speeds. DOCSIS 3.0 attains real-life speeds up to 650 Mbps. Compatible with Comcast, Cox, Spectrum, BrightHouse and others. Built-in power surge protection.


Problems are rare, but Motorola’s support processes are lackluster.

Motorola MB861 Multi-Gig Cable Modem
MB861 Multi-Gig Cable Modem
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Bargain Pick
Bottom Line

This modem has a sleek, space-saving design and is built to handle fast internet speeds.


This modem can handle download speeds up to 2.5 gigabits per second and has an Active Queue Management feature that prioritizes high bandwidth streaming, such as 4K streaming and gaming. Plus, it's backward-compatible with 32 by 8 DOCSIS 3.0.


There are some concerns over its durability, as there are rare reports of it failing within a year or two.

NETGEAR Cable Modem CM1000
Cable Modem CM1000
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Widely Compatible
Bottom Line

This cable modem has been designed for speed and is ideal for 4K HD streaming.


Quick and easy setup. Compatible with major cable providers. Works with all WiFi routers. Supports different internet plans to deliver fast and reliable internet speed.


Technical support is not always reliable.

ARRIS SURFboard SB8200 Modem
SURFboard SB8200 Modem
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Comprehensive Choice
Bottom Line

This compact option supports great top speeds.


Excellent top speeds up to 2 Gbps. Has a small desktop footprint. Compatible with major cable providers. Features 2 gigabit ethernet ports. Boasts a simple setup. Provides reliably fast connection.


With only 2 ethernet port options, it’s not especially future-proof.


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.

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Buying guide for Best cable modem

If you have high-speed internet service in your home, you need a modem that allows your devices to connect to the internet. Internet service can be costly, but your monthly bill is likely more than it should be if you pay a modem rental fee. Instead of shelling out money for a rental modem to your internet service provider, you can save up to $150 per year if you buy a cable modem.

Cable modems may seem like complicated devices, but it’s simply hardware that makes your internet service usable. They’re easy to set up, and once you do, there’s no need to tweak settings if you’re a casual internet user.

There are a few things to consider before buying a modem, primarily internet speeds. The speed capabilities of your modem should correspond with your internet plan. For example, if you have an internet service plan that provides you with download speeds of 500 megabits per second, there’s no point in getting a modem that allows for speeds of 1 gigabit per second.

In theory, faster internet is always better, but your internet speed depends on your household, and you should also consider your internet usage. For example, a 500-megabit-per-second modem is fine for casual HD streaming. However, if you’re a hardcore gamer or have several devices connected to your local network simultaneously, you’ll need faster speeds to avoid latency issues.

Our favorite cable modem, the Netgear Nighthawk Cable Modem CM2000, supports the latest technology, DOCSIS 3.1, and can handle download speeds of up to 2.5 gigabits per second. We recommend this modem for heavy internet usage, but plenty of other terrific modems are better suited for casual everyday use.

Modem on table
If your modem includes a wireless router, you can disable the wireless functionality and use your own separate router, many of which include advanced features like port forwarding or quality of service (QoS) controls not found on combo units.

Best cable modems

Netgear Nighthawk Cable Modem CM2000

This cable modem is engineered with DOCSIS 3.1 32 by 8-channel bonding and is compatible with all major internet providers, including Xfinity, Cox and Spectrum. It offers blazing fast download speeds of up to 2.5 gigabits per second and works with any Wi-Fi router. Hooking it up to a Netgear Wi-Fi 6 router or Orbi mesh system is best for the fastest connections.

Motorola MB7621 Cable Modem

You don’t need lightning fast internet speeds unless you have multiple devices connected to your local network that simultaneously stream 4K content or consistently download or upload large files. That’s what makes this an excellent cable modem for most users. It gets the job done with internet speeds of up to 650 megabits per second, and it costs much less than modems equipped to handle download speeds of 1 gigabit per second or faster.

Motorola MB8611 Multi-Gig Cable Modem

The slim design of this cable modem makes it preferable for those with limited space, but it’s no slouch when it comes to internet speed. It offers download speeds of up to 2.5 gigabits per second and upload speeds of up to 800 megabits per second. Setup is quick and straightforward, and Active Queue Management reduces internet latency for faster streaming and gaming.

Netgear Cable Modem CM1000

This cable modem doesn’t offer internet speeds as fast as some other modems, but it’s suitable for the average internet user. You’ll get download speeds up to 1 gigabit per second, which is good enough for casual HD streaming, gaming and web browsing. Setup takes less than five minutes, and it works with any router.

Arris Surfboard SB8200 Cable Modem

Arris is a top cable modem brand, so you can rest assured you’re getting a quality modem. It’s engineered with DOCSIS 3.1 technology, which is 10 times faster than DOCSIS 3.0 and features multi-gig networking for faster internet speeds. The Surfboard Central app allows for quick setup, and unlike other modems, there are two ethernet ports for high-speed wired connections.

Netgear Nighthawk Cable Modem CM1200

This cable modem is similar to our top pick, the Netgear Nighthawk Cable Modem CM2000. The primary difference is that maximum download speeds can reach 2 gigabits per second instead of 2.5 gigabits per second. It’s a slight downgrade, but it’s acceptable for most users. Also, this cable modem eliminates the need for a router for some users since it has four ethernet ports.

Arris Surfboard SB6190 Cable Modem

If you’re looking for a simple modem that’s affordable and fast, this one is more than adequate. It’s similar to other Arris Surfboard modems that use the Surfboard Central app for quick setup, and it’s compatible with most internet providers, including Cox, Spectrum and Xfinity. It offers download speeds of up to 800 megabits per second and comes with a two-year warranty card.

What to know before buying a cable modem

Most cable modems look the same: little black boxes that accept a coaxial connection and make the internet available as a standard network connection. However, under the hood, there are some pretty important details.


The single most important thing about any cable modem you buy is that it has to be compatible with your internet service provider’s network. Most internet service providers support a wide variety of modems. However, you should still consult your ISP’s documentation for a list of officially supported modems and stick to that list as you compare different models.

DOCSIS 3.0 vs. DOCSIS 3.1

Cable modem standards are pretty complicated, but at the end of the day, you only need to know three things:

  1. Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification standards reflect data transfer speeds — that is, how fast a given modem can bring you the internet.
  2. Most users get high-speed internet from modems using the older DOCSIS 3.0 standard.
  3. Most ISPs offering premium gigabit speeds require you to use a DOCSIS 3.1 modem. If you subscribe to an internet plan that supports gigabit speeds, get a DOCSIS 3.1 modem.

Integrated Wi-Fi

Many cable modems have begun to blur the line between modems and routers, offering “all-in-one” devices that do the work of both the cable modem and a wireless router, which allows for a wireless network. If you don’t already have a wireless router, this can be a convenient way to establish Wi-Fi for the first time.


Speed-testing tools

Most ISPs direct you to their own proprietary internet speed-testing tools, but they may be biased. Run internet speed tests when no one on your network is using the internet, and compare results from different speed-testing websites. It’ll give you a sense of how fast your internet connection is so you can buy the appropriate cable modem.

Internet plan

Your internet speeds are affected by various factors, but the two most important ones are what internet speeds you pay for and what internet speeds your cable modem can handle. If you’re paying for speeds your current modem doesn’t support, upgrading your cable modem is prudent. On the other hand, if your internet speeds are low, a new cable modem won’t solve that problem, and you’ll need to upgrade your plan if you want faster speeds.

Network switch

Buy a separate network switch if you want to use multiple wired connections with your cable modem. Most cable modems have one standard network port, meaning they can only provide wired internet access to a single device at a time. A network switch is essentially a splitter for your internet signal so you can wire multiple devices for connectivity. Wired connections are much faster than wireless, so it can pay off to hardwire as many of your devices as possible.


Q. How much does a cable modem cost? 

A. Most DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems cost $50 to $100 and are suitable for most users. If you need a faster DOCSIS 3.1 modem or an all-in-one modem, you can expect to spend $150 to $300.

Q. Can I install a cable modem myself?

A. Most cable modems are easy to install, so long as the building is wired correctly for cable internet. However, you’ll still need to register it with your ISP to get internet service. If you install your modem yourself, call your ISP’s technical support team beforehand and ask them to walk you through the process and complete the necessary hardware registration. 

Q. Do I need to buy a particular cable modem if I also subscribe to phone service through my ISP?

A. Yes. Many ISPs offer internet, TV and digital phone service bundles, all of which are delivered to your home through your cable modem. If you get phone service through your ISP, you’ll need a modem that supports a telephone line.

Q. My existing cable modem seems okay. Why should I upgrade?

A. It might still be worth upgrading if you own a cable modem. For example, some users are still connecting to the web with DOCSIS 2.0 modems, which are slow by today’s standards. To put it in perspective, if your current device is a DOCSIS 2.0 modem, by replacing it with a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, you could potentially be getting internet speeds that are 32 times faster.

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