Updated August 2021
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Buying guide for best Linksys modems

Getting the best performance out of the internet service in your home requires reliable hardware. When you want a steady internet connection that delivers all the speed you expect from your internet service provider (ISP), having a high-quality modem is a smart choice, and Linksys is one of the leading manufacturers of modems, as well as modem and router combinations.

Linksys modems work with many different ISPs, providing the compatibility required to ensure top-level performance. If you need a modem, it’s helpful to understand the various advanced features that Linksys offers in this type of hardware.

If you are just setting up your system or you need to replace the modem that your ISP gave or rented to you with your service, you can’t go wrong with Linksys. Read our buying guide for all the features to look for as you shop, and check out our favorites elsewhere on this page.

Linksys modems1
Linksys modems have no moving parts, so they should last a long time. Many people get several years of performance from their modems.

Key considerations

Modem vs. modem-router

A modem is a piece of hardware about the size of a hardback book that connects to the cable that brings the internet signal into your home. The modem translates the signal so you can send and receive data from the internet.

The manufacturer may include a router built into the Linksys modem hardware, or you might have topurchase the router separately. The router manages the ability of your devices to connect to the modem wirelessly or with an Ethernet cable.

Your primary consideration when choosing a Linksys modem is whether you want a standalone modem or a modem-router combination.

Modem: A standalone Linksys modem only connects to the ISP (cable or satellite). You need a separate router to allow devices to connect to the internet.

The standalone modem has an Ethernet port through which you connect a router. It has a port to accept the coaxial cable that brings the internet signal into your home, as well as a power port to connect the modem to a wall outlet.

Modem-router: The modem-router combination is popular because you only need one piece of hardware. However, some ISPs don’t work with these devices, which means you’ll need two separate pieces of hardware.

Linksys modem-router combinations have a port to accept the cable or phone line that brings the internet signal into your home, as well as a power port to connect to a wall outlet. They also have multiple ports for connecting devices through Ethernet cables. They may even have some USB ports to connect a printer or similar devices.

Some tech experts recommend against purchasing a modem-router combination because if one part of this hardware fails, you also lose the other. However, failure isn’t a common occurrence, so you can feel relatively comfortable purchasing a modem-router combination.

When picking a Linksys modem, make sure that it will work with your ISP. Linksys modems are compatible with most ISPs.




Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) indicates the maximum data transfer speeds the modem can handle from the ISP.

DOCSIS 3.1 is the latest version of this standard, which came into use in 2013. This allows the modem to use the internet connection speed more efficiently, improving the performance by up to 50%. DOCSIS 3.1 is the best choice for a Gigabit Ethernet connection.

DOCSIS 3.0, which came into use in 2006, offers speeds that are adequate for use with most ISPs. All current Linksys modems support DOCSIS 3.1, giving you the best results. However, you can save some money with a DOCSIS 3.0 modem.


Your Linksys modem has a certain number of uploading and downloading channels. Modems with more channels perform better than those with fewer channels. You need quite a few more download channels than upload channels because most users download far more data than they upload.

Dual-band WiFi router

If you choose a Linksys modem-router combination, look for one that has dual-band WiFi capabilities. This means that the router can send and receive signals on two different wireless bands: 2.4 and 5 gigahertz (GHz). The 5-gigahertz band delivers faster speeds, but some older wireless devices may not be able to connect to it, so having a dual-band router is a significant benefit.

Ethernet ports

Standalone Linksys modems have one Ethernet port.

Modem-router combinations usually have between three and six Ethernet ports to connect devices directly to the modem-router with Ethernet cables. This is a good idea if you have devices that need the fastest performance, such as a video streaming device, versus trying to run them over WiFi. For the best performance, look for at least one port that can support Gigabit Ethernet, which delivers ten times better speeds than standard Ethernet. Even better is a modem that has multiple Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Linksys modems2
Your Linksys modem can overheat in a confined space, so position it where it can get some ventilation.

Linksys modem prices

Inexpensive: The least expensive Linksys modems cost between $30 and $60. These are basic models that may only be compatible with certain ISPs or that are likely modem-only devices.

Mid-range: These Linksys modems cost $60 to $125. Many have a built-in router, making them highly convenient. These are usually compatible with the latest version of DOCSIS as well.

Expensive: You can find some Linksys modem bundle kits that cost between $100 and $200. These include a modem and a router as separate pieces of hardware and may include signal-boosting hardware.

When you purchase a Linksys modem, you might need to register it with your ISP so the ISP can connect to it.



  • Position your modem-router optimally. If you have a choice, placing it in the center of the home is the best option to minimize the distance the wireless signal must travel from the router. Don’t position it near other devices that emit signals that could interfere with it, such as a microwave, baby monitor, or cordless telephone system.
  • Give bandwidth priority to streaming or gaming. Using the software included with your Linksys router, you might be able to give a certain device priority to use the majority of the bandwidth, which can help with streaming or online gaming.
  • Assign the bands optimally. If you have a dual-band modem-router, assign the faster 5-gigahertz band to newer devices and the slower 2.4-gigahertz band to older devices or devices that don’t use the network often, such as a printer.
  • Position the antennas optimally. If your Linksys modem-router combination has adjustable antennas, try to aim them in the direction of most of the devices or at the devices that need maximum bandwidth and a reliable signal.
  • Reboot your router periodically. Most Linksys routers work better and maintain a more reliable signal if you reboot them every week or two.
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While a Linksys modem can help with the stability of your internet connection, it can’t deliver a faster data transfer speed than your ISP allows.


Q. Are Linksys modems easy to install?

A. They are easy to set up for most people, meaning you don’t need to hire a professional to install it for you. You might need to run a CD-ROM that ships with your Linksys modem or download files from the Linksys website to run the software needed to set up the modem.

Q. Do I really need a modem other than the one my ISP gave me?

A. Generally, the modem you receive from your ISP will work fine, but it won’t have the latest features and speed capabilities. The modem you receive from the ISP is usually a bare-bones model that covers the basics and little else. A new Linksys modem should give you more reliable performance and consistent speeds.

Q. Can I buy a DOCSIS 3.1 modem even if my ISP doesn’t yet support this standard?

A. Yes. DOCSIS 3.1 equipment is backwards compatible with other versions, so you can use a 3.1 modem with slower connection speeds.

Q. Does a Linksys modem ship with everything needed to begin using it?

A. Yes. Beyond the modem hardware, the box should include a power cable, because the modem must connect to a wall outlet, as well as an Ethernet cable and telephone RJ11 cables, if you need these.


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