Tech

Top 5 Best Cable Modems of 2016

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Though combination modem/routers may have grown popular for of their sheer convenience, many folks don’t realize that you can save money by purchasing a modem and router separately.

By purchasing two separate devices, you are usually getting higher performance for you dollar, and saving yourself money in the future, should one component or another fail or grow outdated.

As for which modem is right for you, there are only a few options you need to consider when purchasing one. You will want a modem with upstream and downstream speeds that match the Internet plan you subscribe to.

You will also want one that is small and compact, and has as many ethernet ports as routers you plan to use (probably one). And that’s all there is to it.

As for compatibility, all modems you’ll find online will be DOCSIS 3.0, which has been the universal standard for the last decade, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Cable companies tend to leverage their dreaded “approved list” to dictate what hardware you purchase. They will promise more support for certain modems, but the bottom line is that 99% of all DOCSIS 3.0 modems will work with any cable provider.

Of course, you may want a modem that has an official nod from your ISP in case you do run into setup trouble. Therefore, we’ve kept track of which of our favorite modems are approved by which ISPs for those who want to play it safe.

Keep in mind that these modems are only for cable services, not DSL or FiOS. Also remember that you will still need a wireless router to project your incoming WiFi signal through your home.

Additionally, if you currently get your internet bundled with a phone service, you may need a special modem with a phone jack, so check in this before replacing a rented modem.


1. ARRIS SURFboard SB6141 Cable Modem

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(Amazon)


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Works with: Comcast/Xfinity, Cox, Charter, Time Warner, Mediacom, Bright House
Does not work with: N/A

The Arris SURFboard SB6121 is a #1 Best Seller on Amazon because of its affordable price and strong recommendations from top internet providers such as Comcast/Xfinity, Cox, Charter, and Time Warner. Because of its popularity with customers, it is almost universally compatible with cable providers, and provides a formidable 172 Mbps download speed and 131 Mbps upload speed. If you are after more potential speed, the notably more expensive ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 supports up to 343 Mbps download and 131 Mbps upload, and there are faster Arris models yet. This modem is also backwards compatible with older DOCSIS standards, and has convenient status LEDs on the front for simple troubleshooting.

Price: $69.97 (30 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Arris SURFboard SB6121 here.

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You can save hundreds in ISP rental fees supplying your own networking gear.

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2. Zoom 5370 Cable Modem

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(Amazon)

Works with: Comcast/Xfinity, Cox, Charter, Time Warner, Mediacom, Bright House
Does not work with: N/A

Zoom’s newest 5370 is a compact and sleek modem that will work any current cable provider in the US, with no recurrent compatibility issues. With a download speed of 343 Mbps and upload speed of 143 Mbps, this modem is about the same price and performance as the leading Arris SURFboard. And considering that this modem’s 2 year warranty double that of the SURFboard, it holds the advantage for longevity. Its materials are sturdy, and will take up very little space in your work area. My own Zoom 5370 works great and delivers low ping on my current Xfinity connection.

Price: $49.90

Buy the Zoom 5370 here.

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Paying for gigabit speed internet? Unlock its full potential with a new 802.11ac router.

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5. Netgear CM600-100NAS Cable Modem

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(Amazon)

Netgear, longtime competitor to Linksys, makes a nearly identical line of modems of varying speeds. However Netgear has always had the upper hand when it comes to aerodynamics.

I say this jokingly, as Netgear is behind the stealth bomber-inspired Nighthawk router, and its angular modem equivalent, the CM600-100NAS.

This is Netgear’s top of the line modem, and it comes in a well-ventilated black case that helps regulate modem chip temperatures and keep this innocuous device from drawing too much attention.

As I’ve already touched on, a modem won’t reach its max download speed if you don’t pay for the bandwidth to do so. If you don’t subscribe to Xfinity’s Blast or Xfinity Extreme Internet plans, you will probably be see no difference between the CM600 and Netgear’s lower end CM400 modem.

Still, there are plenty of setups where the extra downstreaming capabilities will be appreciated, especially where gaming is involved. So if you want to do ensure you’re doing networking right, start with one of these.

Price: $119.90 (8 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Netgear CM600-100NAS Cable Modem here.


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Dead zones can plague even the best routers. Instead of tearing down walls in your house for that perfect connection, try one of these top range extenders for a better WiFi signal.

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4. Linksys DPC3008 Cable Modem

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(Amazon)

Works with: Comcast/Xfinity, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Mediacom, Cox, RCN
Does not work with: Cox

Linksys’ DPC3008-CC comes from a golden age for the company when they were still owned by Cisco and making some of the best quality networking equipment on the market. It has solid speeds of 340Mbps down, 120Mbps up, and features clearly labeled status LEDs on the front for easy troubleshooting. It also has mounting slots for wall or desk mounting. This router is basically a rebranded Cisco DPC3010, so note that it will work fine wherever either modem is compatible.

Price: $72.99 (23 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Linksys DPC3008-CC here.

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5. D-Link DCM-301 Cable Modem

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(Amazon)

Works with: Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Suddenlink
Does not work with: N/A

D-Link’s DMC-301 is a reliable router whose thoroughly ventilated case ensures it keeps cool while delivering constant internet to your network. With speeds of 343Mbps down, and 150Mbps up, it is actually slightly more capable of handling big uploads than other brands on this list. Installation is quick and easy, and the router is physically durable. All in all, a solid pick from a reputable manufacturer.

Price: $77.69 (29 percent off MSRP)

Buy the D-Link DCM-301 here.

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Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.

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