Comcast is one of the largest home Internet service providers in the United States. Their Xfinity service has been recently been scrutinized for a number of questionable practices, including the implementation of universal data caps and invasive network management.
But one of the longest-running rackets of the ISP oligarchy is home equipment rentals. Comcast scares their customers out of buying their own equipment by warning that you are on your own if your equipment grows outdated or has a defect.
The truth of this is that modems have all been on the same Docsis 3.0 standard since 2006, and will likely stay this way for the foreseeable future. And on top of that, they are inexpensive. Even if you do suffer catastrophic failure, getting a new modem is still cheaper than a year of rental fees.
The average cost of renting a modem is $10 a month, or $120 a year. The average cost of buying a modem? $70. You’ll be saving hundreds in fees, and will likely be upgrading your network signal strength as well.
As for setting it up, all you have to do is plug it in to your coaxial port, power it on, and you are good to go. And to get rid of your rented modem, all you need to do is call Comcast and tell them you want to drop off your rented modem at the nearest Service Center.
Sound easy? It is. They will act like you’ll have a hard time finding a compatible device, but Comcast’s compatible Docsis device list has 70 different modem options to choose from.
But don’t bother browsing through the convoluted layout of this chart, as we’ve already researched and singled out the ten best modems for any Comcast Internet package.
Just keep in mind that if you don’t already have your own router, you will need one too, preferably an AC router. You can also save a bit of money by purchasing a modem/router combo unit as well, though they usually aren’t as effective as individual units.
There are plenty of different options for you to choose, but however you go about it, buy your networking equipment so you have one less monthly fee to worry about.
1. ARRIS SURFboard SB6141 Cable Modem
When you search for Comcast-approved networking gear, Arris is the first company that will pop up. Not only do they manufacture the most Comcast-compatible modems out there, but they also make the most popular one: the SURFboard SB6141.
The SB6141 is a standalone modem that pairs with a WiFi router to provide download speeds of up to 43 Mbps download and upload speeds of up to 131 Mbps. It has two ethernet ports that allows you to connect it to a router and a wireless bridge if you use one.
Like most modems, the SB6141 has convenient status LEDs which make for simple troubleshooting. But you will be even more glad to have the massive support network of thousands of other people who have used and set up this router before.
Comcast actually holds a portion of Arris stock, so it should come as no surprise that Arris sets the standard for compatibility with them.
Price: $69.95 (30 percent off MSRP)
2. ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 Cable Modem
Arris’ SURFboard SB6190 is the definitive upgrade to the SB6141, offering up to four times the top download speed. This modem has a max download speed of 1.4 Gbps, and a max upload speed of 262 Mbps.
The SB6190 has the same two ethernet ports as the cheaper SURFboard model, and the same relatively compact case mold.
Its only real difference is the increased speeds, which is definitely handy if your household streams from multiple devices at once.
Whether you actually benefit from this higher downstream speed does depend on your Comcast plan, though. To find out how much you would actually benefit from an upgraded modem, be sure to check how the download speed compares to your plan’s speed. You can also see what your current download speed is with a free utility like speedtest.net.
Your network is only as strong as the weakest link, so you will also want to compare your modem’s download rating to your router’s download rating, plus that of the wireless cards of your main devices.
Still, going with the SB6190 will mean peace of mind that at the heart of your home network, you have a solid connection to your source.
Price: $112.00 (25 percent off MSRP)
3. ARRIS Residential Gateway with Telephony Adapter TG862G-CT
Yes, Arris makes a lot of networking equipment, but I promise this is the last one I’ll recommend.
The only reason that their TG862G-CT needs a special mention is because this is the only modem on the list that supports Comcast Voice, the telephone service featured in their popular Comcast Triple Play package.
The modem options for Comcast users are severely limited by the Triple Play, as there are only a handful of 3rd party modem that adhere to the eMTA standards it requires. That said, the package is a solid deal on services, and the Residential Gateway can make it work on your terms.
This modem is capable of download speeds up to 320 Mbps, and actually includes an N-band WiFi router to send your home network wireless through your home.
The embedded router fairly bottom-tier in terms of performance, which frustratingly means that you would have to use wireless range extenders if you wanted to upgrade your wireless signal.
You could also connect a second router to this device via one of its four ethernet ports, but I would reserve this setup for only if you already have an extra AC router laying around unused.
Thankfully, the TG862G-CT has a USB 2.0 port for including network-attached storage, and can support two simultaneous voice lines, so it isn’t totally bare bones.
Even with the higher price of this unit, you will still be saving money by making the switch from a rented unit, especially if you’ve already signed a multiple year contract with your ISP.
4. Linksys CM3008 Cable Modem
Linksys is one of the best recognized names in networking, and their CM3008 cable modem is the newest addition to their networking lineup.
This modem is the successor to the DPC3008, which was their best-selling model when they were still owned by Cisco.
It sets itself apart with an Intel Puma 5 chipset, which is apparently the secret behind their higher speeds of 340Mbps down and 120Mbps up.
It has a lone ethernet port, a small and compact casing, and a plug-and-play setup. Aside from that, there isn’t much more that you can ask for out of a modem.
Price: $49.99 (29 percent off MSRP)
5. Netgear CM600-100NAS Cable Modem
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.
That’s because 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: $110.55 (15 percent off MSRP)
6. Zoom 5370 Cable Modem
The Zoom 5370 modem doesn’t look like anything fancy, nor does it need to in order to perform well as a modem. In terms of price value, the Zoom stands out against established choices like the Arris SB6141 with its larger configuration of downstream channels.
The Zoom 5370 offers max download speed of 686 Mbps, which is more than double the speed Arris’ modem of the same price.
It also has the same two year warranty. It only has one ethernet port, but this will only matter if you need to set up two routers.
My even cheaper Zoom 5345 has lasted me more than six years across many different network configurations, and gave me the right performance level for my sadly basic Internet package.
7. TP-Link TC-7610-E Cable Modem
TP-Link’s TC-7610-E is a low-priced modem that boasts the ability to support all Comcast packages up to their Extreme 150 plan. For under $50, this modem can get you a standard 343 Mbps down, 143 Mbps up.
Despite being just a bit bulkier than the Arris SB6141, the TP-Link equivalent has almost identical specs, while being about $20 cheaper. And the brand is just as well known within the networking world.
The TC-7610-E claims to be an important network safeguard, but after trying up and down to evaluate this statement, I have no idea what TP-Link is trying to tell us about their modem’s role in Internet safety.
What they should say is that this modem is an efficient plug-and-play box that simply works. It will be on you to ensure that whichever router you hook up to this modem has its default password and SSID changed, which is essential for securing your home WiFi network.
Price: $44.00 (37 percent off MSRP)
8. D-Link DCM-301 Cable Modem
D-Link is a company that abstained for jerking their customers around by releasing constant “updated versions” of the same product over and over again, which is certainly more than can be said about other companies on this list.
Instead, their DCM-301 has been their go-to budget modem over the last couple of years. It is built on the same standard specs as other units offering speeds of 343 Mbps down, and 150 Mbps up.
Like all modems, the DCM-301 is backwards compatible with other DOCSIS standards, like 2.0 and 1.1. If you are on Comcast it is highly unlikely that you are on anything but the current standard, but you never know when you live out in the countryside.
This modem is compact and thoroughly ventilated, which means it should silently disappear into the corner of your room while you enjoy flawless Internet service. All in all, the D-Link is a solid pick.
9. Motorola MB7420 Cable Modem
Though Motorola was formerly the manufacturer for Arris brand modems, the company is now exclusively manufacturing their own brand of modems, including the MB7420. This is a fairly high-end modem that outperforms many of the above modems in download and upload speeds, but all said and done, might be overkill if you just need a basic hookup.
This modem offers a full band capture digital tuner, upgraded power handling to protect against power surges, and improved heat sinks, all of which give it an edge over the competition.
It sports a mid-tier max speed of 686 Mbps down, and 150 Mbps up. It has a single ethernet port, which makes this yet another simple modem to set up.
It comes in white or black, which makes it easier to blend in with your decor, and is about the average size for a modem unit. Just plug it into a nearby coaxial port, and you are good to go.
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10. ZyXEL BRG35503 Cable Modem
As for low-price modems that actually work, the ZyXEL BRG35503 takes the cake. Its max downstream is a slightly lower 220 Mbps, but this is still more than most people will need for a basic Internet package.
Since this product is branded under ZyXEL but is manufactured by Hitron Technologies, you may have to call a Comcast representative to set it up. Tell them that your modem is a Hitron CCA-30360, and that should alleviate any problems you might have.
If you think you can handle that, you are getting a screamin’ bargain on this modem. One of my favorite elements is its classy design, with a unique asymmetrical vent pattern on the top, and an awesome retro font over its LED display.
If you like your networking gear cheap and with a little character, then the ZyXEL BRG35503 is an all-star pick.