A Guide to Optimum Compatible Modems

With all the extra fees that come along with internet services these days, you may be trying to decide if it makes more sense to rent a modem and router with your Optimum internet service, or buy one outright. There are definitely a lot of variables to consider when making this decision. Would you prefer a higher upfront cost but no monthly rental fee if you buy your own modem and router? Or does a lower upfront cost and higher bill over time sound more up your alley?

If you’re curious which option is best for you or which modem and router you should consider buying to support your Optimum internet, we can help. We’ve analyzed all the questions to consider during your decision-making process and researched which modems will work best with your Optimum internet to help you make the best decision.

Should you rent or buy a modem and router?

As a quick primer, a modem is the piece of equipment that helps bring the internet into your home, while a router is what helps direct the connection to all your connected devices. We will be discussing both modem and modem/router combos in this guide.

Optimum internet allows you the option to either rent your modem and router along with their service, or provide your own. To decide which option is right for you, consider these pros and cons.

Pros of renting

  • Lower upfront cost since you pay monthly versus a large upfront cost to purchase a modem and router in full
  • Guaranteed compatibility with the Optimum internet plan that you choose
  • Access to Optimum customer service and troubleshooting if something goes wrong with your equipment
  • Ability to easily change to a different modem if you change your internet plan
  • Free smart router included with your monthly modem rental

Cons of Renting

  • Monthly fees add up over time and could cost you more than buying a router in the long run
  • Your monthly payment will be higher each month
  • You will never pay off or own the modem, no matter how many months you pay for it

Pros of Buying

  • Lower monthly internet bills without monthly modem rental fees
  • You get to choose your own equipment
  • Long-term savings over time

Cons of Buying

  • Higher upfront cost
  • You need to purchase both a modem and router (or gateway)
  • You are responsible for repairs/replacement if something breaks
  • No access to Optimum customer support for troubleshooting

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What to look for in an Optimum compatible modem and router

So you’ve weighed the pros and cons of purchasing a 3rd party modem for your Optimum internet service and have decided to go ahead and purchase your own? Great! The next step is to find a modem and router combo that is compatible with your Optimum internet plan. This means there are some important criteria to consider (and some terminology to decode, too.)

DOCSIS Protocol

We know what you might be thinking – DOC-what-sis? DOCSIS is a technical term that stands for “Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification,” which is a really fancy way to say, “this modem provides broadband internet access.”

When you choose a modem, you want the version number to be at least 3.0. But, if you’re going for a faster internet plan (1000Mbps or more), you might want to look for a 3.1 version to ensure it can handle the speed.

Upstream and downstream channels

Although upstream and downstream channels could mean a lot of different things, when it comes to modems, this refers to the channels that make up both your internet speed and total bandwidth, or in other words, upload and download capabilities.

You might see this represented in numbers like 32 x 8, but what exactly does that mean? The number before the x represents downloading channels, while the number after the x represents uploads. Since download speed is usually more important, that first number will usually be larger than the second. The higher the number, the better. And for modern-day internet, you’ll want that first number to be at least 16 to ensure the modem can keep up.

Security

The security of your wireless network and ultimately your personal information remains incredibly important in today’s world, especially with the ever-changing and evolving nature of technology and those who try to thwart security measures. Make sure your modem has at least WPA2 security levels (WPA3 is even better) to keep your network secure.

Compatibility with your ISP

Even if you think you’ve found the perfect modem and router that checks all the boxes, there’s a possibility that it might not be compatible with Optimum. Make sure you verify the equipment you choose is compatible before you purchase it.

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Criteria we considered

To come up with the following picks, we started with the list of Optimum-approved modems and modem/routers. Then, we narrowed it down to the top pick for each speed (300Mbps, 600Mbps, and 1000Mbps) based on the DOCSIS version, channel rating, and security.

Our top Optimum modem and router picks

Now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way – let’s get to the good stuff. Without further ado, may we present our top modem (and modem/router combo) picks for your Optimum internet plan.

Best modem for the Optimum 300Mbps plan

Netgear CM500

  • DOCSIS: 3.0
  • Upstream and downstream channels: 16 x 4
  • Security: WPA/WPA2
  • Average price: $41.66 to $59.99
  • Speed: Up to 300Mbps

Best modem/router combo for the Optimum 300Mbps plan

Netgear C7000

  • DOCSIS: 3.0
  • Upstream and downstream channels: 24 x 8
  • Security: WPA2
  • Average price: $129 to $219.99
  • Speed: Up to 400Mbps

Best modem for the Optimum 500Mbps plan

Motorola MB7621

  • DOCSIS: 3.0
  • Upstream and downstream channels: 24 x 8
  • Security: WPA/WPA2
  • Average price: $89.99 to $179.99
  • Speed: Up to 1000Mbps

Best modem/router combo for the Optimum 500Mbps plan

Netgear C7800

  • DOCSIS: 3.1
  • Upstream and downstream channels: 32 x 8
  • Security: WPA2
  • Average price: $429.99 to $499.99
  • Speed: Up to 800Mbps

Best modem for the Optimum 1000Mbps plan

Arris Surfboard SB8200

  • DOCSIS: 3.1
  • Upstream and downstream channels: 32 x 8
  • Security: WPA2
  • Average price: $149.99 to $169.99
  • Speed: Up to 2000Mbps

Best modem/router combo for the Optimum 1000Mbps plan

Netgear CAX80

  • DOCSIS: 3.1
  • Upstream and downstream channels: 32 x 8
  • Security: WPA/WPA2
  • Average price: $369.99 to $499.99
  • Speed: Up to 6000Mbps

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The bottom line

When you choose Optimum as your internet provider, you have the choice to either rent a modem/router from them for a monthly fee, or you can purchase your own Optimum compatible modem and router.

If you choose to purchase a modem and router for your Optimum internet plan, you could potentially save money in the long run. Not only will your internet bill be less each month, but you’ll also have the added advantage of owning your equipment outright.

You’ll just need to be sure you purchase a modem (or modem/router combo) that is not only compatible with your internet plan but also has the right DOCSIS, channel, and security features. And, most importantly, you’ll need to choose equipment that is compatible with Optimum internet.

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*Pricing varies by location and availability. Speeds may vary. All prices subject to change; for current pricing and availability visit our internet service page. Prices as of 3/24/22.

Disclosure | Updater articles are based on our own data and research, independent from partner relationships. We are not compensated by partners for information and opinions presented here. Our Editorial Terms of Service can be found here.