What’s the Best Gigabit Modem?

Do you want your home internet connection to be able to take care of all your internet needs, like streaming HD videos, browsing social media, online video calls and gaming? If you answered yes, you may want to maximize your internet speed by investing in a gigabit internet modem.

While there are plenty of modems available today, if you have gigabit internet service you’ll want to find one that can handle high-speed internet of 1Gbps or more. You’ll also need to confirm that your modem is compatible with your internet service provider (ISP). We’ve rounded up some of the best gigabit modems available today to help you start your search.

What is gigabit internet?

Gigabit internet is next-generation high-speed internet designed to ensure that you never experience speed issues during your online gaming sessions or video conference calls. Gigabit internet services are designed to deliver 1 gigabit per second of data or 1,000 megabits per second.

Gigabit internet is ten times faster than the typical 100Mbps broadband speed you’ll find in use today. These speeds mean that you can download large files in seconds, or a full HD movie in minutes, play graphics-intensive online games without lag, and much more.

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What to look for in a gigabit modem

Before purchasing a gigabit modem, there are some features and specs you should keep in mind.

DOCSIS Compatibility

DOCSIS is an acronym that stands for “Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification”. It is a set of specifications that describes the way cable internet providers can send data over lines that were initially designed for cable TV. Since it was first introduced in 1997, DOCSIS has evolved quite a bit and the latest version, DOCSIS 3.1, became available in October 2013.

DOCSIS 3.1

DOCSIS 3.1 is the existing industry standard and supports download speeds of up to 10Gbps. These fast speeds can power bandwidth-intensive online activities such as multi-player virtual gaming, 4K streaming, and video conferencing.

DOCSIS 3.0

Most modems today comply with the DOCSIS 3.0 standard that was launched back in August 2006. These cable modems are usually less expensive than DOCSIS 3.1 modems, and you may have more options, including used or refurbished devices. DOCSIS 3.0 modems have a maximum download speed of 1Gbps and a maximum upload speed of 100Mbps.

Although DOCSIS 3.0 modems aren’t exactly obsolete yet, it’s safe to say that DOCSIS 3.1 modems are a more suitable solution in the long run. When looking for a gigabit internet modem, choose a model that works under both standards. Ideally, you want a modem that can offer at least eight upstream and 32 downstream channels in the DOCSIS 3.0 standard, allowing you to reach speeds of 1Gbps.

As home internet speeds continue to climb, manufacturers and ISPs are devising new modems to accommodate even higher speeds. Prototype DOCSIS 4.0 modems that support 10Gbps speeds are currently in development, so even more powerful technology is on the horizon.

Gigabit Ethernet ports

When shopping for gigabit modems, you should look for devices with multiple Ethernet ports so that you can have the ability to hardwire devices that need a fast, reliable connection. Most modems have 1Gbps Ethernet ports or 2.5Gbps ports which can be great for gamers that want to maximize the speed of their internet and maintain a constant connection that Wi-Fi can’t always guarantee.

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Best gigabit internet modems

We’ve done the research and identified some of the best gigabit internet modems to help you choose the right one for your needs.

Motorola MB8600

The Motorola MB8600 modem has four 1Gbps Ethernet ports. It supports the ultra-fast DOCSIS 3.1 standard and is backward compatible with the fastest DOCSIS 3.0 32×8 speeds. This modem features low latency, making it suitable for many online games that need fast response times. It also supports Ethernet port bonding, which is necessary to support speeds higher than 1Gbps. This modem also includes DOCSIS 3.1 Active Queue Management (AQM) to speed up page loads and video calls.

The Motorola MB8600 modem can work with any router, Windows or Mac computer, HDTV, or game station with an Ethernet port. It also includes a full-band capture digital tuner to improve speed and conserve energy.

NETGEAR Nighthawk CM2000

The NETGEAR Nighthawk CM2000 cable modem uses next-generation DOCSIS 3.1 technology to provide the fastest cable internet speeds available today. The model is compatible with major cable internet providers including Cox, Spectrum and Xfinity, among others. With 32 downstream and eight upstream channels, this modem works well for streaming HD videos, fast downloads, and gaming.

The CM2000 modem has only one Ethernet port that can support speeds up to 2.5Gbps. However, you can only achieve this speed if you have a compatible router that can support up to 2.5Gbps. Otherwise, the maximum speed you will see is 1Gbps, depending upon your internet plan.

ARRIS SURFboard SB8200

The ARRIS SURFboard SB8200 modem has a sleek look and comes in two colors: black and white. There are LED lights on the modem, and it features 3GB of RAM and 128MB/16MB of flash memory.

The modem has two Ethernet ports that you can link together to create a 2Gbps internet connection to any compatible device. You can also use both ports independently if your internet package offers support for several IP addresses.

Setting up the modem is easy if you use the ARRIS SURFboard Central application. You don’t have to configure any Wi-Fi, but the application will connect your device to the modem. Therefore, you can use the modem with your selected ISP.

NETGEAR Nighthawk CM1200

The NETGEAR Nighthawk CM1200 cable modem offers DOCSIS 3.1 and four 1Gbps Ethernet ports. Although this modem supports DOCSIS 3.1 technology, it is also backward compatible with previous DOCSIS standards.

Using link aggregation, you can combine the NETGEAR CM1200 modem’s two 1Gbps ports into one 2Gbps port for faster wired Ethernet speed. Moreover, the modem offers multi-IP address support, which means it can support up to four home networks and allows many internet connections to run several applications independently.

This gigabit modem is compatible with all major cable internet providers with internet speeds up to 2Gbps, including Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox, and others.

ARRIS SURFboard SBG8300

This modem is not a typical internet modem but a wireless gateway, which means it covers the functionality of a modem along with a Wi-Fi 5 router in a single package. As a result, you can save space. The modem can bond up to eight upstream and 32 downstream channels (compatible with DOCSIS 3.0) or 2 x 2 OFDM channels (compatible with DOCSIS 3.1), which makes it capable of supporting higher bandwidth for true gigabit-speed capability.

DOCSIS 3.1 specifications claim that this device can achieve speeds up to 10Gbps. However, over Wi-Fi, it can actually provide a maximum speed of 1.7Gbps. From one wired connection, you can get a top speed of 1Gbps.

This modem is certified to work with Cox and Xfinity internet plans. However, it does not work with AT&T, Verizon, or CenturyLink services. If you do choose this gigabit modem, you can use the SURFboard Central App to easily set up, manage, and customize your home network.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What’s the difference between DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 gigabit modems?

DOCSIS 3.0 modems are typically less expensive and more readily available than DOCSIS 3.1 modems. However, DOCSIS 3.1 modems align with the latest standards and can deliver better performance for higher-speed internet plans of 1Gbps or more.

Both modems have built-in security functions, but DOCSIS 3.1 modems have more potential to offer advanced online protection. This is specifically true if you buy a router-modem combo device.

Is DOCSIS 3.1 necessary for gigabit internet?

No, you can achieve 1Gbps speed with DOCSIS 3.0. However, it’s important to know DOCSIS 3.0 is an older standard that will eventually be retired. For that reason, you may want to purchase a modem that adheres to the DOCSIS 3.1 standard while maintaining backward compatibility with DOCSIS 3.0. 

Also, DOCSIS 3.0 maxes out at speeds around 1Gbps, while DOCSIS 3.1 can support speeds up to 10Gbps. If you know you’re going to want to upgrade your plan to a multi-gigabit package down the road, investing in a DOCSIS 3.1 modem may be the way to go.

How much should I expect to spend on a gigabit modem?

The gigabit modems covered in this article typically range between $150 and $300 if you purchase them new. You may be able to save some money if you opt for a used or refurbished modem, but you’ll need to be sure to buy from a reputable seller.

Do I need to purchase a gigabit modem for internet service?

Most ISPs can provide modem equipment to subscribers, but you may need to pay a monthly rental fee. Although the price-per-month to lease a modem from an ISP is low, these costs can add up over time. For that reason, buying a gigabit modem may be a better investment but only if the capabilities of the gigabit modem align with the speed of your internet plan.

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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 3/30/22.

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.