What’s the Best Modem and Router Combo?
Welcome to the 21st century, where devices have replaced decor and knowing how to make cables disappear is valuable skill. There’s a device for everything, whether it’s your doorbell/security camera or smart home setup. But sometimes, it pays to have devices that are compact, save money and are easy to set up.
Modem router combos have come a long way in recent years and now offer faster connectivity, expansive coverage, and more cost-effective solutions than ever before. This guide reviews modem router combos from some of the top players in the industry, such as NETGEAR and Motorola, to help you find the perfect one for your needs.
Best for: Super fast connectivity in the lower-to-mid price range
Also known as the NETGEAR DOCSIS 3.0 1.6Gbps Two-in-One Cable Modem and Wi-Fi Router, this modem router combo is a beast when it comes to download speeds. Whether you’re in the middle of a video game battle royale or bingeing the latest season of your favorite show, streaming is seamless. The C6250 boasts the following:
- Xfinity internet certified for speeds up to 200Mbps
- Spectrum internet certified for speeds up to 300Mbps
- Cox internet certified for speeds up to 150Mbps
- 16x faster cable internet speeds than DOCSIS 2.0, which goes up to 680Mbps
- Two gigabit Ethernet ports that allow faster wired speeds
- Average price around $160
While there are other modem router combos with higher speeds and coverage, this one provides high-speed wired internet connectivity at a reasonable cost, especially if you’re looking at an upfront purchase, not renting from an internet service provider (ISP).
Low speeds might dissuade those who need a high-performance product, whether it’s upload or download speeds. For instance, video uploads for vloggers might take longer than with a device designed for faster speeds. That said, this combo will still allow you to stream and game, even if it’s not the highest-performance device on this list.
NETGEAR Nighthawk C7000
Best for: Gaming and streaming households where performance is most important
NETGEAR dazzles again with the NETGEAR Nighthawk DOCSIS 3.0 1.9Gbps Two-in-One Cable Modem and Wi-Fi Router. It floors with download speeds that max out at 1.9Gbps combined speed, a must-have for households who game and stream in HD or 4K quality. Features of the C7000 include:
- Xfinity internet certified for speeds up to 800Mbps
- Spectrum internet certified for speeds up to 400Mbps
- Cox internet certified for speeds up to 500Mbps
- A 1.6GHz processor to handle high-speed LAN-to-WAN, wired, and wireless connections
- Up to 24 times faster cable internet speeds than DOCSIS 2.0
- Access to the Nighthawk app, which provides mobile access to your network and a host of other goodies, such as network security
- Average price around $175
This modem router combo works for households where gaming and streaming rule, and lag is not an option. While a bit pricier than the NETGEAR C6250, it’s worth it for the extra peace of mind knowing that buffering won’t be an issue with this device.
Motorola MG 7700
Best for: Households who want a high-speed modem router combo at a reasonable price
The Motorola MG 7700 24×8 Cable Modem plus AC1900 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router with Power Boost is a great all-rounder if you’re in the market for a high-speed, low-cost modem router combo. It offers great range and can be used at home or in a small office. It also offers the following:
- Power Boost technology to amplify the wireless signal to the legal limit
- 24 downstream channels for nominal speeds over 1000Mbps
- 8 upstream channels for speeds up to 246Mbps
- Up to 24 times faster cable speeds than DOCSIS 2.0
- Average price around $175
It’s easy to see why Motorola’s MG 7700 made the list with DOCSIS 3.0 at a mid-range cost. It offers a bit more than some competitors with four gigabit Ethernet LAN ports instead of two, which boosts potential performance. It supports AnyBeam technology to allow an increased range for larger or split-level properties. This allows for continuous streaming and the eradication of dead spots.
NETGEAR Nighthawk CAX80
Best for: Those who want the best performance and don’t mind paying for it
A quick disclaimer here, this one is pricey with a full retail price of $500. The NETGEAR Nighthawk DOCSIS 3.1 6Gbps Two-in-One Cable Modem and Wi-Fi 6 Router delivers form and function in one streamlined package. Some features to highlight include:
- DOCSIS 3.1 for even faster connectivity
- 6000Mbps wireless speeds
- Offers ten times faster download speed than DOCSIS 3.0
- Compatible with most major service providers
- Average price around $400
If you’re not worried about shelling out a few hundred dollars for a modem router combo, the NETGEAR Nighthawk CAX80 offers features that streamline the gaming experience and can handle multiple devices streaming the highest quality 4K content at the same time.
ARRIS SURFboard G36
Best for: Those who want peak performance at mid-to-high range price
The ARRIS SURFboard G36 DOCSIS 3.1 Gigabit Cable Modem and Wi-Fi Router offers high-end technology within the higher-end price range. This is a router designed for serious gamers and technology enthusiasts who rely on performance to get the job done. Some features include:
- Use of the SURFboard central app to set up and manage the connection
- Compatible with major U.S. internet providers such as Cox, Spectrum, and Xfinity
- 32 downstream and eight upstream DOCSIS 3.0 channels or two downstream and two upstream OFDM DOCSIS 3.1 channels
- Average price around $325
Whether you need the assurance of performance during online meetings or a modem router combo that can handle yet another online gaming match between you and your friend in Iceland, this is the one. This is a good fit for households that demand performance.
One note is that if you happen to be with Xfinity internet service, it’s worth testing compatibility in your area to ensure a smooth connectivity experience.
Best for: Those who require voice services as part of their internet package
There’s one thing you need to know about Motorola and that is that their modem router combos are often designed for Xfinity compatibility only. A closer look at the benefits of this device show:
- Two telephone ports that support Xfinity telephone service
- Downloads that are 24 times faster than DOCSIS 2.0
- 24 downstream channels for nominal speeds up to 1000Mbps and 7 upstream channels for speeds up to 246Mbps
- Quick Start setup that’s easy to understand
- Average price around $190
No real fireworks here when it comes to connectivity speed as it relies heavily on the ISP and the package chosen. However, the phone service functionality is a nice add-on for small or home offices that need good performance at a reasonable cost.
Best for: Households that rely on Wi-Fi over wired connections
Efficiency thanks to Wi-Fi 6 and a compact design are two of the top features of the Asus CMAX6000. It’s designed to suit home and small office use and with the help of built-in antennae, boasts an impressive range. Add to that the Next-Gen Wi-Fi 6 Standard, and you’re set for uninterrupted gaming, working, and video streaming. Other top features include:
- DOCSIS 3.1 technology, which is 2.5 times faster than DOCSIS 3.0
- 6,000Mbps Wi-Fi speed that can handle top-tier internet plans from Xfinity and Spectrum
- Average price around $300
Speed is a no-brainer when going for this option, and so is the reasonable price point. According to customer reviews, major detractors for this particular model are dropped connectivity and a smaller range than expected without supporting Wi-Fi boosters.
Which modem router combo is right for you?
Finding the right modem router combo will depend on the specific needs of your household. You may also want to consider some of these questions before you make a final decision.
Will you need a high-performance device?
If you’re planning on gaming or streaming, you’ll want to opt for a higher-end device that can handle high-speed internet packages. You don’t want to pay for speeds that you can’t realize so make sure the capabilities of your modem router combo align with the speeds your internet plan offers.
Do you need a long-range signal?
If you need to cover more than the average 150 feet indoor and 300 feet outdoor range, which is standard for a 2.4GHz router, be sure to opt for a device that has sufficient antennae to carry the signal farther. Alternatively, opt for a product that can accommodate Wi-Fi extenders or mesh.
Does your modem router combo have to support different types of internet use at the same time?
There are two frequencies that support different internet functions and are referred to as bands. The lower band at 2.4GHz is great for longer-range connections where the quality can be slightly lower. At 5GHz, however, the range is shorter, and that makes it ideal for gaming. A modem router combo that can accommodate both is referred to as dual-band. For those that use Wi-Fi 6.1, there is the 6GHz band, which is exclusive to the newest modem router combos on the market.
What is your budget?
Entry-level modem router combos can go for as little as $99. But when you’re looking at increased performance, such as devices that run DOCSIS 3.1, expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $500. The rate goes up further when you want to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6.1, or your property exceeds the regular Wi-Fi range, which means purchasing Wi-Fi extenders.
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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 3/31/22.
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