With the vast array of high-tech modems available now, finding one for your home or office can be quite a challenge. There are a lot of factors that will go into your selection process, and comparing technical specifications can make things even more confusing. To help you make your choice quicker and easier, we’ve evaluated some of the most popular modems on the market today.
After a full week of research and testing several modems of all makes and models, we can say without doubt that TP-Link’s Archer A7 AC1750 is the one that stands out. Already equipped with a reliable wireless gigabit router that can handle multiple devices in a high-tech smart home, its reliable, solid performance does not disappoint. It is also the most cost-effective pick from the pool of devices we’ve examined. Keep reading to understand why we’ve crowned the Archer A7 AC1750 and to know more about the six other products that made our list.
Top 7 Best Modems Compared
#1 TP-LINK Archer A7 AC1750 Smart Wi-Fi Router
Award: Top Pick
WHY WE LIKE IT: The AC1750 tops our list because of its capacity to handle multiple devices, its stable, high-speed performance, its outstanding 2,500 sq. ft. coverage, its parental controls, and its affordable price. It has four Gigabit LAN ports, a USB port, a user-friendly menu, and a powerful CPU, making this modem-router combo a great choice for families with heavy Wi-Fi demands but are on a budget.
- Performance & wide coverage
- Quality of Service (QoS) software for bandwidth prioritization
- Parental controls and remote monitoring
- Limited customization
- Middling file transfer speeds
- Clunky user interface
The TP-Link AC1750 can help you set up your smart home. You can connect up to 50+ devices with its advanced CPU. It has a QoS software that enables you to prioritize bandwidth allocation across connected devices. Ideal for 4K streaming, the AC1750 provides everyone access to high-speed internet with reduced buffering, even with multiple devices. The AC1750 also includes Alexa integration and parental controls, making it easier for you to operate the device and to monitor your family’s usage. You can create user profiles, filter levels, and set time limits for each member of the family.
The AC1750 also has additional features that make it the best choice for families. It has three high-gain external antennas that provide strong Wi-Fi connection throughout the house. It has four Gigabit Internet LAN ports through which multiple connected wired devices can gain fast internet access. It also has an integrated USB port that functions as a media server and can be used to share USB drive content. Check out our routers section for more choices.
#2 NETGEAR CM700 Cable Modem
Award: Honorable Mention
WHY WE LIKE IT: Superfast speed powered by 32×8 channels is undoubtedly what sets the NetGear CM700 apart. With a data transfer rate of up to 500 Mbps, it’s among the best choices for those who are subscribed to high-bandwidth internet connections and for those who want the fastest internet speed possible.
- Ultrafast speed with 32×8 channels
- Quick and easy installation
- Smooth streaming
- Unstable connection
- Unreliable performance
- Some latency issues
If you are paying for a 500 Mbps subscription, you would want to maximize the high bandwidth connection. The NetGear CM700 enables you to do that with its 32×8 channel bonding and DOCSIS 3.0. This device gives you a data transfer rate of 500 Mbps. However, there may be some latency issues or lags if the network is congested.
While it doesn’t have a telephone port and has no built-in router, the CM700 works with any Wi-Fi router. It has one 1G Ethernet port that you can connect to your router or to your computer. This modem is also compatible with all major internet cable providers making it easily one of the best cable modems available. Speaking of Wi-Fi, read best home WiFi.
Another popular option is the Netgear CM500, compatible with Xfinity from Comcast, Spectrum Cox, Cablevision, and more.
#3 NETGEAR Nighthawk C7000 Modem and Router
Award: Best for Video Streaming
WHY WE LIKE IT: Aside from its streamlined modern look, the C7000 boasts a 24×8 DOCSIS 3.0 channel bonding that can handle up to 960 Mbps connection for seamless HD video streaming and gaming. This modem-router combo can accommodate up to 30 devices and is a good choice for those who want to maximize their fast broadband connections.
- Modem & Router
- Covers 1,800 sq. ft.
- Sleek modern design
- Steep price
- Intermittent connection
- Complicated setup process
The NetGear C7000 is a Wi-Fi cable modem router that’s recommended for cable plans up to 400 Mbps. Its high-speed performance is powered by AC1900 and 24×8 DOCSIS 3.0. This means you can get speeds as fast as 1,900 Mbps. However, the C7000 still relies on your internet service provider, so manage your expectations if you’re subscribed to plans with lower bandwidths.
Aside from a powerful CPU and wide-range Wi-Fi, the NetGear C7000 also has four Gigabit Ethernet ports and one USB 2.0 port, allowing you to directly connect more devices for faster streaming. While it does not support QoS capabilities, it’s important to note that this is a great all-in-one device. If you need a switch, read about the best network switch.
#4 ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 Modem
Award: Best Modem for Gaming
WHY WE LIKE IT: The ARRIS SB6190 is among the fastest modems today. It has 32×8 DOCSIS 3.0 bonded channels that provide 1.4 Gbps download and 262 Mbps upload speeds. This high-speed performance makes it an excellent choice for real-time HD streaming and online gaming.
- Fast internet for 4K streaming and gaming
- Easy management
- 32 downstream x8 upstream channels
- Prone to latency issues
- No router built in
- Gets pretty warm
The ARRIS SB6190 is a versatile modem that is compatible with a vast range of internet service providers. With 32×8 channels bonded with DOCSIS 3.0, it makes fast Ultra-HD video streaming and smooth gaming experience possible. It can easily handle internet speeds of 300 Mbps and above.
One user-friendly feature of this modem is the ARRIS SURFboard Manager app, which helps users control and monitor the modem. Even those who aren’t tech-savvy can easily set up internet access and manage network settings. But aside from this, the SB6190 doesn’t have as many additional features as other modems. You can also check out best mesh routers.
#5 ARRIS SURFboard SB8200
Award: Best Future-Proofed
WHY WE LIKE IT: This DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem provides reliable high-speed internet and is one of the most future-proofed modems on the market today. Permitting a download and an upload speed of 2Gbps each, this modem is already geared for the future’s incredibly fast internet plans. It is best for tech enthusiasts who want a modem that’ll be ready for more speed and link aggregation when these become available.
- Supports Gigabit Connection
- Bears the most updated hardware, including a Broadcom BCM3390 chip set
- Easy to set up
- Reported issues of overheating
- No built-in Wi-Fi/router capability
The ARRIS SURFboard SB8200 allows you to make the most of a high bandwidth connection. This modem offers a Gigabit wireless speed and is equipped with the newest hardware and DOCSIS technology. It has 32×8 channels that provide a maximum download speed of 10 Gbps. It also has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, so you can create two different home networks.
The SB8200 would have been perfect if it had a built-in router. Still, its performance makes the relatively expensive device worth spending for. It can easily stream 4K ultra-HD videos and Virtual Reality games without much buffering. If you are a gamer, read our best router for gaming list.
#6 MOTOROLA MB7420 Cable Modem
Award: Best Budget
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Motorola MB7420 is a good buy because it’s an affordable and compact device that packs a lot of useful features such as a GigE Ethernet port and a powerful user interface. This modem is ideal for budget-conscious users who don’t need ultra-fast internet speeds.
- Sleek, compact design
- Affordable price
- Powerful user interface
- Not for high-speed internet use
- Not durable
- Unreliable performance
Motorola’s MB7420 is among the most affordable modems available today. It works with a wide variety of internet providers, including Spectrum Cox and Comcast and it has 16×4 channels with maximum speeds of 686 Mbps for download and 123 Mbps for upload. It has one GigE Ethernet port that can provide high-speed wired connection to any router or computer. However, the modem is best used only for plans that are up to 300 Mbps.
Aside from its satisfactory performance, it has nifty features that make it convenient to use. These include a color-coded back panel, a user-friendly interface, and installation accessories. Read about the best home router as well.
#7 MOTOROLA MG7550
Award: Best Value
WHY WE LIKE IT: We love the Motorola MG7550 for the strong, reliable connection made by its Wireless Power Boost and AnyBeam beamforming. These features provide reception at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz and raise your signal to the legal limit of FCC. Because it’s capable of handling hundreds of devices, it’s an excellent choice for homes or small offices with multiple users.
- High-quality built-in router
- Fast and stable connectivity
- Top-of-the-line download speed
- Reliability decreases with use
- Compatibility issues with some devices
The Motorola MG7550 is a high-speed cable modem and gigabit router. The modem is compatible with services up to 300 Mbps. It has 16×4 channels with DOCSIS 3.0. Its Power Boost amplifies the speed and range of the AC1900 dual band Wi-Fi, while its AnyBeam Wi-Fi beamforming focuses signals on wireless devices.
These two technologies provide high-speed access for multiple ethernet and Wi-Fi devices. They make it easy for you to turn your home into a smart one. While it’s more costly than other modems, the Motorola MG7550 is worth the investment. Read about the best AC router and see if it works for you. We have you covered when it comes to computer accessories.
How We Decided
In choosing the best modems, we considered price, performance, security and compatibility. The modems on our list are the ones within their price range that give you the best value for your money. Much like the best gaming mouse on the market today, which can go hand in hand with these, since they’re speed and response time are key, much like the best modems.
In terms of performance, we considered upload and download speeds compatible with at least 300Mbps services, DOCSIS versions, connectivity options, including the number of Ethernet ports, signal strengths capable of covering typical home size, receptions at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, and user interfaces that are easy to use.
All the modems on our list also support security features such as WPS, WPA/WPA2 Security Protocol and WEP, TKIP and AES (64/128 bit) Encryption. They are also compatible with multiple operating systems including Windows, Mac, and Linux and with multiple devices including smartphones, HDTVs, and other smart devices.
Best Modem Buyer’s Guide
The Most Important Features to Consider
- Channel Bonding
Channel bonding is the number of upstream and downstream channels your modem can access. The more channels a modem has, the faster its speed. You can check a modem’s channels by looking at the box for 16×4, 24×8, or 32×8. If what you see is 4×4 or 8×8, that modem is among the older models and has very low speeds.
Buying an advanced modem that does not work with your internet service provider is an utter waste of money. So, another important feature you should look for is compatibility with a wide variety of ISPs, hardware, and software.
Some modems run perfectly right after installation only to malfunction just a few days after. There are also some that degrade faster than normal, not living up to their promise of years of reliable performance. So, consider getting a modem that is covered by a two-year warranty or longer rather than a one-year warranty.
All modems have at least one Ethernet port that enables you to connect a router to it. Having additional Ethernet ports allows you to connect other devices directly to the modem for faster performance.
Modems that have built-in routers are more convenient to handle as this will eliminate the need for additional cables. While this is an excellent choice for those who want to save space, it also has its downsides. For one, you’d have to replace both modem and router if either part malfunctions. These types of modems are also relatively more expensive.
Quality of Service (QoS) is an advanced feature of routers that prioritizes traffic in a network. If you have multiple users with a multitude of devices, a QoS software can help improve the performance of your internet service.
- Parental Controls
Parental controls enable you to filter the web and block sites that are inappropriate for your children. Some modems can be configured to prevent inadvertent access to websites with harmful or inappropriate content.
Which is better, a cable modem or a DSL modem?
The choice between cable modems or DSL modems varies depending on service availability, modem speed, and the user’s home internet subscription plan. DSL service used to have wider coverage, as it’s available anywhere with telephone service. Meanwhile, cable services do not usually reach rural areas, and as such, even the best cable modem wouldn't be suitable. In terms of speed, both services typically offer 30 Mbps speeds, but this depends on the subscription plan you signed up for.
Should I get a Cable Internet Service?
Regarding residential internet in the US, Cable is one of the most common internet providers available. While each Cable company offers different plans and speeds, all cable internet is provided through a coaxial cable. According to industry reports, the DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem has been deployed in around 85% of households and is capable of download speeds faster than 100 Mbps.
What is DOCSIS?
DOCSIS stands for “data over cable service internet specification.” A modem with a DOCSIS feature, which is actually an important element you should be on the lookout for, is capable of providing broadband internet. The number that follows the acronym indicates its version. Of course, the most updated version is the most preferable.
Should I buy a modem/router combo?
A modem/router combo has its pros and cons. With a combo unit, you’ll have less equipment and less cabling to deal with, and you’ll be able to conveniently link all the computers and devices within your home. However, combo units are often more expensive. And if either the modem or the router malfunctions, you’ll have to replace the entire unit.
What is the best modem for gaming?
Lags and connection drops are the worst nightmares for gamers. Thus, the best modems for gaming are those that provide reliable connection and lightning-quick download speeds. With a speed capacity of up to 1.4 Gbps, the ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 ranks high among the best choices for hardcore gamers.