2022’s Best Cable Modem/Router Combos

Our experts compared dozens of cable modems to find the best option for every speed range.

Editor's choice

ARRIS S33

Price: $199.99
Recommended for plans up to: 2.5 Gbps
DOCSIS standard: DOCSIS 3.1

Best modem/router

NETGEAR CAX80

Price: $369.99
Recommended for plans up to: 2.5 Gbps
DOCSIS standard: DOCSIS 3.1

Best for 800 Mbps

Motorola MB7621

Price: $89.98
Recommended for plans up to: 800 Mbps
DOCSIS standard: DOCSIS 3.0

Best for 400 Mbps

NETGEAR CM500

Price: $42.94
Recommended for plans up to: 400 Mbps
DOCSIS standard: DOCSIS 3.0

Best for Xfinity Voice

NETGEAR CM2050V

Price: $269.99
Recommended for plans up to: 2.5 Gbps
DOCSIS standard: DOCSIS 3.1

Amazon.com price as of 12/7/21 at 9:12 am PT. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.

If you want to cut back on your cable internet provider’s monthly costs, we recommend buying your own coaxial cable modem and Wi-Fi router. Our favorite is the ARRIS S33, which supports gigabit download speeds, but if you’d prefer a modem/router combo, check out the NETGEAR CAX80.

For more suggestions, including cheap cable modems and voice-compatible modems, keep reading. We have all the details you need to find the right modem for your internet needs.

Best cable modems

Out of the dozens of cable modems we’ve researched at CableTV.com, the ARRIS S33 stands out because it offers the latest DOCSIS 3.1 technology, supports gigabit speeds, and comes with a two-year warranty. We even named it our favorite gigabit modem.

And while we usually suggest buying separate modem/routers for the flexibility, we recognize the appeal of buying one device and calling it a day. The NETGEAR CAX80 is the best modem/router combo on the market, with top modem and router technology.

Of course, those choices are a bit pricey, and a cheaper modem will work just fine if you have slower internet speeds. The NETGEAR CM500 is ideal for plans up to 400 Mbps, and Motorola MB7621 works well for plans up to 800 Mbps.

Heads-up—if you have an internet and voice bundle plan, you’ll need a router made to work specifically with your internet provider’s voice technology. We recommend the NETGEAR CM2050V for Xfinity Voice.

But because it’s hard to find voice-compatible modems for most other providers, we recommend using your internet provider’s rentable modem if you have a home phone and internet plan.

Find cable internet providers near you

Cable modems work only with internet providers that use coaxial cable–based internet networks. To see all the cable internet providers in your area, enter your zip code below.

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Compare the best cable modems

Designation
Editor’s choice
Best modem/router
Best for 800 Mbps
Best for 400 Mbps
Best for Xfinity Voice
Model Price Recommended for plans up to DOCSIS standard Details
ARRIS S33 $199.99 2.5 Gbps DOCSIS 3.1 View on Amazon
NETGEAR CAX80 $369.99 2.5 Gbps DOCSIS 3.1 View on Amazon
Motorola MB7621 $89.98 800 Mbps DOCSIS 3.0 (24×8 channels) View on Amazon
NETGEAR CM500 $42.94 400 Mbps DOCSIS 3.0 (16×4 channels) View on Amazon
NETGEAR CM2050V $269.99 2.5 Gbps DOCSIS 3.1 View on Amazon

Amazon.com price as of 12/7/21 at 9:12 am PT. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.

Cable modems work on DOCSIS technology—”Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification.” The most recent version of DOCSIS is DOCSIS 3.1, and if your internet provider uses DOCSIS 3.1 on your network, you’ll need a DOCSIS 3.1 modem.

If you’re in a rural area, your internet connection probably still uses DOCSIS 3.0, but you can reach out to your internet provider’s customer service if you aren’t sure. Or, just go for a DOCSIS 3.1 modem—they’re almost always backward compatible with DOCSIS 3.0 technology, so they’re the safest bet.

Your modem’s DOCSIS generation and number of channels affect its possible data transfer speeds. We’ve translated each modem’s DOCSIS technology to a recommended maximum plan speed in the chart above. If you stick under these recommendations, your modem should support your internet plan’s speeds.

ARRIS S33: Editor’s choice

Price:
$199.99
Recommended for plans up to:
2.5 Gbps
DOCSIS standard:
DOCSIS 3.1
LAN:
2.5-gigabit Ethernet port, 1-gigabit Ethernet port
Wi-Fi:
N/A

Amazon.com price as of 12/7/21 at 9:12 am PT. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.

Pros

  • Works with Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum, and other cable internet providers
  • Includes 2-year warranty
  • Supports top gigabit speeds

Cons

  • Takes a while to pay for itself

We’re big fans of the tiny ARRIS S33. This sleek little buddy works even with Xfinity’s Gigabit plan—at 1.2 Gbps, it needs a faster modem than usual—so it’s no surprise the ARRIS S33 is also our editor’s choice for the best gigabit modem.

If you’re one of the special few who pays for two IP addresses, you can get the most out of this modem’s two gigabit LAN ports. But even if you have only one IP address (like most folks do), this modem’s DOCSIS 3.1 versatility and 2-year warranty means this will likely be the last modem you buy for a long while.

But if the price is too big of an investment for you, there are plenty of other great modem options you can get for cheap. Check out our pick for an affordable gigabit modem, or go for the Motorola MB7621 or NETGEAR CM500 if you don’t have gigabit internet.

NETGEAR CAX80: Best modem/router

Price:
$369.99
Recommended for plans up to:
2.5 Gbps
DOCSIS standard:
DOCSIS 3.1
LAN:
2.5-gigabit Ethernet port, 1-gigabit Ethernet port
Wi-Fi:
Wi-Fi 6

Amazon.com price as of 12/7/21 at 9:12 am PT. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.

Pros

  • Works with Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum, and other cable internet providers
  • Includes powerful Wi-Fi 6 router

Cons

  • Costs more than $400

We don’t love modem/router combos—they’re expensive and rarely come with the latest versions of modem and router technology. The NETGEAR CAX80 is expensive, but it’s one of the modem/router combos we’d recommend since it comes with cutting-edge DOCSIS 3.1 and Wi-Fi 6.

The NETGEAR CAX80 will work with your gigabit cable internet plan, and it has a strong enough Wi-Fi signal to blanket even large homes with wireless internet.

If you don’t need gigabit speeds but you still have your heart set on a modem/router combo, check out some of our other modem/router recommendations. We can help you find cheaper options that meet your needs.

Motorola MB7621: Best cheap modem for plans up to 800 Mbps

Price:
$89.98
Recommended for plans up to:
800 Mbps
DOCSIS standard:
DOCSIS 3.0 (24x8 channels)
LAN:
1-gigabit Ethernet port
Wi-Fi:
N/A

Amazon.com price as of 12/7/21 at 9:12 am PT. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.

Pros

  • Works with Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum, and other cable internet providers
  • Costs under $100

Cons

  • Doesn’t have the latest DOCSIS technology

If you live in an area with DOCSIS 3.0 and don’t have gigabit internet, you’re safe to go with a more affordable modem than our previous recommendations. The Motorola MB7621 is a trustworthy and cheap option for plans with up to 800 Mbps download speeds.

We recommended the Motorola MB7621 among our best Spectrum-compatible modems, but this modem will also work with Cox, Xfinity, and many other cable internet providers.

Keep in mind, though, that Motorola MB7621 isn’t an evergreen modem choice. If you move to an area with DOCSIS 3.1, or the internet network in your area changes to DOCSIS 3.1, you’ll need to buy a different router at that point.

NETGEAR CM500: Best cheap modem for plans up to 400 Mbps

Price:
$42.94
Recommended for plans up to:
400 Mbps
DOCSIS standard:
DOCSIS 3.1
LAN:
1-gigabit Ethernet port
Wi-Fi:
N/A

Amazon.com price as of 12/7/21 at 9:12 am PT. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.

Pros

  • Works with Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum, and other cable internet providers
  • Costs under $50

Cons

  • Doesn’t have the latest DOCSIS technology

Like the Motorola MB7621, the NETGEAR CM500 is a little out-of-date with its DOCSIS 3.0 technology. But it’s one of the cheapest modems out there, so consider this budget pick if you have an internet plan with download speeds under 400 Mbps.

This little modem might not keep up with cable internet technology for long, but with internet providers charging around $10 per month for your equipment, it can be a worthwhile investment that pays for itself fast.

NETGEAR CM2050V: Best for Xfinity Voice

Price:
$269.99
Recommended for plans up to:
2.5 Gbps
DOCSIS standard:
DOCSIS 3.1
LAN:
2.5-gigabit Ethernet port
Wi-Fi:
N/A

Amazon.com price as of 12/7/21 at 9:12 am PT. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.

Pros

  • Works with Xfinity Voice plans

Cons

  • Doesn’t work with other internet providers

If you’ve bundled your cable internet plan with a voice plan, you’ll need a modem specially designed to work with one internet provider’s home phone service.

The NETGEAR CM2050V is one such modem, and it works only with Xfinity Internet and Voice. We’ve highlighted it here mostly to point out that getting home phone service will complicate your modem-buying process.

You might find that renting a modem from your internet provider is the easiest option if you have home phone and internet. But if you want to see which third-party modems work with your internet provider’s voice network, check its website for options.

Best cable modem brands

When choosing a cable modem, remember that not every modem will work with every cable internet company. The top modem brands work with most cable internet providers, but we’ve marked some “brands to avoid” that are less likely to support your service.

Best modem brands

  • NETGEAR
  • ARRIS
  • Motorola

NETGEAR, ARRIS, and Motorola support most cable internet providers and offer modems for all different speeds. Even if you don’t choose one of our suggested models, you’ll likely find what you need from one of these three brands.

Cable modem brands to avoid

  • Ubee
  • Technicolor
  • Zoom

You probably won’t encounter these unpopular brands when you’re shopping for a cable modem, but be careful if you do. These cable modems come primarily from disreputable sources as used products—and used modems might still be registered to someone else’s internet account, rendering them unusable for you.

Our recommendation: Stick with reputable brands like NETGEAR, ARRIS, and Motorola. And don’t buy used equipment because used modems typically can’t register to your internet account.

What to look for in cable modems

Finding the best modem for you is actually pretty simple once you’re looking at reliable brands. When you’re ready to compare modems, there are just two specs to pay attention to: DOCSIS standards and channel bonding.

DOCSIS standards

DOCSIS stands for “Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification.” It’s the technology that allows us to send and receive internet information over coaxial cable lines, and it applies to both internet networks and your home modem.

Each generation of DOCSIS has increased how quickly information travels from your internet service provider to your home and back. The most recent generation is DOCSIS 3.1, and if your internet network uses DOCSIS 3.1, you’ll need a DOCSIS 3.1 modem.

You can find out your provider’s DOCSIS standard in your area by contacting your provider’s customer service.

In many areas of the US, especially rural towns, cable internet networks still run on DOCSIS 3.0 technology. You can use either a DOCSIS 3.0 modem or DOCSIS 3.1 modem in these areas, since DOCSIS 3.1 modems are backward compatible.

While DOCSIS 3.1 modems have the most up-to-date technology, DOCSIS 3.0 modems cost less in general. If you want to save money and live in an area with a DOCSIS 3.0–compatible network, consider a DOCSIS 3.0 modem and learn about channel bonding.

Channel bonding

Cable internet relies on “channels,” through which information flows between you and your cable internet provider. Channel bonding combines multiple channels to let more information through at once, just like how more lanes on a highway allow more cars to drive simultaneously.

Your cable modem’s specs will show how many channels your modem provides for downloading and uploading data. For example, a modem with 32×8 channels can use 32 channels to download your favorite shows and 8 channels to upload photos to Facebook.

Since we usually download a lot more information from the internet than we upload, the number of download channels will always be larger than the number of upload channels.

Most DOCSIS 3.1 modems have a standard 32×8 channels, but DOCSIS 3.0 modems vary a bit. Usually, you’ll save some cash by getting a modem with fewer channels, but you’ll sacrifice potential speed.

Recommended channel bonding for internet speeds

Channel bonding
8×4
16×4
24×8
32×8
Download channels Upload channels Fastest recommended internet plan
8 4 200 Mbps
16 4 400 Mbps
24 8 800 Mbps
32 8 1 Gbps (or more with DOCSIS 3.1)

Choose a modem that supports the speeds offered in your internet plan to get the speeds you’re paying for. It’s okay if your modem supports even faster speeds, though it won’t give you any more speed than you’ve signed up for with your cable internet provider.

Common cable modem mistakes

To save yourself from potential modem missteps, read these tips before you buy.

Be sure buying a modem is the right choice for you

Usually, buying a cable modem will save you a lot of money in the long run. But there are certain times when it’s wiser to lease one from your cable company:

  • Your internet provider includes your modem for no extra charge.
  • You don’t plan to have cable internet for long.
  • You’ve bundled internet with phone service.

The first point speaks for itself. And if you’re planning to switch from cable internet to fiber or DSL in a few months, you might end up paying more for a cable modem that you’ll never use again if you purchase one outright.

With cable phone service, you need a particular modem with a telephone jack to make both cable internet and phone work for your home. Unfortunately, most phone-supporting modems on the market are crummy. You’re better off using your cable internet provider’s modem, so don’t bother buying your own.

Check that your modem works with your internet provider

The modems we’ve recommended will definitely work with Xfinity, Cox, and Spectrum, and they’ll likely work with other major cable internet providers as well.

But if you want to double-check, you can compare modems you like to the suggestions from each brand linked below:

We also have plan-specific modem suggestions for these internet providers:

Find an internet provider near you

Not sure which internet providers are available in your area? Enter your zip code below to see all your choices:

Please enter a valid zip code.

Don’t forget a Wi-Fi router

As we discuss in our Modem vs. Router guide, you need your modem to get internet to your home, but you’ll also want a router to set up a Wi-Fi network for wireless internet connection.

The NETGEAR CAX80 comes with a router inside the device, but most modems don’t have routers included. That’s fine—it offers you more flexibility to keep up with modem and router technology as they develop at different rates.

We have a few articles that can help you find the best wireless router for your needs:

Final take

For an easy grab-and-go cable modem, we recommend getting a modem with DOCSIS 3.1 technology, like the ARRIS S33 or the NETGEAR CAX80 modem/router combo.

But if you do some detective work and find your internet provider uses DOCSIS 3.0 in your area, you can save some cash on a cheaper modem like the NETGEAR CM500 or the Motorola MB7621 for plans up to 400 Mbps or 800 Mbps, respectively.

Methodology

We researched over 20 cable modems (plus a whole slew of modem/router combos) to find the best on the market. We compared prices, DOCSIS technology, internet provider approval, speed capabilities, and customer satisfaction. Then we narrowed the selection down to five choices, each focusing on meeting a different internet need at the best price and quality.

To learn more about how CableTV.com experts choose our recommendations, visit our How We Rank page.

Cable modem FAQ

What modem should I buy?

You should buy a modem that is compatible with your ISP, maximizes your internet plan download speeds, and comes from a reliable brand like ARRIS, Motorola, or NETGEAR.

What kind of modem do I need?

The best modem for your needs depends on your ISP, the download speeds of your internet plan, and whether or not you want Wi-Fi in your home. If you want Wi-Fi, you’ll need a modem/router combo, or you can just buy a separate router.

What does a modem do?

A modem is essential in connecting internet to your home. Basically, it’s the translator between the internet and your home devices. It decodes the information your internet service provider sends you and encodes the information you send back.

What is the difference between a DSL modem and a cable modem?

The difference between a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) modem and a cable modem is in their connection. A DSL modem connects to the telephone line. A cable modem connects to your cable TV set-up box.

Do I need both a modem and a router?

To access the internet, both a modem and router are necessary. The modem reads the data received from your internet provider and converts it to a format your devices can read. Then, the router takes that information from the modem and sends it to your devices.

Disclaimers:

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