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Best Optimum-Compatible Modems 2021

Optimum stays tight-lipped about competing Optimum-compatible modems, but our experts have modem solutions for you.

Best overall

NETGEAR Orbi CBK40

Price*: $359.99
Max recommended speed: 940 Mbps
Channel bonding: 32x8

Best for gigabit speeds

Motorola MB8600

Price*: $149.99
Max recommended speed: 940 Mbps
Channel bonding: 32x8

Best for budget

ARRIS SB6183

Price*: $66.28
Max recommended speed: 400 Mbps
Channel bonding: 16x4

*Amazon.com price as of 6/16/21 at 11:34 am PT. Read full disclaimer.

Finding an Optimum-approved modem is tricky. For one, Optimum has only three third-party compatible modems that work with its internet and phone service, and two, it’s vague about your internet-only alternatives to Optimum’s rentable Altice Gateway.

But if you don’t have phone service, just Optimum’s cable internet, you can go for one of our recommended modems, chosen to match your Optimum internet speeds. Our top recommendation is the NETGEAR Orbi CBK40, which supports Optimum’s fastest download speeds and includes a mesh Wi-Fi system.
Unfortunately, if you have Optimum’s fiber internet service, you have to rent Optimum’s Fiber Gateway. There aren’t any third-party Optimum-compatible fiber gateways out there. Bummer.
All these variables would tempt anyone to avoid the confusion and pay Optimum $10 per month to rent its provided Altice Gateway. But if you’re angling for a deal or just prefer to have your own tech, stick with us—we’ll walk you through your options for Optimum cable internet modems.

Deep within Optimum’s official FAQ, you’ll find a vague reference that “many DOCSIS-certified models . . . are compatible with Optimum Online.” However, there are only three cable modems listed by name on that page.

These are the only phone-compatible cable modems you can buy to work with both Optimum internet and phone plans.

But these modems are old-school. You may manage to hunt down one that’s been pre-owned and refurbished, but chances are it’ll be too worn out to treat you right. Optimum might even use your bad experience as an “I told you so” moment to sell you on its Altice Gateway with included tech support (that’s $10 per month).

So if you’re an Optimum internet-only customer, we say pass on these modems. While you can also confirm with Optimum customer service that the following modems will work in your area, they’ve worked for other Optimum internet customers—and they’re a whole lot better than the ones listed above.

Cable modems for Optimum Internet

Price* Max recommended speed Channel bonding
$359.99 940 Mbps 32×8 View on Amazon
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$149.99 940Mbps 32×8 View on Amazon
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$66.28 300 Mbps 16×4 View on Amazon
Jump to review

*Amazon.com price as of 6/16/21 at 11:34 am PT. Read full disclaimer.

What is channel bonding?

“Channel bonding” is the techy way to express your modem’s max speeds. It’s written in two numbers before and after an “x,” which respectively designate the number of download channels and upload channels.
A high channel bonding number means your modem can move more data through at once, the same way a freeway with a lot of lanes supports more cars at once.
But to make this spec simpler, we’ve translated it into our max recommended speed. If you want to learn more about modem specs, head to our “What to look for” section below.

Best modems for Optimum

*Amazon.com price as of 6/16/21 at 11:34 am PT. Read full disclaimer.

Our experts confirmed with Optimum customers that all three of these modems work with Optimum internet service.

The NETGEAR Orbi CBK40 is an all-in-one modem/router combo—you won’t have to buy a separate modem for Wi-Fi like you would with the other options. Plus, it doubles as a mesh Wi-Fi system, which gives you a strong Wi-Fi signal even in big or oddly shaped homes.

If you’d prefer a separate modem and router (and we usually do), try pairing the Motorola MB8600 and NETGEAR Nighthawk X6. This is a top-notch option for the Optimum 1 Gig and Optimum 500 plans.

But if you’re thrifty and have the Optimum 300 plan, go with the ARRIS SB6183 paired with the TP-Link A1C750 for Wi-Fi. These well-matched devices pay for themselves in just over a year—and they’ll last much longer than that.

Best modem/router: NETGEAR Orbi CBK40

Price: $359.99*
Max recommended speed: 940 Mbps
Channel bonding: 32×8
DOCSIS version: 3.0

*Amazon.com price as of 6/16/21 at 11:34 am PT. Read full disclaimer.

The NETGEAR Orbi CBK40 might not have all of the newest modem/router standards—it has only DOCSIS 3.0 and Wi-Fi 5—but it’s a tried-and-true system that won’t drain your wallet like the newest tech.

This modem/router supports Optimum cable internet plan speeds, whether you go for Optimum 300 or Optimum 1 Gig. And with the included satellite (that’s the little buddy device in the picture above), the NETGEAR Orbi CBK40 can cover up to 4,000 square feet in Wi-Fi.

Plus, the NETGEAR Orbi CBK40 is easy to install with the Orbi app, and you can buy an upgrade for antivirus software (usually $69.99, but on sale for $34.99 when we wrote this article).

If you want to own an easy-to-use modem/router combo that covers your whole home in Wi-Fi, the NETGEAR Orbi CBK40 delivers. But if you want to future-proof your modem, go with the more advanced Motorola MB8600.

Get the NETGEAR Orbi CBK40

*Amazon.com price as of 6/16/21 at 11:34 am PT. Read full disclaimer.

Best for gigabit speeds: Motorola MB8600

Price: $149.99*
Max recommended speed: 940 Mbps
Channel bonding: 32×8
DOCSIS version: 3.1

*Amazon.com price as of 6/16/21 at 11:34 am PT. Read full disclaimer.

The Motorola MB8600 features the latest DOCSIS 3.1 standard, which means it’s great for gigabit internet plans like Optimum 1 Gig. It’s also backward compatible with DOCSIS 3.0 technology, so it works well with most cable internet networks.

If you want a modem to support your fast internet connection for years to come, the Motorola MB8600 will take care of you. The vast majority of customers haven’t seen it glitch, and its tech won’t be outdated any time soon.

Get the Motorola MB8600

*Amazon.com price as of 6/16/21 at 11:34 am PT. Read full disclaimer.

Best wireless router for Optimum

Unlike the NETGEAR Orbi CBK40, the Motorola MB8600 doesn’t include a Wi-Fi router. But if you want Wi-Fi for your home, you can simply pair the Motorola MB8600 with any router. We recommend the NETGEAR AX5400 with the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology—it’s a great match for future-proofing.

NETGEAR Nighthawk 6-Stream AX5400

Best for budget: ARRIS SB6183

Price: $66.28*
Max recommended speed: 400 Mbps
Channel bonding: 16×4
DOCSIS version: 3.0

*Amazon.com price as of 6/16/21 at 11:34 am PT. Read full disclaimer.

If you’re happy with the Optimum 300 plan, the bargain modem ARRIS SB6183 is a perfect match for your speeds. It’s a reliable device that does the job right without asking for any applause.

Plus, it will pay for itself much faster than the previous two options. What will you do with all that extra cash when you don’t need to rent a modem for $10 a month? We’re sure you’ll figure something out.

Get the ARRIS SB6183

Matching Optimum-compatible router

For home Wi-Fi, you’ll need to pair your ARRIS SB6183 with a Wi-Fi router. Any router will do, but the TP-Link AC1750 is an affordable option that supports up to 300 Mbps download speeds.

How to install your Optimum-compatible modem

For the easiest installation, plug in your modem as its manual recommends, and connect it to your computer by Ethernet cable. Then head to Optimum’s installation page to register your modem with Optimum.

While you can call Optimum at 1-877-810-6750 to install and activate your Optimum-compatible modem, we don’t recommend it. Many customers have complained Optimum representatives were under-experienced with third-party modems and made the installation process more difficult than it needed to be.

So don’t stress yourself out with a call to Optimum. The online self-installation process will be faster, and we promise you’ll handle it just fine.

The Optimum modem

You don’t have to buy your own modem and router to use Optimum internet. In cable internet areas, you can rent the Altice Gateway from Optimum for $10 per month. This modem/router combo comes with new Wi-Fi 6 technology and 24/7 tech support.

And if you live in an Optimum fiber internet area, you won’t be able to bring your own modem. Fiber internet runs on proprietary technology, so only the Optimum Fiber Gateway will work there. But it costs the same as the Altice Gateway and comes with the same perks, so at least there’s that silver lining.

Still, we wish Optimum would be more upfront about this $10 per month hidden fee, especially when there’s no way to avoid it.

What to look for in a modem

If you’re wondering what to look for in modem specs, look no further! We dive deeper in our cable modem buyers guide, but here’s the surface level info.

Max recommended speed

Modems are designed to support specific ranges of internet speeds. But modems built for the fastest speed usually cost a ton. Unless you’re thinking of upgrading to a faster plan soon, consider modems that max out at about the same speed as your internet plan.

And don’t ever buy a modem with lower max speeds than your home internet service. If you do, you won’t be able to get the speeds your internet provider promises.

Look at the box below for your Optimum internet plan to check which download speeds you should be getting at home

Optimum plans and download speeds

  • Optimum 300: Up to 300 Mbps download speeds
  • Optimum 500: Up to 500 Mbps download speeds
  • Optimum 1 Gig: Up to 940 Mbps download speeds

Since we usually recommend families get at least 100 Mbps download speeds, all of Optimum’s high-speed plans put smiles on our faces. If you need more help choosing the best plan for you, check out our article “What Is a Good Internet Speed?

DOCSIS technology

DOCSIS, or Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification, is the standard for sending internet data over coaxial cables. Some cities run on DOCSIS 3.1, but most Optimum cable networks run on DOCSIS 3.0.

If you’re not sure if your area has DOCSIS 3.0 or 3.1, you can ask Optimum customer service.

However, some Optimum customers have complained that Optimum representatives told them that their DOCSIS 3.1 modem won’t work with DOCSIS 3.0. Don’t believe those reps—most DOCSIS 3.1 modems are backwards compatible.

Intel chipset defects

All modems need processors to run, but there are some crummy ones out there on the market. The Intel Puma 6 and Puma 7 chipsets are infamous for ruining modem performance. These processors simply take too long to do their job, which means slow internet for you no matter how powerful your modem is otherwise.

To avoid getting a defective modem, stay away from modems with Intel Puma 6 and Puma 7 chipsets. Find out if your potential modem has it by looking at the processor specs or keeping an eye out for the Intel logo on the packaging.

Final take

Optimum makes bringing your own modem to its service tough, but you can do it if you live in a cable internet area. (Sorry, Optimum Fiber friends, no third-party options for you.)

If you live in an Optimum cable internet area but you don’t have home phone services, snag one of our recommendations to match your Optimum internet speeds:

  • NETGEAR Orbi CBK40 is a modem/router combo for download speeds up to 940 Mbps.
  • Motorola MB8600 is a modem for download speeds up to 940 Mbps, and it pairs well with the Wi-Fi router NETGEAR AX5400.
  • ARRIS SB6183 is a modem for plans up to 300 Mbps download speed, and the TP-Link A1C750 is a good Wi-Fi router to match.

If you have Optimum cable internet and home phone services, you’ll have to stick with the three Optimum-approved modems, which are kind of old and clunky:

  • Arris TM822 works with phone and internet plans with speeds up to 300 Mbps.
  • Arris TM804 works with phone and internet plans with speeds up to 300 Mbps.
  • Arris TM1602 works with phone and internet plans with speeds up to 940 Mbps.

Our methodology

For this article, we scoured Optimum discussion boards across the internet to find modems that real Optimum customers use. We compared those modems to Optimum’s speed plans, read customer reviews, checked for Intel chipset defects, and honed in on the modems that offer the best bang for your buck.
To learn more about how CableTV.com experts choose our recommendations, visit our How We Rank page.

Optimum-compatible modem FAQ

Should I buy my own modem for Optimum?

While it takes some homework to find an Optimum-compatible modem, you can save money in the long run by buying rather than renting. If potential savings are your bag, check out our recommended modems for Optimum.

What modems are compatible with Optimum?

For internet and home phone plans, your only choices are Arris TM822, Arris TM804, and Arris TM1602. But these modems are outdated and not a good fit for most of Optimum’s internet speed plans. Check out our modem recommendations for faster options.

What’s the best modem/router combo for Optimum?

The NETGEAR Orbi CBK40 is a superb modem/router for Optimum. Its Wi-Fi coverage reaches 4,000 square feet, making it a great choice for big homes. It’s also a lot more reliable than the “cutting-edge” modem/router combos we’ve seen.

Can I replace the Optimum modem with my own?

If you live in an area where Optimum offers cable internet, you can definitely replace your Optimum modem with your own cable modem. Check out our recommended devices above, and be sure to call Optimum customer service to return your current modem.

Are all routers Optimum-compatible?

All routers are Optimum-compatible. But if you’re getting a modem for your Optimum plan, it’s a little tricker—stick with our recommendations above. Not sure about the difference between modems and routers? No worries—we’ve got a whole article about that.

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