A cable modem is an easy thing to ignore. It might be the most forgettable component in our home online experience, but it’s also the most important. Finding and using the best cable modem for your needs can improve your online experience on all your devices.
Of the many hidden fees in your Internet/cable bill, one of them is likely an equipment rental. When you got your Internet installed, the cable company will normally bring their own modem. In most cases, they will charge you for renting it every month. An easy way to save money on your Internet is to buy your own modem. You can get better performance and it will pay for itself in no time.
But what does a modem do? Well, it’s a unit that plugs into the wall. It takes a broadband Internet signal and translates it into a language that your PC, smartphone, smart TV, or other device can understand. This is still the fastest, most reliable way to get Internet in your home. The modem plays a huge role in the quality and speed of your Internet.
If you’ve never shopped around for a cable modem, you might be surprised at what modern units can do. We’ll show you some of the best modems on the market and compare them with modems that are only a few years old. Keep reading if you want to save money and have faster and reliable Internet!
Here is a list of the top rated and reviewed cable modems to help you choose the best products for your home network.
Best Cable Modems | Top 7
|Our Rank||Cable Modem||Download/Upload Speeds||Channels||Price|
|1||NETGEAR CM400||343 / 122 Mbps||8 Upload / 4 Download||$|
|2||Arris Motorola SB6183||686 / 131 Mbps||16 Upload / 4 Download||$$|
|3||Zoom 5341J||343 / 123 Mbps||8 Upload / 4 Download||$$$|
|4||NETGEAR CM500||680 / 132 Mbps||16 Upload / 4 Download||$$|
|5||Linksys DPC3008||340 / 120 Mbps||8 Upload / 4 Download||$|
|6||D-Link DCM-301||1343 / 150 Mbps||8 Upload / 4 Download||$|
|7||Arris Motorola SB6141||343 / 131 Mbps||8 Upload / 4 Download||$$|
Who Is This Review For?
This review is anyone who is tired of paying too much on his or her monthly bill for Internet. It’s for anyone who wants more reliable Wi-Fi and needs it to work in every room of the house or office. Have you recently upgraded to a faster, better Internet plan? If so, then you might need the best modem to deliver the speed that you’re paying for.
This review is also for anybody who gets confused or intimidated when shopping for a modem. We’ll go over what you need to know and which details really matter. By the end of this review, you’ll have a better idea of what cable modem is right for you.
What To Look For
There are only a few specs that you need to pay attention to when shopping for the best cable modem. We’ll go over the key specs here so you can make sense of them and shop prepared.
Modem Type – There are three different types of modem that support different standards. These standards are called “data over cable service interface specification” or DOCSIS. You have DOCSIS 1.x, DOCSIS 2.0, and DOCSIS 3.0. All of the modems on our list are DOCSIS 3.0. At this point, DOCSIS 1.x is obsolete because of the low standard for upload speeds. Uploading is when you’re putting something from your computer to the Internet. As opposed to downloading which does the opposite. The big differences between 2.0 and 3.0 is 3.0 supports multiple channels and 2.0 can only support a single channel. Speaking of channels…
Channels – Channels are different avenues within a modem. Each channel allows for uploading and downloading to and from the Internet. If you have simultaneous uploads or downloads at high speeds, you’ll want multiple channels. DOCSIS 3.0 modems have four channels for uploads, and four or even eight or more channels for downloads. If you have a fast, powerful Internet plan, you could benefit from finding the best DOCSIS 3.0 modem for you.
Speed per Channel – Speed per channel is an irrelevant spec for DOCSIS 1.x and 2.0 because they’re single channel. For the best DOCSIS 3.0 modems, however, speed per channel can multiply your cap Internet speed. The speed per channel is the same as 2.0 which is 43Mbps download / 31 Mbps upload. Since 3.0 has multiple channels, it multiplies the cap speed. That makes the advantage of 3.0 clear, especially when you start doing some serious multi device tasks on it. If you’re not sure about the speed of your connection, log into your Internet provider’s website. Most of them offer a free speed test.
Best Cable Modem Reviews List
1. Best Overall: Netgear CM400
Netgear CM400 Quick Review
This Netgear is a great, low-cost way to get out of your equipment rental with your Internet provider. It has eight channels for downloading and four channels for uploading making it very fast. It boasts speeds up to 343 Mbps and 122 Mbps for downloading and uploading, respectively. The compact, low-key design allows you to tuck it away and out of sight. It can sit either vertically or horizontal. It’s compatible with XFINITY, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter, Cablevision, and many more. It’s low-cost, it’s fast, and it’s easy to set up. If you’re looking for simplicity and value, this Netgear is one of the best Internet modems out there.
- Up to 340 Mbps download and upload speed for streaming HD videos, faster downloads, and high-speed online gaming.
- CableLabs® Certified for U.S. Cable Internet Services—DOCSIS® 3.0 is 8 times faster than DOCSIS 2.0.
- Works with Cable Internet Providers like XFINIITY®, Time Warner Cable®, Cox Communications, Charter, Cablevision & more. Not compatible with cable bundled voice services.
- Fast self-activation for XFINITY customers. Get connected without a service call
- 8×4 Channel bonding offers the fastest possible cable Internet speeds during peak hours —8 downstream and 4 upstream channels.
- Save money over time and eliminate monthly rental fees, up to $120 per year*
- Gigabit Ethernet port. Fastest wired speeds to connect your router or computer.
2. Runner Up, Best Overall: ARRIS Motorola SB6183
ARRIS Motorola SB6183 Quick Review
There’s a good chance the modem you’re currently renting is an Arris Motorola unit. It’s very common and popular for good reasons. It’s rock solid reliability has made it one of the best modems that Internet providers can rent out. They benefit from renting out reliable products because that means fewer service calls for them! That also means it’s likely to be compatible with your provider. It has a whopping sixteen download channels and four upload channels. This makes it lightning fast even for the most demanding Internet plans. If you’re looking to future-proof your home network, this is a considerable modem for you.
- 16X Faster than DOCSIS 2.0
- Download speeds up to 686 Mbps
- DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem
- 16 download and 4 upload channels
- Supports IPv4 and IPv6 – the latest Internet standard
- Compatible with major U.S. Cable Providers
3. Best Warranty: Zoom 5341J
- Type: Ethernet Cable Modem
- Download/Upload Speeds: 343 / 123 Mbps
- Channels: 8 Upload / 4 Download
|$88.99 on Amazon.com|
Zoom 5341J Quick Review
You’ve never heard of Zoom? Zoom Telephonics isn’t the best-known maker of communication devices, but they are among them. This modem in particular is another no-nonsense value proposition that’s up there with the best modems. It’s plenty quick with eight download channels and four upload channels. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Bright House Networks, Cable One, and more certify it. It even comes with a two-year warranty. The downside is that it’s kind of ugly. It has words in white print and a bright red “Z” logo in the corner. If that doesn’t bother you and you need something cheap and fast, it’s worth checking out.
Some of the Zoom’s key features include:
- Fast Internet! Up to 343 Mbps downstream and 123 Mbps upstream. Fast Ethernet port! 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet port connects to your Windows or Macintosh computer, router, wireless access point, HomePlug adapter, or other Ethernet-enabled device.
- Supports all popular DOCSIS cable modem standards – 3.0, 2.0, and 1.1. Tested and certified by CableLabs ® to work with nearly all U.S. cable service providers.
- Includes advanced networking capability including IPv4 and IPv6 for powerful, flexible network addressing.
- Includes energy-saving switching power cube, Ethernet cable, modem stand, and Quick Start flyer.
- Small cable modem can lie flat or stand up using the stand provided.
4. Best For 4K Streaming: Netgear CM500
Netgear CM500 Quick Review
This is the big brother to the Netgear CM400 we talked about earlier. The big difference is this one has sixteen channels for downloads rather than eight channels. Like the other Netgear, it has four channels for uploading. This is intended for really high performance usage. If you’re a serious gamer or run a business this could be the best Internet modem for you. It’s comparable to the outstanding Arris Motorola SB6183. But it’s worth noting that this one has a sleek black design as opposed to the bright white design of the SB6183. The two are so close in speed and quality that you could just go with whichever aesthetic you prefer.
- Up to 680 Mbps download and upload 4k streaming speed for streaming HD videos, faster downloads, and high-speed online gaming.
- Ideal for XFINITY Internet Blast and Extreme Customers & Time Warner Maxx customers (up to Ultimate 300 plans).
- Fast self-activation Comcast for XFINITY customers—Get connected without a service call.
- CableLabs® DOCSIS® 3.0 certified to work with U.S. cable Internet providers like XFINITY®, Time Warner Cable®, Cox Communications, Charter, Cablevision & more. Not compatible with Cable bundled voice services.
- 16 down stream and 4 up stream channels for efficient and reliable cable network performance.
- Save money over time by owning your cable equipment and avoiding monthly rental charges from your Internet provider—up to $120 per year*.
- Gigabit Ethernet port—Fastest wired speeds to connect your router or computer
5. Best Value: Linksys DPC3008
Linksys DPC3008 Quick Review
This Linksys DPC3008 is a moderately powered modem at a moderate price. It will be able to keep up with most high-speed Internet plans, but isn’t as powerful as the sixteen channel modems. Comcast certifies it, and it claims to be compatible with most major cable providers. While it’s an excellent modem, its simplicity is what stood out to us. It doesn’t have a ton of features that make it stand out from the crowd. It’s just a solid, honest cable modem from a reputable brand that will get the job done well. It’s a great pick if you have Comcast and want to get rid of that monthly rental charge.
- Eliminate monthly rental fees
- 4x faster than DOCSIS 2.0
- Delivers download speeds of up to 340 Mbps; upload speeds of up to 120 Mbps*
- Gigabit Ethernet port
6. Best Upload/Download Speed: D-Link DCM-301
D-Link DCM-301 Quick Review
This D-Link offers a lot of bang for the buck. It has eight channels for downloads and four channels for uploads making performance pretty respectable. It comes with a list of certifications from Cox Communications, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, and more. The unit has a lot of ventilation on top, keeping it running nice and cool. In classic D-Link fashion, it’s user friendly and easy to set up. It’s also an excellent value. If you want a great modem at a good price, and one that comes with multiple certifications, this is one of the best DOCSIS 3.0 modems for you.
- High-Speed Internet – 8 times faster than DOCSIS 2.0.
- Gigabit Port – 10/100/1000Mbps BaseT Ethernet port.
- Certified and Compatible – DOCSIS CableLabs Certified®, ensuring compatibility with most major U.S. cable companies.
- Cost Effective – Save on annual modem rental fees.
7. Best Budget: Arris Motorola SB6141
Arris Motorola SB6141 Quick Review
This modem is the little brother to the SB6183 we touched on earlier. The biggest difference between the two is that this one has eight download channels rather than sixteen. To the untrained eye, this unit looks exactly the same as the other Arris Motorola on our list. It has a lot of the same features like wide compatibility with internet providers. While this is a great modem, it’s fairly close in cost to the SB6183 which is one of the best cable modems on the market. The majority of us have no need for sixteen download channels over eight channels. It’s cheaper and offers nearly identical specs otherwise. But, if you’re looking for the more powerful unit and are willing to pay the extra 20$, you might as well get the more powerful router. Otherwise, this is another great option.
- 8X Faster than DOCSIS 2.0
- Download speeds up to 343 Mbps
- DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem
- 8 download and 4 upload channels
- Supports IPv4 and IPv6 – the latest Internet standard
- Compatible with major U.S. Cable Providers