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The Best Modem - 2020

Last updated on October 13, 2020

We looked at the top 12 Modems and dug through the reviews from 33 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best Modems.

Best Modem

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Our Picks For The Top Modems

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  Best All-Around

ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

Arris

SURFboard DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

Overall Take

Maximum Internet SpeedsThis modem is DOCSIS 3.0 compatible and perfect for cable speed plans of up to 600 megabytes per second.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus BestReviews, PC Magazine, V Best Reviews and 1 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Best Buy.
Pros
" Capable of download speeds of up to 1.4 GBPS for downloads and 262 MBPS for uploads. Supports IPv4 and IPv6. 2 year warranty."
  Best Low-Maintenance

Linksys CM3024 High Speed DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

Linksys

High Speed DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

Overall Take

Easy to InstallSkip the rental fees and purchase this modem, which will save you a great deal of money over the years.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus . Along with user reviews from Amazon.
  Best for Apartments

Motorola MB7621 24 x 8 Cable Modem Modem

Motorola

MB7621 24 x 8 Cable Modem Modem

Overall Take

Compact DesignTo set this modem up, all you need to do is plug the modem into an outlet and then plug a Wi-Fi router into the modem.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus New York Times Wirecutter, Top Ten Reviews. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Best Buy.
Pros
" The MB7621 is less expensive and comes with a two-year warranty, a year longer than the CM600’s coverage."
Cons
"It isn’t the most attractive or compact modem."
  Upgrade Pick

MOTOROLA MB8600 DOCSIS 6 Gbps Cable Modem

Motorola

DOCSIS 6 Gbps Cable Modem

Overall Take

Protection From OverheatingThis top-notch modem may cost a bit more, but the fast speeds and built-in protections make it worth it.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus New York Times Wirecutter, BestReviews. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Best Buy.
Pros
" The Motorola MB8600 is the best of the three DOCSIS 3.1 modems that are widely available right now because of its relatively low price and its two-year warranty."
Cons
"Can't handle the speeds that other routers can."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
19

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the modems available to purchase.
12

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

33

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: BestReviews, PC Magazine, V Best Reviews, New York Times Wirecutter, Tom's Guide.

129,393

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including

Our experts reviewed the top 12 Modems and also dug through the reviews from 33 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Modems.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem


Our Expert Score

8.0
4 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

11.6
16,729 user reviews

Our Take

If you're subscribed to Cox, Spectrum or Xfinity, you'll want to go with this modem. The unit stands vertically to take up less room on your work desk. Also included in the back of the modem is a 1 gigabit ethernet port for connecting to a Wi-Fi router.

What other experts liked

Capable of download speeds of up to 1.4 GBPS for downloads and 262 MBPS for uploads. Supports IPv4 and IPv6. 2 year warranty.
- BestReviews
I have Comcast and this modem maintains my speed at or above my plan with Comcast. So far the best modem I've had.
- Best Advisor
This is a top-of-the-line modem that can reach maximum download speeds of 1.4Gbps and maximum upload speeds of 262Mbps.
- PC Magazine
It harnesses the capacity of DOCSIS 3.0 technology to tie to thirty two downstream canals and eight upstream canals -giving you improved multimedia services with data velocity up to 1.4 Gbps download and 140 Mbps upload leaning on your cable...
- V Best Reviews

What other experts didn't like

This modem uses Intel Puma 6 chipset which many buyers noted has a history of failing. Does not include Wi-Fi and not compatible with voice plans.
- BestReviews
It works great. But sometimes it loses its signal. I don't know if it's the modem or Comcast. My bet is open Comcast. Wish it had telephone capabilities.
- Best Advisor

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Motorola MB7621 24 x 8 Cable Modem Modem

Our Expert Score

9.1
2 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

8.2
193 user reviews

Our Take

When you go with this modem, you'll eliminate the rental fees that come with your cable modem. That means you'll enjoy a great deal of savings in the long run. The modem itself works with a large number of cable service providers, including Comcast Xfinity, Cox, Charter Spectrum, Time Warner Cable and RCN.

What other experts liked

The MB7621 is less expensive and comes with a two-year warranty, a year longer than the CM600’s coverage.
- New York Times Wirecutter
It’s rated for speeds up to 650 Mbps, and it has an easy-to-use power button.
- Top Ten Reviews

What other experts didn't like

But it doesn’t appear on quite as many ISP approved modem lists as the Netgear modems; Cable One, Cox, and Comcast Xfinity all have the MB7621 on their online approved lists, but you’ll have to call Spectrum and WOW to make sure it will work on their networks and what...
- New York Times Wirecutter
It isn’t the most attractive or compact modem.
- Top Ten Reviews

Overall Product Rankings

ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

1. ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 6

Linksys CM3024 High Speed DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

2. Linksys CM3024 High Speed DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

Overall Score: 9.2
Reviews Included: 1

Motorola MB7621 24 x 8 Cable Modem Modem

3. Motorola MB7621 24 x 8 Cable Modem Modem

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 5

MOTOROLA MB8600 DOCSIS 6 Gbps Cable Modem

4. MOTOROLA MB8600 DOCSIS 6 Gbps Cable Modem

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 5

MOTOROLA MG7550 AC1900 Dual Band WiFi Modem

5. MOTOROLA MG7550 AC1900 Dual Band WiFi Modem

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 5

Netgear CM600 Modem

6. Netgear CM600 Modem

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 7

Netgear ORBI Modem

7. Netgear ORBI Modem

Overall Score: 8.4
Reviews Included: 6

Linksys CM3008 Modem

8. Linksys CM3008 Modem

Overall Score: 8.4
Reviews Included: 5

Cisco DPC3010 Modem

9. Cisco DPC3010 Modem

Overall Score: 8.4
Reviews Included: 5

ARRIS SURFboard SB6190

10. ARRIS SURFboard SB6190

Overall Score: 8.3
Reviews Included: 6

Netgear CM500 Modem

11. Netgear CM500 Modem

Overall Score: 7.9
Reviews Included: 7

Netgear C3000 Modem

12. Netgear C3000 Modem

Overall Score: 7.9
Reviews Included: 5

Our Modem Findings


ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

What We Liked: If you’re subscribed to Cox, Spectrum or Xfinity, you’ll want to go with this modem. The unit stands vertically to take up less room on your work desk. Also included in the back of the modem is a 1 gigabit ethernet port for connecting to a Wi-Fi router.


Linksys CM3024 High Speed DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

What We Liked: This modem offers high Internet speeds that are 24 times faster than other models on the market. It works with Comcast Xfinity, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Cox and Cablevision cable subscriptions. It’s important to note that you will need to purchase a Wi-Fi router separately.


Motorola MB7621 24 x 8 Cable Modem Modem

What We Liked: When you go with this modem, you’ll eliminate the rental fees that come with your cable modem. That means you’ll enjoy a great deal of savings in the long run. The modem itself works with a large number of cable service providers, including Comcast Xfinity, Cox, Charter Spectrum, Time Warner Cable and RCN.


MOTOROLA MB8600 DOCSIS 6 Gbps Cable Modem

What We Liked: This modem features top-of-the-line technology, offering fast speeds and reliable support for all your devices. With this modem, you get built-in protection against denial of service attacks and surges. Thanks to its airflow-promoting design, you’ll also have less of a risk of overheating.

The Motorola MB8600 DOCSIS 3.1 Cable Modem is the device that takes the internet from your provider and distributes it into your household for you and any other internet users to access.

With a speed that allows up to 6Gbps, this modem is excellent for people who have gigabit internet from their internet service providers. Many lower-end modems will not allow speeds this fast and will actually lessen your effective speed even if you are paying for gigabit internet.

If you don’t have gigabit internet, this will still work wonderfully as your internet modem. The benefit is that it will be ready if you ever do upgrade your speeds and you won’t have to purchase another modem at that time.

Modems are usually offered by your internet provider for a monthly fee. Generally, by the time your contract has ended, you’ve paid more for their rental modem than what a brand new modem would have cost you. If you end up using the same internet provider for more than a year, it is almost definitely cheaper and smarter to purchase your own modem.

A key factor of this modem is that it is approved for use by some of the major internet providers in the US. Comcast Xfinity, Xfinity X1, Cox and CableOne have all approved this modem for all the speed packages they offer.

The Motorola MB8600 will work with any brand of WiFi router. This includes standard routers as well as Whole Home Routers or Mech routers like eero, Google WiFi and Orbi. Though it is important to note that this is not a WiFi router by itself and it also will not work with landline phone plans, rather it is strictly for internet-only plans.

With an ethernet port present, this modem allows you to plug in one device to achieve a direct, cabled connection to the internet. This eliminates WiFi as a source of lag or internet latency for that one device, which is often useful for online gaming.

Our Modem Buying Guide

In-home Wi-Fi has become the standard for almost every household in America. In fact, 82 percent of U.S. homes have broadband internet, up 10 percent from a decade ago. Generally, when you sign up for internet, your provider will give you the option to rent a modem that’s proven to work on its service. However, chances are, you can save on that rent by purchasing a modem that may even work much better than what they’re issuing.

But buying a modem can be overwhelming if you’ve never shopped for one before. Weighing one modem’s performance against another means deciphering terms like Mbps and downstream channels. Although these terms may seem technical in nature, they’re crucial to weighing one modem against another.

Mbps refers to megabits per second, which calculates the amount of data that can pass through your network within one second. Data is measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB), depending on the volume. There are eight megabits in one megabyte and 1,000 megabytes in one gigabyte. All you need to know as you’re shopping is that the more Mbps, the faster download and upload speeds you’ll need.

When you’re shopping for a modem, you’ll typically see terminology like “16×4.” These numbers represent how many downstream and upstream channels are supported by that modem. You’ll likely either want a 16×4 or 8×4 modem, which means you have either 16 or eight downstream channels and four upstream channels. With a 16×4 modem, you’ll get up to 680Mbps for downloads and only half of that with an 8×4 modem.

One problem with buying a modem versus renting one, however, is that technology is always changing. If your area hasn’t yet switched over to fiber, you may be in for a major upgrade in the future. When something like that happens, the modem you bought may no longer be compatible. By renting, you’re always ready for these upgrades without having to worry about wasting money. However, you may find that the money you spent renting your equipment could have easily been made up by purchasing a modem and then switching it out for a newer model when the network upgraded.

But do you need to splurge for a higher-priced modem with bigger numbers all around? That depends. If you stream video from multiple devices at once, or someone in your household engages in activities like gaming or video editing, you may want to go for the latest and greatest. For many households, an 8×4 modem with 343Mbps or 686Mbps will likely suffice. However, if you have the extra money, it can’t hurt to go with the better model to account for your future needs.

Speaking of compatibility, make sure the modem you choose works with your cable provider before you purchase it. This is usually mentioned in the item description, but if you don’t know for sure, contact your cable company to ask. Even if it says your modem is compatible, it may be worth calling since you may have an internet tier that wasn’t available when the modem was put on the market.

DWYM Fun Fact

Modem, short for modulator demodulator, both modulates and demodulates signals as they come in and go out of a network. In the early days of home networking, a modem would use a landline to bring those signals in and out. It was much slower, took a while to connect and tied up the phone line while in use. This was a bigger problem in the early days of home internet use because many households still used their home phones for the majority of their phone communication. However, home networks weren’t quite as challenged in those days, since technologies like video streaming and smartphones weren’t around. Today’s home internet uses dedicated lines that are a combination of analog and digital to carry signals in and out. They not only rely on a modem to bring the signals in and out, but also a router to allow the devices within a home to connect wirelessly.

The Modem Tips and Advice

  • The first thing to search for when reading a modem’s description is its compatibility. The Motorola MB7621 24 x 8 Cable Modem Modem is compatible with Comcast Xfinity, Cox and Charter, which are three of the biggest providers. Other modems, on the other hand, may work if you have Cox Communications but they may not compatible with Comcast Xfinity.
  • Signal strength is also worth considering. The Motorola modems use Wireless Power Boost and AnyBeam beamforming, which focuses your signal in a specific direction to provide better reception at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. This takes your signal to the legal limit the FCC allows.
  • Downstream and upstream channels play a significant role in the speed of your downloads and uploads. The Motorola MB7621 24 x 8 Cable Modem Modem offers 24×8 support, while other models offer 16×4 speeds.
  • Another thing to look for in a modem is DOCSIS technology. This technology is the preferred standard of cable providers. DOCSIS 3.1 technology offers enhanced security features, reduced latency and faster downloads than fiber cable. It also has a sleep mode that helps conserve energy. The Motorola MB8600 Modem features DOCSIS 3.1 technology, while other models have 3.0. DOCSIS 3.0, which is still more than acceptable, supports more than 100 Mbps.
  • When you look at the price to rent a modem through your cable provider, you may first want to check out the purchase price for one.
  • A model that is both a modem and a router will not only link you to the internet, but it can also link the computers and devices within your home to each other. However, when buying a modem/router combo, it’s important to note that you’ll have to purchase a completely new unit if part of it malfunctions or you want to upgrade one or the other. However, having both units in one means less equipment and cabling, which can help reduce the clutter in your home office.
  • Overheating can be an issue with any electronic equipment. Without proper venting, you may find your modem locks up on a regular basis, forcing you to restart it. The Motorola MB8600 Modem is designed with airflow in mind, so you’ll have less of a risk of inconvenient downtime.
  • With some modems, you’ll notice annoying slowdowns occasionally. Look for a modem that doesn’t have the lags seen with comparable modems from other brands.
  • Occasionally, you’ll need to reboot your modem, whether it’s due to your provider’s updates or overheating. A power button can make this process more convenient. Otherwise, you’ll need to unplug and replug your modem in to restart it.
  • Another usability factor to consider is where the screen is located. Some modems have a screen that is off to the side a little, making it more difficult to see, especially from a distance. The Motorola MB8600 Modem has a forward-facing screen.
  • Before you buy, take a look at where you plan to keep your modem. While many modems stand vertically, others are built to set horizontally.
  • Although we don’t often think about it, as soon as you put your home’s devices online, you’re at risk of an attack. Security is an important consideration. Yes, you’ll set passwords on your home network and each device. But you should also consider the Motorola MB8600 Modem, which has a chipset that keeps you safe against denial of service attacks.
  • In addition to securing your home network against an attack, make sure your modem provides protection against lightning strikes and power surges. The Motorola MB8600 Modem has a built-in circuit to keep your equipment safe from Mother Nature.
  • If you rent from your cable company, they’ll likely set up your modem. If you’re buying on your own or replacing an existing modem, you’ll probably have to set it up yourself. Look for a modem that has a Quick Start installation guide to get you up and running. It also features fast activation for the most popular internet service providers.

About The Author

Avatar
Stephanie Faris 

Stephanie Faris is a former information technology professional who spent most of her career working with computers and printers. Now a novelist and professional writer, her writings on electronics have been published on top tech sites. When she isn't writing about technology, she's often checking out the latest news on the upcoming iPhone release.