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The Best Modem

Last updated on August 12, 2019

We looked at the top 10 Modems and dug through the reviews from 29 of the most popular review sites including New York Times Wirecutter, Tom's Guide, Tech Radar, The Verge, Top Ten Reviews, Review Lab and more. The result is a ranking of the best Modems.

Best Modem

Why Trust The DWYM Score?

DWYM is your trusted product review source. Along with our in-house experts, our team analyzes thousands of product reviews from the most trusted websites. We then create one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

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

Our Picks For The Top Modems

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall

Motorola

MG7550 Modem

Overall Take

You'll get strong signal strength, thanks to built-in PowerBoost and AnyBeam beamforming technology. It operates as both a modem and a router, which means you won't have to purchase or rent a separate piece of equipment to connect all the devices in your home. Since the model boasts built-in circuits, you'll... Read More

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus Review Lab, BestReviews. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart.
Pros
" The router’s wireless signal is strong and reliable thanks to two unique features: Wireless Power Boost and AnyBeam beamforming. These technologies amplify the Wi-Fi range to the legal limit allowed by the FCC so you can enjoy fast and stable..."
Cons
"Expensive. But you are paying for performance."
  The Best Value

Netgear

CM600 Modem

Overall Take

You likely won't have to worry about compatibility with your internet service provider since the Netgear CM600 modem works with all the major cable companies. This 24x8 modem provides faster download and upload speeds than competitors. It comes at an affordable purchase price, although this model only comes with a... Read More

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus New York Times Wirecutter, Tom’s Guide, Top Ten Reviews, BestReviews. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy.
Pros
" The CM600 works well for plans up to 600 megabits per second, because it’s a DOCSIS 3.0 modem that can handle 24 downstream channels and eight upstream channels."
Cons
"Netgear offers only a one-year warranty for its cable modems, but the more dependable performance is worth the trade-off in this case."

Cisco

DPC3010 Modem

Overall Take

Although this modem features slower speeds, its pricepoint is lower than most other modems on the market. If your household doesn't engage in high-bandwidth activities, this modem should work well for you. You'll need to check compatibility with your internet service provider before purchasing though. This model doesn't work with... Read More

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus BestReviews, Top Ten Reviews, Best Reviews Guide. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Eight downstream channels."
Cons
"You can't use this cable modem with Comcast or Time Warner Cable."

Motorola

MB8600 Modem

Overall Take

The Motorola MB8600 modem features top-of-the-line technology, offering fast speeds and reliable support for all your devices. Although the price is higher than other modems, 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. Read More

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.
17

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the modems available to purchase.
10

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products to review and score.

View All Product Rankings

29

Expert Reviews Included

Reviews from our DWYM category experts and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: New York Times Wirecutter, Tom's Guide, Tech Radar, The Verge, Top Ten Reviews.

100,863

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart.

Our experts reviewed the top 10 Modems and also dug through the reviews from 29 of the most popular review sites including New York Times Wirecutter, Tom's Guide, Tech Radar, The Verge, Top Ten Reviews, Review Lab 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

MOTOROLA MG7550 Modem

Expert Summarized Score
9.7
2 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.7
1,883 user reviews
Our Take

You'll get strong signal strength, thanks to built-in PowerBoost and AnyBeam beamforming technology. It operates as both a modem and a router, which means you won't have to purchase or rent a separate piece of equipment to connect all the devices in your home. Since the model boasts built-in circuits, you'll also get protection against lightning strikes and surges.

What other experts liked
The router’s wireless signal is strong and reliable thanks to two unique features: Wireless Power Boost and AnyBeam beamforming. These technologies amplify the Wi-Fi range to the legal limit allowed by the FCC so you can enjoy fast and stable...
- Review Lab
Top of the line download speed. Fast and reliable signal. High quality router also included
- BestReviews
What other experts didn't like
The main disadvantage of modem/router combos like the MG7550 is that if one half stops functioning, or if you want to upgrade one of the components (either cable or Wi-Fi), then the entire thing must be replaced – it is...
- Review Lab
Expensive. But you are paying for performance.
- BestReviews

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Netgear CM600 Modem

Expert Summarized Score
9.1
4 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.3
6,374 user reviews
Our Take

You likely won't have to worry about compatibility with your internet service provider since the Netgear CM600 modem works with all the major cable companies. This 24x8 modem provides faster download and upload speeds than competitors. It comes at an affordable purchase price, although this model only comes with a one-year warranty.

What other experts liked
The CM600 works well for plans up to 600 megabits per second, because it’s a DOCSIS 3.0 modem that can handle 24 downstream channels and eight upstream channels.
- New York Times Wirecutter
October 30, 2018 | Full review
Opt for the CM600, and you're going to get reliable performance without the lags reported by some users with Intel Puma 6-powered devices.
- Tom's Guide
January 3, 2019 | Full review
The Netgear CM600 has a power button and is compatible with every ISP we checked.
- Top Ten Reviews
August 24, 2018 | Full review
Compatible with XFINITY from comcast , spectrum, cox, CableOne and more.
- BestReviews
What other experts didn't like
The biggest downside is that, while the CM600 has positive reviews from owners, it comes with only a one-year warranty, while most modems come with a two-year warranty.
- New York Times Wirecutter
October 30, 2018 | Full review
Netgear offers only a one-year warranty for its cable modems, but the more dependable performance is worth the trade-off in this case.
- Tom's Guide
January 3, 2019 | Full review
Its display faces left instead of straight forward.
- Top Ten Reviews
August 24, 2018 | Full review
Seperate router for Wi-FI
- BestReviews

Overall Product Rankings

1. MOTOROLA MG7550 Modem

Overall Score: 9.3
Reviews Included: 5

2. Netgear CM600 Modem

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 7

3. Cisco DPC3010 Modem

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 5

4. Motorola MB8600 Modem

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 5

5. Netgear ORBI Modem

Overall Score: 8.4
Reviews Included: 6

6. Motorola MB7621 Modem

Overall Score: 8.4
Reviews Included: 5

7. Linksys CM3008 Modem

Overall Score: 8.4
Reviews Included: 5

8. ARRIS SURFboard SB6190

Overall Score: 8.3
Reviews Included: 6

9. Netgear CM500 Modem

Overall Score: 7.9
Reviews Included: 7

10. Netgear C3000 Modem

Overall Score: 7.9
Reviews Included: 5

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 MG7550 Modem, Netgear CM600 Modem and Motorola MB8600 Modem are compatible with Comcast Xfinity, Cox and Charter, which are three of the biggest providers. The Cisco DPC3010 Modem on the other hand, will work if you have Cox Communications but is not compatible with Comcast Xfinity.
  • Signal strength is also worth considering. The Motorola MG7550 Modem uses 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 MB8600 Modem offers 32×8 support, while the Netgear CM600 Modem is 24×8 capable and the Motorola MG7550 Modem offers 16×4 speeds. The Cisco DPC3010 Modem lags behind with only eight downstream channels.
  • 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 the Motorola MG7550 Modem, Netgear CM600 Modem and Cisco DPC3010 Modem all have 3.0. DOCSIS 3.0, which is still more than acceptable, supports more than 100 Mbps.
  • Many modems come with a two-year warranty, which will protect you if it suddenly malfunctions due to a defect in manufacturing. But the Netgear CM600 Modem comes with only a one-year warranty. You’ll get Netgear’s reputation for dependable performance, but if you’re concerned about a malfunction, this might be worth considering.
  • 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. You can get the Cisco DPC3010 Modem for just under $50, with the Netgear CM600 Modem retailing for less than $100. Both the Motorola MG7550 Modem and the Motorola MG7550 Modem sell for between $100 and $200.
  • The Motorola MG7550 Modem is both a modem and a router, which means it can 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. The Netgear CM600 Modem doesn’t have the lags seen with comparable modems from other brands.
  • While most modern modems are fairly reliable, you may find the Cisco DPC3010 Modem is less reliable than other models.
  • Occasionally, you’ll need to reboot your modem, whether it’s due to your provider’s updates or overheating. A power button, like the one the Netgear CM600 Modem has, 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. The Netgear CM600 Modem’s screen is off to the side a little, making it more difficult to see, especially from a distance. The Motorola MG7550 Modem, Cisco DPC3010 Modem and the Motorola MB8600 Modem all have forward-facing screens.
  • Before you buy, take a look at where you plan to keep your modem. While many modems stand vertically, the Cisco DPC3010 Modem is built to set horizontally, which means it will be 11.1 inches wide by 2.2 inches high as opposed to, for example, the Motorola MG7550 Modem, which is only 2.8 inches wide and 10 inches high.
  • 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 MG7550 Modem and Motorola MB8600 Modem both have built-in circuits 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. The Motorola MG7550 Modem has a Quick Start installation guide to get you up and running. It also features fast activation for the most popular internet service providers.