Fastest cable modem 2019

Fastest cable modem 2019 DEFAULT

After researching nearly cable modems over the past five years, we recommend the Motorola MB if you have cable internet and you want to stop paying your internet service provider a separate modem rental fee. You can recoup the cost of the modem in as little as eight months—and then start saving up to $12 each month.

The Motorola MB is reliable, supports the fastest internet speeds available to the vast majority of Americans, and offers compatibility with just about every non-gigabit plan from every cable internet service provider in the US—including Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum (formerly Time Warner, Charter, and Bright House), Cox, Suddenlink, Sparklight/Cable One, and WOW—which gives you flexibility if you move or switch ISPs. The MB works well for plans up to megabits per second, because it’s a DOCSIS modem that can handle 24 downstream channels and eight upstream channels. It also includes a two-year warranty.

The Netgear CM is a 24×8 DOCSIS modem that supports the same performance levels as the Motorola MB, though it is slightly more expensive. The biggest downside is that, although the CM has positive reviews from owners, it comes with only a one-year warranty, whereas most modems come with a two-year warranty.

America’s average internet speeds measure around Mbps, depending on which survey you pick. If your plan is in that range and you don’t intend to upgrade beyond Mbps anytime soon, we recommend the Netgear CM The CM matches the ISP compatibility of the pricier CM, but its maximum download and upload speeds are lower ( Mbps on the CM versus Mbps on the CM, though Suddenlink certifies it for Mbps speeds). The CM has a good reputation for reliability, but like the CM it comes with only a one-year warranty.

(We recommend 16×4 modems like the CM even if your plan would work with a slower modem, because ISPs are dropping support for 8×4 modems. You'd save barely any money up front and have to replace your modem years earlier, so we don't recommend it.)

If you already have a gigabit internet plan and your ISP allows you to use your own modem, the Motorola MB is the best of the DOCSIS modems that are widely available right now because of its relatively low price and its two-year warranty. You’ll need a DOCSIS modem to guarantee gigabit speeds from most cable ISPs, and the MB is also compatible with gigabit internet on networks that still use the DOCSIS standard; for example, Sparklight/Cable One supports both DOCSIS (32x8) and DOCSIS modems for its GigaOne service.

Don't get a gigabit modem unless you already have gigabit service or know it's available. The added expense of the DOCSIS modems isn’t worth it until you’re on one of these new (and pricey) plans—especially since your ISP may roll out gigabit over fiber rather than cable. And they may not even let you bring your own modem once they do roll out gigabit service.

Modem compatibility list, updated March

1 Suddenlink told us that all DOCSIS modems will work with the company’s service. But you should call Suddenlink to verify compatibility before purchasing.

Everything we recommend

Why you should trust us

Before joining Wirecutter, Joel Santo Domingo tested and has written about PCs, networking products, and personal tech at PCMag and PC Magazine for more than 17 years. Prior to writing for a living, Joel was an IT tech and sysadmin for small, medium, and large companies.

Who this is for

You should buy a cable modem if you’re currently paying a fee to rent one from your ISP. Most ISPs charge $10 a month to rent a modem—that’s $ a year, every year, on top of what you’re already paying for internet access. (Altice and Spectrum include the modem-rental cost in their current internet plans, but if you haven’t changed your plan in a few years, you may still be paying a rental fee; give Altice or Spectrum a call to see what your current options are.) Unless you have gigabit-speed internet, you can expect to pay around $60 to $90 for a modem, which means you’ll save money in less than a year.

Many ISPs rent out modems that double as wireless routers, which means that if you replace your rental modem with one you bought, you may also need to buy a wireless router if you want Wi-Fi in your house (if you’re not sure what the difference is between a router and a cable modem, we have a guide for that.) Our favorite Wi-Fi router currently sells for less than $, but you can find a decent one for around $ That puts your total up-front cost as low as $, which means it pays for itself in a year and a half. Your modem and router should last you at least a few years if not more, so even if you go for the more expensive option, you’ll still come out on top. ISP-supplied modem-router combos tend to have bare-minimum feature lists and poor Wi-Fi range, while standalone routers have added antennas for better coverage, more parental control settings, and other nice-to-have features like guest networks and VPN servers.

ISPMonthly modem-rental fees (as of March )
Comcast Xfinity$14
Spectrum$5 or no charge
Cox$10 or no charge
Altice/Suddenlink$10 or $20
WOW$10 or $14
RCN$2 to $13, depending on your location
Sparklight/Cable One$

(Legacy plans from Optimum, Time Warner Cable, or Charter may include a modem-rental fee depending on who your ISP was before the merger. Most current Spectrum plans do not have a separate fee. Fees current as of March 24, )

Don’t buy a cable modem if you’re on DSL or fiber; those technologies use different standards and connectors. Verizon Fios lets you buy your own modem-router combo, but you have only a single choice, and it's identical to the equipment they rent to you.

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Also don’t buy one if you use your cable provider for telephone service: The models we cover here don’t have phone ports. If you need one that does, check to see which “telephony” or eMTA modems your ISP supports, and if the company allows you to buy your own. Comcast Xfinity’s webpage has a checkbox so you can determine which approved modems are voice/telephone enabled, and Cox has a list of approved modems that are compatible with their voice services. Cable One notes that it only supports a handful of Arris modems (including the one it leases to you) for voice service on its support site, while WOW only supports its leased WOW! Advanced Modem for voice. The telephony modems you can buy are also more expensive than regular cable modems.

Most ISPs charge $10 a month to rent a modem—that’s $ a year, every year, on top of what you’re already paying for internet access.

When to replace your old modem

You should get a new modem if yours doesn’t support DOCSIS , the most widespread iteration of the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification, which governs how cable operators deliver high-speed cable internet. If you’ve had your modem for four or five years, give the model name a quick Google search; you might still be using a modem that supports only DOCSIS , in which case it’s time to upgrade. But if you already own a DOCSIS cable modem that supports your internet plan’s top rates, don’t buy a more powerful (and more expensive) cable modem for the sake of future-proofing.

The first two versions of DOCSIS used only one downstream channel (for downloading data) and one upstream channel (for uploading data). DOCSIS allows modems to bond multiple channels into a single data stream, giving you 38 Mbps per channel. Since those channels can combine, you can theoretically get up to Mbps with a channel modem and up to gigabit per second with a channel modem.

A modem’s maximum speed, as the manufacturer lists it, doesn’t mean all that much. Most ISPs limit 16×4 modems to around Mbps even though in theory they can hit plus Mbps. Most currently available 24×8 or 32×8 modems max out at Mbps or 1 Gbps, respectively. If you buy a 1 Gbps modem but pay for only Mbps service, your download speeds are still limited to Mbps. Unless you’re on a very congested network with constant slowdowns, you likely won’t notice a huge difference from added channels on slower speed tiers.

How we picked

The three cable modems we recommend standing side by side.

Nobody really reviews cable modems—it’s difficult, because you can’t know whether it’s the modem or the ISP that’s to blame for slower speeds—so the few reviews that exist aren’t very scientific. We also don’t have the capability to test multiple modems on multiple ISPs ourselves. But generally speaking, modems either work or don’t.

Instead, we started our research by considering all the DOCSIS and DOCSIS modems that work on the nation’s biggest ISPs—Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox, Optimum and Suddenlink (both owned by Altice), Sparklight/Cable One, RCN, and WOW—and then narrowed the field to modems compatible with the most popular plans on those ISPs. (Altice and RCN don’t publish a list of approved modems, though, and with few exceptions wouldn’t verify whether any of our picks would work with their services.)

  • Compatibility: ISP compatibility is the main factor in choosing a cable modem. A modem either works with your ISP or doesn’t. The first thing to do is to check your ISP’s approved-modem list—here’s where to check for Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, Sparklight/Cable One, Mediacom (PDF), and WOW (PDF). If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where you can choose from multiple ISPs, the capability to bring your modem from one provider to another is a nice bonus.
  • Channels: Channel bonding refers to the number of downstream (for downloading) and upstream (for uploading) channels your modem can access. Modem channels appear on the box as a number, such as 16×4, 24x8, or 32×8. With DOCSIS , the more channels your modem has, the faster the speed, provided your ISP supports those channels. This means that if the ISP offers only 16 downstream channels in your area, using a 24×8 modem won’t improve performance. The right cable modem is the one with the right number of channels for your service tier. The average internet speed in the US is around Mbps, and the fastest cable tier most major ISPs offer is between and 1, Mbps (aka gigabit). If you have service ranging from to Mbps, a 16×4 modem will be enough. If your internet plan is over Mbps, you need a 24×8 modem or better. Our top picks will work for any plan up to Mbps. We don’t recommend 8×4 or 4×4 modems, because ISPs are phasing out support for those older models, even on lower-speed plans.
  • Warranty: Most modems come with a one- or two-year limited warranty that covers any catastrophic failure. A warranty is useful, because a company will typically replace a modem if it stops working due to defects. Malfunctions are not a common occurrence with modems, but since purchasing your own means you don’t get a warranty through your cable provider anymore, the warranty is good to have in case anything goes wrong.
  • Price: We found that you should expect to pay $60 to $80 for a DOCSIS modem that works with most plans and has the features you need to get the highest speeds available to you. Modems capable of full gigabit speeds are significantly pricier at $ to $
  • Heat: Read the owner reviews for almost any modem, and someone will mention that the modem gets hot. Most manufacturers list the operating temperature on modems as up to degrees Fahrenheit, which is pretty hot for any electronic device. To keep your modem from overheating, make sure the vents aren’t covered up and it’s in an open space. Modems might be a bit ugly, but that doesn’t mean you should hide yours away in a drawer. We’ll keep an eye out for reports of excessive heat-related problems with cable modems, and we will update our picks as needed.

After researching all the modems currently available, we landed on four contenders for 24×8 modems: the Motorola MB, Netgear CM, Linksys CM, and TP-Link TC We also considered two popular DOCSIS 16×4 modems that were our previous top pick and runner-up, respectively, the Netgear CM and TP-Link TC, as well as DOCSIS models: the Arris SURFboard SB, Arris S33, Motorola MB, Motorola MB, Netgear CM, CM, CM, and Netgear CM

Our pick: Motorola MB

Our runner-up pick for best cable modem, the Motorola MB

The Motorola MB is a reliable 24×8 DOCSIS cable modem that works with all the major ISPs at the time of this writing. It is compatible with the most commonly offered speed plans from Comcast Xfinity (up to Mbps), Spectrum (up to Mbps), Cox (Ultimate Classic), Suddenlink (up to Mbps), and Sparklight/Cable One (up to Mbps), as well as with WOW’s Mbps plan. It’s less expensive than comparable modems like Netgear’s CM and it has a two-year warranty, so you can save a bit more money and have your hardware covered for longer.

A close look at the ports on the back of our Modem pick

The MB is a DOCSIS modem with 24 downstream channels and eight upstream channels. This is plenty for most internet plans up to Mbps, and many ISPs require a 24×8 modem for their top non-gigabit plans, such as Spectrum’s Mbps plan or Cox’s Internet Ultimate plan. Even though DOCSIS has begun rolling out, that standard is backward compatible, so all DOCSIS modems will work with DOCSIS service.

Although the MB has solid support from every major ISP right now, double-checking your ISP’s compatibility page before you purchase the modem is still a good idea. ISPs update their modem-compatibility lists often, and they occasionally drop support for a modem with little to no warning.

Our experience over the past few years has been trouble-free. "The best things I can say about a cable modem are that it's fast and I never need to think about it,” said editor Ben Keough. “This one checks both of those boxes."

Runner-up: Netgear CM

Our pick for best cable modem standing on a shelf.

The Netgear CM, another highly regarded 24×8 DOCSIS cable modem, promises the same performance levels on the same speed tiers as the MB—it just costs a bit more and has a shorter, one-year warranty. The Netgear CM’s user manual (PDF) also claims compatibility with Optimum, but if you have Optimum service, you should call your local Optimum customer support number to check before you buy any modem. Owners like it; Amazon reviews are consistently positive.

Our long-term testing reinforces the modem’s positive reviews: “The set up with Optimum was pretty quick and easy” and “It’s working just fine… I haven’t had any problems” says Makula Dunbar, Wirecutter’s Associate Partnerships Manager.

While reviews suggest that the CM is a reliable modem, Netgear’s included one-year warranty isn’t great considering that most other modems (including the Motorola MB) come with a two-year warranty. Modems tend to run pretty hot—the maximum operating temperature for the CM is degrees Fahrenheit (PDF)—so there’s always a possibility of something going wrong if, for example, you don’t place yours in a well-ventilated area.

Even though the CM has solid support from every major ISP right now, double-checking your ISP’s compatibility page before you purchase the modem is still a good idea. ISPs update their modem-compatibility lists often, and they occasionally drop support for a modem with little to no warning.

Budget pick: Netgear CM

The Netgear CM, a less expensive cable modem we recommend in our guide to the best cable modems.

A former top pick, the Netgear CM is still a good choice for the budget-minded internet user. It shares many of the same features as our top pick, including wide ISP approval, at a lower purchase price. The trade-off is that ISP support for the CM usually tops off at about Mbps instead of the Mbps the MB and CM are capable of. It is compatible with Comcast Xfinity (up to Mbps), Spectrum (up to Mbps), Cox (Ultimate plan), Suddenlink (up to Mbps), and Sparklight/Cable One (up to Mbps), as well as with WOW’s Mbps plan. On the plus side, you will be fine for a while, because DOCSIS is backward-compatible with DOCSIS modems. It’s a great pick if you don’t need your cable company’s fastest plans, or if they are unavailable where you live.

Upgrade pick: Motorola MB

The Motorola MB, a cable modem we recommend.

If you already have a gigabit-speed cable internet plan, or know your ISP offers one and lets you bring your own cable modem, the Motorola MB is your best option. It’s usually less expensive than its competition, it has certifications from Sparklight/Cable One, Cox, and Xfinity, and it has a two-year warranty. Because it’s DOCSIS certified and supports 32×8 DOCSIS channels, it should work with other cable companies that have enabled Gigabit Ethernet on their networks, but as usual you should check with your individual provider. For example, RCN’s website goes out of its way to say that the company isn’t currently supporting the MB, but it also doesn’t specify an approved alternative.

You shouldn't get the MB, or any other gigabit modem, unless you know your ISP supports it today. Until your ISP offers gigabit service in your area, you won’t know if it’ll roll out DOCSIS , DOCSIS , or fiber to your home. The MB should work for the first two situations, but it will be useless if they install fiber. For more, check out our section about DOCSIS and gigabit internet.

The MB has four Gigabit Ethernet ports on its back panel, which aren’t, as you’d expect, connected to a built-in router or switch—they can't be used to connect wired Ethernet devices. The ports are hidden behind a yellow sticker to prevent confusion, but it’s easy to pull it off for access. The four ports are a bit of future-proofing, as they can be turned on by your ISP for link/port aggregation if and when your ISP decides to support it. The ports can also be used to support two (or more) separate IP addresses from your ISP. However, this feature is only applicable if you need separate accounts in your home for business and personal or family use, coming in on the same physical coaxial cable. For example, if you already have two or more cable modems in your home, each servicing separate accounts. The MB could consolidate these into a single box, but you’d still need separate routers for each network.

The Motorola MB cable modem laying in its side, showing its back side, which is clearly divided by colored plastic.

DOCSIS modems cost around twice as much as our main picks, which means they will take over a year to pay off assuming a modem rental fee of $10 a month. Don’t buy one just for the sake of future-proofing, or if you use a slower plan—DOCSIS networks will be compatible with our DOCSIS picks, which means that older DOCSIS modems will continue to work just fine, albeit at lower speeds, on newer DOCSIS networks.

You shouldn't get the MB, or any other gigabit modem, unless you know your ISP supports it today.

Setup and activation

Regardless of which modem you choose, you’ll need to activate it once you get it. Each ISP has a different activation process, but you’ll need to either call the company or visit a URL to activate your modem. Here’s how to activate your new modem on Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, Suddenlink, and Sparklight/Cable One. You’ll need to call WOW’s customer service line to activate your modem with that ISP.

Modem compatibility list, updated March

Cable modemComcast XfinitySpectrumCoxSparklight/Cable OneWOWMediacom
Netgear CM (24×8)Up to MbpsUp to MbpsUltimate ClassicUp to MbpsUp to Mbpsn/a
Motorola MB (24×8)Up to MbpsUp to MbpsUltimate ClassicUp to MbpsUp to Mbpsn/a
Netgear CM (16×4)Up to MbpsUp to MbpsUltimate ClassicUp to MbpsUp to Mbpsn/a
Motorola MB (DOCSIS )Up to MbpsUp to MbpsGigablastUp to 1, MbpsUp to 1, MbpsUp to 1, Mbps
Arris SURFboard SB (DOCSIS )Up to Mbpsn/aGigablastUp to 1, MbpsUp to 1, MbpsUp to 1, Mbps
Netgear CM (DOCSIS )Up to MbpsUp to 1, MbpsGigablastUp to 1, MbpsUp to 1, MbpsUp to 1, Mbps
Netgear CM (DOCSIS )
Up to MbpsUp to 1, MbpsGigablastn/aUp to 1, MbpsUp to 1, Mbps
Netgear CM (DOCSIS )
Up to MbpsUp to 1, MbpsGigablastn/aUp to 1, MbpsUp to 1, Mbps
Arris S33 (DOCSIS )
Up to 1, MbpsUp to 1, MbpsGigablastn/aUp to 1, Mbpsn/a
Motorola MB (DOCSIS )
Up to 1, MbpsUp to 1, MbpsGigablastn/aUp to 1, Mbpsn/a
Netgear CM (DOCSIS )
Up to 1, MbpsUp to 1, MbpsGigablastUp to 1, MbpsUp to 1, MbpsUp to 1, Mbps

1 Suddenlink told us that all DOCSIS modems will work with the company’s service, but you should call Suddenlink to verify compatibility before purchasing.

The competition

We considered the Linksys CM, but this 24×8 modem has a few strikes against it. It only has a one-year warranty and isn’t explicitly included on many cable companies’ approved modem lists. However, its most glaring drawback is that it uses the Intel Puma 6 chipset. We hesitate to recommend modems using this chipset, which The Register reports can cause latency issues (especially with online gaming). As of this writing Linksys has not released a firmware fix for the modem.

The Netgear CM is a gigabit DOCSIS modem that is a contender for our upgrade pick. It is at times more expensive and has a shorter warranty than the Motorola MB, but the CM is a worthy alternative if the latter is unavailable. The CM has only one Gigabit Ethernet port in the back, so you won’t be able to use link/port aggregation on this modem in the future.

The Arris SB is another widely available DOCSIS modem with similar specs to the Netgear CM and Motorola MB, and is worth considering if it has a similar price as the MB It has a long two-year warranty, and two Ethernet ports in the back to support connecting two routers/computers with two separate IP addresses, or for link aggregation (you’ll still need a compatible router).

The Arris SURFboard SB and Netgear CM are the most widely supported options for plans that are faster than Mbps but not DOCSIS These 32×8 modems are significantly more expensive than the 16×4 modems and are overkill if you have a Mbps or slower data plan. If you’re already on a gigabit data tier, we’d recommend that you just go ahead and buy a DOCSIS modem. They are compatible with 32×8 DOCSIS networks, and you’ll be all set if or when your ISP adopts DOCSIS These particular modems also use the problematic Intel Puma 6 chipset, which can cause latency issues. While the modem makers have distributed updated firmware fixes to the ISPs, it is ultimately up to your cable company to support the modem.

The Netgear CM and CM modems are DOCSIS , and like the Motorola MB, both are rated for multi-gigabit internet plans. The CM features two Ethernet ports, the same as the MB, while the business-oriented CM has four. Multiple Ethernet ports are needed to connect multi-gig ax/Wi-Fi 6 routers that support link aggregation (multiple Ethernet cables connect the modem and router to support multi-gigabit speeds, but we don’t think most people will be using this feature anytime soon). Like the other Netgear modems, they have a one-year warranty. The CM costs about the same amount as MB, while the CM is about $50 more expensive. We’d dismiss the latter outright, as it’s made mainly for businesses, but the CM could be an alternative to our upgrade pick, if it goes on sale and you don’t mind that it has a shorter one-year warranty.

The Arris S33, Motorola MB, and Netgear CM all have GbE (gigabit Ethernet) ports, which can connect to Wi-Fi 6 routers that support the GbE standard. While we considered the future-proofing each modem provides, GbE (or faster) routers and 2-gigabit internet plans are still too scarce for Wirecutter to recommend these modems. The MB has a relatively small price premium of about $20 over the MB, but the CM and S33 are $ more expensive than the MB at this time. We’ll reevaluate the modems when more routers can support GbE.

In the chart above, we list which of our cable modem contenders work with which ISPs based on information from each ISP. (Optimum/Altice and Suddenlink don't provide a list of compatible modems.) Where applicable, we also include the maximum speeds that each ISP supports. We didn’t include modem-router combos, because we don’t recommend them.

What about DOCSIS and gigabit internet?

DOCSIS , which our upgrade pick supports, is the next standard for internet cable modems and ISPs. It promises speeds of up to 10 Gbps, increased download efficiency, and better queue management for large downloads. The people behind DOCSIS say that the improved technology of the standard will lead to better stability even at slower speeds.

We spoke with Belal Hamzeh, vice president of wireless technologies at CableLabs, the company that came up with DOCSIS, and he pointed out that a big strength of DOCSIS lies in the upgrade process: To introduce DOCSIS , an ISP doesn’t need to upgrade its cable lines—only the hardware in its facilities. This means that more cable operators will be able to offer gigabit speeds over the next few years, and many already do.

You’ll need a DOCSIS modem like our upgrade pick only if you’re in one of those covered areas and you have a gigabit-speed internet plan—they’re expensive right now, and you won’t see faster speeds unless you pay for one of those gigabit plans. If you are in one of those areas and want to subscribe to one of the proposed gigabit internet plans, wait to purchase a modem until you have the plan so that you know it’s compatible. DOCSIS is backward-compatible, so if you have a DOCSIS modem and don’t plan on upgrading to gigabit speeds, the DOCSIS modem will continue to work with your ISP.

Right now, gigabit speed is possible on 32×8 DOCSIS modems, but we don’t recommend buying them since they use the problematic Intel Puma 6 chipset, and it’s hard to tell whether your ISP has rolled out the fix for the chipset’s latency problems. Our DOCSIS modem pick is 32×8 DOCSIS –compliant by specification, so get a DOCSIS modem if you want true gigabit speeds on any cable network. Sparklight/Cable One, parts of Suddenlink’s coverage area, and some regional carriers support gigabit speeds over DOCSIS , but it’s not common.

You’ll only need a DOCSIS modem like our upgrade pick if you have a gigabit-speed internet plan—they’re expensive right now, and you won’t see faster speeds unless you pay for one of those gigabit plans.

Note that some DOCSIS modems advertise “up to 10 Gbps” speeds. This is the theoretical limit of the DOCSIS standard, and they are currently unreachable. In order to do so, you would need a router with WAN port aggregation or a Gbps Ethernet port to enable speeds above 1 Gbps, and for now, most ISPs list 1 Gbps as their top speed tier for residential customers. 2 Gbps plans exist, but coverage is limited, and the few plans we've seen are expensive.

Gigabit fiber internet plans are growing more popular, too. Fiber is generally faster than cable, especially in upload speeds, but it involves added cost for companies because it requires new cables and network architecture. That installation cost is at least partially why Google Fiber dialed back plans for its broadband rollout. Not to worry though—other providers, including AT&T Fiber, CenturyLink, Frontier, Verizon, and Windstream, are expanding their networks. Those who are looking to cut wires entirely out of the equation are starting to get excited about 5G wireless internet to the home and for mobile use. 5G uses fiber as its backbone, but uses wireless technology to deliver the service to homes and businesses.

As mentioned above, you shouldn’t buy a DOCSIS modem right now if DOCSIS service isn’t available in your area. Future-proofing is good in theory but difficult in practice. It might sound smart to buy the best modem available, but the interplay between the technology, your location, and the ISP means your chances of wasting money on a device that might not work in the future are higher with modems than with other types of electronics. Internet providers tend to be coy with their technology and service rollouts, so it’s difficult to tell when—or if—you’ll see a bump in the speeds they offer. For example, just because some parts of Denver have access to gigabit speeds doesn’t mean the surrounding suburbs will.

What to look forward to

We surmise new modems will feature a gigabit Ethernet port, supporting faster speeds for Wi-Fi 6 routers and mesh networks. As stated above, this is more of a future-proofing move, as most ISP plans top out at 1-gigabit internet. We'll evaluate them as they become readily available.

Patrick Austin, David Murphy, and Thorin Klosowski contributed to previous versions of this article.


  1. About 1,, Added Broadband in 1Q , Leichtman Research Group, May 13,

  2. Greg White, How DOCSIS Reduces Latency with Active Queue Management, CableLabs, June 6,

  3. Why It’s Important to Upgrade End of Life and Unsupported Equipment, Comcast

  4. Dan Mahoney and Greg Rafert, Broadband Competition Helps to Drive Lower Prices and Faster Download Speeds for U.S. Residential Consumers (PDF), Analysis Group, November 1,

  5. Mark Bergen, Google Fiber is pulling back on its broadband rollout as pressure grows to cut costs, Recode, August 25,

  6. Daniel Frankel, Cox revises gigabit rollout plan, now targeting to go footprintwide: report, FierceVideo, July 12,

  7. Karl Bode, Altice Will Skip DOCSIS , Deploy Full Fiber to the Home, DSLReports, November 30,

  8. Motorola Zoom/Arris Branding Name, Arris

  9. United States Speedtest Market Report, Ookla, December 12,

About your guide

Joel Santo Domingo

Joel Santo Domingo is a senior staff writer covering networking and storage at Wirecutter. Previously he tested and reviewed more than a thousand PCs and tech devices for PCMag and other sites over 17 years. Joel became attracted to service journalism after answering many “What’s good?” questions while working as an IT manager and technician.


At Allconnect, we work to present quality information with editorial integrity. While this post may contain offers from our partners, our opinions are our own. Here’s how we make money.

Top cable modems

Why purchase a modem instead of renting?

If you are considering buying a modem instead of renting one from your internet service provider (ISP), you’re not alone. Many providers charge high monthly fees for a subpar modem. This was prevalent in the industry because the equipment fee was included on your bill regardless of whether you used the company’s modem. However, providers can no longer do this as a law was passed at the end of , known as the Television Viewer Protection Act of , that prevents ISPs from charging an equipment fee if customers want to supply their own equipment. This law went into effect in the beginning of  

Due to this law, it may make sense for you to buy your own modem. It can save you money in the long-term and it will allow you to buy the highest quality modem available. A high-quality modem is essential for accessing the fastest speeds and the most reliable connection. Keep in mind that when you buy a modem, customer support from your ISP will not apply to the equipment. 

How we chose our favorite cable modems

We looked into eight of the most popular modems and then narrowed it down to five based on the following criteria: 

  • Supported speeds
  • Price and value 
  • Features
  • Customer reviews

We put extra weight into supported speeds and value. Since customers have different needs for a modem based on their internet speed plan and budget, we included a wide range of options instead of merely choosing the five most advanced modems on the market. 

Each modem is considered the best in one of five key categories: best value overall, easiest set-up, best for streaming and gaming, best for a gigabit internet plan and best for budgeters. Our picks include: the Arris Surfboard SB, the Motorola MB, the Motorola MB, the Motorola MB and the Netgear CM 

The benefits of a cable modem 

The modem is how your home is able to receive internet. The modem is the device that receives signals from your internet service provider and then translates that data into signals your devices can connect to. However, not all modems are made equally which is why it’s important to purchase one that will ensure fast speeds and reliability without breaking the bank. 

With just a modem, your household will be required to use an Ethernet cord to connect your devices to the internet. If your household plans to rely on Ethernet cords occasionally or all of the time, then you will likely want a modem that offers multiple Ethernet ports. Using an Ethernet cord directly from your modem is a good way to boost your internet connection. 

If you want to be able to connect to the internet through Wi-Fi, on the other hand, then you will also need to purchase a router. Another popular option is to purchase a gateway device, which functions as both a modem and a router. 

Learn more about the pros and cons of purchasing a gateway device 

The top 5 cable modems of

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Best overall: Arris Surfboard SB

  • Max possible speeds: Mbps
  • Modem technology: DOCSIS and 16&#;4 channels 
  • Pricing: under $60 
  • Compatible with: Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox 
  • Gigabit Ethernet port: 1
  • Bonus feature: Small enough to fit on a shelf

The Arris Surfboard SB is a great option for households with a Mbps plan or below. This Arris modem costs $59 and is only 5 X 5 X inches, which is one of the smallest sizes available. This means you can put it just about anywhere. There are currently over 20, reviews on Amazon and 77% of reviewers rated the Arris Surfboard SB 5 stars.

Although max speeds reach Mbps, households with a speed plan higher than Mbps should either opt for the more expensive Arris Surfboard model, the Arris Surfboard SB, which Amazon is currently selling for $ or choose a different brand. The Arris Surfboard SB is ideal for internet plans between and Mbps. If you have an internet plan faster than Mbps, you should probably choose one of the DOCSIS modems.  

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Easy set-up: Motorola MB

  • Max possible speeds: / Mbps
  • Modem technology: DOCSIS and 16&#;4 channels
  • Pricing: under $60 
  • Compatible with: All cable providers 
  • Gigabit Ethernet ports: 1

The Motorola MB is an affordable and reliable option for households with a speed of Mbps or below. At $, this modem is one of the best values around. This Motorola modem has received over 5, reviews, with 74% of reviewers rating the modem 5 stars. The average score for both ease of installation and use is , which is incredibly high. You can learn all about the set-up process in Motorola’s Quick Start manual. 

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Best for streaming/gaming: Motorola MB

  • Max possible speeds: 1,+ Mbps 
  • Modem technology: DOCSIS and 24&#;8 channels
  • Pricing: under $80 
  • Compatible with: All cable providers 
  • Gigabit Ethernet ports: 1

Although max speeds for the Motorola MB is 1 Gig, it is recommended for internet speed plans of Mbps. At $, this is a great option for a modem for households with a middle-tier speed plan ( to Mbps) that likes to stream, game and work from home. The Motorola MB has nearly 7, reviews on Amazon and 77% of reviewers gave the device 5 stars. 

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Best for Gigabit internet: Motorola MB

  • Max possible speeds: 1,+ Mbps
  • Modem technology: DOCSIS and 24&#;8 channels
  • Pricing: under $
  • Compatible with: Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox
  • Gigabit Ethernet port: 1

No matter what internet speed plan you have, the Motorola MB can handle it. Amazon ranked this modem No. 4 for computer networking modems and 81% of reviewers gave it 5 stars. The Motorola MB is ideal for households with a gig plan. There is likely no reason to purchase their modem if you have a plan below Mbps. If your household has Xfinity’s 2 Gig speed plan then you will want to purchase this modem but with the Gbps Ethernet port. 

Not only can the Motorola MB handle extremely fast speeds, but it also provides extremely low latency, which is ideal for heavy online gaming and video conferencing. The only downside is that it’s expensive. Amazon is currently selling it the 1 Gbps Ethernet port modem for $ and the Gbps Ethernet port for $ If your household isn’t currently able to buy a gig speed plan, but are interested in purchasing it once it becomes available in your area, we would recommend investing in the Motorola MB 

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Cheapest: Netgear CM

  • Max possible speeds: Mbps 
  • Modem technology: DOCSIS and 16&#;4 channels
  • Pricing under $60 
  • Compatible with: All cable providers 
  • Gigabit Ethernet ports: 1

The Netgear CM is best for budgeters with a speed plan of Mbps or below, which is most consumers. At $58, the Netgear CM is a great value and will work with any cable ISP. If you have a speed plan above Mbps, you can opt for one of Netgear’s more expensive modems, but its value isn’t as good as other high-tier modem brands. 

The Netgear CM has received nearly 26, reviews on Amazon and 73% of customers rated it 5 stars. Out of all the categories, the Netgear CM ranked highest on ease of use. 

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How to choose the best cable modem for your home

If you aren’t sure how to choose a modem, consider these five key factors. 

  • Speed: On every modem, there will be a listed download/upload speed. Although it is not necessary to purchase the modem with the highest download/upload speeds, it is important that you buy one that matches or surpasses your internet speed plan. For instance, if you have the Spectrum plan that offers Mbps, you will want to make sure that your modem offers at least those speeds. Otherwise, you will not receive the speeds you paid for.
  • Price and value: It is not necessary to buy the most expensive modem if your internet plan is more basic. However, if you have a high-speed internet plan, such as Mbps or higher, you will likely want to invest in the best modem available to you to ensure you are able to access the high speeds you paid for. 
  • Channels: Every modem will have listed the number of downstream and upstream channels available. This just means how many channels are available for both downloading and uploading. The greater the channels, the faster the speeds. Don’t worry too much about this number as the maximum speed listed will provide all the information you need; however, a good rule of thumb to follow is to ensure the modem you are considering offers at least 16&#;4 download and upload channels. We didn’t include any modem on our list below this number. 
  • DOCSIS standard: On every modem there will be the acronym DOCSIS (data over cable service interface specification) followed by a number, either or This number is the standard for high-bandwidth data transfers, which boils down to broadband speeds and channels. Think of the difference between DOCSIS and as the difference between 4G and 5G. If the modem says DOCSIS , your modem reaches the highest standard, just like if your smartphone is labeled as 5G. For most users, DOCSIS is sufficient. You will only want to upgrade to DOCSIS if your internet plan offers gig speeds ( Mbps or higher). Otherwise, it’s an unnecessary expense. 
  • ISP compatibility: Although most modems are compatible with any internet service provider, you will want to double check that the modem you want to choose is compatible with your ISP. This is the simplest part of the process but the most important step not to skip over. 

Need a faster internet plan?

If you are unhappy with your internet speeds or service and are looking to upgrade your plan or switch providers, you can check out our internet provider page for more information. Remember, upgrading your modem will not help improve your speeds if you don’t have a fast enough internet plan or the right service. 

The bottom line

In order to bring cable internet into your home, you will need to rent a modem from your ISP or purchase your own. If you decide to purchase, choosing the right cable modem is essential in order to reach your maximum possible speeds and to get the best connection possible. However, not everyone needs the most advanced modem as needs correspond to what type of speed plan you have. That is why we have listed the top five cable modems based on all the different needs a consumer might have. This way, we ensure you are choosing a high-quality modem without overpaying. 

Ari HowardAri Howard

Written by:

Ari Howard

Associate Writer, Broadband &#; Wireless Content

Ari is an Associate Writer for the Allconnect team, focusing on broadband and wireless news, as well as broadband and TV provider deals. She recently graduated from Davidson College with a bachelor’s degree in&#; Read more

Robin LaytonRobin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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Best cable modems in

The best cable modem probably isn't something you think about, but it should be at the front of your mind the next time you get your internet bill. If you buy your own cable modem instead of using whatever your internet service provider dropped off, you can probably save money on your internet service by eliminating a needless equipment rental fee.

Equipment rental fees may be ridiculous, but they're no joke. Some ISPs charge as much as $14 a month when you use one of their modems, and that cost can add overtime. Because the best cable modems often cost less than $70, you'll pay off what you spent on a new modem via a lower internet bill in half-a-year. From that point forward, the money you would dole out to your internet provider to rent a usually aging modem stays in your pocket. 

Here's a closer look at the best cable modems based on our testing. No matter which one you end buying, just make sure you're getting a modem that's compatible with your ISP and pick a device that delivers speeds in line with your service plan. 

What is the best cable modem?

For most people, the best cable modem is the Motorola MB It works with a wide variety of internet providers, including Comcast, Spectrum and Cox, and it delivers speeds that will serve the greatest number of people (anyone whose internet plan tops out at Mbps). Its two-year warranty is twice as long as the warranty for the Netgear CM, which also performed reliably in our tests. Since the CM usually costs less than the MB, it's a worthy alternative for bargain hunters.

If your internet service features speeds topping Mbps, look to Netgear's CM, which is more dependable than its high-speed rivals.

The best cable modems you can buy right now

1. Motorola MB

The best cable modem you can buy


Top Cable Providers Supported: Comcast, Spectrum, Cox

Listed Download/Upload Speeds: / Mbps

Channels: 16 down, 4 up

Size: x x 2 inches

Warranty: 2 years

Reasons to buy

+Two-year warranty+Reliable performance+Compatible with most internet providers

Reasons to avoid

-Not as compact as some modems

The Motorola MB is the best cable modem for most homes, capable of supporting speeds available to a majority of home internet plans. The MB is ideal for internet plans that top out at Mbps, which covers a wide swath of our household. In testing the MB at my home, I enjoyed steady connectivity, and that's with multiple people stuck inside, all trying to hit the internet at once.

The MB isn't as tall as the Netgear CM, our previous pick for the best cable modem, though some people may prefer the more compact size of the Arris Surfboard modems. At least, the MB looks stylish, with rounded corners and vented sides. Its gray color should blend in well with other networking equipment.

The blue and green lights on the MB are bright enough to read at a distance without turning a dark room into a laser light show at night. I also found the modem easy to set up with a coaxial connector sticking out of the modem's backside at a comfortable distance from its lone ethernet port.

There's not much separating the Motorola MB from the Netgear CM as both performed dependably when we tested each modem. But the edge goes to Motorola because it offers a two-year warranty to Netgear's one-year of coverage. That means better protection for your investment, as the best cable modems tend to last for several yeas. The MB can sometime drop out of stock at retailers, but it's frequently available from Amazon, Best Buy and B&H Photo.

2. Netgear CM

Best alternative cable modem


Top Cable Providers Supported: Comcast, Spectrum, Cox

Listed Download/Upload Speeds: / Mbps

Channels: 16 down, 4 up

Size: x x inches

Warranty: 1 year

Reasons to buy

+Solid performance+Good compatibility+Often cheaper than comparable modems

Reasons to avoid

-One-year warrant shorter than rivals-Indicator lights are hard to see

The Netgear CM remains one of the best cable modems available, because it's easy to find at most retailers; you can also find it for a little less than the Motorola MB most of the time, making it a good value. (Modem prices can fluctuate so keep an eye peeled for the best tech deals when shopping for a cable modem.) Anytime you can find a new CM for $50 or less, that's a good buy.

The Netgear CM works with the biggest cable providers and supports speeds of up to Mbps, which should be enough for the vast majority of Internet users out there. (If you've got a high-speed plan, look for a faster modem.)

There's actually very little performance difference among the best cable modems in our testing, so it's seemingly slight distinctions that separate these devices. Opt for Netgear's CM, and you'll get a modem that's just as capable as the Motorola MB or the Arris SB However, Netgear only offers a one-year warranty, compared with two years for those rival modems.

Netgear's 16 x 4 modem enjoys wide compatibility with internet-service providers, and its design makes setup a breeze. At inches, the CM is a little taller than the SB, and I found its indicator lights difficult to see, although at night, you may appreciate the lack of a light show.

3. Netgear CM

Best cable modem for high-speed service


Top Cable Providers Supported: Comcast, Spectrum, Cox

Listed Download/Upload Speeds: / Mbps

Channels: 24 down, 8 up

Size: x x inches

Warranty: 1 year

Reasons to buy

+Reliable performance+Lower price than other high-speed modems+Compatible with many ISPs

Reasons to avoid

-One-year warranty-Tall footprint

While most homes opt for internet plans that promise speeds of around to Mbps, some people prefer higher-speed service. If your plan promises download speeds that top Mbps, you'll want a cable modem that can take advantage of that greater performance. Netgear's CM is the best cable modem for those higher speeds, though you'll pay a little bit more than you would for the CM

Netgear's modem doesn't use the same Intel Puma 6 chipset that's been blamed for latency issues with some other high-speed modems, such as the Arris Surfboard SB (There's a firmware update that resolves this issue, though ISPs roll out such updates on their own schedule.) Because of that, you can expect reliable performance from the Netgear CM without the lags reported by users with Pumapowered modems.

The CM is a little on the tall side, but it's got a funky futuristic look. Like other Netgear modems, it has a one-year warranty.

4. Arris Surfboard SB

A top cable modem if you can find it


Top Cable Providers Supported: Comcast, Spectrum, Cox

Listed Download/Upload Speeds: / Mbps

Channels: 16 down, 4 up

Size: x 5 x inches

Warranty: 2 years

Reasons to buy

+Dependable+Two-year warranty+Compatible with most internet providers+Visible status lights

Reasons to avoid

-Awkward placement of coaxial cable

The Arris Surfboard SB was once our pick for the best cable modem thanks to its solid performance that will satisfy most home internet customers who don't pay for high-speed service, though this older modem is harder to find these days. (As of this writing, Best Buy is selling the SB) If you can track down the SB at a competitive price, its two-year warranty also is a big plus.

At x 5 x inches, the all-white SB can be tucked unobtrusively next to a router, cable box and whatever other hardware you have on hand. The coaxial-cable connector is a little too close to the power connector for my taste, but you're likely to have to deal with that only when setting up the modem.

The SB favors a simple row of vertical indicator lights that are easy enough to spot, though the yellow lighting can be a little hard to see if your modem's in direct sunlight. Still, it's pretty easy to glance at the SB to see if there's any issue with your internet connectivity.

How to choose the best cable modem for you

We focus on DOCSIS modems, though you'll also find DOCSIS modems rolling out that are capable of delivering speeds that top 1Gbps; if you're receiving DOCSiS service, look for a device that can take advantage of those faster speeds. If you don't get speeds greater than 1 Gbps with your internet service, you can still with a DOCSIS device like the ones reviewed above.

We haven't tested DOCSIS modems yet, but we can point to a few models with strong word of mouth. Netgear's CM is backward-compatible with DOCSIS for internet users who want to upgrade early. The modem has been certified by Comcast for use with its internet service. Arris bills the Surfboard SB as a future-facing modem, capable of handling streaming ultra HD and high-performance gaming with its 32 download and eight upload channels. Motorola's MB modem also has 32 download and eight upload channels with Active Queue Management for speeding up page loads and gaming. At around $, DOCSIS modems are more expensive than the DOCSIS devices, though cable modem sales occasionally drop the price by $30 or so.

As for DOCSIS devices, here's what to consider so that you can choose the right modem:

Compatibility: Confirm with your ISP that the modem you're looking at will work with the service you're paying for. Most DOCSIS certified modems should work with DOCSIS-based internet service, but it always helps to confirm. Among the top ISPs, Comcast, Cox and Spectrum all offer sites for checking cable compatibility.

Price and Warranty: You don't necessarily need to get the cheapest modem, but you should consider devices that pay for themselves within a year with what you save in rental fees. A year-long warranty is the bare minimum you should accept; two years of coverage is even better. As for price, make sure to do some comparison shopping before you buy. Retailers often offer deals on modems, so you could find the model you want — or a reasonable alternative — at a lower price than you'd normally expect.

Monthly cable rental fee by internet provider

  • Comcast: $14
  • Spectrum: Included with service
  • Cox: $7-$10
  • Frontier: $10
  • Suddenlink: $10
  • Sparklight: $8
  • Wow: $14
  • Mediacomm: $

A 16 x 4 cable modem delivers enough speed to effectively serve the majority of cable customers. That kind of modem typically costs $70 or less, and if you keep an eye out for deals, you might be able to find a top-rated modem for $50 to $ Modems that support the emerging DOCSIS standard start typically cost $ or so.

DOCSIS modem typeMaximum download speedCompatible service tier (Cox, Spectrum, Xfiinity)
16 x 4Up to MbpsCox Internet Preferred , Spectrum Internet, Xfinity Performance Pro+
24 x 8Up to MbpsCox Internet Ultimate , Spectrum Internet Ultra, Xfinity Extreme Pro+
32 x 8Up to MbpsCox Gigablast, Spectrum Internet, Gig, Xfinity Extreme Pro+

• Design: There's not much to differentiate the features on cable modems, which generally sport the same set of indicator lights. You'll want one with easy-to-spot lights, though if they're too bright, they can really light up a room at night.. Also, consider the size of a modem, since a compact design blends in more easily with your other networking equipment.

• Speed: A 16 x 4 modem (that's 16 download channels and four upload ones) should do the trick for homes receiving service capped at Mbps. Any faster, and you should go with a 24 x 8 or 32 x 8 modem, or a DOCSIS compatible model if your ISP has upgraded to the new standard.

• Security: When shopping for a cable modem, check to make sure that the model you're considering isn't vulnerable to the Cable Hunt software flaw found in the Broadcom chipsets that power many popular modems. If your modem is vulnerable, make sure a software patch is available from your ISP.

Note that the modems we've reviewed just provide internet connectivity. If you also get your phone service bundled with your internet, that requires an eMTA or telephony modem — an entirely different type of device.

Best cable modem vs. best router

These days, makers of home networking gear seem to favor modem-router combinations over standalone cable modems. It may be tempting to buy one of these hybrid networking devices instead of a separate modem and router, as you can take care of two tasks with one device. We'd advise against modem-router combos, though.

First, some background: as our modem-vs.-router comparison explains, the two devices serve very different purposes. A cable modem brings internet connectivity into your home while the best routers distribute that internet connection wirelessly, so that all your devices — laptops, phones, and smart-home gadgets — can hop on the internet. If you're dissatisfied with the reach of your network, it's a router, not a modem, that you should be in the market for.

So why keep the two networking devices separate? If any part of a hybrid device fails, you're out both a modem and a router. It's also easier to upgrade individual networking devices, as routers add support for new networking features at a more rapid pace. Modems evolve more slowly, as you can see from the number of older models still available.

How we test the best cable modems

We test each cable modem on Comcast's Performance Pro home internet service. After running speed tests to make sure the modems are delivering their promised download speeds, we use the modems as part of regular networking setup to gauge dependability.

We hook up each modem we review in our reviewer's home, using it as part of our networking setup. That allows us to verify a modem's compatibility as well as to get a sense of its dependability. Since price is also an important consideration when modem shopping, we also monitor retail sites for the best deals on the modems we've tested.

In addition to using the modems in a home with multiple connected laptops, smartphones and tablets, we also evaluate the indicator lights on each modem to see that they're visible. We look at how easy the modems are to set up. And because the primary reason to get your own cable modem is to save on monthly rental fees for ISP-supplied modems, we heavily weight the length of a modem's warranty.

Philip Michaels is a senior editor at Tom's Guide. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics and old movies. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.
Best DOCSIS 3 1 Cable Modem For Up To 10 Gbps Speeds

You may be able to achieve faster internet speeds and save some cash each month in the process if you purchase your own personal cable modem, instead of renting one from your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

ISPs and cable companies like Cable One, Comcast Xfinity, Cox, Optimum, Spectrum (formerly Time Warner), Suddenlink, and WOW are all trying to make a profit. Most of them charge a monthly modem-rental fee around $10 each month.

So we researched 10 different modems to find the best ones that will essentially pay for themselves in the long run. Each of them is less expensive than the annual rental fees you’d rack up from your Internet Service Provider. Even though we have selected cable modems that are compatible with all major Internet Service Providers, please check with your local carriers before purchasing.

In case you’re unaware, a modem is a small box that brings the internet to your home. It’s different than a router, which instead brings the internet to all your devices (wirelessly for most people). As long as you’re not on a DSL or fiber internet plan, you will need a router and modem to connect to the internet.

Although there are router/modem combos on the market, we don’t recommend buying them (and neither does CNET) because they’re difficult to fix if something goes awry. But if you absolutely insist on buying a combo unit, the Motorola MT is your best option.

So, shop our top modem picks below, save some money, and achieve those faster speeds you deserve!

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Best Overall

Motorola MB Cable Modem


The Motorola MB is a keenly priced option that's compatible with all major cable providers, including BrightHouse, CableOne, Comcast Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum, SuddenLink, RCN, and WOW. The device can reach data download speeds of up to Mbps — which is more bandwidth than most users' plans even allow for.

This option, which also was named a top pick by the Wirecutter, BestReviews, and Top Ten Reviews. is backed by a robust 2-year warranty. That's twice as long as the similarly priced Netgear CM modem. Plus it supports more downstream and upstream channels, which makes it the superior choice.

Read More: Shop the Best Routers Here!


Best Budget

Netgear CM Cable Modem


For shoppers on a budget, you can't go wrong with Netgear's CM cable modem. This option, which is also Tom's Guide's best budget pick, offers a sleek design and affordable price tag. In fact, it will pay for itself in only about 6 months. 

It delivers network download speeds of up to Mbps, and is backed by a 1-year warranty. This option is compatible with most major cable internet providers, including Comcast Xfinity, Cox, and Spectrum. It's also one of the highest-rated modems on Amazon available today!


Best Splurge

Motorola MB Cable Modem


The Motorola MB is a high-end cable modem capable of delivering data download speeds up to a whopping Gbps. While this option may be overkill for most, it's the best choice for those who are enrolled in a Gigabit internet plan who want to achieve the fastest internet speeds possible.

This option is one of the first modems to support the new Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS ), which supports faster speeds (as much as 10 Gbps) and increases the amount of data that can be sent over your network. We wouldn't recommend splurging for this modem unless you know your Internet Service Provider supports Gigabit speeds. DOCSIS modems (every other one on our guide) are plenty fast enough for most users, and all ISPs currently support that spec.


Best for Home Phone Havers

Netgear CMV Nighthawk Cable Modem with Voice


If you get home phone service from your Internet Service Provider, things get a little bit more tricky when it comes to shopping for your own personal router and modem. The device you need to purchase is called a telephony or eMTA modem, and they unfortunately cost three times as much as a traditional modem. They're sometimes trickier to activate and get set up, too — so many users may just want to shell out a monthly rental fee from their ISP instead.

But Netgear's CMV is the best pick for most users shopping for a eMTA modem of their own. It offers 2, Mbps download speeds and two phone line jacks. Netgear says this option is compatible with Comcast Xfinity's internet and voice service, making it a good pick for Triple Play subscribers. 

We recommend you double check and confirm with Comcast before purchasing it, since ISPs update their modem-compatibility lists frequently.


Best Design

Asus CM Cable Modem


It doesn't take an interior designer to realize that most modems are quite ugly. All the good ones only come in black or gray — with the exception of this white one from ARRIS that's nothing to write home about, either.

Asus decided to step it up in the design department with its CM modem. Its compact form, sleek stand, and patterned side panels make it sharp enough to keep it out in the open, rather than tucking it behind a monitor or stowing it underneath a desk with all your cords. 

Performance-wise, this option offers download speeds up to Mbps and upload speeds at up to Mbps, respectively. It's certified with all major Internet Service Providers, including Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum, and Cox.

Brandon CarteTechnology EditorBrandon Carte has been the technology editor at since , where he's been covering the latest gadgets and scouring the internet for the greatest deals; His tech reporting has been featured on and USA Today.

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at


2019 fastest cable modem

Whether you’re currently (or always) working from home or just playing your way through a Game Pass subscription, high-speed internet is crucial. If you notice your connection becoming less reliable and download times lagging, it usually means you need to update either your modem or router. For a new, powerful router, look here. Should it be the modem that’s failing, consider one of these great models with high speeds and other features to ensure nothing slows you down.

Check out quick info below on the top five modems, then scroll deeper for more helpful buying advice and full reviews.

High Speed

Motorola MB

Motorola MB


Consumer Score: 97% gave it 4 stars or more 

Compatible with most service providers, this modem features top speeds and an off button.


Netgear Nighthawk CV

Netgear Nighthawk CV


Consumer Score: 82% gave it 4 stars or more 

This two-in-one has included phone lines, voice control, and more advanced features.

Best Value

Arris Surfboard SB

Arris Surfboard SB


Consumer Score: 84% gave it 4 stars or more 

A compact, user-friendly modem at an affordable price. 


Motorola MB

Motorola MB


Consumer Score: 82% gave it 4 stars or more

Pair this with any router and service provider for high-speed internet.

Sleek Design

Netgear CM

Netgear CM


Consumer Score: 98% gave it 4 stars or more 

With deceptively fast speed for the price point, the CM has a simple, elegant look. 

Router vs. Modem: Do You Need Both?

The simple answer is yes. Modems function as your connection to the internet, harnessing it and bringing it into your house, and routers are the means by which you are able to connect your devices to the internet. However, the notion that you need two separate devices isn’t entirely true. Many companies are now making router and modem combos that both connect to and disperse the internet.

While a dual modem-router certainly has the advantage of taking up less space, you may run into some issues in the future that you wouldn’t with separate devices. A common problem with combined devices is that they’re unable to pack as many features in as you would get on separate devices. And with a separate modem (which in general will outlast a router), you won’t have to buy a new one as frequently—it’s often easier and less expensive to update each device separately when needed.

How Many Mbps Do You Need?

Mbps, or megabits per second, are just about the most important factor in deciding what modem to get, as the number can make or break great internet service. The higher it is, the better and faster your internet will be. Modems can have anywhere from , Mbps, and the more megabits you have, the more traffic (or greater bandwidth) your modem can handle. The number of people in your home, and what you use the internet for, will help determine how many Mbps your modem needs.

Video games and streaming videos take anywhere from Mbps, while downloading large files can take up to 50 Mbps. In general, you’ll want to stick with at least a 50 Mbps modem. Still, most will be able to handle much more than this to power a heavy-duty router and multiple simultaneous users.

Most modems will also have Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification or DOCSIS technology. The preferred standard of cable providers, it’s speedy, reliable, and saves more energy than fiber cable. The most recent is DOCSIS , but DOCSIS also works well for speeds up to mbps. While there are other means of getting internet from your ISP, DOCSIS is by far the best, and sticking with a should be sufficient for most internet users.

How We Selected and Rated Them

We researched 10 expert sources such as Digital Trends, PC Gamer, and Tech Radar, as well as 10, consumer reviews to select the top five modems of the year. Our Consumer Score represents the percentage of customers who rated the product at least four out of five stars on retail and review sites like Amazon,Walmart, and manufacturers’ webpages.


Motorola MB

Consumer Score: 97% gave it 4 stars or more
Compatible with most service providers, this modem features top speeds and an off button.




We all want fast Wi-Fi, and that’s where the MB excels. With speeds up to Mbps, it can easily handle multiple users streaming games and movies at the same time. Reviewers atTop Ten Reviews tested by streaming 4k Netflix while downloading four large game files—all of which went quickly and without a hitch. They also found that this Motorola was easy to set up, with clear instructions, and use once connected. Its looks are utilitarian at best, but it’s well-designed for function over form, with ventilation to prevent overheating and built-in protection against electrical surges. The power button is also a big plus. Most modems must be unplugged to turn off, but powering down or restarting the MB is more convenient.


Netgear Nighthawk CV

Consumer Score: 82% gave it 4 stars or more
This two-in-one has included phone lines, voice control, and more advanced features.

Nighthawk C


Voice control makes just about everything better. But even if it didn’t have that nifty feature, the Nighthawk C would still easily rise to the top of the router-modem combos. While it is certainly pricey, you get incredible speed in an easy-to-use package. Since it’s capable of up to Mbps, this modem is also an investment in the future. While you likely don’t require such bandwidth now, this amount of Mbps means the Nighthawk has speed to spare and will save you from having to invest in a new modem as tech progresses. While this Nighthawk arguably has the disadvantage of being a dual modem-router, it makes up for it with the unique feature of two included phone lines that function on the Comcast service. Unfortunately, this also means that this device is compatible only with Xfinity and not other phone services.


Arris Surfboard SB

Consumer Score: 84% gave it 4 stars or more
A compact, user-friendly modem at an affordable price.

Surfboard SB


  • Not attractive, if that’s a concern

The Surfboard is a popular, affordable choice—and it shows since it’s frequently sold out on retailer sites. However, when you can find one, it’s one of the best available for such a low cost. The modem is compact, and the lights are bright and easy to read. Tom’s Guide praised the two-year warranty (which is longer than most policies you’ll find on a modem) and the speeds of up to Mbps—features that punch well above the Surfboard’s price range.


Motorola MB

Consumer Score: 82% gave it 4 stars or more
Pair it with any router and service provider for high-speed internet.




  • Great ventilation
  • 2-year warranty

When buying a modem, it’s imperative that you make sure it will work with either your current router or the router you plan to purchase. The Motorola MB relieves you of that stress—it’s capable of connecting to any Wi-Fi router and, on top of that, has a two-year warranty. The design is functional, if not particularly attractive, and it has good ventilation to prevent it from overheating. There’s also built-in protection against service attacks and power surges. Reviewers noted that the MB was easy to set up and connect, and confirmed that it worked well with multiple ISPs.


Netgear CM

Consumer Score: 98% gave it 4 stars or more
Score speeds way above its price point and a simple, elegant look.




While we don’t expect your modem to function as a piece of art, many people are still concerned that it will be an eyesore. This particular model has a sleek and sophisticated look, though the shiny exterior can easily smudge. It also doesn’t have the best ventilation, so you will want to keep it in a cool, open area to prevent overheating. Overall, however, reviewers at Top Ten Reviewsfound that despite the CM’s low price, it’s competitive with top-tier modems. “[The] Netgear CM performed extremely well on a network stressed by running four simultaneous bandwidth-hogging applications, including three large game file downloads on a PC, XBox One, and PS4 Pro and 4K Netflix streaming,” they wrote. While it’s best running at only Mbps or lower, they tested up to Mbps and didn’t have issues.

Gabrielle HondorpBefore joining Runner's World as an Editor in , Gabrielle Hondorp spent 6 years in running retail (she has tested top gear from shoes, to watches, to rain jackets which has expanded her expertise—and her closets); she specializes in health and wellness, and is an expert on running gear from head-to-toe.

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Best Modems for Gigabit Internet

The Motorola MB certainly has some impressive numbers behind it. Four gigabit Ethernet ports? Maximum Gbps download speeds? Way cool.

There’s something you should know though. Most internet providers can barely break the 1 Gbps (or 1, Mbps) mark at this point, so claims of Gbps download capacity are more aspirational than anything—it’ll take some time before a cable internet provider will be capable of breaking such Wi-Fi speed records.

As for the four Gigabit Ethernet ports, well, to be honest, they’re not really necessary for most users. You can’t use them to connect multiple client devices, for example—you’ll still need a router for that.

But what you can do is pretty cool. The ports are specifically designed for users to set up a link aggregation group—or LAG—in which you use multiple Ethernet connections between a modem and router to boost an internet signal past 1 Gbps speeds.

The ports can also be used to support multiple IP addresses on one network, which comes in handy if you have a home office where you’re hosting a website or running an FTP server.

It’s these extras that make us consider Motorola&#;s MB one of the best gigabit modems around. Gamers who livestream can use it to ramp up speeds along with their high-performance routers. Average users can use it to prep for the days of faster Wi-Fi. And since this modem costs roughly the same as other DOCSIS modems with fewer gigabit Ethernet ports, having four ports instead of just one or two is the icing on the cake.


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Meanwhile, the prisoners in the tower lose patience. They hear the indistinct screams of a huge raging mass of people coming from below, not understanding what it needs. From the day of the assault on the Tuileries, the bridlemen remember the wild roar of the crowd, they see how pale, how excited the sentry soldiers are.

How they hurry to their posts to prevent any danger. The king anxiously asks one of his jailers, the National Guards.

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