Some folks prefer the simplicity of having their modem and router in the same device. There are several advantages and disadvantages to this arrangement, the most significant of which have to do with upgrades, future-proofing and access to network controls, but it’s safe to say most basic Internet users will appreciate how simple combo devices can be. If you find yourself in this camp, check out our below guide to the best modem/router combos.
One of the most important considerations for selecting the best modem/router combo device is reliability. Many modem/router combos we’ve come across require you to restart them often or don’t broadcast WiFi far enough. The Motorola AC1900 is a little expensive, but it’s worth it because it means your Internet will almost always be reliable and that’s worth a lot in our age of connected smartphones, computers and wearables. On top of reliability, the AC1900 offers speeds up to 686 Mbps (16 times faster than DOCSIS 2.0), it has four 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet ports, as well as a “Wireless Power Boost” that broadcasts as far out as it can up to the legal limit. Also, almost every major internet provider works with the AC1900, including Charter Spectrum, Comcast XFINITY, Time Warner Cable and Cox, so this is a good choice for replacing the standard modem/router device that comes with your ISP plan, if you so choose.
The MG7700 is a recent addition to Motorola’s modem-router combo line, and it gives you all the speeds you’d expect from a modern unit, plus some cool proprietary capabilities. The DOCSIS 3.0 modem gives you 24 downstream channels, totaling a projected, nominal speed of up to 1,000 Mbps, alongside eight upstreams that can yield speeds up to 146 Mbps. The wireless router is no slouch either, offering two bands at 2.4GHz and 5GHz, plus IPv4 and IPv6 for easier networking.
Their AnyBeam technology focuses the connection based on your wireless client so anyone trying to connect will have a reasonably customized focus for a more stable connection. They’ve even added in a Wireless Power Boost to amplify weak signals to the highest limit allowed by law. There are four ethernet ports on the back and the indicator lights are super bright to better show when it’s working or not.
If you’ve decided that a modem/router combo is the best way to go, but you still plan on optimizing your Internet connection for the highest possible speeds (maybe you have a gigabit connection), you should check out the NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Wi-Fi Cable Modem Router. While the modem is not quite optimized for gigabit speeds, it’s darn near close enough, with a modem speed of 960 Mbps, 24 downstream channels and DOCSIS 3.0 technology. As a router, you get similarly beefy specs. It delivers the latest wireless AC1900 speeds of up to up to 1.9Gbps, and features a 1.6GHz combined processor and a USB port, to boot. It’s good to go with any major U.S. cable provider and enjoys a host of solid user reviews as well. It’s not exactly cheap, but for truly high-speed gigabit Internet in a modem/router combo, this is about as good as it gets.
Whether you’re in the market for a modem, a router, or a modem/router combo, you really don’t have to spend a lot to get reliable, high-speed Internet performance. For the sub-$100 modem/router price range, Netgear N300 Modem Router (C3000) is one of the best products you’ll find. The modem delivers solid DOCSIS 3.0 connectivity, including eight downstream channels with download speeds of up to 340 Mbps, and is optimized to work with all major U.S. Internet service providers. The integrated router is equipped with single-band N300 (wireless-N) WiFi technology, which isn’t exactly next-generation, but it’s probably fast enough for most purposes. It also features Gigabit Ethernet ports if you want to bypass the WiFi and deliver super fast wired connections, and a single USB port for data from your device’s hard drive.
If you prefer the speed and efficiency of a dual-band router but still don’t want to pay a whole lot, check out the NETGEAR N600 Wi-Fi DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem Router (C3700). It offers a lot of the same tech but with dual-band capabilities in the router. The modem features DOCSIS 3.0 tech with eight downstream channels and four upstream channels (8×4), allowing for cable Internet speeds up to 340 Mbps. The dual-band router offers N600 wireless speeds at up to 300 Mbps on each band. It’s certified to work with all major U.S. ISPs, includes Gigabit Ethernet Ports if you’d prefer to go wired for faster service and also features a USB port to wirelessly share your device’s hard drive. This is a slightly beefier version of the Netgear N300 DOCSIS 3.0 Modem Router, and is ideal if you’re likely to have more than a few clients on the same network.
If we’re still looking at sub-$100 cable modem/router combos, you can’t get much cheaper than the Actiontec 300 Mbps Wireless-N ADSL Modem Router. This thing is pretty basic, especially on the modem end, and is made for DSL (not cable) Internet connections. It is not recommended for any situation involving more than two clients. It is perhaps best for light Internet users who live alone and only need Internet to check e-mail or occasionally browse the Web. The modem is a basic ADSL 2/2+ modem, and the router is a basic wireless-N device capable of delivering up to 300 Mbps of single-band wireless throughout. That said, the Actiontec is still built to deliver reliable, consistent service given the limitations of the medium (cable is almost always faster than DSL).
The Nighthawk C700 grants users with 24 download channels at eight upload channels, allowing for a downstream rate of up to 960 Mbps. Upstream bandwidth is currently limited to 32 Mbps, but both rates are still speedier than most options out there. As for the router, you’ll get 802.11ac connectivity, which deals you up to 1.9 Gbps of dual-band bandwidth, so you can expect network speeds ranging from 616 Mbps to 273 Mbps.
Through the NETGEAR Genie interface, you can tweak settings such as access control and security, as well as manage parental controls like what sites your kids can surf. It’s currently only compatible with Comcast XFINITY, Time Warner MAXX and Cox Premier & Ultimate packages, but if you have one of those, we highly recommend this modem to optimize your bandwidth.
Take a peek at some of the other best parental control routers you can buy.
The Motorola MD1600 is a super-sleek take on the modem/router combo. And while looks aren’t really that important when considering your at-home network, it’s still a standout feature. It’s also important to note that this modem is only compatible with DSL networks, so make sure you check that you’re getting Internet from CenturyLink, Frontier, or something similar. But it’s perfect for ADSL or VDSL purposes, delivering speeds at the modem level up to 100 Mbps (competitive for DSL). The built-in Wi-Fi router follows suit giving you WPA/WPA2 protocol, two bands of 2.4 GHz connection, plus four built-in ethernet jacks that will all dish out high-speed Internet to most devices. Motorola has even loaded in a two-year warranty for good measure.
Perhaps the most intimidating issue with buying a cable modem/router combo is the setup. It can be frustrating to get the system up and running, but Arris makes it easy. Reviewers most commonly comment on how simple it is to setup, which involves setting up the gateway, testing the connection, then setting up the wireless network connection. An online quick setup guide walks you through all the steps.
Once you’re up and running, you’ll enjoy download speeds up to 686 Mbps and Wireless-AC technology with Wi-Fi speeds up to 1900 Mbps. It makes use of beamforming technology that helps to optimize coverage, and also has two USB 2.0 and four Gigabit Ethernet ports to keep you connected. All in all, it’s extremely reliable and powerful.