The 9 Best Cable Modem/Router Combos of 2021

Our experts tested the top cable modem/router combos to overhaul your home Wi-Fi

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If you're a Comcast Xfinity, Cox or Spectrum customer and just want a Cable modem and router, our experts say you should probably just buy the Motorola MG7700 Cable Modem and Router (unless you have a huge home or pay extra for a superfast connection). It’s got the Wi-Fi range, speed, and ports most people need.

Upgrading your cable modem (the box that turns the cable coming into your house into an internet signal) and Wi-Fi router (the box that takes this connection and turns it into Wi-Fi) is a surefire way to make your internet experience better and cheaper, as most cable companies charge a monthly fee to rent them. The best cable modem/router combos will do the same job at a fraction of the cost of two devices, and in a far simpler way, with fewer cables and power plugs.

However, it's not quite that simple. Not all modems work with all providers, and you'll need to make sure the unit you buy is compatible with your cable company (e.g Spectrum, Cox or AT&T). Information about compatibility can usually be found on your cable provider’s website. If not, it’s best to call and check before you buy.

The Rundown
Simple to set up, it's got the range, speed, and ports most people need to overhaul their home network.
If you don't have a high speed internet connection, this is a great choice.
If you consider yourself a power user, the Netgear Nighthawk C7000 might check all the boxes.
It’ll handle a fast connection, has four fast Ethernet ports, and it’s a bit nerdy looking.
This is a great gaming router as the on-board Ethernet is really fast
Instead of having dodgy Wi-fi in parts of your house, the Orbi units talk to one another to make the signal strong everywhere.
Best for Gigabit Internet:
Arris Surfboard SBG8300 at Amazon
If you have fast connection, you'll need the faster modem/router to take advantage of what you are already paying for.
It’s fast, has plenty of ports, and its four antennas can help cover a pretty large house.
Best for Xfinity Voice Services:
Motorola MT7711 at Amazon
It works only with the ISP Xfinity and you only need it if you also have Xfinity’s voice service.

Best Overall: Motorola MG7700 Cable Modem and Router

Motorola MG7700 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem/Router Combo
What We Like
  • Simple security management

  • Easy setup

  • Unobtrusive design

What We Don't Like
  • Combo unit limits placement locations

  • Only approved for Comcast Xfinity, Cox, and Spectrum

If it’s time to upgrade your modem and your router, the Motorola MG7700 is likely the right one for you if you're a customer of Comcast Xfinity, Cox or Spectrum and don't pay extra for a superfast plan. Your cable company (or even your bill from them) will be able to tell you what speed connection you have, but as a rough guide if you're on a basic plan, it almost certainly won't be a what's known as a 1 gigabit connection, (and if it is, we've got picks for you below).

One of the best features of the Motorola MG7700 we like most has nothing to do with its technical prowess: It’s not terribly ugly. In order to get the best range from its wireless signal, you don’t want to hide the modem/router behind furniture or in a closet. But this unit is just inoffensive enough that you can put it on a side table in the living room and not be embarrassed. Crucially for when things go wrong, the light indicators are also easy to see and understand — something you don’t typically find in a modem from a cable company. Our tester found it's also easy to tweak the settings (if you want to change your Wi-Fi password, for instance) and said the process was 'easy for anyone to use'.

It’s the right size even for larger homes, and our tester found it provides 'surprisingly great' coverage of up to 2,000 square feet, and across multiple floors too.

The MG7700 has four ethernet ports for you to hook up some equipment via a physical cable for better speed and reliability, which is often a good idea for devices like a games console, Smart TV or Apple TV.

Described by our tester as 'outstandingly fast', it's easily able to stream your movies and TV in 4K (also called Ultra HD, it's the standard for really, really sharp pictures, more on it here). It's also more than capable of doing a great job with Zoom or FaceTime calls.

One more caveat is that if your internet connection includes a voice package (confusingly called VOIP, you'll know if you have it as you will have got a phone number as part of your internet package), you’ll need to look at this model's older brother: the Motorola MT7711.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: DOCSIS 3.0 / AC1900 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4

"The router offered a strong Wi-Fi signal on both floors of our home. Everything from surfing the Web to streaming video was solid within an approximate 2,000-square-foot radius." — Don Reisinger, Product Tester

Motorola MG7700

Lifewire / Claire Cohen

Best Budget: Netgear C6220 AC1200 Wi-Fi Cable Modem Router

Netgear C6220 AC1200 Wi-Fi Cable Modem Router Combo
What We Like
  • Extremely affordable

  • Built-in DLNA media server to share pictures, music and video

What We Don't Like
  • Limited Ethernet ports

  • Not suitable for larger homes

  • Only approved for Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum, and Cox

The plus of the Netgear C6220 AC1200: it's affordable! The negative (other than the name, come on companies, pull yourselves together): modest performance. And it’s sorta ugly (tastes vary of course, but we bet you agree with us).

For this model, you’ll want to make sure you don’t have a faster connection than this modem can handle. Who is this model aimed at? Folks who rent their modems from their cable companies, don’t have super-big homes, don’t have a really high-speed connection (no more than a 200Mbps connection, which your cable company will be able to tell you if you have), and don’t have a lot of additional devices to hook up. There are only two ethernet ports, which let you plug in devices with a cable, which is faster and more reliable - but obviously you have to trail a cable between them. Overall, despite its modest performance, it can handle Zoom calls and 4K streaming (i.e. pin sharp TV shows and movies) with ease.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: DOCSIS 3.0 / AC1200 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 2

Best Performance: Netgear Nighthawk C7000 DOCSIS 3.0 AC1900 Wi-Fi Cable Modem Router

Netgear Nighthawk C7000 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem/Router Combo
What We Like
  • Slim design

  • Built-in DLNA media server to share pictures, music and video

  • Easy to set up

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks some advanced networking features like MU-MIMO and QoS

  • A bit pricey

  • Only approved for Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum, and Cox

If you consider yourself a power user and you're an Xfinity, Spectrum or Cox user, the Netgear Nighthawk C7000 might check all the boxes. Let’s see. Capable of a pretty fast connection? Check! Four ports for lots of additional devices? Check! Good range for big homes (2,500 square feet): Check! Not ugly: Check (mostly)!

These capabilities are reflected in the higher price tag, and our reviewer said in fact, it is 'overkill for the average user’s internet needs', so it really comes down to whether your a gamer, or stream to a lot of different TVs in the house at the same time.

If you are a power user, then our tester was 'pleasantly surprised by how well it performed considering it’s an all-in-one.' They tested this modem in a 2,500 square foot home, and we got reliable performance in every corner, only running into slowdowns on the farthest side of the house. However, they did say the performance via a an ethernet cable 'wasn’t quite as good'.

Another bonus is that if you're an Xfinity phone service customers, you can plug your landline handset right in.

Our full review will go into more specifics, but unless you have a home big enough where a room isn’t used all that often (or rooms, for that matter), and you have a super high speed gigabit connection (your cable company can tell you this), this could be the combo modem router for you if you're a power user.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: DOCSIS 3.0 / AC1900 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4

"Even with our extreme 250Mbps internet connection, the modem was able to keep up during even the busiest times."Bill Thomas, Product Tester

Netgear Nighthawk C7000

Lifewire / Claire Cohen

Best Value: Arris Surfboard SBG7600AC2 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem & Wi-Fi Router

Arris Surfboard SBG7600AC2
What We Like
  • Good Wi-Fi coverage

  • Simple to set up

  • Great app support

What We Don't Like
  • Limited advanced features

  • Only approved for Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum, and Cox

The SBG7600AC2 is a very good modem/router with a terrible name. What you should know: It’ll handle a really fast connection (1.4 gigabit, which is almost certainly faster than you have), has four fast Ethernet ports for plugging in TVs and games consoles via a cable, and it’s a bit nerdy looking.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) | Security: McAfee Home Security, WPA2 | Standard/Speed: Up to 1.4 Gbps | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 4

Best Splurge: Netgear Nighthawk CAX80 DOCSIS 3.1 AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Cable Modem Router

Netgear Nighthawk CAX80 Wi-Fi 6 Cable Modem Router
What We Like
  • Supports the latest high speed Wi-Fi 6 standard

  • Works with high speed cable connections (DOCSIS 3.1)

  • 2.5Gbps Ethernet Port for plugging in devices with a cable

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Not compatible with cable bundled voice services

  • Only approved for Spectrum, Cox, and Comcast Xfinity

Let’s cut to the chase: The Nighthawk CAX80 has a lot of features with a lot of letters that really does (not literally) spell out "FUTURE PROOF." But it’s expensive.

If you have a very, very fast internet connection and think you’ll be able to upgrade to an even faster connection sooner than later, we say grab the CAX80. This is also a great gaming router as the on-board Ethernet, which lets you hook up your Xbox or Playstation via a cable rather than Wi-Fi, is much faster than the Ethernet you’re probably used to. You have to check off a lot of boxes to get the most from this modem/router, but if that’s you, you just met your future connection to the internet.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) | Security: Netgear Armor, WPA2, VPN | Standard/Speed: DOCSIS 3.1 / AX6000 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 5

Best Mesh: Netgear Orbi Whole Home Wi-Fi 6 System with DOCSIS 3.1 Cable Modem (CBK752)

Netgear Orbi CBK752
What We Like
  • Supports high speed connections ( DOCSIS 3.1 standard)

  • Supports Wi-Fi 6, the latest version of the technology

  • Extensive coverage

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Subscription required for advanced security features

  • Only approved for Spectrum, Cox, and Comcast Xfinity

The Orbi CBK752 is different from the other products on this page because it is a different product. Sure, it’s the same modem/router combo, but rather than being one unit, it’s two to ensure your home is covered with a strong Wi-Fi signal—and if you have a really large home you can add more to get virtually unlimited coverage.

Instead of having strong and weak sections of your home, the Orbi units talk to one another to make sure the signal is strong everywhere. Or that’s the idea, anyway. Thanks to friendly software, configuration is really quite easy.

The main unit has four Ethernet ports and each satellite has two as well. The Ethernet ports on the satellites aren’t wired in the same way as the the base unit (since the base unit is physically connected to your ISP’s line), and the satellites allow devices without Wi-Fi to connect to the internet. That’s really quite cool.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) | Security: WPA3 | Standard/Speed: DOCSIS 3.1 / AX4200 | Bands: Tri-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4 (Base) / 2 (Satellite)

Best for Gigabit Internet: Arris Surfboard SBG8300 DOCSIS 3.1 Gigabit Cable Modem & Wi-Fi Router

Arris Surfboard SBG8300
What We Like
  • Supports the higher speed DOCSIS 3.1 standard

  • Easy app-based setup

  • Solid Wi-Fi performance

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks advanced wireless features

  • No USB ports

  • Only approved for Cox, Spectrum, and Comcast Xfinity

On this list we have two Arris modem/routers. We hesitate to bring up any of the complex technical differences between them, but one Arris product is for slower connections and one (this one, the SBG8300), is for faster connections.

You’ll know if you have a faster connection because 1) you pay more each month 2) you likely had to ask to upgrade to the faster connection. So, yes the faster Arris model costs more, but you are already paying for the connection, so you need the faster modem/router to take advantage of what you are already paying for.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: DOCSIS 3.0 / AC2350 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 4

"While some DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems advertise speeds of 1Gbps or higher, most cable internet providers will only give you up to 600Mbps over this standard. To get the fastest possible speeds, you'll need to invest in a DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer

Best Range: Netgear Nighthawk C7800 DOCSIS 3.1 AC3200 Wi-Fi Cable Modem Router

Netgear Nighthawk C7800
What We Like
  • Supports the higher speed DOCSIS 3.1 standard

  • Expansive range

  • Two USB 3.0 ports

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • Limited security and parental controls

  • Only approved for Spectrum, Cox, and Comcast Xfinity

Not only will Netgear’s Nighthawk C7800 let you take advantage of the fastest cable internet plans available both today and in the future, but it also offers solid coverage for a large and busy home. It’s a really good product, but also looks rather, erm, unique - it’s not something we’d like to have in our living room.

We’re aware we’re going to sound a bit snobby, but if we were going to go with one of the two Netgear products on this page, we’d save up for the CAX80 only because it looks so much nicer. That being said, if we found this one on sale… It’s hard to beat. It’s fast, has plenty of ports, and its four antennas can help cover a pretty large house.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: DOCSIS 3.1 / AC3200 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4

Best for Xfinity Voice Services: Motorola MT7711 Cable Modem/Router with Voice Gateway

Motorola MT7711
What We Like
  • Built-in support for Xfinity Voice

  • Solid Wi-Fi performance

  • Two voice ports

What We Don't Like
  • Only works with Xfinity by Comcast

This is a very specialized product. It works only with the ISP Xfinity and you need it only if you also have Xfinity’s voice service. If you meet both of these requirements, then this is a perfectly fine product.

As it's designed with Comcast’s internet service in mind, it's also effortless to get it up and running with all of your Xfinity services by following a simple Quick Start procedure to automatically register it with your ISP.

It’s not ugly, has all the ports you might need, and comes with back-up battery capability so if the power goes out, your phone is still working. Keep in mind it’s not capable of the fastest internet connection out there, but otherwise it might be exactly what you need.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: DOCSIS 3.0 / AC1900 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: Ethernet: 4 / Telephone: 2

In a Hurry? Here's our verdict

Final Verdict

Motorola’s MG7700 (view at Amazon) checks all the right boxes when it comes to delivering the performance and features most users need in a cable modem/router. If you’re looking for even broader coverage, then Netgear’s Orbi CBK752 (view at Amazon) combines a top-rated Wi-Fi 6 mesh system with a fast (and future-ready) cable modem to let you take full advantage of the fastest internet plans in even the largest of homes.

What to Look for in a Modem/Router Combo

Bandwidth

To take full advantage of the bandwidth your ISP provides, you'll need a modem/router combo that at the very least matches, and ideally exceeds, the top speed promised by your provider. The maximum bandwidth is indicated in gigabits per second (Gbps) and is usually prominently displayed in a modem/router's title or description.  

Bands

Routers increasingly are offering multiple data bands (think of traffic lanes) in an effort to reduce bottlenecking and increase efficiency in directing network traffic. Dual-band devices typically supply 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, with the 5GHz band providing more peak bandwidth. Tri-band routers provide an additional 5GHz band to sort devices into, further reducing congestion when multiple devices are attached to a network at once.

Range

If you live in an apartment or modest home, nearly any modem/router combo will provide ample coverage for your entire living space. For larger homes, however, pay close attention to the range indicated by the model you're considering, and you also may want to consider a modem/router with something called beamforming technology, which shapes the signal from the router into a tighter beam to direct it towards specific devices, delivering a stronger and faster signal. alternatively, you may be better off with a separate cable modem and a mesh network.

Ethernet ports

Make sure your router has enough Ethernet ports for the devices you'll want to plug in, and if you have an internet plan that offers speeds above 100Mbps, you'll want to get one with Gigabit Ethernet ports to take maximum advantage of your plan.

Wi-Fi standards

Unless you have a fairly basic internet plan, you'll want support for relatively modern Wi-Fi standards. On the Wi-Fi side, a cable modem/router combo works the same as any other wireless router, meaning you'll be choosing from the same Wi-Fi standards and frequencies, such as 802.11nand 802.11ac, which have recently been redesignated as Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5, respectively to make life easier. You may also have heard of the newer Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax standard, which is starting to appear. It's not a bad idea to invest in technology for the future, but it will be a while before you're likely to really need Wi-Fi 6 in your home, or even be able to fully take advantage of it.

FAQ
  • What is a Cable Modem/Router Combo?

    A cable modem/router combo is a single device that combines the capabilities of a cable modem with the features of a Wi-Fi router. You plug it directly into your coaxial cable just like you would a cable modem, and then connect your computers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices directly using either wired Gigabit Ethernet connections or via Wi-Fi.

  • Is it better to get a modem/router combo or separate devices?

    Buying a cable modem/router combo can save you quite a bit of money since these all-in-one units are usually far more affordable than buying a cable modem and a router separately. And if you're renting your cable modem, you can save even more by returning that to your ISP, reducing your monthly bill. That said, while modern cable modem/routers are very capable if you have more advanced needs, there are many more options and advanced features to be found among the best wireless routers.

  • What is DOCSIS?

    DOCSIS, which stands for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications, is the standard cable companies use to give your home internet access. It's been around for over 20 years, so there are lots of different version of it. Unless you've got a really high speed internet connection, it's not usually something to worry about.

  • Does DOCSIS 3.1 increase speed?

    The speed of your cable modem is determined by the DOCSIS standard it supports and the number of channels that it offers, although your ISP also has to support these standards on the other end. Buying a DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem won't give you any better performance if your cable provider only supports DOCSIS 3.0, although it could still be a good investment for the future. Further, even though 32-channel DOCSIS 3.0 modems offer theoretical speeds of up to 1Gbps, most cable providers top out at 600Mbps over DOCSIS 3.0, so if your ISP is offering multi-gigabit plans, you'll almost certainly need a DOCSIS 3.1 modem to take advantage of those speeds.

  • Does my Cable Modem/Router need to be approved by my ISP?

    In most cases, yes. Since your cable modem has to be registered with your ISP to work properly, it’s important to buy one that’s guaranteed to be compatible. While some ISPs may let you register any cable modem, most will refuse to set one up that isn’t on its approved list. Fortunately, most major cable providers in the U.S. have already “pre-approved” the cable modems from all the big manufacturers. You’ll normally find this information on the packaging or on the manufacturer’s website, but if you’re still not sure, you can always ask your cable provider if the modem/router you’re considering will work with their network. 


  • What does ‘Approved for plans up to’ mean?

    When a cable provider tests a modem and certifies it as compatible with their network, they also specify the maximum speed that they’re willing to guarantee on their network. This number is usually lower than the maximum possible speed of a cable modem, and it’s not always the same for each ISP. Think of it like the difference between how fast your car can actually go and the varying speed limits on your local highways. You might get better performance than the ISPs maximum rating, but don’t count on it. 

About Our Trusted Experts

Jesse Hollington is a freelance writer with over 10 years of experience writing about technology and three decades of experience in information technology and networking. He's installed, tested, and configured just about every type and brand of router, firewall, wireless access point, and network extender in places ranging from single-family dwellings to office buildings. university campuses, and even coast-to-coast wide-area network (WAN) deployments.

Don Reisinger is a full-time freelance writer based in New York City. He has been covering technology, video games, sports, and entertainment for more than 12 years. He is an expert in consumer technology, which includes cable modems and router combos.

Bill Thomas is a Denver-based freelance writer who covers technology, music, film, and gaming. They reviewed the Netgear Nighthawk C7000 on this list.

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