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Lifewire / Bill Thomas
Good wired performance
Aging wireless standard
No unique features
Not great at handling multiple devices
The Netgear C3700 is a cheap router, so you shouldn’t expect it to be the fastest thing on the market. But if you need an affordable router for your DSL service, you can do a lot worse. Just don’t try to use it with a 100Mbps+ internet connection.
Sometimes, we take a look at our cable internet bill and gasp—paying that extra $10 a month to rent a modem really adds up. That’s why devices like the Netgear C3700 are so important. At under $100, this modem can probably pay for itself in under a year while still providing the speeds we expect from our service (at least over a wired connection).
We got our hands on the Netgear C3700 for testing and put it through the wringer to see whether or not it’s worth your cash, and what kind of performance you can expect.
With a device that packs both a cable modem and a wireless router, you might expect the Netgear C3700 to be a bulky device, but that’s not the case. It’s actually quite small, measuring just 7.6 inches high and weighing a scant 0.77 pounds. This, combined with the low-key black finish and lack of external antennas means that it won’t stick out, no matter where you put it.
This definitely works in the Netgear C3700’s favor. The wireless performance is already weak (which we’ll go into a bit later), so the fact that you can leave it out and unobscured is a benefit.
If you’ve ever set up a cable modem, then you’ll breeze through the setup on the C3700. We just unplugged our existing cable modem, plugged all the cables into this new one, and waited for the lights to turn on. Then all we had to do was phone our ISP to activate it.
To make things even easier, Netgear has included self-activation instructions for a number of major carriers so you can skip the phone bit. Through our Xfinity 250Mbps service, we simply went to the URL, printed on the instructions, signed in, and we were online.
Once everything is set up, you can go through the online management portal to change wireless settings. This is an optional step since the wireless network works right out of the box using the information printed on the side of the modem.
We weren’t impressed with the wireless performance, but the wired performance surprised us.
The Netgear C3700 is a modem-router combo, which means, hypothetically, it’s the only networking device many people will need. On top of the two Gigabit Ethernet ports, you’re also getting dual antennas, which makes this a dual-band device (2.4GHz and 5.0GHz). It’s not the fastest wireless connection in the world, though—the Netgear C3700 is rated for N600 speeds, something we haven’t seen in a few years.
It is an 8x4 DOCSIS 3.0 modem, meaning it’s capable of handling internet speeds up to 340 Mbps. But that N600 wireless speed means that devices on Wi-Fi won’t be that fast. If you have a really fast internet connection like we do, it might be best to use an external wireless router.
There is also a USB 2.0 port around the back where you can plug in a hard drive or a printer for network access.
We didn’t exactly have high hopes for the C3700 and its N600 wireless rating. At its peak during testing, we reached wireless speeds of 130Mbps, but that didn’t last—with multiple devices connected and in use, we were seeing speeds as low as 40Mbps just a few feet away from the router.
We weren’t impressed with the wireless performance, but the wired performance surprised us. Even after connecting 13 devices to our network, we were able to get our advertised 250 Mbps speeds through a wired connection, and sometimes even higher.
Thankfully, this means that an attached router would be able to keep up, which is what we’d recommend. The wireless performance isn’t great and you’re going to have a much better experience with a separate router.
We prefer a network backend that’s straight to the point, and that’s exactly what we got with the Netgear C3700.
The management portal is incredibly simple. Upon logging in, there are six tiles that you can click on to change settings like your wireless password, attached devices, and anything connected to the USB port. These tiles will also show you the status of your network at a glance: how many devices are attached, whether your cable connection is working, and even your network password.
We were able to click over into the “advanced” tab to gain access to more robust controls, but this shouldn’t be necessary for most users. Power users will probably appreciate the fine controls.
You can also download the Netgear Genie app on your phone, which allows you to manage your network from a more attractive interface. Much of the same functionality is here, but it might be a more approachable interface for those who don’t really know where to start with their router settings.
The Netgear C3700 retails for $109.99, but you should be able to find it for less (as of the time of this writing, it’s on sale for about $95). At this price, the modem has a head start on paying for itself.
For an 8x4 DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem with a lightweight router built in, this price is about par for the course. If you can find the Netgear C3700 for under $100, then it might be worth buying for the cable modem performance and pairing it with a solid wireless router.
The Arris Surfboard SBG6700-AC has the same 8x4 DOCSIS 3.0 cable rating but ups the wireless support to AC1600 speeds. This still isn’t top-of-the-line wireless speed—and it is a bit more expensive at $119 MSRP—but that extra cash is worth the improved network performance. However, the Arris model does not have a USB 2.0 port for network-attached storage or printers.
A solid modem, but the poor wireless performance undermines its appeal as a combo device.The cable modem’s performance is great, but the wireless performance is just not there. If all you want is the cheapest possible modem with built-in dual-band Wi-Fi, then the Netgear C3700 checks those boxes. But we think you’re better off spending more for better performance or just buying two standalone devices.
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