In light of cable internet, you need a modem to connect to a given network and a router to make the network signals wireless. In most cases, ISPs provide you with an integrated modem and router unit for convenience but at a monthly charge. Considering the huge rent fees, we recommend getting your own combined unit for cost and space efficiency in the long run. For optimal internet connections, it would help to acquire the best router modem combo in the market.
Subsequently, we have compiled a comprehensive buying guide for quality modem routers. Even so, let’s first understand the concept behind combined modems and routers.
What is a Router Modem Combo?
As depicted in its name, this device features router and modem components under one unit. The rationale for this is to save space alongside easier internet configurations. Therefore, this is a two in one Wi-Fi companion that ensures that you connect efficiently to a network and effectively transform the accessed network into wireless signals.
Even though the combined routers are less effective than the stand-alone devices with exclusive functionality, they’re still a great choice for cost and space-saving. Having understood the concept of a modem router combo, let’s look at the five best routers in this category.
First on our list for the best router modem combo is the NETGEAR Nighthawk C7000 combo. Despite its unassuming design and slimness, this Netgear Nighthawk cable modem router has incredible Wi-Fi performance. Precisely, it is built with a dual-band Wi-Fi capacity that can deliver up to 1.3 Gbps on the 5GHz frequency within a 2,500 square feet home. In addition, its Beamforming antennas help in boosting the signal strength of this combined device.
Moreover, this DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem router has 24 downstream channels with maximum speeds of 960 Mbps. However, most cable internet providers limit the bandwidth allocation under the DOCSIS 3.0, unlike DOCSIS 3.1, making it difficult to achieve optimal speeds under this Netgear DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem router. Nonetheless, the C7000 is very capable for most household needs due to its Xfinity carrier for 600 Mbps, Cox carrier for 500 Mbps, and Spectrum carrier for 400 Mbps.
For its versatile cable connection, it is made with 4-gigabit Ethernet ports and 2 USB 2.0 ports. The USB ports allow easy file sharing with multiple devices alongside an in-built DLNA server for seamless media streaming to a game console or smart TV. In addition, the 4-gigabit Ethernet ports provide adequate LAN connections for devices that don’t support Wi-Fi. On the downside, Netgear lacks MU-MIMO and QoS features, which serve to make wireless connections better.
- Dual-band capability for fast and long-range provisions
- Slim and compact design
- Adequate Ethernet and USB ports
- Adequate speed carriers for fast connections
- Easy setup
- DLNA component for optimal media streaming
- Easy to set up
- Lacks advanced wireless features like MU-MIMO and QoS
Secondly, we also recommend the Motorola MG7700 Cable Modem and Router Combo. In terms of creating an effective network, this model is built with an AC1900 dual-band Wi-Fi router. Subsequently, the Motorola combo device is strong enough to supply an excellent wireless signal across a large home. Alternatively, you can also enjoy fast cable internet speeds of up to 650 Mbps.
Additionally, this combo is built with a DOCSIS 3.0 protocol that can theoretically handle up to 1 Gbps, even though most cable providers don’t offer such plans on a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem. Also, its dual-band channel bonding provides an ample 600 Mbps on 2.4 GHz frequency and 1.3 Gbps on 5 GHz. Such internet speeds are adequate for 4k media streaming and impeccable video calling. Surprisingly, even in the absence of antennas, this modem router combo can provide excellent home internet speed within 2,000 square feet home with multiple floors.
You can also take advantage of its cable Ethernet ports. 4-gigabit Ethernet ports, to be precise, are adequate for hardwire internet connections with multiple devices, including game consoles and PC. However, this high-performance modem router combo lacks USB ports for file sharing with external devices. It also lacks voice services which are increasingly being included in ISP bundles.
- Cable connectivity to multiple devices
- Strong dual-band channel bonding for increased range and internet speed
- Easy to configure security and parental controls
- Easy setup
- Compact design without antennas
- Power boost for increased signal range
- Combo unit limits placement locations
- Lacks antennas, limit Wi-Fi connections in larger premises
- Lacks USB port connectivity
Among the best modem routers on our list, we also recommended the Arris Surfboard sbg7600ac2. Under the reputable brand name Arris, the Surfboard SBG7600AC2 is an incredible companion for both Wi-Fi and cable speeds. Under this model, you will enjoy its DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem with a dual-band capability for maximum speeds of 2,350 Mbps. It provides
Despite such speed capacities, it can only maximize up to 600 Mbps, considering that most internet plans don’t surpass that threshold for DOCSIS 3.0 modem router combos. Conversely, its AC2350 wireless performance takes advantage of higher speed plans for 4 K streaming, gaming, and surfing even under different device competition. Alternatively, you can use its four-gigabit Ethernet ports and USB 2.0 ports for cable connectivity.
Other features that come with this quality combination unit include a management app for quick configurations and settings. It also provides effective parental controls alongside a McAfee secure home network for protection from malware.
- Adequate Wi-Fi and cable connectivity
- Easy and quick setup
- Excellent 4k video streaming and gaming
- Compatible with most U.S ISPs
- Effective parental controls
- McAfee secure internet connection
- Limited bandwidth utility
Last on our list is the Motorola MD1600 Modem and Wi-Fi Router. If you are using a plan with the DSL option, this is the right product for you due to its high performance and fast speeds. In addition, it packs an appealing sleek aesthetic alongside its internet and cable telephone functionalities. Among quality modern routers in this review, this is our only recommendation for a unit with voice features.
For home internet performance, it offers incredible Wi-Fi connectivity through a single frequency of 2.4 GHz. Alternatively, it also allows for cable connections through its four Ethernet ports for lag-free internet speed. At optimal performance, this modem/router can achieve an internet speed of 100 Mbps. Even though this frequency is below speeds offered by competing models with faster speeds such as 600 Mbps and 400 Mbps, it can maximize the bandwidth allocated by most VDSL or ADSL cable providers.
Regardless of the relatively slower Wi-Fi speeds, you can still benefit from this device’s easy and clean setup. It also has a 2.0 USB port for connectivity with external devices. Nonetheless, you should ensure the compatibility of this integrated device with your internet plan or service provider.
- Flexible to most top-tier DSL providers
- Sleek and compact design
- Offers Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and telephone connections
- Easy installation
- Limited wireless band frequency
- Incompatible with the ordinary internet service providers
- Slower internet speeds compared to competing devices with faster speeds
Combo vs. Individual Equipment
The modem router combo benefits from the functionality of two distinct components, a modem, and a router. On the one hand, a modem receives a signal from an internet service provider and renders it usable on individual devices. On the other hand, a router converts a signal from an ISP into a local network with security, traffic management, and wireless connection.
Therefore, a combination of a modem and a router merges these highlighted internet functions under one roof, saving on space, configuration, and costs. Considerably, most contemporary internet users seek convenience before performance.
Notwithstanding the mentioned convenience, modem and router combinations tend to lack the flexibility of upgradability. In addition, you might have needed more effectiveness in the router than the modem or vice versa, but with the combination, you have to settle for average balanced effectiveness. Moreover, modem router combos are less powerful than their stand-alone units.
Therefore, the integrated devices might lack an adequate power boost for power-seekers, making the separate devices ideal for seamless internet access. Additionally, stand-alone devices are future-proof with the flexibility to upgrade for prolonged relevance. No matter the upper hand of separate devices, let’s get into the considerations to make while buying a modem router combo for a quality choice.
Factors to Consider Before Buying the Best Router Modem Combo
1. Downstream and Upstream Channels
Top on the list of considerations for the best router modem combo is the channels for upstream and downstream. Channels are more on the technical part of a modern router combo and determine the amount of data your router can upload and download at a time. However, considering that most modern modems are built with a minimum of 16 downstream channels, you shouldn’t worry about scrutinizing these channel metrics.
In line with channels, the best modem router combos apply a standardized data transmission interface of DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications) through the coaxial cables. Therefore, the DOCSIS determines the optimal download and upload capacity of a modem router combo. Subsequently, the DOCSIS 3.1 and DOCSIS 3.0 are the most commonly used protocols that are compatible with the provisions of most internet service providers. Understandably, the best modem router combo should have more data support channels but might not still reach its optimal levels considering the thresholds available in the market.
2. Upload and Download Speeds
The next item that goes hand in hand with the number of channels is the download and upload speeds. These speeds indicate how much Mbps your modem router combo can download and upload from your internet connection. More so, consumer router modems are usually built with higher download speeds than upload speeds, considering that download activity is often more. As a standard, speeds from your internet service provider should feature a ratio of 1:4 for uploading and downloading.
Buying a modem-router unit with high-speed capabilities eventually proves to be resourceful because it provides longer time relevance. Subsequently, as you upgrade to more Mbps, you won’t incur extra costs of replacing your modem router. Therefore, the best modem router combos should be future proof considering that cable internet providers are progressively advancing their plans.
3. ISP Compatibility
In addition to the upload-download speeds, you should also consider the plan offered by your ISP. In most cases, ISP companies tend to provide you with the integrated unit they prefer for a strong Wi-Fi signal. Reasonably, ISP compatibility is to the user’s advantage, but in some cases, it is just a channel for selling products under a companies portfolio. Nonetheless, major cable companies are compatible with almost any quality modem-router combo, unlike smaller ISP companies.
Furthermore, your ISP bandwidth caps determine how much internet you will enjoy even with a heavy-duty combination unit. Accordingly, with the best modem router combo, you will be able to harness the most internet bandwidth and speed an ISP can provide. There are different ways you can check the list of modems compatible with your ISP, including checking their website and calling them.
4. Frequency Bands
Most contemporary modem and router units apply dual-band wi-fi frequencies which are 2.4 GHz and 5GHz. Essentially, these two bands are distinguished by the bandwidth and range they can cover. Ideally, lower band frequencies feature less bandwidth within a wider range, while higher frequencies feature higher bandwidth within a lesser range. This tradeoff between the frequency bands is caused by the encoding of information found within a wireless signal.
Specifically, a higher frequency has more waves/ Mbps going through a given point, translating to increased access speeds to information per second. However, despite the increased information access, higher frequencies have the downside of being blocked and absorbed more by obstacles, thus the reduced square feet coverage. Conversely, lower frequencies transmit slower and lesser Mbps but with a reduced likelihood of being absorbed in the environment. Therefore, 2.4 GHz is ideal for long ranges, while 5 GHz is preferable for fast connections such as streaming and gaming.
Accordingly, the best router modem combo should have a dual-band channel bonding for versatility for long-range and fast internet connections. Even so, each of the frequency bands can be accessed separately. However, if both channels are used at the same time, they are bound to underperform.
5. Wired Connectivity
The concept of a modem-router combination creates the perception of a wireless internet connection. Nevertheless, wired connections are still critical for optimal internet performance without the likely latency under Wi-Fi. For instance, gaming would be best suited by a cable connection through Ethernet ports, 4 or 2 slots, for a fast internet speed.
Consequently, the best modem routers should be built with Ethernet ports for cable plugging, depending on your utility. Also, ensure that you get a modem router integration with gigabit Ethernet ports for optimal internet speed. Most quality modem/routers combos are built with 4 or 2-gigabit Ethernet ports.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Router Modem Combo
1. Are modem router combos good?
Wi-Fi combination devices are a good option considering that they combine two internet equipment into one. Subsequently, you can enjoy the conservative nature of such units by saving on cost, space, and configuration hassles. You should also ensure you acquire a combination unit that suits your Mbps needs and existing ISP plan. Ultimately, they are convenient one-stop units for wireless connectivity alongside the cable connectivity features through the Ethernet ports, 4 or 2 slots.