The best cable modems are the gatekeepers for your internet, meaning you'll need a decent one if you want the fastest speeds and the most stable connections.
Of course these are only as good as your internet connection so be sure to check out the best internet providers before you think about spending on a new cable modem. While your connection provider may send you a router, this will likely be a basic model as it's free, or rented, so by upgrading to the best cable modem you could get even more speed from your connection subscription and save money longer term. Well worth it if you've already spent on the best laptops and tablets and want the most out of them.
From streaming TV in 4K resolution to gaming online, checking your home security cameras and beyond, the perfect cable modem will help you do all that at the same time. So what do you need to look out for?
If it's the best of the best you need then a 1 Gbps connection is what you'll want and to back that up you'll need a router with WiFi 6 enabled to get the most speed. But the actual box itself can have physical features worth thinking about. Do you need LED lights so you can check status at a glance? Should yours come with an app so you can smart control everything from your device? And will it be on display so looks are going to be something you also want to consider?
Get the best cable modem from the list below – which has something for most needs – and you'll be getting fast and stable internet speeds to all your devices for a perfectly connected home.
Best cable modems
1. Motorola MB7621: Best cable modems pick
Why you can trust Top Ten Reviews
The Motorola MB7621 is our top pick of all the cable modems out there right now as it comes with a perfect combination of features that suit nearly all needs. Primarily this is good for up to 1 Gbps speeds meaning it can get the most out of even the fastest internet connections.
The Motorola MB7621 is rated at 4.7 stars out of five from customers on BestBuy. Positives include value for money, ease of setup, no need to reboot due to reliability, and excellent speeds. The rare negative reviews are about ISP issues more than the modem itself.
It also offers 24 downstream channels and eight up – meaning you should be able to connect a whole host of devices at the same time without losing speeds on any of them. It also means you can enjoy video chat online, gaming and cloud computing without delays or shuddering thanks to plenty of bandwidth.
The design of this cable modem is also worth mentioning as it is super sleek and looks good anywhere it's placed. The minimal finish with rounded edges and clean lines is fantastic – not something you can often say about a modem.
It's not all about looks though as that is all functionally designed with accessible ports, a power button, clear status lights, included accessories and very helpful instructions. The inclusion of a coaxial connection wrench, hook-and-loop cord strap, and an Ethernet cable are all welcome additions here. All that makes this very easy to setup and use but without scrimping on more advanced features for those that may want to access them.
It's also worth noting that this modem comes with an impressive two-year warranty as standard. With light and power surge protection onboard, plus excellent ventilation to protect against overheating, this is likely to go the distance way beyond that time.
2. Netgear CM600: Best high-speed cable modem
The Netgear CM600 is the ideal choice of cable modem if you want the very fastest speeds. This is good for 1 Gbps internet connections and uses a wide array of up and downstreams to achieve this.
The Netgear CM600 is rated at 4.7 out of five stars on BestBuy where positives praise its looks and LEDs, great speeds and easy setup and running. Negatives focus on some issues getting this to work with certain WiFi routers.
But, crucially, this is also built to be highly compatible across a wide range of internet service providers. That means this should work for most people, no matter your broadband setup. It also means you can change provider, at a later stage, and keep this modem working without the need to get a new one.
It is certainly future-proof for a long time to come thanks to those 24 downstreams and eight upstreams. These should create more than enough bandwidth to run a host of devices at the same time – even more demanding uses like 4K streaming, online gaming and video chat, can be done at the same time without lag.
The physical router itself is decent looking with a lot of ventilation on the body, immediately apparent and very useful for keeping this unit from overheating when working at capacity. You not only have a power button here but also a useful reset button, plus there's an Ethernet port, power input and coaxial connection. All that and yet this keeps a slim profile, stood upright, which can slide into a small space on a desk or table with ease.
You get a one year warranty with this model which works out cheaper to own than renting it from an internet service provider – a decent deal on a very power cable modem.
3. Arris Surfboard SB6183: Best reliability cable modem
The Arris Surfboard SB6183 might have a deceivingly playful name but in reality this is actually one of the most reliable cable modems you can buy right now. Yes, it's not the best looking model with that rather basic white finish and blocky shape – but if it's more about the build quality rather than look which appeals to you then this is an ideal unit.
The Arris Surfboard SB6183 on BestBuy has an average rating of 4.7 out of five, from over 6,000 reviews. Positive points include this being future-proof, offering fast speeds, and it lasting years and years. Negatives include issues with running too hot.
That said the looks are also functional, with color-coded LEDs on the front which serve to give you an at-a-glance update of the modem's status without the need to reach for your device. Uplink and downlink glow in various colors to show connection quality – as opposed to just on or off as most modems show. That said there is no LAN status icon which isn't very helpful.
You won't get as much speed as some other models on this list but it is still plenty fast with a whopping 686 Mbps top speed. That's spread across 16 downstream channels and four upstream meaning it should have enough bandwidth for most tasks. That includes family use where 4K TV streaming, online gaming and video chat are happening all at once across the home.
The reliability of this unit is shown in its warranty which lasts two-years as standard. This also means you can keep using this device for a long while which means you'll make a saving on buying this versus renting over the same time period.
Everything is easy to setup and get running but it isn't as streamlined as some other models so if you want the very easiest of controls this might not be ideal for you.
4. Asus CM-16: Best looking affordable cable modem
The Asus CM-16 is a real looker in the bunch of cable modems here, making it a great choice for anyone that wants their model out on display.
The Asus CM-16 has a rating of 4.4 out of five stars on Amazon with positives covering impressive reboot speeds, ease of setup, low heat output, and great performance over long periods of time. Negatives cover the fact it could run a little faster.
This use goes beyond looks, of course, as being out in the open means your other devices can be connected up to this with ease and you can also see the status at a glance when needed – it should also help keep it from overheating. The clean and minimal black finish of this model certainly makes placing it anywhere it is needed a viable option.
This cable modem is a decent performer too thanks to its top-end 686 Mbps speed capabilities which are spread across 16 downstream channels and four upstream. More than enough bandwidth for most family homes even with lots of demanding internet use across the property, at the same time. Sure, this isn't at the level that some 24 x 8 channel models with 1 Gbps limits, that are on this list, but the point is this will do the job for most needs that aren't mass business requirements.
The user interface leaves quite a bit to be desired in terms of controls, but since most settings only need to be adjusted once to get you up and running, this shouldn't be a major issue for most users. All that said, this model looks great, works well, and can mean a saving over other models and certainly over renting your unit from your internet service provider for the period of time that this will live, and that's years.
5. TP-Link TC-7620: Best compatibility cable modem
The TP-Link TC-7620 is a superb cable modem for anyone that wants maximum compatibility. This is a modem which is built to work across a whole host of different internet providers.
The TP-Link TC-7620 has an average rating of 4.2 out of five on Amazon. Positives cover this modem's ability to serve lots of devices at once, a decent user interface and great performance speeds. Negative points include it running a little hot and not working well with Cox.
This compatibility means it should not only last the lifetime of your current service provider but also allows you to jump to a new ISP option without having to spend on a new router. This model is good to work with Comcast, Spectrum and Cox – covering most of the big names.
The speed offered by this unit is plenty fast enough for most needs, including that of the modern family. Thanks to 16 downstream channels and four up, this can offer a lot of bandwidth to keep up with multiple device demands at the same time. So if you're watching a 4K TV stream in one room, someone else is 4K gaming online in another, someone else is having a video conference, and all your smart devices are doing their usual business – this router will still be able to keep up with all of that. All presuming you have a fast enough speed from your internet service provider, of course. This router tops out at 680 Mbps, which should be more than enough for most.
One downside on this unit is the lack of power button. Since most router issues are usually fixed with a power down and restart, this button is more useful here than on most other devices. Oddly this is lacking though, which isn't a huge issue if you have access to the wall socket to remove the plug.
The unit itself is compact, minimal looking in black and comes with a decent online interface that's easy to use. A great saving on a rental modem with plenty going for it.
6. Linksys CM3024: Best for speed and ease
The Linksys CM3024 is a superb choice if you want a cable modem that is both easy to use but also packs a powerful punch when it comes to speed.
On Amazon reviews of the Linksys CM3024, which are over 1,375 in number, give an average rating of 4.2 stars out of a possible five. Positive points made include easy setup, good connectivity, and a great app. Negatives include some latency issues (which were fixed) and poor compatibility with Time Warner Cable.
This seemingly standard looking router with its well ventilated black outer shell is packing some serious speed – hence all that ventilation to keep running cool.
At full speed this unit has 24 upstream channels and eight downstream channels all capable of funnelling a total bandwidth of 960Mbps – the same figure most 1 Gbps internet subscriptions offer. So even if you're on one of the fastest ISP offerings out there right now, this cable modem should be able to keep up and get you the most out of that pipeline.
From streaming video in 4K to downloading huge files, to gaming online with no lag – this modem is able to take it all on at the same time. That not only makes this a great pick for families but also student houses and even smaller offices.
Usefully there are LEDs on the front of the unit which help to show connection status at a glance. This is needed since there isn't any other way to get in to access the modem as this doesn't come with a user interface – as far as is clear. This is bad for those that want to tweak the details of the modem but could also be seen as good for anyone that wants a simple setup and running without the need to play with settings. A great router that does a lot for the price.
7. Netgear Nighthawk C7000: Best all in one WiFi capable solution
The Netgear Nighthawk C7000 might have one of the coolest names on this list but don't let that fool you into thinking this is all about branding and not quality – this is a seriously impressive cable modem. It's only lower down this list as it's a more pricey option. That said, this does include WiFi meaning you don't need to buy a router on top, and over time this will save you money over a rental model.
The Netgear C7000 gets a 4.3 star rating out of five over on Amazon. Positive reviews praise its customer support, setup ease, speed and longer term money saving. Negative reviews focus on the price and some issue with initial setup.
The build quality is excellent with a decent looking, well-ventilated body that comes packing in four Ethernet ports, LED notifications, and two USB ports. You've also got dual band AC1900 WiFi meaning you get up to 1,300 Mbps across both 2.4GHz and 5Ghz bands. This also boasts 24 downstream channels and eight upstream channels with speed supporting 1 Gbps internet subscriptions. So there is pretty much no speed from a current ISP that this unit can't handle.
For the price this should really support MU-MIMO or QoS but both of those are found lacking. Also in some testing the top speeds, even over Ethernet, are not achieved. That said the WiFi is impressive with long range and excellent speed coverage even in larger homes.
Setup is straightforward and the user interface is excellent with lots of features to play with for those that want to get into the more advanced settings – but with simplicity to get going for anyone that wants to just plug and play.
This is a fantastic all in one cable modem and WiFi router that does everything you could need at the fastest speeds possible. All that does justify this price tag which may seem higher than some others on the list.
Buying advice for the best cable modems
If you want to get the best cable modem for your specific needs then there are a few factors that you may want to consider before you make any decisions. While you might think speed is the primary concern, every modem in this list is super fast – well over 500 Mbps capable. Since most internet service providers don't even go above 1 Gbps, and most people don't need that much, you likely won't be found wanting for speed, no matter the option from the above selection.
One important feature is compatibility. Do you want a cable modem that only works with your current internet service provider or are you after something that will allow you to change ISP without having to buy a new modem? Some models are highly compatible making them ideal for longer term use, and may also work better with a wider range of WiFi routers too.
Consider warranty too as this can denote a better made model. These modems work hard and can overheat, in some cases, so it's worth buying a well made model. This is especially important if you're looking to make a saving by buying and keeping for a long time, over renting directly from your ISP.
Looks, lights and UI are also considerations. Do you need a decent looking unit that you can leave out in the open and are you going to want LED notifications on the front so you know what your connection status is at a glance? A decent user interface is also worth considering if you are someone who wants to tweak the settings and play with the more advanced functions.
It's also worth noting that most of these are simply modems and if you want WiFi you'll need to invest in a router on top of the price.
How we tested cable modems
We assessed all the modems on the market and narrowed the selection down to the top ten products that cost less than renting a modem from your ISP for a year. We set up these products into our lab, hooked them up to our network and ran some hands-on tests. Our internet service is through Comcast Xfinity and has advertised speeds up to 400 Mbps, though in our testing process, we never saw speeds that slow.
We tested the each cable modem's capabilities by performing a variety of data intensive tasks. On the gaming devices, we downloaded large game files from Steam to test download speeds. We streamed Netflix in 4K using laptops, computers, smartphones and tablets. Through testing, we found that every modem we tested performed exactly as it should, so you’re safe buying any of them.
Since all the modems passed our tests, most of our ranking evaluations relied on price and features. We preferred modems with physical power buttons as opposed to modems that you have to unplug to turn off. We scored modems higher if the online interface was easy to find and use. We also preferred smaller, well-ventilated devices.
Buying vs renting a cable modem
Replacing rented equipment can be daunting but it doesn't need to be. Modems are relatively inexpensive to buy and you can save plenty of cash on rental fees. Even better, you often end up with far superior equipment.
Before buying any cable modem, check that you need a cable modem. There are also DSL, fiber and satellite internet services which will require different hardware. You also need to make sure you purchase a modem that is supported by your ISP. All the products here are supported by most of the major cable internet companies but it's worth double checking.
Value for money
We recommend purchasing a modem that costs less than the rental fees for its warranty term. If you buy a modem with a 1-year warranty, it should cost less than a year’s worth of rental fees. All the modems we tested cost less than a year’s rent on an Xfinity modem, and many have two-year warranties. Generally, a modem should cost less than $120 at most.
If a 16 x 4 modem serves you perfectly now, but you may want to upgrade your internet package to the next level within a few years, it's worth the extra money to future-proof your purchase. Having extra speed capabilities won't negatively affect your network in any way and may even make it more efficient.
Future proof your purchase
Consider your current internet plan and whether you plan on upgrading your speed soon. Most modern cable modems will support standards offered by your ISP. It can be tempting to spend less on a weaker model but consider this an investment. Look for value for money rather than simply something that is cheap. However, we recommend buying a modem that costs less than your rental fees for its warranty term. All the modems we tested cost less than a year’s rent on an Xfinity modem, and many have two-year warranties. Generally, a modem should cost less than $120 at most.
For some people, the look of a modem is vital too. Modems are often designed to be more functional than elegant but features like a physical power button and extensive ventilation can be useful in ensuring it works well for you. Figure out where you want to place the modem and check its ventilation will work well there.
Modems vs. Routers
The devices most ISPs supply to renting customers are modem and router combination devices, so replacing your rented equipment does necessitate replacing both devices. The modem is the first point of contact between your home network and the internet. It takes the cable input signal and modulates/demodulates it into a standard Ethernet connection that your router or computer plugs into.
If you want WiFi or to connect multiple devices to the internet, you also need one of the best wireless routers, which handle all the communications between your home network and the internet. You need both to create an effective and secure home network. You can buy combo devices, but these have downsides. Separate devices have the advantage of being more flexible when it comes to upgrades, and if one piece breaks, you don’t have to replace the whole system.
Finally, many modems supplied by the best Internet Providers are modem and router combination devices. If yours is, you'll also need to budget for a router alongside a modem if you use Wi-Fi or connect multiple devices to the internet.