We tested ten of the best cable modems under $120, and the TP-Link TC7650 proved itself as a first-rate networking device. It’s a DOCSIS 3.0 24 x 8 cable modem that can support speeds up to 1,029 Mbps downstream, making it a great choice for households that do a lot of streaming or online gaming. We tested it on Comcast Xfinity’s 400 Mbps plan, and it handled top speeds with five devices connected to the network. We used one laptop monitoring network performance, another laptop streaming Netflix in 4K, a PlayStation 4 downloading a large game file, an Xbox One downloading a large game file and a custom gaming PC also downloading a large game file.
Though this performance was typical of the modems we tested, the TP-Link TC7650 has an advantage over 16 x 4 channel modems, like the TP-Link TC7620, because it can handle higher maximum speeds. Cable modems with 16 x 4 channels are only recommended for internet plans with speeds up to 300 Mbps, even though they advertise much higher max speeds, as modems rarely operate up to their manufacturer-tested maximums. Likewise, the TC7650, though it can theoretically reach up to 1 Gbps downstream, isn’t recommended for gigabit internet speeds, though it should do well with packages up to 650 Mbps. Of course, it also works well with slower speeds and leaves you room to upgrade your network in the future.
The TC7650’s rounded body gives it a little more visual interest than its boxy brothers, but otherwise it looks like a typical modem. It stands vertically with five LED status indicators along the front, ventilated side panels and input and output ports on the back. The status icons aren’t as clear as they are on other products we tested, as they’re small and too complicated. The back panel is minimalist with three ports and a recessed reset button. It does not have a power button, so turning it on or off requires plugging or unplugging the device. It does include a printed card with the modem’s default information, in addition to having the information on the bottom of the device, which is a little detail we appreciated. You can also find you modem’s information, adjust settings and monitor your network using the TP-Link web user interface.
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Overall, the TP-Link TC7650 is a solid high-speed modem. It appeared on four of the six ISP compatibility lists we researched including Comcast, Spectrum and Cox, but always check with your ISP before purchasing your own modem to make sure it’s compatible with your service. TP-Link offers a two-year warranty on the TC7650, and you can save some serious money in rental fees over the course of those two years.