A Review and Comparison of The Top Cable Modems On The Market in 2019

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There are many best cable modems available for those gamers who make use of a cable internet provider. Since renting equipment from your ISP can incur hefty costs over the long run, it is often beneficial for households to purchase their own.

Another good reason to buy instead of rent is that when purchasing, you get more control over the specs of your modem, which means that you can tailor your internet experience by scouring for the best cable modems for the job.

Here are a few factors to consider when determining what type of modem would be best for you. How much are you willing to spend? How complex will your home network need to be?

Are you gaming, streaming or simply surfing? Who is your cable internet provider? These are but a few of the questions you should ask yourself.

To help you along, here are some of the best cable modems on the market, tried and extensively tested, so that you can get one that forms the beating heart of your home network.

Each modem mentioned here will suit different needs, budgets and networks to assist you with selecting the one that is right for your needs.

If you are an avid online gamer, then these modems also provide fairly lag-free play across multiple devices, when paired with the right routers or switches.

What to look for in a cable modem

Compatibility with ISPs is important, and for that reason, all of the listed devices are compatible with major US cable companies.

Capacity for speeds will determine your user experience, and so cable modems that are DOCSIS 3.0 compliant and can provide impressive downstreams (in relation to your ISPs package) are advisable.

DOCSIS capabilities should also be backward compatible to ensure that the modem can support your connection.

The price is also an important determining factor, especially considering that you may have to invest in other equipment such as wireless routers to complete your home network.

The Advantages of buying a cable modem

As mentioned before, one of the best advantages of buying a cable modem is that you get a little more control over its quality.

Generally speaking, cable modems provided by ISPs come at a basic standard, which stops you from getting the most out of your connection speeds, functionality, and security.

Besides that, owning your own eliminates the need for monthly equipment rental fees which tally up to quite a bit more than the price of owning a better modem.

What is more, should you change ISPs, there will be no need to invest in a new one at a later stage.

If your connection needs are very specific, if for instance, you are an online gamer, then you would want to find a modem that can easily give you the functionality that limits latency, for lag-free play.

If video streaming is more your scene, then modems that provide greater speeds on broader bands would be more ideal.

Differing Characteristics

Different cable modems come with various price tags and functions, each which should determine which one you decide to opt for, depending on how you use your internet.

While most major ISPs are compatible with pretty much all cable modems, there are a few that are not; and it varies from modem to modem.

Because of this, it is essential to know as much as you can about your service provider before buying, you may even want to get into contact with them before purchasing a modem to check its compatibility with them.

Maximum downstream speeds will also differ (which will also impact the price), and in some cases, it might not be necessary to go for maximum speeds if they are higher than those offered by the ISP.

Small networks that are paired with a line lower than 100Mbps, need not worry about modems with speeds in excess of 350 Mbps (to be shared across the network, using a connected router).

What else you will need

For any networks that are larger than a single connection to a PC or gaming console, you will need to provide your network with a greater capacity for connections.

Cable modems generally only feature one-gigabit port which can be used to convert a single broadband connection into an ethernet one.

From there, the choice is up to you whether to connect it to a router that provides additional gigabit ports and wireless capability for an entire network, or you could simply plug it directly into a network port on a PC.

Because of this, additional equipment such as a router will be needed in most situations where a cable modem is being used.

The Best Modem 2019 Comparison Table

ProductSpeed 

TP-link TC-7610-E
TP-Link DOCSIS 3.0 (8x4) High Speed Cable Modem | Max Download Speeds Up to 343Mbps | Certified for XFINITY, Spectrum, Cox, and More (TC-7610-E)

343 Mbps

NetGear CM400
NETGEAR Cable Modem CM400 - Compatible with all Cable Providers including Xfinity by Comcast, Spectrum, Cox | For Cable Plans Up to 100 Mbps | DOCSIS 3.0

343 Mbps

Motorola MB7420
MOTOROLA 16x4 Cable Modem, Model MB7420, 686 Mbps DOCSIS 3.0, Certified by Comcast XFINITY, Charter Spectrum, Time Warner Cable, Cox, BrightHouse, and More

686
Mbps

D-Link DCM-301
D-Link DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem (DCM-301) Compatible with Comcast Xfinity, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Cox, Cablevision, and More

320 Mbps

ARRIS SURFboard SBG7580AC
ARRIS Surfboard SBG7580AC 32x8 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem / AC1750 Wi-Fi Router- Black

1400
Mbps

Best Cable Modems Individual Reviews

1. TP-LINK TC7610E

The TP-LINK TC7610E is great for overall performance on 100mbps connections, with downstream speeds of up to 343 Mbps and upstream speeds of up to 143 Mbps depending on the speeds provided by your cable ISP.

For gaming purposes, this is more than adequate, but for those with relatively complex home networks, and for those looking to stream, it may be a little limiting; though likely not if you are replacing a stock modem.

Compatibility-wise, the TC7610E supports most major cable ISPs, with the exception of Verizon, AT&T as well as CenturyLink, striking this modem out if you are with any of those providers.

The TC7610E supports DOCSIS 3.0 which has a wider bandwidth than DOCSIS 2.0 or 1.0 and also provides connection security, however, the device is also backward compatible.

Like most cable modems in its class, the TC7610E requires the addition of a router to achieve wireless capability, or indeed to connect to any more than a single ethernet cable.

A standard browser-based setup makes installation fairly simple so long as you have the needed information about your ISP on hand in order to pair them.

The simple setup procedure, as well as the increased connections, speeds that this device will give you, make it well worth buying (especially at the price).

The TC7610E often has difficulty when pairing with Comcast, in which case users often have to manually activate XFINITY to browse the web.

Pros
  • One of the cheapest.
Cons
  • Not so great performance for the money.

TP-LINK TC7610E Overall Rating

9/10

Functionality:

9/10

Security:

8/10

Speed:

9/10

Overall Score:

2. NETGEAR CM400

The NETGEAR CM400 can provide total downstream speeds of up to 343 Mbps and upstream speeds of up to 131 Mbps, setting it just on par with the TP-Link discussed above, thanks to 8×4 channel bonding.

Where it excels over the TC7610E, however, is that it is compatible with all major ISPs.

It does still require additional hardware to be used on more than one device since it essentially converts a single broadband connection onto an Ethernet one.

Installation is browser-based and pairing your ISP is fairly straightforward, configuring the modem itself can be a little tricky.

However, since it is highly compatible, ticks all of the boxes such as support for DOCSIS 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0, and delivers notable increases in speeds on lines below 100 Mbps; it is an exceptional cable modem.

Pros
  • It doesn't get hot while running.
Cons
  • It doesn't have a power on/off button.

NETGEAR CM400 Overall Rating

8/10

Functionality:

9/10

Security:

8.5/10

Speed:

8.5/10

Overall Score:

3. Motorola MB7420

Since it offers 16×4 DOCSIS 3.0 support, the Motorola MB7420 provides vastly greater connection speeds than the abovementioned products, even on a line with speeds greater than 100 Mbps.

It provides downstream speeds of up to 686 Mbps and upstream speeds of 123 Mbps.

These specs suggest that the MB7420 is better suited to high bandwidth households where video streaming and file downloads are commonplace.

For gamers, it won’t offer you much else other than quicker updates and downloads. You’ll need to rely on your router for QoS management if you’re experiencing laggy play.

The Motorola MB7420 is compatible with all major cable internet providers and can be fairly easily setup using a browser from a connected PC

While this device performs admirably to boost connection speeds at home, and is perfect for bandwidth heavy tasks being shared across a network (with an attached router of course), it does have one very fatal flaw.

The product is finicky and ill-tempered, what I mean by that is that it works when it wants to. It will serve you well in the beginning, but once it has completed its probation period, there is a small chance it could turn on you and just stop working.

Pros
  • Its speed is quite fast.
Cons
  • It has an unattractive design.

Motorola MB7420 Overall Rating

9/10

Functionality:

9/10

Security:

9/10

Speed:

9/10

Overall Score:

4. D-Link DCM301

For gamers, the D-Link DCM301 is unassuming. As far as its top connection speeds are concerned, it fairs no better than the TP-Link or the NETGEAR, but is equally useful for lless than 100 Mbps connections.

It supports DOCSIS 3.0 with download speeds of up to 320 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 160 Mbps; so while it is a little better than the other two routers, it is quite a bit pricier.

Plus the fact that it isn't compatible with Verizon, AT&T or CenturyLink, the modem seems to have not that much going for it.

However, for gamers, there is one essential function that makes this modem well worth it. It offers a QoS management service which allows you to prioritize bandwidth usage for specific tasks.

This means that you can decrease lag during online play by allocating bandwidth specifically to a gaming console or PC.

Besides that, however, many users report actual drops in connection speed when using the D-Link DCM301, but for the most part, it is as admirable a modem as any other mentioned here, if not a little more useful for gamers.

Pros
  • It's small in size.
Cons
  • Unattractive design.

D-Link DCM301 Overall Rating

9/10

Functionality:

8.5/10

Security:

8/10

Speed:

8.5/10

Overall Score:

5. ARRIS SURFboard SBG7580-AC

At first glance, the ARRIS SURFboard seems like the perfect solution for cable internet in the home, and while it is a wholly remarkable product, it has one or two flaws. But we will get to those later.

The first notable feature about the SBG7580-AC is that it has wireless capability and a total of 4 ethernet ports, which means that no further investment in equipment is necessary.

The wifi capability itself is even fairly impressive, featuring simultaneous dual-band connections to reduce the wireless backlog at speeds of up to 1750 Mbps.

It is easy to set up with a browser-based interface and of course, features backward compatible DOCSIS 3.0 support.

It is also compatible with all known cable ISPs; except for when it isn’t, which brings us to the modem’s biggest drawback.

Maybe it's because ARRIS overdid themselves in functionality, but the modem often struggles to pair with even the most accepted network providers in some cases.

But will setup seamlessly in others with no real way to determine when it will, and when it won’t work properly. It is a turnkey solution for converting broadband cable connections into functional home networks.

It also provides exceptional speeds with downstream at a total 1.4 Gbps and upstream of up to 262 Mbps.

Pros
  • It has wireless capabilities.
Cons
  • It may not be compatible with less known providers.

ARRIS SURFboard SBG7580 Overall Rating

10/10

Functionality:

9.5/10

Security:

10/10

Speed:

10/10

Overall Score:

Final Thoughts – Best Cable Modems

In terms of functionality, it is easy to see why the ARRIS SURFboard SBG7580-AC is the better option, but when it comes to cable modems, functionality doesn’t always make for a better product.

You want to value reliability and lifespan over functionality, especially if you are buying to save money on monthly rentals.

For gamers, however, on our best cable modems list, you can fulfill your needs, one that allows for more control over where your bandwidth goes is needed, and there is such a product listed here which delivers that.

The D-Link DCM301 may not deliver as well as the ARRIS modem in terms of functionality, or even connection speeds, but it provides more than enough for gamers, at a good price, while providing QoS management.

This, for the purpose of online gaming, makes it the better choice on the list.

Sources and References:

  1. Cable Modem – Wikipedia
  2. How Cable Modems Work – How Stuff Works

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