Best router-modem combos in 2023

If you want to eliminate rental fees or are just ready for an upgraded router, getting a router-modem combo gets it done with a single purchase.

For millions of people, the best way to get connected to high-speed internet is through a local cable provider. While the companies are happy to provide a router-modem combo unit, often called a gateway, for a monthly fee, you’re stuck using their hardware and software, which may not be a match for your needs. If you’re looking to get rid of modem rental fees and don’t want the hassle of setting up a separate modem and router, getting a combo is the way to go.

A cable modem uses a technology called DOCSIS to connect to the internet with newer revisions allowing for faster speeds. You don’t want anything older than DOCSIS 3.0 with 3.1 required for many ISPs’ faster plans. When it comes to Wi-Fi, modern Wi-Fi 6 tech will help you make the most of your internet speeds around the house, though if your internet speeds are under 300Mbps, you’ll probably have no issues with solid Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) speeds.

Upgrade your internet speed and Wi-Fi with a new router-modem combo

If you’re looking to save money on your home internet service, eliminating modem rental fees can be a good starting point. While some providers in more competitive environments have eliminated rental fees, they’re still a reality for quite a few people. You can also check around to see if you have other internet options such as fiber, which can provide a faster internet experience, or even 5G with a carrier like T-Mobile or Verizon, which has similar speeds to cable with no modem fees or data caps. You could even pair one of those providers’ modems with one of the best Wi-Fi routers.

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If you’re sticking with cable, the Arris Surfboard G34 is a good starting point. It supports internet speeds up to 1Gbps, which is plenty for most people, and has enough Wi-Fi capacity for most families. The Motorola MG7700 is an excellent value pick with its DOCSIS 3.0 tech supporting up to 800Mbps, so even if you don’t need quite that much speed, you have some room to upgrade. The Netgear Orbi CBK752 is a solid mesh system offering tons of coverage with two nodes in the box. Like all the best mesh routers, you can expand your coverage with more nodes if you feel the need later on.

The right modem for you mostly comes down to how much speed you need. Cable internet providers have been working fast to upgrade their networks to offer speeds in excess of 1Gbps, but for many, a tenth of that will do. Still, if you’re ready for multi-gig speeds, you need to make sure your ISP supports those speeds on that router. For example, the Arris Surfboard G36 supports 2Gbps speeds on both Cox and Xfinity. The Netgear Nighthawk CAX80, on the other hand, supports multi-gig speeds at Xfinity, but not at Cox, so be sure to check with your ISP.

If you’ve got a big family with a lot of devices, the extra speed can be worth every penny, especially when paired with a router that can handle multiple connections at once with QoS software. And if you have one of the big cable providers, give your ISP a call to make sure the modem you’re thinking about buying is supported by their system.

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