To connect to the Internet from your home, you’ll need two pieces of equipment — a capable modem that pulls a signal from your internet service provider, or ISP, and a router, which broadcasts the signals over Wi-Fi. For many homes, this is two distinct devices, a modem and a router, but there are also router-modem combo devices that can do both jobs at once.
Upgrading your cable modem to a combo unit that also includes a built-in Wi-Fi router can help improve your wireless reception at home while saving you space and money. By owning your own modem outright as part of a modem router combo, you won’t need to rent out a box from your cable company, eliminating the cost of a monthly subscription charge, and you’ll also be able to simplify your home networking setup.
Here are some of the best router modem combos you can buy in 2022.
Arris Surfboard G36 Multigabit
Why you should buy this: The Arris Surfboard G36 is one of the most future-proof modem router combo investments you can buy today, capable of delivering some of the fastest speeds.
Who’s it for: Small businesses, streamers, gamers, and technology enthusiasts.
Why we picked the Arris Surfboard G36 Multigabit:
Arris is a prolific name in the cable modem space, and the company’s Surfboard line has been a popular choice with customers on Xfinity and Cox for years. The latest G36 modem is among the best out there for homes on a multi-gigabit broadband plan needing access to the fastest speeds for their devices. The Surfboard G36 is the flagship model of the series that includes the Surfboard G34, which comes at a slight discount with slightly fewer tech-forward features for those on a budget. With both models supporting the latest DOCSIS 3.1 standard and Wi-Fi 6 router performance, we’d recommend sticking with the G36 given that the price difference between the two models is just $20.
With the Arris Surfboard G36, you’re getting multi-gig networking support, with speeds of up to 10Gbps over wireless. Gamers will appreciate that there’s a dedicated 2.5Gbps Ethernet port and access to four additional Gigabit ports. This combo is best suited for homes with broadband plans of at least 1.2Gbps or higher, and setup and management of the router can be done with the company’s Surfboard Central app. The biggest downside is that this combo doesn’t provide access to a telephone port, so if you need a landline hookup, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Netgear Orbi CBR750
Why you should buy this: The Orbi CBR750 combines a cable modem with a Wi-Fi 6 mesh network that can blanket larger homes and offices with reliable Internet reception.
Who’s it for: Tech enthusiasts in small businesses and larger homes.
Why we picked the Netgear Orbi CBR750:
Netgear’s Orbi mesh solutions are among some of our favorites on the market today. The company’s tri-band Orbi CBR750 is no different. The Orbi CBR750 is among one of the more unique solutions on our list, as it combines a Wi-Fi 6 whole-home mesh solution with a cable modem. This makes it perfect for larger homes. With Orbi’s mesh solution, you can buy a single unit that includes the router and modem combo that’s capable of blanketing up to 3,000 square feet with reliable Wi-Fi 6 coverage, or a three-pack, which includes the router and modem combo and two satellite nodes, for up to 7,500 square feet of coverage. Additional nodes can further be added to augment your setup.
Netgear promises up to gigabit speeds on the Orbi CBR750 for Cox and Spectrum subscribers, and up to 800Mbps speeds Xfinity users. The modem is based on the latest DOCSIS 3.1 specifications, which can deliver 2.5x faster speeds and 10 times faster download speeds than the prior DOCSIS 3.0 standard. Tri-band Wi-Fi delivers total wireless speeds of up to 4.2Gbps.
One of the best parts of purchasing into Netgear’s ecosystem is having access to the company’s companion app, which makes setting up and managing your whole-home network a breeze. You’ll have access to parental controls, the ability to create guest networks, and the option of monitoring traffic. The company also has an optional subscription add-on to Netgear Armor, which provides more security options to keep everyone safe.
Netgear Nighthawk CAX30S
Why you should buy this: You need a fast and speedy DOCSIS 3.1 modem that’s paired to a Wi-Fi 6 router in a discrete package.
Who’s it for: Gamers and streamers who need the best bandwidth available to them.
Why we picked the Netgear Nighthawk CAX30S:
If you don’t need a whole-home Wi-Fi mesh solution, Netgear’s Nighthawk CAX30S may be the better option. It comes with many of the features found on the more premium Orbi mesh solution, including support for Wi-Fi 6, the latest DOCSIS 3.1 protocol, and multi-gigabit speeds. The CAX30S is capable of streaming with speeds up to 2.7Gbps and tops out with six simultaneous high bandwidth streams. You’ll want a home broadband plan with gigabit support or faster to take full advantage of this modem’s capabilities. It has a built-in high-speed DOCSIS 3.1 Cable modem compatible with 32×8 DOCSIS 3.0. On the router side, it also has four gigabit Ethernet LAN ports with dual gigabit Ethernet port aggregation.
Powered by a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, the modem is designed for 4K UHD streaming and robust gaming. Netgear’s smart connect feature intelligently picks the fastest Wi-Fi band for each device on the network to maximize speeds and reduce congestion and latency. The Nighthawk is easy to use, and optional subscription services helps to augment your Wi-Fi experience and secure your home network.
Why you should buy this: The Motorola MT7711 is a three-in-one unit as it combines a modem, router, and home phone line.
Who’s it for: Xfinity home Internet subscribers who need landline access.
Why we picked the Netgear Nighthawk CAX30S:
Though Motorola’s affordably priced MT7711 is to just one ISP provider, it has a special trick for Comcast customers. Xfinity Internet customers who also subscribe to Comcast’s voice plans will also be able to plug in up to two landline phones into the built-in dual phone jacks of the Motorola MT7711.
To keep the price more affordable, the Motorola MT7711 does away with some of the latest specifications of other modem router combos on our list. Still, with support for 24×8 DOCSIS 3.0, dual-band Wi-Fi 5, and four Gigabit Ethernet ports, the unit is more than capable of delivering Internet speeds of up to 400Mbps into your home. Given that the average home Internet speed is just under 100Mbps in 2021, according to High Speed Internet’s the State of the Internet report, most homes will fall within the MT711’s top speeds anyway.
Arris Surfboard SBG7600AC2
Why you should buy this: The Arris Surfboard SBG7600AC2 promises to get the job done at an affordable price.
Who’s it for: General web surfers who don’t need the fastest speeds.
Why we picked the Arris Surfboard SBG7600AC2:
Don’t dismiss the Arris Surfboard SBG7600AC2 for its uninspired design, this router-modem combo still packs in plenty of features for homes that just need a reliable connection to the Internet to browse the web. The highlight of the Arris Surfboard SBG7600AC2 is its affordable price tag and broad compatibility with many cable companies — unlike the Xfinity-centric Motorola MT7711 on our list — as well as support for the still fast DOCSIS 3.0 specifications. It supports 32 downstreams and eight upstream channels, making it a great addition for busy families juggling conference calls, web browsing, and remote learning.
Arris promises download speeds up to 1Gbps and Wi-Fi speeds up to 2350Mbps for this modem, making it a good addition to homes subscribing to broadband plans with speeds of 600Mbps or less. The Arris Surfboard SBG7600AC2 comes with a built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi router with four Gigabit Ethernet ports.
Netgear Nighthawk C7800
Why you should buy this: The Nighthawk C7800 promises to blanket larger spaces with Wi-Fi coverage without requiring a mesh setup.
Who’s it for: Gamers and streamers living in larger homes.
Why we picked the Netgear Nighthawk C7800:
Netgear’s Nighthawk C7800 brings a more traditional router design to the combo router-modem space with four protruding antennas arranged linearly in the rear of the device. Though not as elegant — or self-contained — as all the other box-shaped designs on our list, the Nighthawk C7800’s antennas promise to deliver better coverage for a long-range solution without the need for multiple satellites. This makes the C7800 an easier solution for mid-sized homes or spaces with open floor plans, as a mesh network won’t be required for Wi-Fi coverage.
The Nighthawk C7800 is a 32×8 DOCSIS 3.1 modem that can cover your home with speeds up to 32Gbps, which Netgear states is suitable for extreme gaming and streaming. The unit is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and supports Wi-Fi 5 802.11ac technology with high power amplifiers and external active antennas help blanket your home with reliable Wi-Fi signals so you can stream multiple HD videos, play VR games, or just surf the web.
Cable modem and router combo buying guide and FAQs
What to look for in a combo router?
The first thing you’ll want to look for when choosing a modem router combo is compatibility with your internet service provider, or ISP. Many of the models on our list will work with most cable modem providers, including Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum, and Cox, though the Motorola M7711, for example, will only be compatible with Xfinity voice and broadband services.
If you have a DSL or fiber line, the models on our list won’t be compatible, so this means that AT&T and Verizon DSL, fiber, or FIOS customers will be left out. There are specific modem router combos that will work with select and very specific DSL services, but your mileage will vary. The best rule of thumb is if you find a modem router combo that you like with the features you need, you should call your ISP to see if it can be added to your plan and supported on their network.
What are the benefits of owning a modem versus renting one?
While renting a modem may seem cheaper — you don’t have to put down several hundred dollars to cover the cost at once — it can get expensive in the long run. Xfinity, for example, charges a $14 per month rental fee, up from the previous rate of $13. This means that anyone who rents equipment will be subjected to changing market and economic conditions. Over two years, Xfinity’s rental cost will total $336 at today’s rates.
Some providers, like Spectrum, include a modem in all their home broadband plans but will charge you a $5 rental fee for a router if you don’t have one.
In general, purchasing your own modem router combo will give you greater control and flexibility over the equipment you desire, the technology you need, and the aesthetic you require in your home. For example, if you want a mesh system, Xfinity only provides that with some of its higher-tier plans. Tech enthusiasts, gamers, and heavy streamers may want a unit that delivers faster speeds and come with the latest Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E technology, while those with an eye for design may not want a clunky black box sitting on the shelf and instead may opt for a more discrete modem design. These choices and options would not have been possible with a rental, where your ISP will assign you whatever modem that they have in stock.
For those who aren’t too tech-savvy, renting a modem, at least initially, will give you access to your ISP’s tech service department. Your ISP will be able to help you with the initial setup and diagnose issues and problems when they arise. This can be a good starting point for those who have never personally set up their own modems previously, and once you feel more comfortable, you can always graduate to your own equipment.
What is the difference between DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1?
Like the transition from Wi-Fi 5 to Wi-Fi 6 in the router world, DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 are technical specifications used in cable modems. The newer DOCSIS 3.1 standard is more futureproof and delivers faster speeds.
While DOCSIS 3.0 supports a maximum upstream speed of 200Mbps and a maximum downstream speed of 1Gbps, DOCSIS 3.1 promises to be 10x faster at downloads with a downstream speed of up to 10Gbps.
In general, if you’re not a heavy streamer of high-resolution video content, a DOCSIS 3.0 modem will serve your needs just fine. You’ll also save some money going with a DOCSIS 3.0 modem that’s built into a Wi-Fi 5 router. More advanced users who need the latest in technology will likely gravitate to a DOCSIS 3.0 modem that’s paired to a Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E router.
Do I need a battery backup with my modem?
In general, most modems and modem router combos will not support a backup battery, though some models may provide for that as an optional upgrade. Most of the time, models with an optional backup battery are the ones that support voice service. If your modem supports hooking up a landline. This is an important feature if you need to make an emergency call during a power outage.
Even with a backup battery, the data portion of your modem router combo will not work in the event of a power failure. In this case, you’ll still need to still connect your modem to a backup battery generator.
What if I want to use voice service with my modem router combo?
If you need landline or voice access, you’ll need to choose a modem router combo with support for voice features. Given that many homes are dropping landlines in favor of personal cell phone service in recent years, the availability of voice line-capable modem router combos are rarer today than in the past.