Best Cable Modems
What is a Cable Modem
Many people can’t imagine their lives without the Internet nowadays. While public places have free hotspots, you cannot always reach them from your home. And then you may require a more stable and protected broadband connection.
A lot of times cable TV companies also provide Internet through the same equipment that they use for TV. The Internet and TV traffic is transmitted through the same cable without interference. Therefore, you can surf the web on your smartphone or PC while watching a show on a TV screen. All you need is a cable modem. Some people even drop their TV subscription in favor to online streaming services.
Of course, you can lease the modem from your ISP but rented modems may have already changed several owners. Furthermore, old models lack some functions for the best performance and will cost you dearly in a long term. In order for you to save your time, money and receive the high-speed Internet via a cable, we have studied a lot of cable modem's test results and handpicked the 5 finest models that work with coaxial cables ISPs.
And if you are looking for a way to upgrade your home or office with the wireless Internet, run the eyes over our pick of the best wireless routers that can work in pair with the modems from this review.
What Features to Compare
The first and foremost, what Type of Cable Modem you want. If you are going to build a large network with lots of devices connected to it, you might just grab a 2-in-1 cable modem-router combo with several output Ethernet ports. Of course, there are modems with built-in Wi-Fi module - that way, you won't even have to buy any additional wireless router at all. If you want to connect modem only to a PC or already have a router, then consider a simpler cable modem with a single Ethernet output.
After you sorted this out, always check if the modem is Compatible with your ISP. Note, some providers might not update the lists of certified modems on their websites for months, so you would turn to them for a lease or a buy. Still, in most cases, you can check if the modem suits fine by simply reading the product info or making a call to the provider's tech support. Usually, the compatible ISP names are given right on the box or can be found in a user manual. Also, all modern modems support both IPv4 and IPv6 Internet protocols.
Supported Bandwidth Standards are the following thing to note. The DOCSIS standard of version 3.0 is used by most of the largest companies. It supports up to 32 downstream channels and involves 128-bit Advances Encryption Standard, making the connection both fast and secure. The DOCSIS 3.0 is backward compatible with previous versions. Therefore, even if your cable provider uses 2.0 standard, you can still take a look at the 3.0 model. In simple words, the more channels it has, the better.
The Maximum Speed is probably the most important parameter when it comes to data transferring. It is directly related to the number of channels that a modem supports. Generally speaking, the more channels there are the faster and more stable connection you'll get. For example, 8 downstream channels reach up to 343 Mbit/s, while 16 channels – twice as much. But don’t forget that the maximum possible speed is capped by the number given in your contract with ISP. Moreover, most cable providers offer only up to 300 Mbps plans due to the limitations of the coaxial technology or capacity load on their backbone cables.
Last but not least is the cable modem's Materials and Placement. Usually, they are put vertically in order to increase the heat dissipation and improve air circulation. Plastic is the most popular material used for the body. On a rare occasion, you might encounter units enclosed in a metal box, but the modem's functionality isn't going to be affected by it, no chance. As a rule, cable modems have LED lights to indicate various statuses, while some may have additional control buttons like an on-off switch.
That's it. So, let's get started with the cable modems reviews.
No Strings Attached
This Arris cable modem is an amazing choice for users with a high-speed broadband connection. The reason is that alongside with a couple of Gigabyte Ethernet ports, it also has a built-in Wi-Fi transmitting module. Thus, you can throw cables to 2 of your devices or use it as a wireless router to get the Internet on the notebook or a phone without additional fuss with the wires.
As for the modem's speed, we've mentioned that each Ethernet port can get up to 343 Mbps downstream and 131 Mbps upstream, while Wi-Fi also keeps up by operating simultaneously on dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. If your wireless devices also work at 5 GHz, you can juice up the maximum speed from it.
We struggled to find any flaw in this device, as it works seamlessly and certified by almost each major cable provider. So, we easily recommend it to anyone, who is looking for a cable modem-router combo to not waste the money on the additional devices.
Links for Cord-cutters
If along with modem rent you want to be free from the cable TV subscription, here's the list of popular streaming services names that you can find online:
- YouTube - doesn't even need an explanation. The second most popular website in the world. Tons of free videos, including official music clips, live music records, videoblogs, movies, and, of course, lots of pets videos.
- Pluto TV - this website offers the access to a huge amount of live TV channels for free.
- PBS - plenty of drama series and documental films.
- Crackle - you can find comedies, dramas, and action films.
Here's a small add-on of paid websites. Usually, you either have to pay the fee for a subscription or pay for a specific show individually.
- Netflix - a really huge library of movies and TV series. FYI, Netflix plus YouTube generate more than half of the US internet traffic.
- Hulu - another notable example of paid streaming service with plenty of movies and TV shows.
- Amazon Prime - an unbelievable amount of paid and free stuff can be found on this website.
More Products to Consider
If you still plan on using cable TV along with the Internet, you will need a splitter for your ISP's coaxial cable. More precisely a 2-way splitter. You just plug a coax cable in a single slot, connect one of the outputs to TV and the other one - to your cable modem. Simple as that.
All you need to maintain and enjoy the high-speed Internet, provided by your ISP, is the modem. The key feature of this NETGEAR model is its high data transfer rate. Not every cable provider even gives you the opportunity to choose the plan with 680 Mbps of downloading speed or higher. But this modem can easily handle a streaming video in 4K and, of course, its bandwidth is more than enough for the common surfing.
NETGEAR company provides the opportunity to automatically enjoy all of the advantages of the fast Internet from your cable service provider. As you plug the ISP's cable into the modem for the first time, the device will automatically download the latest firmware and the connection settings from your provider's server.
Note, that it has 1 coax cable input and 1 output Ethernet output to connect it to a PC or a router. Therefore, don't forget to grab a splitter and a couple of coaxial cables to plug them into your TV and the modem if you are on the plan with the cable TV channels included.
Interesting Facts About Internet
- The very first website was launched in 1990. Strangely enough, it was made by European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN. Since then, there was a long period when the site was offline. But now, anyone can visit it and see, what the very first website looked like.
- City folks take Internet for granted nowadays, but is it so for others who live in remote locations? You might be surprised to find out but you can actually connect to the Internet even while being on the mount Everest! That’s how fast Internet has been distributed around the world and how strong its net has become. A few years ago, Chinese companies brought special re-transmitters and established LTE connection in one of the base camps located at 17,000 ft. above the sea level. So, if you’re on a tour and have some picturesque photos you’d like to share with your relatives or friends, you can do it right from the peak of the highest mountain in the world.
- The first web camera was mounted in the Cambridge University kitchen, in 1991 and designated for easy control of the coffee in the pot. That way, the personnel didn’t need to hang around it all the time and could check on it from the screen. Connected to the Internet in 1993, first webcams recorded videos in 128x128 dots resolution.
More Products to Consider
You can further upgrade your network by getting a Wi-Fi router that features at least a couple of Ethernet ports. Sometimes, they may even have a USB port. You might ask: why is there a USB port? You can plug a portable hard drive or a printer in there for everyone in the network to access these devices.
Small and Powerful
Since the acquisition of the Motorola Mobile's home unit by Arris group, the company has produced half a dozen of cable modems for home use with different parameters. Let's take a closer look at what this particular model has to offer.
First of all, this device comes with a little wrench to safely screw the end of a coaxial cable to the modem's port. Although you can do it with your hands, these are the little extra things like this that made us feel that the manufacturer really cares about its users. Speaking of the other small but useful features, there is an on-off button on the back too. Some of our team welcomed it because most of the times you don't want to unplug the power adapter from an outlet just to turn the device off.
As for the compatibility, MB7420 is supported by and works flawlessly with almost every cable provider. The 16 channels downstream and 4 upstream make it the perfect match for up to 300 Mbps traffic plans that are currently offered by most ISPs. If you think that providers might soon offer faster traffic plans - worry not! Because the maximum download speed can be up to 686 Mbps under the optimum conditions.
Overall, we can readily recommend it to anyone who's looking for a compact, functional and stable substitute for rented XFINITY or Time Warner cable modem.
Switch Off the Internet
Ever wondered, who owns the Internet? Well, some might think that it's a property of the mankind. You can even create your own intranet via LAN or within a Wi-Fi hotspot by providing the access to the content you put there yourself. However, there is a public non-profit organization based in the USA called ICANN. The name stands for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and it does exactly what it says.
When you enter a website address in your browser, it's like dialing a telephone number on your mobile. The signal goes up from your browser to your provider, and to the higher level operators until it's being re-routed down the chain on the other side to the designated website. The ICANN governs the allocation of the top levels of DNS numbers, IP addresses, and website domain names to other companies. Thus, they are indirectly responsible for where and how these signals go. Furthermore, ICANN can turn off or take back those privileges from other companies. So, it has hired seven volunteers and has entrusted every one of them with a special keycard. Combined together in a special secure place in California, those cards could turn off the very core of the Internet - the domain names, IP addresses, and DNS root zone. Of course, if such thing happened right now, it would surely ensue chaos worldwide. That's why, those 7 key masters must have a vast technical background and are recruited from all over the globe, including Russia and China, to ensure that no single government could turn the Internet off by itself.
More Products to Consider
If you are looking for an additional Ethernet wire, just grab an ethernet cat-6 or cat-5 cables. You can find them in different lengths, needed for your task.
Tired of your Xfinity/Comcast cable modem with all of its hangings and disconnects? This comparatively compact model might be one of the best solutions to this. TC-7610-E features compatibility with every major cable provider, quick data transfer, and - most of all - has a justified price, that will pay-off itself in around 6 months to a year if compared to a modem's rent. 8 downstream and 4 upstream channels provide maximum speed at 343 Mbps and 143 Mbps accordingly. Once again, this model has only one Ethernet port for a computer or router, so don't forget that you might also need a splitter if you use a TV subscription along with the Internet.
Overall, it's definitely a nice choice for upgrading from a slower model. We liked the stable performance of this TP-Link cable modem that also boasts a very high quality for a very moderate price.
TP-Link company is known worldwide as one of the best makers of different network equipment. Over years of its existence, it has rightfully earned the place among the leaders of wireless modems and routers manufacturers. You can find their branded devices in over 120 countries - all thanks to their precise attention to device's quality and implementation of the latest developments in the field of computer networking. But the most important thing that this company has is the trust of clients. And it won't come out as a surprise if one day TP-Link becomes the top provider of such devices.
More Products to Consider
Don't forget to get a high-quality coaxial cable to connect your modem or TV to the splitter. Most of them have special caps to screw the ends into the ports by yourself.
Turn Me Around
The key difference of this Linksys cable modem is that it can be placed both upright and aflat. This is important, as most of such equipment produce a lot of heat, especially when you download large files or watch high-quality streaming videos. However, you can put the DPC3008 the way that you like and it won't overheat any bit. Note, that any modem still requires being put in a ventilated place. For this task, there are also 2 mounting keyholes at the bottom part of the body to hang it on a wall.
The data transfer rate in this modem is sufficient for the plans of every major cable provider: Comcast's XFINITY, Cox, Charter, and others. 8 download and 4 upload channels can attain the maximum speed at up to 340 Mbps and 120 Mbps accordingly, which we find a great result for such a tiny body.
At the end of the day, this very compact cable modem is suitable for both homes and offices due to different placement options. Speaking of the technical parameters, it shows a great result without connection drops or higher ping than the other models.
In 1988, a couple from Taiwan - Victor and Janie Tsao - founded Linksys company. Prior to that time, they had already been living in the US for 20 years. The small family business started out in a garage and soon grew into a proper workshop. The real advancement was made with the introduction of Windows 95. This OS made the creation of networks an easy task that required a lot less experience in this field than before. The company produced a great range of PC hardware for offices and homes. In 2003, the company was bought by Cisco Systems Inc. In 2013 it was acquired by Belkin.
Without a doubt, when you buy a device from a company with a long list of achievements and experience in building network components, you get a high-quality device with a good functionality. This DPC3008 cable modem is no exception.
More Products to Consider
If you use a splitter for a TV cable, you might need additional ones. Just grab a coaxial cable by Mediabridge or any other company of your choice. You get to choose between black and white insulation colors. Also available in different lengths.
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