You can’t avoid the fact that most major Internet Service Providers —Charter Spectrum, Cox, Verizon Fios, Time Warner, Comcast Xfinity, etc.— want you to pay rental fees for their cable modems. However, they’re very kind these days and allowing you to buy your own modems. Or, one of the best cable modem router combos available on the market.
Another fact about your ISPs is that they can’t offer up-to-date or modern modem/router combo unit for you. In other words, you’ll get an outdated and very basic unit—it causes slow internet and lousy coverage. And, it becomes worst when it comes to larger homes.
Therefore, I’ll recommend you buy your own modem/router combo and save monthly rental fees too. Here are some benefits if you install a new modem/router combo in your home or office.
- You’ll experience a faster Internet connection,
- better Wi-Fi coverage,
- amazing Wi-Fi speeds,
- more secure, more reliable, and more robust signal,
- And, of course, you’ll be saving fees every month.
However, once you decide to buy your own unit, you end up with two options:
A standalone router?
In general, it’s always an ideal decision to buy a standalone router if you’re a heavier and advanced user. Since you need all advanced features and technologies, such as guest network, QoS, parental controls, web hosting, online gaming, multiple devices simultaneously, and many others, it will be more suitable for you to buy a dedicated router than a combo unit.
One more thing, you should understand that a dedicated router offers better and advanced security functions than a combo one.
Here are some benefits of buying a separate modem and router.
- It is more comfortable and easier to upgrade.
- A dedicated router offers more controls over its firmware and settings.
- A router gives better performance and security.
- It can be placed at an ideal location of your home.
If you’re interested, here are some of the best wireless routers of 2020.
Should I buy a modem router combo?
If you’re a decent and basic user of the internet, you should consider buying a modem/router combo because buying a separate router and modem will be more expensive for you this time. Since you don’t need any advanced networking stuff and controls, there is no logic for a separate modem and router.
Here are some benefits of buying a modem router combo (2 in 1)
- It is far easier to set up and install.
- A combo doesn’t require much space because of less moving parts and one less unit.
- Buying a modem router combo is less expensive.
- ISPs provide better customer services, such as push firmware and control updates.
Here are three best cable modem router combos in 2020
|Modem/router combo||Best For||Rating|
|Netgear Nighthawk C7000||Best overall||4.9|
|Netgear Orbi CBK40||Best for medium to large homes||4.9|
|Arris Surfboard SBG8300 Docsis 3.1||Best for gigabit internet speeds||4.9|
1. Netgear Nighthawk C7000 – Small home modem/router combo
- 24×8 channel bonding
- Docsis 3.0
- Wi-Fi coverage up to 1800 square feet
- 1x USB 2.0 port
- 1.9Gbps Wi-Fi speeds
The Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 is a cable modem with a built-in Wi-Fi router, meaning a cable modem/router combo. It supports high internet speed cable modem plans up to 400Mbps, depending on the ISP. This combo supports all the major cable internet providers, such as Cox, Xfinity, Spectrum, and others.
With the coverage of up to 1800 square feet, it supports simultaneous 30 devices. Its excellent Wi-Fi speeds handle heavy-duty tasks quickly, such as HD streaming and online gaming. Moreover, you connect up to four Ethernet-enabled wired devices using its four Gigabit Ethernet ports. Additionally, it also includes a USB 2.0 port for adding external USB-enabled devices.
On the modem side, it offers 24/8 channel bonding (24 download and eight upload channels) and DOCSIS 3.0. As a combo unit, it can be set up within five minutes.
Pros & Cons:
What I like:
- It is future proof because of its compatibility with all the popular service providers.
- It handles HD streaming and online gaming with ease.
- Simultaneously up to 30 devices and 1800 square feet Wi-Fi coverage.
- Setup is super easy.
- Four Gigabit Ethernet ports with a USB port.
I don’t like:
- No USB 3.0 port.
The Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 C7000 is one of the best budget modem/router combos of 2020. It is perfect for a small-sized home to medium-sized home — it covers up to 1800 square feet. It supports internet plans of up to 400Mbps.
2. Netgear Orbi CBK40 – Best Mesh Wi-Fi System with Bult-In-Modem
- Wi-Fi coverage up to 4,000 square feet
- Speeds up to 2.2Gbps
- DOCSIS 3.0
- 32×8 channel bonding
- 4x Gigabit Ethernet ports
Netgear Orbi is a whole-home mesh Wi-Fi system. It has a built-in modem so that you can use it with your ISP, whether it is Comcast, Cox, Spectrum, Xfinity, or any other. The Orbi is a set of two units: a router and a satellite. Its main unit includes four Gigabit Ethernet ports while the satellite has two.
It features DOCSIS 3.0 standard with 32×8 channel bonding (32 download and eight uploading channels). It means uninterrupted, reliable, fast connections for streaming, gaming, and downloading — even for multiple devices at the same time.
Pros & Cons:
What I like:
- Excellent, expandable, and reliable Wi-Fi coverage up to 4,000 square feet.
- The fastest DOCSIS 3.1 with 32×8 channel bonding.
- Four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports on the main unit and two ports on satellite.
- Powerful quad-core 710MHz processor with tri-band technology.
- Easy setup and flexible connectivity options.
I don’t like:
If you live in a large home with so many Wi-Fi dead zones, you should consider a Mesh Wi-Fi system than a modem/router combo unit. Once you create a mesh network using this Orbi, you’ll see excellent performance and consistent coverage throughout your giant home as it can cover up to 4,000 square feet large area.
However, two units are expensive compared to any modem/router combo and a standalone router. Therefore, I recommend this only for large homes and offices with multiple devices connections at the same time.
3. Arris Surfboard SBG8300 – Best DOCSIS 3.1 Modem/Router for Medium homes
- 32 download & 8 upstream
- DOCSIS 3.1 modem
- Dual-band Wi-Fi
- Four Gigabit Ethernet Ports
- Wi-Fi speeds up to 2.2Gbps
The Arris Surfboard is one of the most popular modem/routers on the market for Cox, Spectrum, and Xfinity. It’s an excellent combination of modem and router. It comes with the latest DOCSIS standard 3.1 with 32 downstream and eight upstream channels. The good thing about this combo is its compatibility with major internet service providers, such as Cox, Spectrum, Xfinity, and others.
On the router side, it is a dual-band Wi-Fi 4 router offering a combined Wi-Fi speeds of up to 2.2Gbps, theoretically. It includes four gigabit Ethernet ports on the router’s back panel to connect multiple wired devices simultaneously.
Pros & Cons:
What I like:
- Excellent Wi-Fi speeds and the latest DOCSIS 3.1 standard.
- It can handle fast internet plans of Cox and Xfinity —plans up 4Gbps. However, Spectrum users can use it with their up to 1Gbps plan.
- Setup is easy and requires only three steps.
- 32 downstream and 8 upstream channel bonding.
- It supports Alexa and can be managed with the SURFboard manager app.
I don’t like:
- No USB port.
The Arris Surfboard SBG8300 is an excellent replacement for your home network. It is future-proof and ideal for fast internet Gigabit+ cable internet package, mainly Cox and Xfinity. However, it supports Spectrum’s 1Gbps or lower plan for now.
Buying Guide: How to choose the best modem router combo?
This buying guide is designed to help you find the best modem/router combo so that you can enjoy the fastest internet speeds for your ISP, excellent Wi-Fi performance, and great range & coverage. Meaning, there will be no issues while streaming ultra HD content and 4k online gaming—even multiple devices simultaneously on the same network.
Related: Best Multiple devices routers
Easier setup, less expensive, easy to manage, less moving parts, and one less device, and sold integration with your ISP are possible if you choose a modem router combination over a dedicated router.
Let’s see what you should check before buying any modem router combo device for your home and business.
The buying guide starts with the very crucial factor of a cable modem/router combo. The term is referred to as international telecommunications standard, or simply DOCSIS (it stands for DATA Over Cable Service Interface Specification). However, there are various versions of DOCSIS, such as DOCSIS 2.0, DOCSIS 3.0 (popular), and the latest DOCSIS 3.1. The DOCSIS 3.1 can achieve a theoretical maximum throughput of up to 10Gbps.
However, your ISP can not reach that speed or offer you a plan with up to 10Gbps, at least by 2022. Therefore, I always recommend people buy a modem that supports the lastest standard DOCSIS 3.1 so that you won’t face any compatibility issues in the future. Moreover, all the DOCIS 3.1 modems come with backward compatibility too.
The main job for your DOCSIS standard is to determine the overall performance of your cable modem. If you have any DOCSIS 3.1 modem, you’ll take advantage of the full capacity of it.
The number of channels DOCSIS 3.1 supports (download channels & upload channels) determines the actual performance. Let’s say your cable modem support 32×8 channel bonding; it means it offers 32 download and eight upload channels.
So if you choose DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem over DOCSIS 3.0, you’ll get at least 24×8 channel bonding, which will provide you with excellent speeds and overall performance.
Note: DOCSIS 3.0 modems are very popular and perfect for plans up to 400Mbps. Therefore, don’t waste your money if your internet plan is slow.
It is for those who have subscribed to voice services along with the internet plan. In this case, you’ll have to find a cable modem or modem/router that offers a voice gateway as well. However, I won’t recommend buying any modem/router combo until you confirm with your ISP as most ISPs don’t allow their customers to use their own modems.
Range & Coverage:
When it comes to range and coverage, you should assess the area you’re living in, whether it is an apartment, a small home, or your office. Once you figure it out, it’s time to shop for the best cable modem router combo for your requirement.
It would help if you also understood that most basic or budget/cheap routers offer good coverage unless there are heavy tasks. On the other hand, if you live in a medium-sized home to a large-sized home, you’ll need a better modem/router combo that offers more external antennas and technologies, such as beamforming and MU-MIMO.
Conclusion: How to pick the combo?
In this article, I’ve shared with my three best cable modem router combo for 2020. All three can be used for small-sized, medium-sized, and large-sized homes. However, I recommend you to choose as per your requirements.