We’ve all been there - our internet is acting up for some reason, and we can’t get it sorted out. We’ve tried turning the devices off and on and have even checked that the wires and cables are plugged in correctly, but it just doesn’t seem to be working right. Sometimes, it’s not a problem with your connection, but it can be a problem with your cable modem.
Choosing your cable modem can be daunting, as there are so many options available. And when it’s something as important as your internet connection, you don’t want to mess it up and have to start the search all over again. Luckily, we’ve researched for you, meaning all you need to do is read this article to find out everything you need to know to choose the best modem. We’ve included some top modems to choose from to make your life much easier!
Something that you may not know about selecting a cable modem is that there are criteria that need to be considered. Your modem needs to be compatible with your ISP, it needs to be able to give you the upload and download speeds you’re looking for, you need to look at its DOCSIS version, and you should also consider how many channels it has. Let’s look at all the things you need to consider when choosing the best modem for your needs.
You’ll need to check with your internet service provider to confirm which cable modems are compatible with its service. Usually, your ISP will have a list of options for you to choose from somewhere, but if you can’t find that list, you can always contact them directly and ask them to either provide you with a list or confirm whether or not the modem you’re looking at buying will be compatible.
You will need to look at the internet plan you want to choose and the download and upload speeds it will have. There’s no point in buying a modem that can’t support those speeds because then you’ll just be wasting your money - either on a plan that is too fast for your modem or on a modem that isn’t going to give you what you need. You should choose a modem that can handle the speeds you’re looking at getting. However, with the rate at which internet technology is advancing, we advise that you take it a step further by future-proofing your internet tech and getting a modem that can handle even faster speeds. This way, if you’re going to need to move to those faster speeds, you won’t have to go through the whole process of buying another modem.
DOCSIS stands for “Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification” (we know… it’s quite a mouthful). DOCSIS is the standard cable modems use to transmit data over cable TV lines. The higher the number, the more recent the DOCSIS version will be, and the more advanced your modem’s capabilities will be. The latest DOCSIS version is DOCSIS 4.0, so trying to get as close to that as possible is a good idea! Just make sure that the modem is still compatible with your internet service provider’s network before you buy it because your ISP may not support the newest version just yet.
There should be an indication of how many downstream and upstream channels the modem supports. When there are more supported channels, you will be able to get faster internet speeds. This can be shown as, for example, 24x8, with twenty-four being the downstream channels, and 8 being the upstream channels.
Of course, the cost of the modem needs to be taken into consideration too. There will be many similar modems out there, meaning you’ll be able to compare what each one offers and the price range. This will help you determine whether the cost of the modem you’re looking at is reasonable for its features and performance.
And now, we’ve reached the point in the article where we help you pick the best modem for your needs. We’ve chosen four excellent options that are best chosen for different reasons, so let’s go into the details of each of our top picks.
The Motorola MG7700 is our best overall pick because it gives a good balance of speed, affordability, and various other key features. While it can’t provide you with multi-gig speeds, most people don’t need or even want an internet connection that fast yet, and its ability to support 800 Mbps is still excellent!
The modem has 24 downstream and eight upstream channels, built-in Wi-Fi 5 support, four ethernet ports, and DOCSIS 3.0. It also has several additional features like parental controls and guest networking support. Lastly, it’s supported by most major internet service providers, so you’ll likely be able to use it for your internet connection.
The modem will cost anywhere from $160 to $200, depending on where you purchase it and what special deals you can find.
The Netgear CM500 modem has made it onto our list for its affordability, but that’s not the only reason you should buy it. Compared to other options within this price range, it stood out to us as the best because it can still support speeds of 400 Mbps, making it a good entry-level modem. Of course, being in the cheaper range means you will be making some sacrifices by getting this option, but it could still be worth it if you’re focusing on affordability.
Some of its features include 16 downstream channels and four upstream channels, DOCSIS 3.0, and one ethernet port.
It doesn’t have Wi-Fi support, meaning you will need to get a router, and it doesn’t have any additional features. However, its low price means you will save on renting a modem and will likely make your money back within a few months of using it.
If this option appeals to you, you’ll only have to pay $45 to $60 depending on whether or not you get it on special.
If you like to spend that little bit extra to get high-end equipment, then the Motorola MG8702 is what you’ll want to go for. It can support speeds of up to 1200 Mbps, is compatible with most modern ISPs, and even comes with a two-year warranty, making it an excellent buy.
Some of its features include 32 downstream channels and eight upstream channels, built-in Wi-Fi 5 support, four ethernet ports, DOCSIS 3.1, and beamforming (which improves the Wi-Fi signal).
Some additional features include parental controls and quality of service features which allow it to prioritize traffic according to what you’re doing. So, it will prioritize more sensitive tasks (such as gaming) over less sensitive tasks.
If you’re looking for this high-end option, it’ll cost anywhere from $225 to $300.
Of course, there’s the option to go for the fastest cable modem, which would be the Netgear Nighthawk CM2000. With its ability to support internet speeds of 2500 Mbps, it’s nothing short of amazing. But in reality, most people don’t even have close to these internet speeds in their homes.
If you want super fast internet and are considering this option, its other features include 32 downstream channels, eight upstream channels, one ethernet port, and DOCSIS 3.1. There is also a different version that comes with dual phone lines, and both options are compatible with many major ISPs.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have Wi-Fi support despite the price, but that might be something you’re willing to put aside for the speeds you can get.
For this modem, you can expect to pay $290.
So, you’ve chosen your modem, and maybe you’ve even bought it already. The next thing to do is set it up in your home. Here are the steps to do just that:
You will first need to connect your modem to the cable outlet if you want to do anything else. This means you’ll need to find the spot in your home where you can connect one end of the coaxial cable to the cable outlet in the wall and the other end to your modem and then do just that.
If you’re using a router in addition to your modem, you’ll now need to connect your modem to your router via an ethernet cable to give it Wi-Fi capabilities. You can connect your modem directly to a computer with an ethernet cable if you don't want to use a router.
Now that everything is connected as it should be, you can turn your modem on. Press the power button and wait for the lights to stop flashing and become solid. This will be an indication that it is ready to be used.
Your internet service provider should have given you instructions to activate your modem, or those instructions should be available somewhere online. Follow these instructions carefully and provide any required information, including the modem’s MAC address, serial number, etc. If you can’t find the instructions from your ISP, you can contact the ISP for help.
You should now be able to test the connection. This is the final step but one of the most important. You want to make sure that everything is working correctly. If something concerns you about the connection, you may need to contact your ISP or the modem manufacturer to assist you with the issues you’re experiencing.
Remember, when choosing a cable modem, you need to consider your needs, including what speeds you’ll need, what you can afford, and much more. Don’t go for something just because that’s what other people use. You should also think about the future of the internet and your connection at home. After all, if you buy a modem, you’ll want to make sure that it’s something you can use for a long time. Lastly, ensure that you follow through with setting the modem up correctly and that it performs as advertised.
Mistakes with the setup process can cause you to get slower speeds than expected, and if you’re getting slower speeds despite setting your modem up correctly, you may need to be sent a replacement. We’re in a world with high-speed internet, and your modem plays a crucial role in providing you with that fast connection, so you’ll want to ensure that you get the right one and that it works as intended.