Best Cable Modems for Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox, and More

Stop paying rental fees with these pro picks for cable internet

Best cable modems: Our top pick

We recommend the Motorola MB8600 cable modem because of its wide compatibility with most cable internet providers, fast speeds, and up-to-date tech for a reasonable price. Though many of the cable modems recommended here are not drastically different, we like that the MB8600 has beefed-up security against denial of service attacks and active queue management for lower network latency.

The 5 best cable modems

Pro tip:

These modems work with cable internet connections (like Xfinity, Spectrum, and Cox) and cannot be used with DSL, satellite, or fiber internet.

Best cable modems

Best forModelImageStandout featureBuilt-in Wi-FiPriceGet it
Best overallMotorola MB8600Active Queue Management to lower latencyNo$149.99View on Amazon
Best for multigigabit internetARRIS Surfboard SB8200Two gigabit LAN ports and port aggregation for multigigabit connectionsNo$149.00View on Amazon

Best modem/router combo
Motorola MG8702Built-in router for network simplificationYes$269.99View on Amazon
Best no-frills modemNETGEAR CM1000No extra features for straightforward networkingNo$169.99View on Amazon
Best Wi-Fi 6 modem/router combo NETGEAR Orbi CBR750Built-in mesh Wi-Fi expandability for customizable coverageYes$399.99View on Amazon

What should you look for in a cable modem?

The first thing you should do before you buy a cable modem is check your provider’s list of approved modems. Not all modems work with all providers, so you need to make sure yours will play nice with your internet service provider (ISP).

Here are the compatible modem lists for popular cable providers:

Best overall—Motorola MB8600

Best overall

Price: $149.99

  • DOCSIS 3.1
  • 1 gigabit Ethernet port
  • 32×8 data channels
  • Active Queue Management
  • Broadcom chipset with advanced protection against denial of service attacks
  • No Wi-Fi (router purchased separately)
  • Power button for easier resets
  •  

The best thing we can say about our top pick—the Motorola MB8600—is that it does its job well. Motorola is one of the tried-and-true brands when it comes to cable modems, and this particular model is great.

We like that it’s compatible with most internet plans from major cable companies, including gigabit internet plans from Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum, and more.

Though most modems (including the recommendations made here) tend to be very similar when it comes to performance, the MB8600 has a few extras that we appreciate, including its active queue management. This feature minimizes latency by prioritizing data from high-bandwidth connections like movie streaming or online gaming.

Pros

  • Compatibility with most internet plans from most cable providers
  • Active Queue Management

Cons

  • Not compatible with RCN

Best for multigigabit internet: ARRIS Surfboard SB8200

Best for multigigabit internet

Price: $149.00

  • DOCSIS 3.1
  • 2 gigabit Ethernet ports
  • 32×8 data channels
  • No Wi-Fi (router purchased separately)
  • No power button
  •  

All the modems we recommend here can stand up to gigabit internet connections, but the Surfboard SB8200 can handle twice that internet speed. Not many internet providers offer speeds up to 2,000 Mbps, but if you’re one of the lucky ones with multigigabit internet speeds, you’re going to need a multigigabit modem to handle them.

Of course, you don’t need to have internet that fast to use this ARRIS modem. It’s a good choice all around, as it works with every cable provider that has a published list of compatible modems.

The only very minor downside to this option is that it doesn’t have a power button, so you have to unplug it to turn it off. But that’s not much of a hardship, all things considered.

Pros

  • Approved for internet speeds up to 2,000 Mbps
  • Compatible with most major cable providers

Cons

  • No power button

Best modem/router combo: Motorola MG8702

Best modem/router combo

Price: $269.99

  • DOCSIS 3.1
  • 4 gigabit Ethernet ports
  • 32×8 data channels
  • 1 USB 3.0 port
  • AC3200 Wi-Fi
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Power button for easier restarts

Modem/router combos like the Motorola MG8702 save space, make installation easy, and are a cost-effective way of replacing a similar gateway device from your ISP. We like the MG8702 specifically because its specs put it on par with a separate-device setup.

This router is great for smaller houses and apartments. Its dual-band Wi-Fi is fast enough for any online activity—including 4K video streaming and online gaming. The only thing we’d caution about is a fault of all modem/router combo devices: they can overheat more easily than separate modems and routers. So make sure to keep it well ventilated.

Pros

  • Built-in Wi-Fi router
  • Simple installation process

Cons

  • Potential to overheat

Best no-frills modem: NETGEAR CM1000

Best no-frills modem

Price: $169.99

  • DOCSIS 3.1
  • 1 gigabit Ethernet port
  • 32×8 data channels
  • No Wi-Fi (router purchased separately)
  • Power button for easier restarts

The NETGEAR CM1000 is a solid all-around router. It has similar specs and price point as other recommended modems on this list, and it’s compatible with most cable internet providers, including Xfinity, Cox, and Spectrum. If you have internet speeds below 1,000 Mbps, you’ll honestly get comparable performance with this modem as with the ARRIS SB8200 and Motorola MB8600.

To put it simply, there’s nothing really exciting about this modem. It has no extra features or quirks, but that can be a good thing. After setting it up, you don’t usually think about your modem beyond restarting it every once in a while when your network gets wonky.

Pros

  • Simple and easy to use

Cons

  • No standout features

Best Wi-Fi 6 modem/router combo: NETGEAR Orbi CBR750

Best Wi-Fi 6 modem/router combo

Price: $399.99

  • DOCSIS 3.1
  • 4 gigabit Ethernet ports
  • 32×8 data channels
  • AX4200 Wi-Fi
  • Tri-band Wi-Fi
  • NETGEAR Armor by Bitdefender 30-day trial

If you’re looking for a future-proof, top-of-the-line modem/router combo, the NETGEAR Orbi CBR750 is it. On the modem side, it’s on par with other products we recommend, but its built-in router is next level.

The router part of this modem/router combo has tri-band Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, which means it can handle a ton of connected devices without getting bogged down. It’s also a mesh device, which means you can expand upon its 3,000 square-foot range with additional Orbi mesh extenders like the RBS850 Add-on Satellite.

Pros

  • Latest router and modem technology
  • Mesh connectivity

Cons

  • High price

Cable modem specs and features

Shopping for a modem can seem complicated, but it’s actually pretty easy. There are only two things you need to look for in order to choose your modem:

  • ISP compatibility
  • Speed threshold

Of course, there are other things that impact how well a modem works, and we’ll touch on those, too, if you want to get really in the weeds. But those two factors are primarily what you need. If a modem is approved by your ISP for your internet speed, that means it’s been tested on the network and has proven to work well.

ISP compatibility

Your internet provider uses analog signals like light and electricity to send data in its network at large. Your home network, however, uses digital signals to transfer data. Your modem works as the translator between the two, so it’s important that your modem can understand the signals on both ends.

ISPs often list specific cable modem models that have been tested to work with their networks so you can buy your own and know it works. Jump back up to the What to look for section for modem compatibility lists for popular providers.

Speed

You need to make sure your modem supports your internet connection speed. When you check your modem compatibility, many ISPs specify which modems are approved for each speed tier they offer. But if not, sticking with a DOCSIS 3.1 modem will ensure your modem is fast enough for any internet speed up to 1,000 Mbps.

DOCSIS

Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) is the protocol ISPs use to send internet signals via coaxial cable. DOCSIS 3.1 is the current newest version and can handle speeds over 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps).

Data channels

Every modem recommended here has 32 downstream channels and 8 upstream channels. That’s often abbreviated to 32×8. For practical purposes, you don’t need to know this information if you already know the modem has enough speed to cover your connection. The number of channels just has to do with the amount of data your modem can process. More channels means more speed.

Our verdict

The Motorola MB8600 is our choice as the best cable modem overall. It’s compatible with most major cable companies, can handle most available internet speeds, and has a few extra features that set it apart from other similar modems. Plus, it will stay relevant for the foreseeable future, thanks to its DOCSIS 3.1 protocol.

All recommended modems

Cable modem FAQ

What is a modem?

A modem is the device that modulates (hence the name) internet signals from the electrical signals sent from your ISP to Ethernet signals you can use in your home network. Basically, it translates signals between you and your ISP.

Do I need a router if I have a modem?

We highly recommend getting a router even if you have a modem. You can technically connect a computer directly to your modem with an Ethernet cable, but we advise against it. Plus, your router is what creates Wi-Fi signals and lets you connect multiple devices wirelessly to your home network.

Author -

Rebecca Lee Armstrong has more than six years of experience writing about tech and the internet, with a specialty in hands-on testing. She started writing tech product and service reviews while finishing her BFA in creative writing at the University of Evansville and has found her niche writing about home networking, routers, and internet access at HighSpeedInternet.com. Her work has also been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ, and iMore.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.

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