Best Gigabit ModemsApproved ProvidersEthernet PortsPriceSpeed
#1NETGEAR CM1000Xfinity1$$1 GbpsBuy Now
#2ARRIS SURFboard SB8200Cox, Xfinity2$$$5 GbpsBuy Now
#3Motorola MB8600Cox, Xfinity1$$2 Gbps*Buy Now
#1
Best Gigabit ModemsNETGEAR CM1000
Approved ProvidersXfinity
Ethernet Ports1
Price$$
Speed1 Gbps
Buy Now
#2
Best Gigabit ModemsARRIS SURFboard SB8200
Approved ProvidersCox, Xfinity
Ethernet Ports2
Price$$$
Speed5 Gbps
Buy Now
#3
Best Gigabit ModemsMotorola MB8600
Approved ProvidersCox, Xfinity
Ethernet Ports1
Price$$
Speed2 Gbps*
Buy Now

*2 Gbps requires port bonding. Standard configuration speed is up to 1 Gbps.

The days of dial-up are long gone for most Americans as faster internet speeds become ubiquitous. Recent innovation has focused on developing fiber networks that deliver gigabit speeds to major metro areas, powering a vast internet of things. However, as higher-speed connections become more commonplace, new challenges arise, including developing the right equipment to optimize those speeds. Because gigabit technology is fairly new and not widely available, many of the fancy options for modems and routers that you see don’t support higher speeds— but that’s beginning to change.

Because gigabit technology is still not widely available, many of the fancy options for modems and routers don’t support higher speeds—but that’s beginning to change. Enter the modern modem. Modem manufacturers now sell residential modems geared for gigabit service. They’re tooled to package data efficiently and deliver the actual speeds you’re paying for. Take a look at the three gigabit modems we’d recommend below.

But do you really need a gigabit for your internet? Use our speed tool to find out.

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Top 3 Gigabit Modems

#1: NETGEAR CM1000

Best Overall

Amazon Rating:  (4 / 5)

Speeds: 1 Gbps download, up to 10 Gbps upload
Ports: 1
Approved Providers: Xfinity from Comcast
Other Features: 32 x 8 channels, supports IPv4 and IPv6 protocols

Specifically certified to deliver one-gigabit speeds with Xfinity by Comcast gigabit plans, this cable modem has been around a few months and has already garnered some consistently positive reviews. DOCSIS 3.1 specified means it’s backwards compatible and operates with both IPv4 and IPv6 protocols. It’s perfect for the speeds you need for gaming, VR (virtual reality), streaming 4K HD, and more with plenty of capacity to deliver higher speeds as internet connections evolve over the next few years.

This article focuses on modems, but this year NETGEAR added a great DOCSIS 3.1 compatible modem/router combo option to the products it offers.

#2: ARRIS DOCSIS 3.1 SB8200 SURFboard

Most Ports

Amazon Rating: (3.9 / 5)

Speeds: 5 Gbps download, up to 262 Mbps upload
Ports: 2
Approved Providers: Cox, Xfinity from Comcast
Other Features: 32 x 8 channels, supports IPv4 and IPv6 protocols

ARRIS just released this new version of its wildly popular SURFboard line, the SB8200 modem. It’s compatible with DOCSIS 3.1, so it’s capable of backwards compatibility with your existing equipment, but can support speeds of up to 5 Gbps. Two built-in Ethernet ports allow you to ramp up speeds to 2 Gbps effortlessly, with additional capabilities built into the equipment for later, more advanced technologies to be utilized.

#3: Motorola MB8600

Best Deal

Amazon Rating:  (4.2 / 5)

Speeds: Up to 2 Gbps*
Ports: 1 Gigabit port
Other Features: DOCSIS 3.1 and 3.0 compatibility, supports IPv4 and IPv6, supports WAN port bonding for maximum speed
Approved Providers: CoxXfinity from Comcast
*2 Gbps requires port bonding. Standard configuration speed is up to 1 Gbps.

The Motorola MB8600 offers speeds up to 1 Gbps with a capacity to deliver more if you use it with a router that supports port bonding. Port bonding means using two ports for a single connection between two parts of a network. In this case, those two network parts are the modem and the router. The two-port single connection increases throughput bandwidth and makes the connection more robust.

Like our other two recommendations, this Motorola modem supports DOCSIS 3.1 and the backward compatibility that comes with it. This means it will work with the older gadgets you already have as well as the newer technology coming out over the next few years. It’s also the most affordable among our recommendations.

What is Gigabit technology, anyway?

Click the box below to find out everything you need to know about gigabit technology.

Complete Guide to Gigabit Technology

What Should I Consider When Choosing a Gigabit Modem?

 

What’s the difference between a router and a modem?

  • A modem simply converts the signal entering your home into something your devices can read.
  • A router operates as the hub of your home network, broadcasting that signal via Wi-Fi and keeping you connected to the internet. Many routers combine the function of a modem into their capabilities, while stand-alone modems are straightforward pieces of hardware.
  • Even if you purchase one of our recommended modems, you’ll still need a router to set up a home network.

 

Do I want to rent or buy?

This is a pretty tricky question. Up until recently, the answer would have unequivocally been to rent your gigabit modem. Most experts recommend purchasing a modem or router to avoid paying rental fees, but it’s a different story when it comes to gigabit modems. Why? The technology is still fairly expensive, and the chances that you’ll stay in a gigabit service area if you relocate are fairly slim. Because the selection for purchase online was basically an option of one modem, there was just not much incentive to buy your own.

As internet providers pivot from costly fiber infrastructure and embrace fixed wireless and the 5G speeds it promises, the conversation of whether to rent or buy is going to change dramatically. Once gigabit internet becomes more widely available, equipment costs will fall accordingly and this will no longer be a cut-and-dried argument. So if you plan to stay in a gigabit service area for a long time and you’d like to make the most of your speedy service, sit down, do the math, and decide whether the cost is worth it to you.

Is the modem DOCSIS 3.1 compatible?

Delivering gigabit speeds requires that a modem be DOCSIS 3.1 compatible. If this term sounds like Latin to you, don’t worry. You’re in good company. The simplest explanation for DOCSIS is that it’s a set of protocols and specifications that modems utilize. DOCSIS 3.1 is just the latest and greatest of those specifications, optimized for speed and efficiency.

Introduced in October 2013, DOCSIS 3.1 promises to deliver up to ten times the capacity of DOCSIS 3.0.  The best part about these new protocols is that they are backwards compatible, meaning the modem will play nice with all your older equipment, including routers.

Will my modem work with my service plan?

Because there are just a few pieces of equipment on the market that complement gigabit speeds, it’s difficult to tell precisely which providers support them. The best thing to do is check with your gigabit internet service provider to determine if the modem you intend to purchase will work with your service plan. Otherwise you might end up with a gloriously expensive doorstop—you’ve been warned.

How many ports do I need?

Most modems are straightforward: they have phone, cable, or fiber connection in, and connection out that runs either to your router or provides Ethernet directly to a specific device. But there are some instances in which the way that you’d like to set up your network might mandate that you have two ports. In this case, you’d need one potentially for your router and the other to offer direct connection to a device that needs the stability and speed of a hardwired connection. Think intentionally about long-term needs before you buy, and you’ll be safe rather than sorry.

Is the price worth it?

There’s no getting around this question: these modems are expensive. But in this case, you absolutely get what you pay for. You might have a gigabit available to you, but if your equipment isn’t optimized to deliver those speeds, you’ll be paying for speed you’re not fully utilizing. Put it this way: if you have the Ferrari of internet connections (gigabit), you can’t expect high performance from a standard pair of tires. Upgrading your modem is an easy first step to get more efficiency from your gigabit connection.

Do you need more speed for your connected home? Enter your zip code to discover what’s available in your neighborhood.