Modems and routers are necessary devices that bring the internet into our homes. But they also take up a lot of space and can be a hassle to set up. A modem/router combo puts both devices into a single unit, cutting down on clutter and assembly time. If that sounds like digital heaven to you, you’re in the right place.
|Modem/||Price||Max Speed||Dual-Band Wi-Fi||Compatible Providers|
|Motorola MG7700 Best Overall||$$$$||1,000 Mbps||Yes||Xfinity, Cox||Buy Now|
|ARRIS SURFboard SBG7580AC Best for Speed||$$$$||1,900 Mbps||Yes||Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum||Buy Now|
|NETGEAR Nighthawk C7000 Best for Gaming||$$$$||960 Mbps||Yes||Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum||Buy Now|
|NETGEAR C3700 Best Budget Option||$$||340 Mbps||Yes||Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum||Buy Now|
|Motorola MD1600 Best DSL Modem/Router||$$$||1,600 Mbps||No||CenturyLink, Frontier||Buy Now|
|Modem/||Motorola MG7700 Best Overall|
|Max Speed||1,000 Mbps|
|Compatible Providers||Xfinity, Cox|
|Modem/||ARRIS SURFboard SBG7580AC Best for Speed|
|Max Speed||1,900 Mbps|
|Compatible Providers||Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum|
|Modem/||NETGEAR Nighthawk C7000 Best for Gaming|
|Max Speed||960 Mbps|
|Compatible Providers||Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum|
|Modem/||NETGEAR C3700 Best Budget Option|
|Max Speed||340 Mbps|
|Compatible Providers||Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum|
|Modem/||Motorola MD1600 Best DSL Modem/Router|
|Max Speed||1,600 Mbps|
|Compatible Providers||CenturyLink, Frontier|
*All prices and information current at time of writing.
The Motorola MG7700 packs a powerful punch, with support for internet speeds up to 1,000 Mbps. Four gigabit Ethernet ports let you plug in your devices directly for a faster connection, while dual-band Wi-Fi support and beamforming (a feature that directs your wireless signal in a single direction) provide fast and reliable wireless. If all that sounds like gibberish, don’t worry—all you need to know is that this modem/router combo packs a ton of modern features into one sleek package to maximize your internet speed and reliability.
Even after all that, this cable modem/router packs one more feature that makes it our pick for best overall. Motorola calls it the “Wireless Power Boost,” but we just call it awesome. Basically this tech amplifies the wireless signal and extends its range so you can cover a larger area with a single box. This makes it perfect for larger homes or pretty much any area where you want a strong single no matter where you’re at.
- Extended wireless range
- Strong performance
- Beamforming technology for more reliable Wi-Fi
- Approved for use only with Xfinity and Cox
- Not the most attractive device ever
ARRIS SURFboard SBG7580AC
If speed is your need, this ARRIS modem/router combo really delivers. With a maximum throughput of 1,900 Mbps, this little fella can handle any internet plan you throw at it. Four gigabit Ethernet ports let you plug your devices straight in for optimum speed or you can take advantage of the built-in Wi-Fi.
This particular model does come with a caveat. While it’s the fastest modem/router combo we could find, some users report issues with latency and dropped connections. It seems the Intel chip used in the modem/router can go bad and cause these problems. While overall reviews are still very positive, it’s something to be aware of.
- Excellent Wi-Fi speeds
- Compatibility with most common providers
- Built-in McAfee internet protection
- Higher price tag
- Some complaints of faulty hardware
NETGEAR Nighthawk C7000
NETGEAR is known for its powerful routers, and the C7000 is no exception. This futuristic-looking device combines gigabit speeds with useful features to give gamers (or anyone that needs fast internet with minimal latency) an edge.
The 1.6 Ghz processor helps deliver a stronger signal and prioritize traffic for maximum speed. This is especially important when gaming, where lag and network delays can be costly. And beamforming helps the wireless signal travel farther and increases reliability so you don’t have to worry about losing your connection at a critical moment.
- Powerful processor to boost gaming performance
- Beamforming tech for long wireless range and a reliable connection
- Guest network for keeping your password private
- More expensive model
- Has a love-it-or-hate-it design
If you don’t want to spend a ton of money on a modem/router, go with this model. Whether you’re on a budget or just don’t need the fancy features, our pick for best budget modem/router is another one from NETGEAR: the C3700.
This box supports all the major US cable providers, and at nearly half the price of our other picks, it’s a great value. It still supports dual-band Wi-Fi for better traffic management, so even though the maximum speeds are lower, you’ll still see good performance using multiple devices. Plus, it comes with the NETGEAR Genie app for easy management of your wireless networks.
The biggest downsides of this model are speed and connectivity. The C3700 supports speeds up to only 340 Mbps. For a lot of folks, that’s plenty—maybe even more than enough. If you have a faster plan, though, you’ll be limited by this modem/router. It also comes with just two Ethernet ports, so you’ll have to rely on Wi-Fi more than with the other routers we’ve covered.
All that said, this is still a great option. If price is the main concern for you, you can’t go wrong with the NETGEAR C3700.
- Comes at an easy-to-swallow price
- Works with most major cable providers
- Offers NETGEAR Genie app for managing networks and parental controls
- Slower speeds than more expensive models
- Only two Ethernet ports
If you have DSL service, the other modem/router options in this article won’t work for you—you need a DSL-specific device. The MD1600 from Motorola is our pick for best DSL option because of its powerful features and fast speeds.
First off, it’s worth mentioning that this is probably the nicest-looking box we’ve seen, and it’s really a shame other modem/router models aren’t adopting a sleeker look like this. It just looks better on a desk and minimizes any potential for awkward fits.
As for actual networking, the MD1600 can support any DSL speed you have, and it offers four Ethernet ports for your devices if you prefer a direct connection. The wireless performance is good but does suffer some due to having only a single band. This means that in multi-device households, you may experience some slowdowns.
Our only other gripe about this unit is the lack of AT&T support. CenturyLink and Frontier customers will get a lot of good use out of it though.
- Works with most major DSL providers
- Has a sleek design
- Offers lots of ports
- Supports only a single Wi-Fi band
- Not supported with AT&T
What to Look for in a Modem/Router Combo
When shopping for a modem/router combo, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to ensure you get the best experience.
Internet Speed Support
If you have unusually fast internet, like a gigabit plan, make sure the modem/router you choose can support it. Many routers and modems these days can handle these speeds, but inexpensive models or older stock may not have the necessary protocols.
What happens if your modem/router can’t handle your internet speed? It’ll still work, so you can use it. But modems and routers are rated for a certain maximum speed, and if your plan gives more than your devices can handle, the extra speed is wasted.
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Modems vs. Routers
To put it simply, the modem takes the signal from your ISP and makes it usable by your devices. The router then takes that signal and makes it wireless. Without a router, you’d have to plug every device into the modem with an Ethernet cable to get it online.
A modem/router combo takes the two devices and puts them in one box for convenience. It saves space and makes the purchase and configuration easier, although that comes at the expense of flexibility and upgradeability.
Combo vs. Individual Equipment
The main reason to go for a modem/router combo is convenience—both devices are packaged in one enclosure, saving space and making device management that much easier.
The downside of a combined device is the lack of flexibility. If you want a particular router—well, too bad. You’re either stuck with the one that came with your combo unit or you’re buying another router and making half your combo obsolete. The routers in a combo are also typically much less powerful than the top-end stand-alone routers on the market.
Now, for most people, the convenience of the combined device will very likely outweigh any potential cons they may run in to. Power users, on the other hand, may want to stick to separate devices to allow for future upgradeability and more powerful wireless routers that can cater to a specific need, like streaming or large homes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do modems affect your internet speed?
Yes and no. A modem can’t make your internet faster than your plan supports. However, if your modem has a maximum speed lower than your internet plan, it will slow your connection down.
For example, say you have a 250 Mbps internet plan. If your modem supports up to 350 Mbps speeds, you’ll see your full plan speed of 250 Mbps, but not more. If your modem supports only 150 Mbps speeds, that will be the maximum speed you’ll see, not 250 Mbps.
What is a combined modem and router?
A modem is a device that translates the signal from your ISP (Internet Service Provider) into something your devices can use. A router then takes that signal and makes it wireless. A combined modem and router simply places the two devices into one unit for convenience.
What is dual-band Wi-Fi?
Dual-band Wi-Fi is a feature where wireless routers broadcast the signal over two different radio frequencies simultaneously—in this case 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz. Traditional single-band routers use only the 2.4 Ghz frequency. Dual-band Wi-Fi helps provide faster speeds by distributing traffic on two frequencies instead of one.
What is beamforming?
Beamforming is a technology that focuses a wireless signal in a single, specific direction. The benefits of beamforming are faster speeds and greater wireless range.
What are Mbps?
Mbps stands for megabits per second. It’s the unit used to measure internet speed, which is essentially how much data passes through the connection in a second. For some context, eight megabits are equal to one Megabyte (MB), the unit for file sizes. So, to download a 10 MB file in one second, you’d need an 80 Mbps connection.