When it comes to home internet, modems and routers have two very different jobs, but the best modem-router combos bring the two together into one convenient device. Before we dive into the best modem-router combos for your home, here’s a rundown on what a modem and router actually do. 

A modem is essentially the bridge between the Internet and your home. It connects your home to the wider Internet and translates the signal from your ISP (internet service provider) into a usable signal for a router or a computer. However, a modem can’t create a WiFi network. 

This is where the router comes in: a router provides an internet connection to several devices, either via direct connection with an Ethernet cable or by broadcasting a WiFi network. A modem-router combo has the functions of both of these devices built-in, to connect your home to the internet using just one device. The right modem-router combo for your home is one that is compatible with your ISP and keeps up with your internet needs in terms of speed and dependable connectivity. Read on for the best modem-router combos for streamlining your home internet system. 

Best Overall: Motorola MG7700 Cable Modem and Router
Best Budget: Arris SURFboard SBG10
— Best for Speed: Netgear Nighthawk CAX80
Best for Gaming: Netgear Nighthawk C7000
Best Long-Range: Orbi Whole Home WiFi 6 System with Built-in Cable Modem (CBK752)

How We Chose the Best Modem-Router Combos

In many homes, the internet powers both work and play. A dependable connection is a must, and the modem and router plays a vital part. We researched more than 20 products to narrow down the best modem-router combos for most homes. 

User-Friendliness: One of the main draws of modem-router combos are their convenience, so user-friendliness topped our criteria list. Through extensive product research (and backed by positive reviews from trusted sources and consumers) we chose modem-router combos that have excellent compatibility with major ISPs, and that are easy to set up and use. 

Household Needs: To cover a range of households, we chose modem-router combos with a range of supported speeds and connectivity options (including dual- and tri-band WiFi, WiFi 6 compatibility, mesh systems, and included ports). 

Price: Access to the internet is more of a necessity than ever, but it comes at a cost. We considered price when choosing our best modem-router combos, making sure to include options that offer great value for money, as well as splurge picks for those who want to invest in their internet connection. 

Best Modem-Router Combos: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Motorola MG7700 Cable Modem and Router

Dependable Home Choice. Motorola

Why It Made The Cut: With great speeds, excellent compatibility, simple setup, and several features that improve coverage, this device is a dependable choice for most homes. 

Specs:
— Top ISPs Supported: Xfinity, Cox, and Spectrum
— Best for plans up to: 400 Mbps
— WiFi: WiFi 5 / Dual-band

Pros:
— Good speeds
— Supports beamforming
— 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports

Cons:
— Lacks USB port

When choosing a modem-router combo, many shoppers are looking for a simple and reliable device. If you’re searching for a home with average internet needs, the Motorola MG7700 Cable Modem and Router is a top pick. This modem-router combo provides a strong connection and a suitable speed for most home networks, and it’s compatible with major cable internet providers, including Xfinity, Cox, and Spectrum. 

With maximum download speeds of 800+Mbps, this modem-router is excellent for internet plans up to 400Mbps, and likely even higher. Motorola doesn’t share the coverage area for this modem-router, but its Power Boost amplification AnyBeam beamforming features (which focus the WiFi signal on receiving devices) help this device create a reliable WiFi network. This DOCSIS 3.0 modem-router combo’s rather plain design is another plus; it can be tucked away on a desk or side table without drawing attention. DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications) refers to the standard for transporting data over cable. It’s simple to set up and use, and has easy-to-understand indicator lights, all on the front of the unit. This device does not have any USB ports, but users can take advantage of its four Gigabit Ethernet ports for direct internet connection.

Best Budget: Arris SURFboard SBG10

Cost-Friendly Combo. ARRIS

Why It Made The Cut: This modem router is an affordable choice that fits decent speeds into a very compact device. 

Specs:
— Top ISPs Supported: Xfinity, Cox, and Spectrum
— Best for plans up to: 300Mbps
— WiFi: WiFi 5 / Dual-band

Pros:
— Affordable
— Compact design
— Easy setup and device management 

Cons:
— Limited Ethernet ports
— Lacks USB port 

For most homes, there’s no need to spend an arm and a leg on a modem-router combo. Even affordable versions can keep up with average needs, like browsing, streaming, and casual gaming. The Arris SURFboard SBG10 has decent specs and is a cost-friendly choice — if you make the switch from a rented modem to this one, it should make itself worthwhile pretty quickly.    

Although affordable, this DOCSIS 3.0 modem router doesn’t lack in features. It’s compatible with the big cable providers (including Xfinity, Cox, and Spectrum). Arris recommends it for plans up to 400Mbps, so it’s still plenty fast enough for most internet plans. Setup and network management is simple with the SURFboard Manager app. 

All of this comes squeezed into a very compact device — it’s not necessarily stylish, but this plain modem is short and stout to fit into small spaces. However, because of its small size, its ports are limited: it doesn’t have any USB ports and only has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, which may not be enough for some users. 

Best for Speed: NETGEAR Nighthawk CAX80

Fast Enough to Last. NETGEAR

Why It Made The Cut: This modem-router combo features speedy WiFi 6 performance and a DOCSIS 3.1 modem, so it’s suitable for gigabit internet plans. 

Specs:
— Top ISPs Supported: Xfinity, Spectrum, and Cox
— Best for plans up to: 6Gbps
— WiFi: WiFi 6 / Dual-band

Pros:
— Supports WiFi 6 standard
— Supports DOCSIS 3.1 standard
— Very fast speeds

Cons:
— Expensive 

If you have a very high-speed cable internet plan (like a plan measured in gigabits rather than megabits), you’ll want to upgrade to a DOCSIS 3.1 modem to keep up. At the moment, DOCSIS 3.0 modems are cheaper and easier to find, not to mention they’re perfectly suitable for most current internet plans. But if you have a gigabit plan, a faster DOCSIS 3.1 modem router like the NETGEAR Nighthawk CAX80 can help you take advantage of exceptional speeds. 

Not only does this modem router have DOCSIS 3.1, it’s also a WiFi 6 router, which means it supports the newer and faster WiFi standard. With WiFi 6 and DOCSIS 3.1 compatibility, this speedy modem-router combo is a future-proof choice. This Netgear modem-router combo can support cable internet plans up to 6Gbps. Considering most plans top out at 1Gbps, shoppers should feel safe that this modem-router combo won’t become outdated quickly. This device’s impressive specs also gives it great coverage, and Netgear recommends it for areas up to 3,000 square feet. The unit has a sleek and angular design from the front, and users can plug into the five Ethernet ports (one 2.5Gbps and four Gigabit ports) or USB 3.0 port in the back. 

Best for Gaming: Netgear Nighthawk C7000

For Gamers and Streamers. NETGEAR

Why It Made The Cut: With fast transfer speeds and four Gigabit Ethernet ports, this modem-router combo is an excellent choice for HD gaming and streaming. 

Specs:
— Top ISPs Supported: Xfinity, Spectrum, and Cox
— Best for plans up to: 800Mbps
— WiFi: WiFi 5 / Dual-band

Pros:
— Sleek design
— Suitable for cable internet plans up to 800Mbps
— Four Gigabit Ethernet ports

Cons:
— Coverage area may not be suitable for large homes

High-speed internet and a good modem and router are necessary for lag-free gaming. A good modem-router combo is more than up to the task for gamers. The Netgear Nighthawk C7000 is an excellent choice for gaming, streaming, and working, with fast enough speeds to handle both everyday needs and intense online play. 

This Netgear modem-router combo is ideal for cable internet plans up to 800Mbps, which is plenty for most avid gamers. It supports the DOCSIS 3.1 standard, so it’s a speedy pick, and compatible with all major cable internet providers (including Xfinity, Cox, and Spectrum) so you can find a compatible high-speed plan. Since it offers 1,800 square feet of coverage, it’s suitable for apartments and average homes. With the Nighthawk app, setup and device management is simple. Plus, for gamers who prefer to plug right into their router, this modem-router combo has four Gigabit Ethernet ports and one USB 2.0 port. Users can plug in computers, gaming consoles, streaming devices, and more to get direct internet access from the Ethernet ports. The USB port is excellent for plugging in a storage drive to share documents with connected devices. 

Best Long-Range: Orbi Whole Home WiFi 6 System with Built-in Cable Modem (CBK752)

Large Home Coverage. NETGEAR

Why It Made The Cut: To provide up to 5000 square feet of coverage, this set includes a modem-router combo and an extender to form a reliable mesh system. 

Specs:
— Top ISPs Supported: Xfinity, Spectrum, and Cox
— Best for plans up to: 4Gbps
— WiFi: WiFi 6 / Tri-band 

Pros:
— Expansive coverage (up to 5000 sq ft.)
— Supports WiFi 6 standard
— Supports DOCSIS 3.1 standard
— Tri-band WiFi

Cons:
—Expensive 

Looking for a modem and router that covers large homes? The Orbi Whole Home WiFi 6 System provides WiFi coverage for up to 5,000 square feet — or even more with additional “satellites” (sold separately). This set isn’t just one modem-router device; it includes two devices to make up a high-performing WiFi 6 mesh system. This set includes a DOCSIS 3.1 modem and router combo (which means excellent speeds) and a satellite extender. The modem-router combo does what any modem-router device does; it translates and broadcasts internet. The addition of the Orbi Mesh WiFi satellite is what extends the coverage to 5000 square feet. 

This set includes one satellite, which works with the modem router to ensure strong WiFi signal throughout the coverage area, with no weak or dead connection spots. Best of all, you can add more units to extend coverage even further.  Each additional satellite (sold separately) can expand coverage by 2,500 square feet. Besides its excellent coverage, this system offers very speedy WiFi 6 coverage and tri-band WiFi, so more devices can get online without slowing speeds. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Modem-Router Combo 

A fast and reliable internet connection is more of a necessity than a luxury in this day and age. A modem-router combo is an all-in-one device that can bring connectivity to all your devices, from your laptop to your smart bulbs. Not all modem-router combos are built the same though, so you’ll want to keep compatibility, speed, and connectivity features in mind. 

Compatibility

The modem/router that comes with your internet plan likely isn’t free. Many ISPs rent out compatible modem-router combos for a small charge that might be buried in your monthly bill. If you want to save money in the long run and have more control over your internet, it can make sense to buy your own modem and router. Before shopping, just double-check that your ISP provider allows you to use your own device (most do).

Not every modem and router combo works with every ISP, so if you plan on switching to your own device, compatibility is a top concern. Before buying, ensure your modem-router combo is compatible with the ISP’s infrastructure. Check with your ISP or check the modem-router’s product description: many modem-router devices will advertise their compatibility with major ISP providers to make the shopping process easier. 

Supported Speed 

Speed refers to the amount of data the device can transfer, typically measured in megabits per second (Mbps). The more data the device can transfer in a second, the faster the device can potentially perform. Modem-router combos have a speed rating, which is often displayed as two letters and a number (eg. AX1500). The letters describe the generation of WiFi the device supports: AC refers to WiFi 5 (​​802.11ac) and AX refers to the newer and faster WiFi 6 (802.11ax). The number is the combined total speeds of all the WiFi bands. 

While this speed rating gives you some information, take the number with a grain of salt. A device can only use one band at a time, so adding all the band speeds together is misleading.  The top speed of each individual band is a much better measure of the true supported speed, and this can usually be found in the fine print. If you’re not a heavy internet user, these specs are likely not a huge concern. For the average user who wants to stream movies and browse the web, it makes more sense to look at the internet plan speed the device is recommended for. Many devices list the appropriate internet plan speed for the modem-router combo. Look for a fast enough speed to take full advantage of your internet plan. For example, if your connection allows for speeds up to 300 Mbps, look for a device that supports speeds of 300 Mbps or higher. 

Connectivity 

For those looking to take full advantage of the new WiFi 6 standard, look for a modem and router combo that supports it. Since you won’t be able to update your router separately down the line, it’s worth getting a WiFi 6 modem and router combo now if you like to keep up with the latest tech. Otherwise, expect most modem-router combos to be WiFi 5 devices. 

Most of the top modem-router combos have a dual-band router (with a 2.4GHz and 5GHz band), but tri-band devices are also available (often with a 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands). Tri-band modem-router combos are useful if you use a lot of devices at once, like if you work online, stream content, and have several smart home devices going at the same time. Having two 5GHz bands helps lower congestion, which can mean better Wi-Fi speeds. 

Modem-router devices sometimes display their coverage range; for large homes, look for a device that will cover all of the areas where you need WiFi. A wired Ethernet connection tends to be faster and more dependable than a wireless WiFi connection. Gamers, live streamers, and those with similar heavy internet needs may prefer to plug their devices right into the modem-router combo, so the number and type of ports (Ethernet and USB) may be a specification to consider. 

FAQs

Q: Are modems and routers the same thing?

No, modems and routers are not the same thing. They serve different and necessary functions to bring internet to your home. The modem connects to the internet and makes the signal from your ISP usable, while the router creates a local network (usually a WiFi network) in your home to connect your devices to the internet.

Q: What is a modem-router combo?

A modem-router combo is essentially one device that has both a modem and a router built in. This combined device can translate the internet signal from your ISP, as well as create a usable local internet network to get your devices online.

Q: Is it better to get a modem-router combo or separate?

The right choice for your home depends on your needs and priorities. If simplicity, convenience, and space-saving are your top priorities, a modem-router combo is the better choice. However, the simplicity of a modem-router combo comes at the cost of some flexibility. If better device control and being able to upgrade to the latest tech are your top priorities, a separate modem and router is the way to go.

Q: What are the benefits of a modem-router combo?

Modem-router combos are designed to be user-friendly, simplifying your connection to the internet into one compact box. Buying a modem-router combo is usually also usually cheaper overall than buying a separate modem and router. Since it’s one device, it’s generally easier to set up and manage, not to mention it takes up less desk space and can reduce wire clutter.

Q: How much does a modem-router combo cost?

Modem-router combos are reasonably priced and can save you money in the long run compared to paying your ISP. You can expect to spend between $100 and $200 on a device with standard features, ideal for average users who browse and stream content. For upgraded features and improved speeds, expect to spend over $200, with some pricier models ranging up to $500.

Final Thoughts on Modem-Router Combos

The Motorola MG7700 Cable Modem and Router is a reasonably priced and attractive choice for most shoppers; its speed and coverage area is ideal for the average home internet plan. Those who want to invest more in their tech for exceptional speeds and performance should consider the NETGEAR Nighthawk CAX80, which supports the latest WiFi standards. 

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.


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