When it comes to computer peripherals, you always want to be sure that you have products of the best quality, especially when they can significantly affect the performance of your device.

As time has gone by, our computers have grown more and more reliant on the internet, to the point that they’re only able to perform a fraction of the tasks while disconnected from it.

Since the internet plays such a crucial role in making our computers more useful and capable, then it makes sense that we’d want it to be as quick and reliable as possible. Whether you have a lot of people streaming, or if you’re downloading a large file, a smooth connection can make a lot of headaches go away.

Modems and routers are two key items that you’ll need to connect your device to the internet, regardless of whether you connect manually through ethernet or if you use wifi. However, an even more convenient is a modem router combo, which combines the functions of both into a single unit.

In this guide, we’re going to review nine of the best modem router combos on the market, and we’ll cover everything ranging from build quality and reliability all the way to their specific features.

Once we’re done with our reviews, we’ll spend some time discussing the advantages of modem router combos, and we’ll also go over the features to look for in the best ones.

Our Recommendations

NETGEAR Nighthawk

1 – NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S DOCSIS 3.1 Modem Router Combo

Specifications:

  • Certification for DOCSIS 3.1 improves connection reliability and speed
  • 32 x 8 channel bonding helps enhance internet speeds
  • Comes equipped with four gigabit ethernet ports
  • Quad Stream Wave 2 wifi improves wireless stability
  • Max speed of 10 Gbps

Overview

If you’re looking for a top quality modem and router combo, then you’ve found the right product in the NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S, as this combines two of the most capable internet peripherals. Despite being a little more expensive than the competition, we’d argue that this model’s capabilities more than make up for it.

First off, this modem router combo is surprisingly well-built, with an outer casing that doesn’t feel like cheap plastic, which is a refreshing change from most other models, even in the high-end range. This results in superior build quality that makes this one of the most reliable modem router combos on the market.

Since this modem router is built to last, you’ll be sure to get your money’s worth out of it, making the X4S something of an investment. Instead of having to worry about replacing your internet gear every few years, the X4S is reliable enough and sufficiently future-proofed to serve you for a long time.

You can expect to spend about 400 dollars for a modem router combo like this one, which is nearly twice as expensive as other high-end models. While the high price point may make this model unappealing to many buyers, you get what you pay for when you get a Nighthawk X4S.

As for the connectivity and performance, the X4S comes equipped with a range of features that help make your connection faster and more reliable. This model is fully compatible with gigabit internet connections thanks to its 32 downstream channels, though its 8 upstream channels also improve upload speed quite a bit.

Beyond the impressive channel bonding, this cable modem router also features DOCSIS 3.1, which is up to ten times faster than the previous DOCSIS 3.0. Along with its improved speed, DOCSIS 3.1 is also fully backward-compatible, so you won’t have to worry about whether or not it’s compatible with your current internet plan.

If you’re looking to connect to this cable modem router combo wirelessly, then you’re in luck, as it features Quad Stream Wave 2 wifi, which is fast and consistent. This means that tablets and smartphones won’t have to deal with connectivity issues, and you won’t be limited by the four gigabit ethernet ports.

As you can see, this modem router combo is certainly an impressive model, but it may be overkill unless you’re looking for the best possible performance. For competitive gamers and heavy downloaders, there is no better cable modem router combo on the market, but the price is steep.


2 – ARRIS SURFboard SBG7580AC DOCSIS 3.0 Modem Router Combo

Specifications:

  • 32 downstream and 8 upstream connections
  • Features four gigabit ethernet ports
  • Uses DOCSIS 3.0 technology for improved performance
  • McAfee Secure Whole Home Internet included
  • Can be managed using your smartphone
  • AC1750 dual-band concurrent WiFi

Overview

This model of the ARRIS SURFboard is the most capable one in its product series, featuring a maximum download speed of 1.4 Gbps, an improvement of nearly 50% over the previous model. That helps make this product one of the fastest modem router combos in its price range.

The impressive speed of this modem router combo is due to its implementation of DOCSIS 3.0, which may not be as advanced as 3.1, but it still greatly improves your connectivity. Beyond the use of DOCSIS 3.0, you’ll find that the inclusion of 32 downstream ports is also responsible for the improved speed.

The SURFboard is a capable modem router combo for customers who connect both wirelessly and through ethernet. If you prefer a wired connection, then you’ll be able to fit up to four devices on your network thanks to the four gigabit ethernet ports that you’ll find on the back of this product.

On the other hand, if you primarily use a wireless connection due to its convenience, then you’ll be well supported by AC1750 dual-band concurrent wifi, which is meant to be reliable and quick. Setting up this modem router combo is also surprisingly simple, even if you’ve never done so before.

This product is designed to be as convenient as possible, especially for customers who may not be knowledgeable about networks and routers. You’ll find that the SURFboard is compatible with a smartphone app that lets you check the status of your network remotely, which is another helpful addition.

If security is your main concern, then you’ll benefit from the inclusion of McAfee Secure Whole Home Internet on this cable modem router combo, and that can also be controlled through your phone. This modem router combo provides excellent value for money thanks to its range of features and reasonable price.

Despite being in the sub-200 price range, this modem router combo manages to beat a lot of pricier products. If you’re looking for a combination of bang for your buck, network security, and ease of use, then this model of ARRIS’ SURFboard may just be the best option for you.


3 – NETGEAR Nighthawk C7000 DOCSIS 3.0 Modem Router Combo

Specifications:

  • Max modem speed of 960 Mbps
  • Features dual-band AC1900 wifi for improved wireless speed
  • Features 24 x 8 channel bonding for higher max speeds
  • DOCSIS 3.0 support enhances connection
  • Features four gigabit ethernet ports and a USB port
  • Wifi uses NETGEAR Beamforming+

Overview

The NETGEAR Nighthawk C7000 is the right choice of modem router combo for buyers that typically only use their wifi and don’t also need superior wired performance. While this model features reasonable speeds through ethernet, it is focused on delivering the best possible wireless connection.

As you would expect, the most notable feature on this model is the dual-band AC1900 wifi, which provides excellent reliability, even if you’re connecting from across the house. The improved reliability of this wireless antenna means that you can game over wifi without having to worry about too much packet loss.

This modem router combo is also ready for wireless 4K streaming, so you won’t have to worry about having a long enough ethernet cable for every device in the house. The superior wireless performance also gives this product great synergy with tablets and smartphones, which can’t connect over ethernet.

This wireless performance is further complemented by the inclusion of Beamforming+ technology, which ensures that you have the best possible wifi coverage throughout your house. Thanks to the reduced dead zones and superior coverage, this modem, and router combo is an ideal choice for medium to large-sized properties.

Beyond its wireless performance, this modem and router combo also features an impressive max speed of just under 1 Gbps. This is made easy by its 24 downstream channels, though you’ll find that the upload speed is also impressive, as it also comes included with 8 upstream channels.

As with all of the best modem and router combos, this model uses DOCSIS 3.0, which is a bit slower than the new DOCSIS 3.1, but it’s far quicker than DOCSIS 2.0. This product is also compatible with a wide range of service providers, but you’ll still want to make sure that it works with yours.

Overall, the C7000 is an excellent wireless modem and router combo, but it’s wired performance isn’t exactly lacking either. If you have a large house where ethernet cables are too much of an inconvenience, then you’ll be able to get near-perfect wireless reliability with this model.


4 – Motorola MG7550 DOCSIS 3.0 Modem Router Combo

Specifications:

  • Supports DOCSIS 3.0
  • 16 channels downstream and 4 channels upstream augment max speeds
  • Equipped with four gigabit ethernet ports
  • Can support speeds of up to 375 Mbps
  • Broadcom chipset helps prevent DDoS attacks
  • AC1900 wifi is reliable and quick
  • Wifi Power Boost ensures optimal coverage

Overview

Motorola is known for making some of the quickest and most reasonably priced network accessories on the market, and that trend continues with the MG7550. This is the best modem router when it comes to reliability, as this model is built to last far longer than competing products, despite its reasonable price.

Thanks to its combination of durability and excellent construction, the MG7550 can put up with being knocked over by pets, nudged around on a busy desk, and a range of other daily challenges. Of course, this modem router combo’s reliability is even more impressive, as it’s designed to last for years.

However, the most impressive part of this modem router combo is that it is more affordable than competing models, yet it somehow remains more reliable than them. For only 170 dollars, this modem will provide you with quite a bit of value for money, especially when you consider that you don’t have to deal with rental fees either.

When it comes to this model’s performance, you’ll find that it isn’t as impressive as some of the other high-end models, but that’s the sacrifice you make for improved reliability. Despite being a little bit slower, this is still a blazingly fast modem router combo when compared to mid-range and low-end models.

Supporting speeds of up to 375 Mbps, this modem router should be able to work with all but the fastest plans out there. This model is a bit slower than other high-end models thanks to its support for fewer downstream channels, featuring 16 instead of 24 or even 32.

With only four upstream channels, the upload speed isn’t much more impressive. Despite the relatively few channels when compared to high-end router modems, you’ll find that the use of DOCSIS 3.0 helps keep the connection fast, and it also ensures that your service is reliable.

However, this product still features reasonably impressive wireless performance, as it’s equipped with an AC1900 antenna. If you like the sound of solid wireless performance in a modem router that is built to last, then the Motorola MG7550 will give you the years of service that you need.


5 – NETGEAR C3000-100NAS N300 DOCSIS 3.0 Modem Router Combo

Specifications:

  • DOCSIS 3.0 offers a 700% increase in speed over DOCSIS 2.0
  • NETGEAR Genie app allows you to set parental controls
  • Equipped with two gigabit ethernet ports
  • Features a USB port for wireless sharing
  • Designed for medium homes
  • Made for speeds of up to 340 Mbps

Overview

The NETGEAR C3000 is the first of the more affordable modem router combos we’ll be looking at, so its performance may not be as impressive as some of the other products, but it’s far more affordable. With a price of only 85 dollars, this model is an attractive choice for customers on a budget.

Despite its low price, the C3000 is still equipped with a few features that help make it worth your while. First off, this model is fitted with DOCSIS 3.0, which is far faster than the DOCSIS 2.0 technology that you’ll still find present in some of the cheapest modem and router combos.

In fact, DOCSIS 3.0 provides a full 700% increase in internet speed when compared to its previous iteration, and this helps bump up the max speed of this modem router combo. This model is designed to support connections of up to 340 Mbps, but it will still be just as efficient with anything below that.

The inclusion of the NETGEAR Genie helps you set up this modem router combo with relatively little trouble, even if you have no experience doing so previously. The Genie can also help you manage your home network and assign parental controls to keep your young ones safe on the web.

This modem and router combo comes equipped with a pair of gigabit ethernet ports, so you’ll be able to connect up to two wired devices to it. If you need a consistent connection for more than two devices in your home, then you’ll likely want to invest in a model that comes with four ports.

Above the two ethernet outputs, there is also a USB 2.0 connection that allows you to connect a storage device to your network. While a hard drive or flash drive is connected to the modem router, you’ll be able to share all of the files that are stored on it over your network with ease.

The wireless performance of this modem router will depend on the size of your home, as it’s designed for small to medium houses. Overall, the C3000 is a reliable and affordable option, even though it may not be as capable as some of the more expensive modem routers on the market.


6 – Motorola SURFboard eXtreme DOCSIS 3.0 Modem Router Combo

Specifications:

  • Works with plans of up to 343 Mbps
  • Uses DOCSIS 3.0 technology to offer improved speeds and consistency
  • AC1750 wifi is reliable and relatively quick
  • Equipped with four gigabit ethernet ports
  • Features 8 downstream channels and 4 upstream channels
  • Wifi beamforming helps keep wireless performance consistent

Overview

Another mid-range model, this version of the Motorola SURFboard may be a little older than some of the other options on this list, but it’s still equipped with some of the newest technology. This modem router combo features DOCSIS 3.0 technology, so you’ll still benefit from quick speeds.

As with other Motorola products, a primary selling point of this product is how reliable it is, and it’s just as well-built as any other internet peripheral from the company. While this product is reliable, it’s not the most beginner-friendly modem router combo due to its slightly complicated setup.

Once you have this Motorola modem router set up, it’ll provide you with some impressive performance, especially when you consider the wifi performance. This is an excellent modem router for larger homes or places where ethernet cables are too inconvenient to connect to your devices.

Thanks to the beamforming wifi, you’ll find that the coverage with this modem is much more consistent than with other models. You won’t have to worry about the internet suddenly dying out in random areas of the house when you walk around with a phone or tablet, and the connection itself will be stronger.

Along with consistency, this model’s wifi performance is also impressive due to its speed, capable of local network speeds of up to 1600 Mbps. However, when it comes to internet speeds, this modem gets a little disappointing because it only features 8 downstream channels and 4 upstream channels.

This modem’s relatively few channels choke off the internet connection and only let you attain speeds of up to 340 Mbps, which is not too impressive when you consider the price of this model. It seems like every part of this modem router is impressive except for its performance on high-end plans.

Overall, this modem is an excellent choice if your internet speeds aren’t reaching gigabit territory anytime soon, as it still comes with a range of impressive features. The SURFboard eXtreme’s wifi performance is of particular note, making it one of the best modem router combos for large homes.


7 – TP-Link AC1750 DOCSIS 3.0 Modem Router Combo

Specifications:

  • Compatible with plans of up to 300 Mbps
  • AC1750 dual-band wifi (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)
  • Features 16 downstream channels and 4 upstream channels
  • Equipped with six internal wifi antennas
  • Also features wifi amplifiers for improved range
  • Has four gigabit ethernet ports

Overview

This product from TP-Link is the best router modem combo for customers on a budget, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a model with comparable performance for only 100 dollars. If you’re shopping on a budget, then you’ll probably feel like this modem was designed specifically for you.

Despite not featuring the most impressive performance, this product is more than adequate when you consider its price range. Something that impressed us was the inclusion of 16 downstream channels, as most competitors in the same price range only feature 8 channels, strangling the maximum speed.

Supporting plans of up to 300 Mbps, this is a highly versatile modem router combo that can work with both affordable and mid-range internet connections. When connecting your devices, you can either benefit from the six internal wifi antennas, or you can attach a cable to one of the four gigabit ethernet ports.

As you would expect, performance is superior through the wired connection, though the wifi isn’t as unreliable as on other $100 cable modems. If you make sure that your device isn’t positioned too far away from the modem router combo, then you’ll benefit from consistently quick wireless speeds.

While most competing models will only give you a reliable wireless connection in a smaller home, this model features superior coverage thanks to the wifi amplifiers that have been installed in it. This modem router combo from TP-Link can typically provide consistent coverage for medium-sized houses.

Unlike other affordable modem router combos, this model is also equipped with a pair of USB ports near the ethernet outputs. This allows you to connect an external storage device directly to the modem router and share files to other devices on your network, saving you time uploading or transferring files.

This model is also easier to set up than other cheap modem routers, as you can simply connect the coaxial cable and speak to your ISP to have it activated.

Overall, this TP-Link cable modem router combo is designed for customers on a budget, but it doesn’t sacrifice performance or extra features for an affordable price point. This is one of our favorite cheap model routers thanks to its well-rounded performance.


8 – NETGEAR N450-100NAS DOCSIS 3.0 Modem Router Combo

Specifications:

  • Equipped with four gigabit ethernet ports
  • Features two USB 2.0 ports for quick file transfers
  • Modem supports a max speed of 340 Mbps
  • 8 downstream channels and 4 upstream channels
  • Supports DOCSIS 3.0
  • Self-activation with some networks

Overview

This modem router combo from NETGEAR is meant to be one of the more convenient options on the market for customers who simply want to save on their rental fees. This product won’t offer performance that’s on par with the best of the best, but if you need something reliable and relatively affordable, this is a great choice.

The N450 is one of the best modem router combos for beginners, since it isn’t too expensive, and it’s designed to be as convenient as possible. Even buyers who have no idea how to set up a modem router won’t have a problem, as this model can be self-activated, provided you have the right network.

Most of the extra features on this modem are comparable to those on more expensive models, so you won’t be making much of a sacrifice for its more affordable price. If you’re planning on connecting devices through ethernet, you’ll get a full four ports that you can work with.

This model even features two USB 2.0 ports that you can directly connect your storage devices to, for speedy transfers over your home network. USB ports are a relatively rare feature in more affordable modem router combos, as most manufacturers would rather save money through their omission.

Unlike other cheap modem routers, the N450 supports DOCSIS 3.0, which ensures that it has fast and reliable internet speeds. However, this model is slightly let down by the number of channels that it features, as it only has eight which are downstream and four which are upstream, limiting your max speeds.

As we mentioned earlier, this modem router combo isn’t designed to provide you with superior performance, but it will save you money on your modem rental fee. Most of the time, you’ll be able to pay this model off within a year of use due to the money that you save on renting equipment from your ISP.

Overall, the N450 provides adequate performance for the price, but its true strength lies in its build quality and its value for money. This modem router combo is a breath of fresh air compared to most other cheap models, which suffer in terms of reliability.


9 – TP-Link Archer C5 Modem Router Combo

Specifications:

  • Features AC1200 dual-band wifi with high speed and good coverage
  • The dual external antennas help improve wifi range
  • Comes equipped with two USB ports
  • Four gigabit ethernet ports in the back
  • IP-based QoS
  • Features parental controls for safe browsing
  • Works with the TP-Link Tether app

Overview

The Archer C5 is another affordable model from TP-Link, and this one is the cheapest models on our list, coming in at just under 75 dollars. If you’re looking to save as much money as possible, then this is the right option, as it’s still reliable enough to last you until you recoup your investment in rental fees.

For the price, the Archer C5 offers reasonable performance, and it comes with a variety of features that help make it easier to use and more capable than other cheap modem routers. Of particular note is the wifi performance, as it features surprisingly good coverage for a product in its price range.

The AC1200 dual-band wifi is spread through the house by a pair of external antennas on the modem router, and they’re responsible for providing the impressive range. Even near the limits of this modem router’s range, you’ll find that the internet is still surprisingly quick and consistent.

However, if you’re doing something like gaming where you need the most solid connection possible, then you can use one of the four gigabit ethernet ports in the back. Whether through wired or wireless, this modem router combo can provide a speedy and reliable connection.

There are also some extra features that come bundled with this model that you wouldn’t expect to see in such an affordable modem router. For example, this product is compatible with parental controls, so you can set filters to keep your children safe on the internet while still giving them the freedom to browse.

Parental controls and other settings can also be controlled through the TP-Link Tether app, which works together with the modem router, making it easier to use. Other things you can manage include bandwidth limits for certain devices and more, letting you truly personalize your network.

Unlike most other cheap modem router combos, the Archer C-5 from TP-Link is a solid product that is worth your money. At the very least, you’ll be able to save a few dollars every month on rental fees from your ISP, but this model may also end up improving your speed.

What to Look for in the Best Modem Router Combo

Best Modem Router Combo

Speed

The first thing that you’re going to want to account for when buying your modem router combo is the speed that it’s capable of. However, you have to take care, as there are two different kinds of speeds that a modem router can be defined by: connection speed, and wireless speed.

The connection speed is the max speed that the modem router can get from your internet provider, so this will limit the kind of plan that you can use with the modem router. On the other hand, the wireless speed of your modem router is the max rate of data transfer allowed by the wifi antenna and isn’t related to your internet connection.

Ethernet Ports

You’ll also want to look at the number of ethernet ports that are present on your modem router combo. Ethernet ports let you connect a cable directly to the modem router, giving you the fastest and most consistent speeds possible, something that can’t be achieved through wifi.

If you’re gaming or doing something else that requires a consistent connection, then an ethernet hookup will be vital. Most modem router combos will come with either two or four ethernet outputs, so you’ll want to consider how many devices you’ll be hooking up using wires.

USB

Another kind of port that you’ll usually want to find on your modem router combo is a USB port, and most will feature one or two of them. The inclusion of a USB port can greatly simplify data transfer between machines that are on the same network, as you’ll be able to use the network to your advantage.

All you have to do is connect an external hard drive or a USB flash drive to the USB port on your modem router combo, and then you’ll be able to transfer the files to another device. This saves you time uploading and redownloading the file, and you won’t have to physically bring the drive to the other device.

ISP Compatibility

Another thing to account for when picking your modem router is whether or not it’s compatible with your ISP. Depending on the model, you may find that your service provider doesn’t support your modem router, so you’ll always want to be sure that they do before you make your purchase.

Some models will be compatible with a wide range of ISPs with only a few key omissions, whereas others will be the opposite. Some modem router combos will just be compatible with a single ISP. A compatible modem router may also be easier to install, as some ISPs support one-touch activation.

Setup

When looking for the right modem router, you won’t want to end up with a product that’s going to leave you frustrated, so you’re going to need one that’s easy to install. Ease of setup is crucial, especially for beginners who have never set up their own modem router combo before.

The best modem routers will come with a detailed instructional booklet with pictorial guides, and some will even support instant activation. Others may require that you call your ISP so that the modem can be activated, so pay close attention to what you’ll need to do to activate your modem router.

Security

You’ll also have to account for the security that’s provided by your modem router, and virtually all of them come equipped with some form of password protection. WPA is the most secure method of keeping people out of your home network, and most modem routers will use that to prevent intrusion.

Beyond keeping your network secure from unauthorized users around you, some models will also come equipped with network security from trusted firms like McAfee or Norton. This will give you extra protection from network-based attacks and may be worth looking into.

Wifi

Of course, you’re also going to have to consider the wifi performance of your new modem router combo. There are a few different aspects of wifi performance that matter, but the speed is one of the most essential, as you won’t want your wifi to be sluggish compared to your wired speed.

You’ll also have to account for the coverage of the wifi, particularly if you live in a bigger house. The further the signal travels from the modem router, the weaker it gets, so you’ll need a model with amplifiers or powerful antennas if you’re hoping for complete home wifi coverage.

Reliability

You should also take a look at how reliable a modem router is before you consider buying it. Picking up an unreliable model can leave you with a $200 paperweight within a month, so only buy your modem router from reputable manufacturers that will also include a warranty.

Keep in mind that a more durable modem router combo will also likely be more reliable, as it can put up with more wear and tear daily. The build quality will also influence how long a modem router lasts, as one that is assembled with care will be less likely to malfunction.

Price

Finally, you also have to look at the cost of the modem router before you buy it, as that can influence everything else. As with any other product, the higher the price, the more likely that you’re getting something good, but don’t automatically assume that cheaper modem routers aren’t worth the money.

There are plenty of affordable models that offer superior performance when compared to high-priced variants, so be sure to explore all of your options before deciding on the pricey one. It also helps to have a concrete budget set, as that will ensure that you don’t spend more than you’re comfortable with.

wifi router wireless box

Conclusion

We hope that this guide has helped you explore some of the best modem router combos on the market. Picking the best product for your needs is a matter of assessing your requirements and then researching all of the available products until you find one that matches them as closely as possible.

Sources

https://www.pcmag.com/feature/363126/modem-router-and-access-point-what-s-the-difference

http://www.dlib.org/dlib/march98/hoag/03hoag.html

https://www.thejournal.ie/modem-router-difference-2698770-Apr2016/

https://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1645&context=btlj

https://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia/term/63628/modem-vs-router

Image Sources

https://pixabay.com/en/wireless-home-router-adsl-modem-1861612/

https://pixabay.com/en/white-male-3d-model-isolated-3d-1834089/

https://pixabay.com/en/modem-internet-telephone-cord-lead-1833/

https://pixabay.com/en/wifi-router-wireless-box-891896/

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