It’s no secret that you can save a bunch of money and improve your download speeds by having the best cable modem for Comcast or Time Warner. Buy your own approved modem instead of renting theirs for $10 a month. Which one though? With so many options out there and weird technical terms like DOCSIS 2.0, DOCSIS 3.0, 8 and 16 channel bonding, Wireless AC vs Wireless N, etc, what compatible modem should you buy? Here are our best choices for each situation.
Approved Modem List
- Current Required Modems: October 2016
One of these two modems and a router from next section:
SB6183 – Current best cable modem. Speeds up to 686Mbps.
SB6190 – Upgraded future proofed up to 1 Gbps modem.
If you already own a wifi router and just want to save $10 a month and possibly get better speeds / service, just buy one of these approved modems.
- Best Wireless Router
AC Wireless Router + Above Compatible Modems:
Wireless AC1900 – Best for an apartment or small one story house.
Wireless AC3200 – Mid sized to large 2 story house.
Wireless AC5300 – Strongest Router. For large house, 3 stories.
Easy to use for a beginner, yet full of advanced options for a techie. USB 3.0 Ports for network storage and FTP access. +more. Read Full Router Review.
- Easiest Option
Combo Modem Router: Neatgear C7000 All In One
Wireless AC1900, also great for a small apartment to small house but lacks advanced features and USB 3.0 Port. Single device, less wires but I prefer 2 separate devices as mentioned above. Great coverage, limited options but still good for non power users who just want the easiest option for a normal sized living situation.
- Apple Weirdos
SB6183 Approved Cable Modem + Airport Extreme
As a computer support person, I couldn’t tell you anything about this here iThing other than Apple people like it. If you’re an Apple person, this is the one your homies are currently buying. Don’t ask me anything about it. I assume it has one button and no options. Kidding, it’s Wireless AC, 2TB Time Capsule with Base Station Airport Extreme built in. Fast as heck and the top choice for Apple users.
Comcast Voice Modem EMTA Telephony Options
- Required Modem for Voice / Triple Play
Comcast Voice Modem + AC Wireless Router
Arris TM862G/CT (Comcast Version) + a wireless router from above. Required route to use Triple Play Voice. If you are not using voice, get the SB6183 + router above.
You Must Use A Comcast Voice Modem?
If you have Comcast Voice Triple Play you must use the Telephony modem above to use the voice line. Yes, your options are very limited if you want to stick with their phone service. It is really hard to buy one of their 2 approved voice modems retail and it will cost more and may not be worth it. The only 2 options are the TG862G (Retail) and TM722G (Retail). But only if you have Comcast voice and plan on using it. Many people do get voice just because the Triple Play is a cheaper package. Even if you bought one of these 2 supported modems, you would still want to get a separate wireless AC router because those are old Wireless N devices and will not perform for your whole house. Read comments below regarding people who upgraded from Wireless N to AC and saw huge speed improvements.
What if I am not using the voice package?
This is where it gets tricky though. People have reported that if you have Triple Play but do not plan on using the voice, you can just buy the normal modem and router(from above) and it will still work. However when I myself called Comcast they said this is not possible. But people online and even here have said that it is. If you DO decide to buy a normal modem and you ARE subscribed to Comcast Triple Play with voice, please, I repeat please let us know how it worked. If you were able to activate the non voice modem or if you had to return it and use a voice modem. We must get more user feedback to help others in the future.
Unfortunately in almost all cases you MUST buy a new modem. Do not buy a used modem because often times they are on a closed account in another state and you do not have permission to add them to your own. It’s silly but I know how much trouble those agents have when the modem has previously been provisioned on an existing account. List of supported modems. Note that they must have a check mark in the Retail column to be supported.
Do I need a modem and a router?
In some cases your cable modem may also function as your WiFi router. Known as a combination modem or gateway. One unit instead of two.
Modem – The required device that picks up the cable internet signal coming into your home. If you have only one computer and do not need wifi internet, you can hook straight into it without a router.
Router – The device that hooks up to the modem and cast a wireless signal and allows more than one computer / device to connect. It also has a built in firewall to protect your network from intrusions.
Combo Modem / Router – Both of those in one piece of equipment to save space and simplify things.
SB6183 vs SB6190 – Differences
SB6183: Currently ideal.
Downstream Channels: 16 bonded channels. Better connection.
Max Speed: 608mbps ready for next generation internet speeds.
SB6190: The best cable modem future proofed for gigabyte speeds.
Downstream Channels: 32 bonded channels. Best connection.
Max Speed: 1.4Gbps modem capable of gigabyte speeds.
Channel Bonding Explained
Why would you want a modem and a router instead of a combo router?
I personally recommend the two separate devices.
Reason one, it’s the best. The SB6183 and any of the ASUS routers above is a better option than the single Netgear C7000 combo gateway. That is why the higher cost. If you want the option, you pay more.
Reason two, if something were to ever break(it shouldn’t), then you only have to replace or upgrade one device instead of the whole unit.
Reason three, you get a lot more control with the built in ASUS GUI(Graphical User Interface) and it’s really easy for even someone non technical to use and you can learn home networking from it.
Reason four, my main reason, better ranged speeds.
Should I get Wireless AC or Wireless N?
This depends on your situation.
Wireless N is an older technology and can surely save you a lot of money, but at what expense? Lack in performance at range. If you have a small studio without walls and only browse the internet, I say go for it. If you have an apartment or a house, get Wireless AC. Wireless AC will deliver faster speeds at range and support more devices with dual band and beam forming technology. Often times Wireless N speeds won’t even give you the full capability of your service provider though so I wouldn’t think of it.
End Of Life Modems. There is a lot of worry and talk about EOL’d Comcast modems. However if you look at their own list and sort by latest DOCSIS 3.0 Retail modems, they’ve only EOL’d one cable modem at all(photo below). The key here is retail modem. Yes, they have EOL’d modems they issue themselves(if you uncheck retail) but I think that has to do with contracts as to which modem they themselves supply. Do not worry about a Motorola ARRIS being on the End of Life list because as you can see below, they are not. Even if they were added down the line, once you activate the modem it is on your account and will continue working. Basically, even if a modem is on the EOL list, it will continue working.
Benefits to buying your own modem
- Save $10 every month
- Disable Comcast’s Public Hotspot coming out of your router
- More control over home network
- Faster speeds
- Newer Equipment
How much are Comcast modem rental fees?
Currently it cost $10 a month to rent a modem meaning in just one year you pay them an extra $120 in fees that you can be avoiding. I’ve had them for at least 12 years meaning that’s a savings over over $1,200! Trust me, stop renting, buy your own device.
How do I know if I need the regular modem or combo modem?
We’ve been over this, but one more time. If you currently only have one piece of equipment, that means it is a “combo modem”(link above) aka Comcast gateway. It has the cable modem and wireless router bundled into one unit. Some people prefer this because it is less wires. I did explain all of the pros and cons above. If you DO have 2 pieces of equipment, one is the modem and one is the Wi-Fi. Meaning all you need to buy is the SB6183 modem here and use your existing wireless router.
Note: This is for Comcast Xfinity, Charter, Time Warner, Cox, Bright House, Mediacom and more.
Any DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Internet Network.
It’s simple, Comcast’s current cable internet network runs on DOCSIS 3.0 and can provide internet speeds up to 250Mbps. As you see below I get 120Mbps with this modem but I think my plan is only 100Mbps.
I myself have worked for Comcast and other large call centers in the past and it’s no surprise to me that the current top modem is still a Motorola Arris Surfboard. The Surfboard series was the one of the top tier broadband modems many years ago when I worked for them and it still is. Owning my own modem has saved me over a thousand dollars over the years by not having to pay a monthly fee for their sub par rental equipment.
Oh, you need another reason to save money? With the ARRIS / Motorola Modem your internet service will usually improve. You’ll no longer experience random disconnects from old recycled overheating cable modems that have not only been rented to you, but likely many other people prior to you. There have even been stories of rental equipment coming with cockroaches in them! Get your own new device.
Top Cable Modem Self Install Guide
This modem is plug and play. Meaning all you do is screw in the coax cable that comes out of your wall and it works. You don’t have to set it up or know how to access the built in firmware to configure anything. You just hook it up, wait a moment and POW. Super fast internet speeds. Ok, I lied, there is one step you must take care of. Because you are using your own modem you must call Comcast / Time Warner or whomever your cable internet provider is and give them the MAC Address of your new modem. This sounds difficult but it is not. The MAC Address is very clearly labeled on a sticker on the bottom of the equipment. Your Cable ISP must register the MAC to your account that one time only. After this you never have to talk to them again. And if you’re renting equipment from them, you must tell them so you can return it and stop getting charged. There are a few ways but they may just send you a postage paid box to put it in and send back out. Or you can take it to your local Cable Company Store. You’ll now save $10 every month. I’m sure it won’t be long before they start charging $15 to rent their faulty units.
Important Note: Do NOT buy a used modem. It is likely already registered to another persons account. While I myself as an ex agent know it is possible to remove the modem from the old account and put it on the new one, many agents do not and it will be such a hassle. You do not want to end up in this situation because it could leave you without internet for a while and in limbo. It has been reported that some agents even say you must physically go into a local store to have it activated. Why? So they can see that you actually have the device in your hand and it is not in a home where the old account says it is. This is blasphemy and can be avoided by buying new.
Comcast/Xfinity, Cox, Charter, Time Warner, Mediacom, Bright House
This modem does not only work for Comcast, it works for any major cable ISP running on the DOCSIS 3.0 Network such as Time Warner, Charter, Cox, Mediacom and more.
It supports speeds up to 686Mbps download and 131 Mbps upload. Now that’s insanely fast and the chances of your cable internet provider giving you those full speeds are slim.
I have Comcast at 123MB down and it’s most definitely the fastest internet I’ve ever had. With all 4 of us in the house streaming Netflix or playing video games online at the same time, it still has excessive bandwidth leftover. Basically we could never use it all if we tried. I don’t even understand when people want things like Fiber Internet in the house because you could never use all of the regular cable internet if you tried.
Review: Best Compatible Modem
Now you know, hands down no question, to save money and get faster internet speeds you have to buy your own modem. This will save you thousands of dollars over time. Assuming you’ll continue to have the internet in your home. This is future proof because they are not upgrading from DOCSIS 3.0 for a long time and even when they do this will still be a supported modem. You can technically still use some DOCSIS 2.0 modems but get a lot slower speeds. Not all of them are still supported so I would not buy a 2.0 hoping to save money at a speed cost thing. Just get the fully supported device above.
Check Out These Fastest Modem Speeds
This is my report. Yours may vary based on what package you pay for, who your ISP is and where you’re located. But with this modem I can bust 120MB on the daily. Older modems and even modems Comcast has provided me with lingered between 10-30MB. Break out, get your full potential speeds and watch Netlfix streaming in High Definition like you paid for.
Notice how it says faster than 90% of the US?
Because most people don’t have their own modems!
But there are other factors like location and ISP.
Comcast Tech Support
Comcast Sales Be Like
Regardless of the Comcast memes, as for my personal opinion on Comcast as an ISP, I prefer them. I myself have worked for DirecTV, Comcast and AT&T. All horrible places to work(AT&T is the worst) and terrible massive corporations price gouging customers and underpaying their employees. But you must choose one and Comcast has the fastest internet at the best price range. Could it be cheaper? Heck yes, but that is not an option. Bottom line is Comcast HSI is a much better option than AT&T DSL or U-verse. I never have outages with Comcast and I never need to reboot my modem or router. Because I have the SB6183 and ASUS AC1900 mentioned above.
As a person who lives in the Matrix, I need the best internet provider, meaning I am forced to subscribe to Comcast. But I am not forced to rent a modem from them and my form of boycotting is buying my own and not letting them get that extra $10. Do yourself a favor, join me!
Good luck, please feel free to ask questions below!
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