It’s no secret that you can save a bunch of money buying your own cable WiFi modem instead of renting one from COX Cable at an additional monthly charge. But 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 modem should you buy? Here are our best choices for each situation.
What Modem Should I Buy?
Modem [view] 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 [view] 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 [view] Both of those in one piece of equipment to save space and simplify things.
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. Here are the options.
- Modem Only: ARRIS SB6183 or SB6190
You already own a wifi router and just want to save $10 a month and possibly get better speeds / service. For current COX Internet get the SB6183.
It has 16 bonded channels, speeds up to 686 Mbps. For future proofing and having a gigabyte modem, you need the SB6190 with 32 channels. Differences below.
- Best Option
Above Modem + Favorite Router: RT-AC2400 [add both to cart for total]
Wireless AC. Best for an apartment or small one story house.
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.
While this is my favorite and most practical for my situation, some people have much larger houses or many more devices and truly want the best router out there.
Well this is it, the top of the line RT-AC5300. Strongest Router.
- Easiest Option
Combo Modem Router: Neatgear C7000 All In One
Wireless AC, 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.
Note that it states Comcast but is also approved for COX Cable Internet.
- Cheapest Option (weakest too)
Above Modem + Cheap Router: [RT-AC1200]
Good for small apartment / studio. Wireless AC1200, early technology / speeds, fast enough for one user or couple. Perfect for the lone internet surfer living in a small space.
- You Apple People: Airport Extreme + SB6183
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, fast as heck and the top choice for Apple fans.
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 all modems we listed are supported.
SB6183 vs SB6190 – Differences
SB6183: Currently ideal.
Downstream Channels: 16 bonded channels. Better connection.
Max Speed: 680mbps ready for next generation internet speeds.
SB6190: 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 two separate devices instead of the C7000 Netgear combo router above?
I personally recommend the two separate devices, even if you go with the cheaper option over the awesome router option.
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, instead of the cheap option, you can get the much more advanced router with so many options. More detailed info in next paragraph.
Why would you want the RT-AC2400 vs RT-AC1200?
While the RT-AC1200 is cheaper, it’s slower with lesser hardware. It’s OK for an old man living alone sitting in the same room as his router browsing online. But if you want to cover a whole house and provide excellent signal strength to the whole family for multiple devices(laptops, XBOX, Playstation, Chromecast, PC’s, tablets and phones), you’ll need the RT-AC2400. This router also has the most awesome options like USB 3.0 Ports for connecting external hard drives that you can then access from any computer in the house(or anywhere in the world) at anytime. Yes, your own personal “Cloud”. Again, the only reason I personally use the super router is all of the added options and benefits. If you don’t need all of the nerdy options but still want fast speeds, then the Netgear C7000 combo modem is your option for full coverage in a normal sized living situation.
ARRIS SB6183 + Router vs Netgear C7000 Combo Router
In all honesty– at this point– the Netgear combo modem is going to be the better option for most users. It is one simple device with a strong enough wireless signal for most one or two bedroom apartments and small homes out there. It is AC1900 and it has a built in USB 2.0 port for external hard drives.
But if you want stronger, AC2400 and up, you must go for the Arris cable modem and an ASUS wireless router form above.
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, 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.
End Of Life Modems
There is a lot of worry and talk about EOL’d COX modems. However if you look at their own list and sort by latest DOCSIS 3.0 retail modems, they’ve have not EOL’d any of these modems or any 16×4 modems ever. Just do not buy an 8×4 modem. Yes, they have EOL’d modems they issue themselves internally 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, 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. You just can’t buy one now and add it.
Benefits to buying your own modem
- Save $10 every month
- More control over home network
- Faster speeds
- Newer Equipment
How much are COX modem rental fees?
Currently it cost $9.99 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 COX gateway modem. 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 above and use your existing wireless router. If you do have an existing router but would still prefer a more advanced option, now you know.
Note: This is for COX Cable Internet, Comcast Xfinity, Charter, Time Warner, Cox, Bright House, Mediacom and more.
Any DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Internet Network.
It’s simple, COX’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.
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 COX / 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.
COX Cable, Charter Spectrum, Time Warner, Mediacom, Bright House, Comcast Xfinity
This modem does not only work for COX High Speed Internet, it works for any major cable ISP running on the DOCSIS 3.0 Network such as Time Warner, Charter Spectrum, Comcast Xfinity, Brighthouse, 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 COX at 50MB down and it’s most definitely getting up to 62Mbps with my own modem. With both 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.
Review: What Cable Modem Should I buy?
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 my 50mb plan on the daily. Older modems and even modems COX 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 76% of the US?
Because most people don’t have their own modems!
But there are other factors like location, package and ISP.
As for my personal opinion on COX 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 COX has the fastest internet at the best price range. Could it be cheaper? Heck yes but that is not an option. Bottom line is COX Cable HSI is a much better option that AT&T DSL or U-verse. I never have outages with COX and I never need to reboot my modem or router. Because I have the SB6183 and router 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 share and feel free to ask questions below!