Cable Modems are related to cable internet. A cable modem allows your computer to connect to your ISP's internet via a landline connection.
What does it really do?
For those who don’t know, cable modems are basically the devices that are responsible for allowing your computer, as well as other devices to connect, and communicate to the internet through the Ethernet cable. Some cable modems also act as access points, you can wirelessly connect your devices, and use the internet as you like.
Do I really need a cable modem?
Cable modems are usually supplied by your internet service provider. However, in most cases, these cable modems are just barely good enough as compared to the internet they are providing.
One other thing that sucks is that ISPs charge you for these cable modems every month. While this rate is not fixed, most ISPs charge you from $5 to $10 every month. It means that after one year, you would have paid almost 120 bucks for a device which isn't even yours.
In these cases, the best way out is to make sure that you buy your own cable modem. According to Eric Geier of PCWorld: "...Buying your own [modem] is definitely a moneysaver long-term."
Now buying a cable modem shouldn’t be all that difficult, simply go to your nearest computer store, and pick the one that fits your budget, or simply order it online. However, we only wish it was that easier. You see, much like wireless routers, cable modems are technical too, so in order to find the best one, you have to know what you’re looking for.
But before going further, let me clear one thing. Don't BUY a cable modem if you're having another type of internet connection such as DSL. As you know that cable modems use coaxial cable -- the same cable that is used with TVs -- to fetch information. To do that same thing for DSL, there are DSL modems. These modems use copper wiring of Telephone lines for internet access. And also don't buy it if you're planning to use your cable provider for telephone services. It's because these cables modems don't have telephone port.
There are still many people who argue in the favor of the ISP-owned cable modems. Here in this video you'll find some basic arguments about why you may want to not buy your own cable modem.
So you want to dumb your rented modem and get a new of your won, right? In order to make sure your purchasing experience doesn’t lead you into buying the wrong modem, below are some of the things you should be considering when buying a cable modem.
ISP Compatibility with the Cable Modem
Normally, pretty much every single cable modem that is available in the market should work with the internet service provider you have, however, there are some cases of special cable modems in which the modem fails to work for one reason or another.
It’s either too advanced, or too old for the internet speed it has to provide. Before you make the purchase, making sure that the modem you have your eyes set on is supported or not normally is the best way out.
However, if you are someone who isn’t well-versed with these technicalities, the best way would be to ask your internet service provider, or even some networking enthusiast friend. To make things easier for their consumers, many ISPs such as TimeWarner and Comcast have released their respective lists of supported cable modems.
Which version of DOCSIS your ISP supports?
DOCSIS stands for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification.
Besides being a fancy acronym, DOCSIS is an international standard which is used to transfer data via cable TV (CATV) systems. It was first standardized in 1997. Below is some basic information about different versions of this standard and their respective speeds.
- DOCSIS 1.x - 38Mbps Downstream, 9Mbps Upstream.
- DOCSIS 2.0 - 38Mbps Downstream, 27Mbps upstream.
- DOCSIS 3.0 - 152Mbps Downstream, 108Mbps Upstream
- DOCSIS 3.1 - 10,000 Mbps Downstream, 1000 Mbps Upstream.
As you can see, the latest DOCSIS 3.1 is ridiculously fast - at least theoretically. But having a DOCSIS 3.1 modem or even 3.0 modem, doesn't guarantee a faster internet. It's because there is a 2-way process. To give you premium experience, your ISP also has to support these latest standards, and until recently most ISPs in the world have barely made it to DOCSIS 3.0 . To know which version of DOCSIS your ISP supports, you should simply contact them.
Is the Modem Fast Enough?
A common misconception is that the cable modem has nothing to do with the speed of your internet, and while we wish it were true, it’s simply not. The better, high end cable modem will always provide the maximum amount of speed that is possible on the network package you have selected.
Most internet connections in the modern day and age are quite fast in all honesty, in such cases, making sure, that the modem is not some old model that you are picking up from a clearance sale, is the best possible way out.
With that said, do keep in mind that we are NOT asking you to splurge large amount of money on just a modem, just keep in mind that some pretty good options are available even for the budget oriented users.
Even if your connection is not as fast as some of the others you have witnessed, it is always a better idea to get a cable modem that is actually faster because it will help you in the future should you decide to upgrade.
Look into a Modem/Router Configuration
Sometimes, there might be a case when your ISP have provided you not with a single modem, but with a modem/router combination - also called a Gateway. The fact that the modem/router configuration has had a bad reputation for the past couple of years doesn’t seem justifiable. Yes, we know that some entry level combinations are pretty bad and don’t even provide half the performance you’d normally expect, but do keep in mind that there are some high end options available as well to make things better.
So if you're going to replace your ISP-provided gateway, then there are two options for you. Either you can buy a new gateway or you can opt for single modem and router, and connect them together. When buying a new cable modem, you can try and make sure whether or not you want a cable/router configuration. The advantage of having this combination is that if you are living in a place that requires WiFi signals as well, you won’t be needing to buy a separate router just to provide those signals.
There are a handful of cable/router modem configurations available in the market, just make sure that you’re doing the proper amount of research before you go ahead and buy a modem/router configuration.
In case you're manually trying to connect a single router and a modem. Here is a video that can help you setting up a WiFi router with your cable modem.
Related Article: Best WiFi Routers Recommendations for 2018
Number of Ethernet Ports
Once everything is said and then, the last thing you really want to do is basically make sure that you’re checking the number of Ethernet ports that are available on the back of the modem. Now the most common amount is 4. However, some smaller ones have lesser, and some bigger ones have more amount of ports.
These ports are there to provide wired connections, and are often best only for computer since modern laptops, and even some modern computers already have the WiFi module built in. However, an important thing to note here is that if you are someone who’s into online gaming, then it would be better to stick to the Ethernet connection instead of wireless connection.
The reason why we advise you to stick to a wired connection for the online gaming is because latency (also known as ping in the gaming terminology) will actually be a lot better than what you’d be experiencing on the wireless connection regardless of how fast it is.
With that being said, here are some of the current cable modems we have tried so far and here are our thoughts about them.
Best Cable Modem 2018
Often times, when writing a roundup like this, waiting for a conclusion can be crucial, some people hate it because there are too many good products, and some people love it because somewhere halfway through the roundup, they have found the winner.
Apparently, we found ourselves in a bit of both situations, and only when we were almost done with our roundup, we found the winner. In all honesty, choosing the best cable modem wasn’t easy, it’s not about the amount of bonding channels, or how good the material is, the best modem in our opinion is something that’s stable enough, and has enough features to keep everyone pleased.
In our opinion for the best cable modem, that modem would be the Netgear CM600; this wasn’t an easy decision because this modem was being pitted against the Linksys CM3024, and while both cable modems are excellent with even better support for the cable services. The reason why CM600 won in this case is because it provided the most amount of features from all the modems available on the list. Also, keep in mind, that these were the best cable modems in our experience and in our tests. Your choice may happen to be different than us.