Suggestions for a wireless modem/router?

Josh Steinberg

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I'm thinking about buying a modem rather than spending $10 each month to my cable company for use of one. The thing is - I've never bought a modem before and I have no idea what I should be looking for.

I have Spectrum as my internet provider and they have this list on their website of what modems can be purchased to work with their services:
https://www.spectrum.net/support/internet/compliant-modems-charter-network/

According to my latest bill, I have their "extreme" plan, which offers 50/5 Mbit/s according to their listing. But I was thinking that, at the least, I should probably get a modem capable of handling 100 Mbits instead of the lowest tier, so that if I ever upgrade to a faster speed, I don't need to buy a new modem to do so.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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@Sam Posten this should probably be in Computers, mind moving it over when you have a chance? Sorry about that!
 

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I have a Motorola MB7220, which is on Spectrum's list of 100Mbps approved models. It's modem only - needs a separate wifi router (which I prefer) and doesn't have a VOIP/phone port (I have POTS service which I also prefer as it'll work when the internet is down):

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/motorola-8-x-4-docsis-3-0-cable-modem-gray/4811800.p?skuId=4811800

It's an 8x4 model which supports speeds up to 386Mbps. That said, it's also possible they'd not configure things to allow that speed as it'd tie up all the channels on the modem to do so. At least that's what I've read about the process. Based on what you said initially this one will work splendidly. I used it for 6 months at 100Mbps and just recently upgraded to 400Mbps as I was about to go over the data cap (don't get me started on that stupid practice!) a 2nd time and trip a overage charge. It was just cheaper to go to 400Mbps as it is "unlimited" data and I don't have to worry about or monitor bandwidth any more (it was $20/month more and still less than I was paying AT&T for 3Mbps DSL service).

It works just fine on my 400Mbps service. I'm getting ~95Mbps on a speed check but also have the modem coming through a 10/100 switch on a router to a new router I'm testing - I need to get that other, older, router/switch out of the mix but am being lazy about it as my wife connects to that one and I don't want to mess with her stuff right now.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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I may switch at some point soon as well... though I originally bought my expensive router w/ the modem (essentially for free as bundle).

Only reason why I didn't just use the modem is because we still had need for traditional fax before, so needed TW/Spectrum's own hardware for landline phone service.

Model I went w/ was Arris Surfboard SB6183. Never actually used it, so can't tell you how well it works from actual experience, but reviews were good IIRC (and was an approved model).

_Man_
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Sounds like you'd also need wireless router too.

The options for that may vary more widely depending on your actual needs and budget.

I guess you probably wanna keep to the lower end since you're not looking to upgrade cable service beyond say 100Mbps and place lots of demand/traffic on your wifi network... especially if Spectrum's basic hardware was plenty good enough for you so far.

Probably go w/ Bob's suggestion or similar and maybe a router from the big names like ASUS, LinkSys, Netgear, D-Link for around $100 or less. ASUS seems to have the most fans amongst tech geeks (mainly for performance... though they're not w/out issues like any other brand), but some people prefer other options for (subjective) easy-of-use, big box brand recognition, etc.

I went w/ ASUS's then-new flagship router model myself -- and their recently announced new flagship is still based on same design, etc, but just upgraded for latest tech (that almost no devices support yet, LOL). I've been pretty happy w/ it for ~3 years (as such things go anyway)... though, again, it's not flawless and has its quirks and bugs (and pretty sure my family never actually maxes out its performance)... and still get regular firmware updates.

IF you're not a big gamer, aren't streaming at high bitrates to multiple devices from your own high speed NAS nor have a ton of diff devices making use of your wifi in a good size house and/or across 2-3 floors, I'd think something around $100 or less should be enough for the router -- maybe look for something w/ a good strong signal and reliable connections though, especially if there are a ton of other signals causing potential interference, etc for you. You can always upgrade later if you do end up needing more a few years later...

_Man_
 
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BobO'Link

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I didn't consider you might also need a wifi router since you specifically said "modem." With that in mind, I'm currently testing a TP-Link AC1750. It's dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) with a 4 port gigabit switch. It'll do 450Mbps @ 2.4GHz and 1300Mbps @ 5GHz. I like the interface and options it provides. You can enable/disable either radio as needed/desired. On 5G it has good range in my house. It's downstairs (the basement) but provides an excellent, strong, signal anywhere upstairs (through a wood floor and sheet rock walls) as well as a usable (but not strong) signal in my garage (through the floor, a couple of sheet rock walls and finally a brick wall on the opposite side of the house from the router - depending on just where I am in the garage it's also going through kitchen cabinets full of dishes and possibly a refrigerator or freezer). I've not tested the 2.4G signal yet (I need to as my wife's computer doesn't do 5G but I disabled it as it seemed to be causing issues/interference with the other router - oddly enough the 5G signals from each don't seem to clash). It even has a USB port to connect a printer or storage device for network use (I've not tested that either). So far, I'm quite pleased with the performance of the device.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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I do have a WiFi router which I may replace down the line, but I think I’d prefer to keep the modem and router separately unless there’s a compelling reason not to.

Part of the reason is that I may want to upgrade our speed in the future but have no plans to yet. Another reason is, it’s very possible that in a year, or two or three years, that I’ll be moving to a different neighborhood which is serviced by a different internet provider, and they may have different modem requirements.

So I’m thinking it might make more sense to have a modem that is just a modem, which looks like it’ll cost less than a combo modem and router - and this way, if I need to change it down the line, I can still keep all the WiFi stuff as is.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Ah ok...

The subject title (plus what service providers, including TW/Spectrum, typically provide) made me think you might need router as well...

_Man_
 

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I very well may! My router is old and probably could be replaced. I’m not opposed to considering an all in one, it’s just not a requirement.
 

BobO'Link

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I don't like all-in-ones. If one part fails or needs upgrading you have to do it all. Plus you frequently get better performance with separates. At my house this applies for everything: Stereo equipment, TV, media players, networking, etc.

That Motorola cable modem is pretty standard and accepted by all of the major players and many (most? all?) of the "little guys."
 
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Stay away from all-in-ones if at all possible.

The newest cable modem standard is DOCSIS 3.1. It has a [theoretical] capacity of 10GB down and 1GB up speeds which is clearly overkill for pretty much anyone. DOCSIS 3.0 modems are affordable, easy to find and support speeds up to 1.2Gbps up and 200Mbps down which is still likely more than you'll ever need. On the list you provided I would consider the Netgear CM600. It's selling for about $100.00 on Amazon and [paired with a suitable WiFi router] should serve you for many years to come.
 
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BobO'Link

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I'm cheap. That's partially why I went with the Motorola (and decades of experience with the quality of their 2-way radios - my dad sold, serviced, and installed those for farmers from when I was too little to know what they were until just a couple of years ago) - but partly due to it being able to support a higher speed if I wanted it. As soon as I put the test wifi router in "production" I'll know if I made a good decision - at least know what speed it'll handle as I just upgraded to 400Mbps solely for a higher data cap. 100Mbps was handling my data needs quite nicely (2 people with light streaming and the occasional grandkid streaming something) other than a stupidly low 250GB cap. IMHO caps need to be abolished. Make the speed the cap.
 
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John Dirk

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I'm cheap. That's partially why I went with the Motorola (and decades of experience with the quality of their 2-way radios - my dad sold, serviced, and installed those for farmers from when I was too little to know what they were until just a couple of years ago) - but partly due to it being able to support a higher speed if I wanted it. As soon as I put the test wifi router in "production" I'll know if I made a good decision - at least know what speed it'll handle as I just upgraded to 400Mbps solely for a higher data cap. 100Mbps was handling my data needs quite nicely (2 people with light streaming and the occasional grandkid streaming something) other than a stupidly low 250Mbps. IMHO caps need to be abolished. Make the speed the cap.
This may sound strange but I am so jealous of you. I want those super-fast data plans because, well, they're available. In my case, the rub is that my employer pays for my service. It's great on the wallet but, since they pay, I have zero control and can't easily upgrade.

"Don't cry for me..." :)
 
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Josh Steinberg

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And I’m jealous of you! :)

My employer’s parent company is owned by a conglomerate that owns a cable company. If I lived in an area that they serviced, I’d be eligible for free cable and internet as a perk. Alas, I don’t, so I have to pay just like most everyone else. But what a savings that would be.
 
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John Dirk

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And I’m jealous of you! :)

My employer’s parent company is owned by a conglomerate that owns a cable company. If I lived in an area that they serviced, I’d be eligible for free cable and internet as a perk. Alas, I don’t, so I have to pay just like most everyone else. But what a savings that would be.

It's a double-edged sword. They pay so that they can have unfettered access to my skill set. I've already worked about 9 hours today yet in a couple of hours I'll have to join a bridge that could go until midnight or later.

 
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BobO'Link

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This may sound strange but I am so jealous of you. I want those super-fast data plans because, well, they're available. In my case, the rub is that my employer pays for my service. It's great on the wallet but, since they pay, I have zero control and can't easily upgrade.

"Don't cry for me..." :)
I'll make is worse... sort of...

I had 3Mbps DSL that I was quite happy with but started having connectivity issues (my POTS service was never affected by the issues). The AT&T techs couldn't find the cause (I kept telling them it was at "CO" but they kept coming to the house first - working the wrong way). After several months of losing service for a couple of hours per evening almost every evening I opted to just switch to cable. I hated to switch as I'd had DSL since it came to town in 2000 but I'd had enough. So... I purchased the cable modem, called the cable company, and purchased 100Mbps for $20 less than I'd been paying AT&T for 3Mbps. The drawback? A 250GB data cap! After 4 months of coming close we went over a couple of months ago. They give you 2 times and then start to hit you with overage charges. When it was obvious it was going to go over again I sucked it up and bumped the speed to 400Mbps as it's "unlimited" (they also offer 200Mbps with a 350GB cap but last month we used 300GB so...). That added, you guessed it, $20/month to the bill. All that to say - they also offer 1GB service with "unlimited" data but I just don't see the need for that. As I said, 100Mbps was doing quite nicely and is all I'm really getting now due to that primary router with only a 10/100 switch built in.

I'd love it if my employer paid for my internet. At least at work I have access to a 50Gbps connection - but things don't really seem to work much faster which makes me feel that faster speed doesn't truly do much except for the occasional download. It all really depends on the server/system you're connecting to and many just don't have that kind of bandwidth.

My dad worked for a regional phone company who offers cable internet in many towns around (but not here). If he'd not moved here when he retired he'd get free internet and phone. But... they don't have the residential contract here so he can't. My daughter works for the same company. Same thing. They do offer business class internet and phones here but can't offer it to residences. If they did, I'd buy from them.
 

John Dirk

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I'd love it if my employer paid for my internet. At least at work I have access to a 50Gbps connection - but things don't really seem to work much faster which makes me feel that faster speed doesn't truly do much except for the occasional download. It all really depends on the server/system you're connecting to and many just don't have that kind of bandwidth.
You're correct. The analogy I often use is freeway traffic. You can buy the best equipment and subscribe to the highest plan they offer but it doesn't exclude you from congestion which is a reality on any Enterprise network. In other words, If your super car is sitting behind other cars or at a stop sign, it's specific performance metrics don't really matter.
 

Josh Steinberg

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On the list you provided I would consider the Netgear CM600. It's selling for about $100.00 on Amazon and [paired with a suitable WiFi router] should serve you for many years to come.
John, thanks for this. If you don’t mind me troubling you further, what would you consider a suitable WiFi router? If there are any specific details about my space that I can provide that factor into answering that, just let me know.
 

John Dirk

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John, thanks for this. If you don’t mind me troubling you further, what would you consider a suitable WiFi router? If there are any specific details about my space that I can provide that factor into answering that, just let me know.
Hey Josh. Not at all but I don't know if there's a simple universal answer to that question. My solution has been to eliminate WiFi in my home for any device with a physical Ethernet port. As someone else said on HTF some time ago, even the best WiFi is inferior to wired connections.

Of course I do realize eliminating the need for WiFi is not practical or possible in many circumstances. Before I make a recommendation please answer a few questions.

1) What is your budget?
2) How many devices do you have
3) What are your usage patterns? Are you and your wife heavy streamers and are you likely to both be streaming different HD content simultaneously?
4) What is you approximate square footage?

Also. Are you [OK - your wife:)] opposed to a long [hidden behind baseboards, rugs etc.] Ethernet run in your home? I know a little about your situation from previous posts and, as @DaveF once pointed out, this may be something you need to consider for optimum coverage.

Sorry for all of the questions but this will help in choosing the best overall product.
 
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