Buying your own internet modem is not just a great way to avoid paying rental fees from your ISP—choosing a better model than what your cable company offers lets you unlock better internet and network performance. And if you’re paying for super-fast internet speeds, running one of the best cable modems can unlock the performance you’d otherwise be wasting with a slower model.
Of course, you don’t have to buy the most expensive model. Some (like our favorite, the Motorola MG7700) double as a router and come with dual-band Wi-Fi 5 built right in, which is probably all the networking hardware you’ll ever need. Alternatively, for those looking for a cheap and cheerful modem to get out from under your ISP’s rental package, the Netgear CM500 is a very smart and popular choice.
Whatever kind of modem you need, though, this list has something for you. Here are some of the best cable modems you can buy today.
DOCSIS version: 3.0 | Supported internet speed: 800 Mbps | Ethernet ports: 4x Gigabit | Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 5, 2.4GHz, 5GHz | Phone jack: No
Best for: Average households who want a quality modem/router unit.
The Motorola MG7700 is one of the most popular third-party modems you can buy, thanks to its combination of excellent features, ability to operate as both a modem and a router to simplify your internet connectivity, and its relatively affordable price. While the most modern modems tout their ability to support Gigabit+ internet speeds, that’s not something everyone has access to and there’s no need for you to pay for a feature you can’t use. That doesn’t mean the MG7700 is slow, though. It can support internet speeds all the way up to 800 Mbps, and has four Gigabit Ethernet ports for fast network data transfers and zero internet bottlenecks.
It also has built-in Wi-Fi 5 support, which again isn’t the fastest standard, but it’s more than quick enough for everyday web browsing and streaming video. It is supported by most major internet service providers, and has useful additional router features, like parental controls, and guest networking support. You can always add your own router later if you want to improve Wi-Fi performance or coverage, but for most internet users, the Motorola MG7700 offers everything you need for the foreseeable future.
- Modem and router combination streamlines internet connectivity
- Four Gigabit Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi 5 support
- Supports fast internet speeds up to 800 Mbps
- Lacks DOCSIS 3.1 support
- Can’t handle Gigabit internet connections
DOCSIS version: 3.1 Supported internet speed: 1Gbps | Ethernet ports: 2x Gigabit | Wi-Fi: No |: Phone jack: No
Best for: Enjoying Gigabit internet speeds at a reasonable price.
The Arris Surfboard SB8200 is an affordable DOCSIS 3.1 router that can handle internet speeds up to 1Gbps, making it a great choice for anyone who wants high-speed internet without spending the hundreds of dollars it tends to cost for the high-end models. This modem does not have router functionality, so you will have to budget for buying a router as well; especially if you want wireless internet connectivity, as this model doesn’t have any kind of Wi-Fi support. It does, however, work with most major internet service providers, and costs far less than the competition.
With plans to slowly phase out DOCSIS 3.0 technology, getting yourself a DOCSIS 3.1 modem like this one gives you some measure of future proofing and ensures you’ll be able to enjoy some of the fastest connectivity for years to come. The actual modem is compact and easy to tuck away if you don’t want it to be readily accessible, and setup is quick and easy.
- Affordable Gigabit internet speed support
- Futureproofed with DOCSIS 3.1 support
- Quick setup:
- You need to buy a separate router
- Lacks the Gigabit+ speed support of higher-end options
DOCSIS version: 3.0 | Supported internet speed: 400 MBps | Ethernet ports: 1x Gigabit | Wi-Fi: No |: Phone jack: No
Best for: Avoiding modem rental or upgrading your network on the cheap.
The CM500 is a great modem for anyone looking to get out from under rental payments, as it’s affordable, supports high-speed internet up to 400 Mbps and it’s easy to connect it to any wireless router so you can enjoy high-speed wired and wireless internet access. It comes with a single Gigabit Ethernet port, and the setup is quick and easy. It’s a small device, too, so you don’t need to make a big space for it in your home.
Cutting back on monthly costs is the real selling point of this modem, though. If you don’t want to continue paying a monthly fee for your existing modem, this is a great entry-level model to replace it with. It’s especially cheap with its latest discount, and will have paid for itself in the elimination of rental fees in just a few months. If you want slightly better performance, too, there are more expensive models that give you 500 Mbps, or even 1 Gigabit per second download speeds—great for anyone upgrading to Gigabit speed internet in the near future.
- Very affordable price
- Supports up to 400 Mbps internet
- Built in Gigabit Ethernet
- Lacks Gigabit speed internet support
- No router functions
DOCSIS version: 3.1 Supported internet speed: 1,200MBps | Ethernet ports: 4x Gigabit | Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 5 2.4GHz, 5Ghz |: Phone jack: No
Best for: High speed internet on wired and wireless connections.
If you want a modem that is packed full of the latest features, then the Motorola MG8702 is a great premium modem to buy. It’ll pay for itself in just over a year of dodged modem rental fees, and with that investment up front you get a router and modem in one, with Wi-Fi 5 support, multiple Gigabit Ethernet connections, and support for Gigabit and faster internet connections up to 1,200Mbps. It’s compatible with most of the major internet service providers, and comes with a two-year warranty giving you peace of mind.
The router functions aren’t cutting-edge, but they’re still strong, with Wi-Fi 5 speeds, support for beamforming for improved Wi-Fi signal strength and coverage in your home. It also includes quality of service (QoS) features for prioritizing latency-sensitive traffic, like gaming, and has parental controls so you can lock down what the kids are looking at on the internet. It’s a little more expensive than most of the other modems on this list, but its additional performance and robust set of features make it one of the best modems you can buy today.
- Gigabit+ internet speeds supported
- Wi-Fi 5 and router functionality built-in
- Two year warranty included as standard
- Can’t manage multi-gigabit internet speeds
DOCSIS version: 3.1 Supported internet speed: 2,500 Mbps | Ethernet ports: 1x 2.5 Gibabit |: Wi-Fi: No |: Phone jack: No
Best for: Pairing with a high-speed router for the fastest possible internet.
If you live in an area where multi-gigabit speed internet is available and you want to take advantage of it, you’re going to have to pay for the privilege. Fortunately, with modems like the Netgear Nighthawk CM2000, you aren’t going to have to pay too: much to get it. At just under $300, this modem might be more expensive than most, and you’ll need to buy a router to go with it, but if you do, you’ll unlock some of the fastest internet speeds in the world. With support for up to 2,500 Mbps (that’s 2.5 Gigabits per second!) of bandwidth, this modem will help you download faster, stream at higher qualities, and get more people online than almost any other modem. It’s about as fast and capable as it gets.
This modem is overkill for most users, but if you want to download files extremely quickly, want the least latency for competitive gaming, or have many people in your home who want to stream 4K video at the same time—and you have the internet connection to use it—there are few modems that can match the CM2000. It also features a sleek, unique-looking design, and if you need to be able to connect a phone to the modem, there’s a version with dual phone lines too.
- Ultra fast
- Supports 2.5 Gigabit networking
- Sleek design
- Overkill for most internet users