Cable Modem Buying Guide

So you’re thinking about buying your own cable modem or have already decided, well you’ve come to right place. We’ll show you some of things to look for and describe the various options to help you decide. For several cable internet providers, we have lists of every compatible cable modem model readily available for purchase, their current prices and where to buy them.

Some cable companies are charging at $14 a month to rent a cable modem from them. That’s $168 a year or $840 in just 5 years. With new modems costing as little as $60 and used or refurbished ones as low as $30, it can make financial sense to buy your own modem. The downside is the cable company won’t give you a free replacement if there are problems with the modem.

If you don’t want to read further and just want to find cable modems that’ll work for you, select your cable company below (or at the top of this page.)

Getting Started

The first thing is to find a modem that will work with your current cable internet company. Almost every company provides a list of modems that will work on their network. On each of our pages, we have a link to that list. The problem is there can up to 75 or more different models on that list. About half of them are not easy to find or buy, so we found the readily available ones and list their features, prices and where to buy them.

The next step is to decide what features you want.

DOCSIS 3.1 and 3.0

DOCISIS technology uses channels to transmit data, these are like traffic lanes. There are downstream and upstream channels. Each channel can carry only so much data or internet traffic. With DOCSIS, these channels can be bonded together like a multi-lane freeway to get multiple times the amount of data through. DOCSIS 3.0 can have up to 32 downstream channels, with a maximum download speed of about 1 gigabit per second (Gbps). Usually, we’re only concerned with the number of download channels because most people are downloading a lot more data than uploading. DOCSIS 3.1 adds more and faster channels (called OFDM for downstream and OFDMA for upstream), with a maximum download speed of 10 Gbps. 10 times faster than DOCSIS 3.0. But DOCSIS 3.1 still has the same channels as 3.0, so DOCSIS 3.0 modems will work on it.

Many companies strongly suggest you buy a DOCSIS 3.1 modem to future proof your purchase as internet speeds keep increasing. You share channels with people in your neighborhood, so the more channels you have, the better your modem will perform, if some channels become congested.

Built-in Wi-Fi Router

Some modems include a built-in Wi-Fi router, so you don’t need a separate Wi-Fi router. This is nice if you have limited space or just like the tidiness of having one device. There are options for a Wi-Fi 5 or a Wi-Fi 6 (the newest, higher speed standard) router. For Wi-Fi 6 routers , your devices also need to be Wi-Fi 6 compatible to take advantage of the higher speeds. But all devices will work with either type of router. We prefer to have a separate modem and router. That way can we upgrade or replace either as needed.

Voice and Phone Capable

If you have your phone service also through your cable company, you’ll either need to buy a cable modem with phone capabilities, called an eMTA modem, or buy a regular modem and use the modem the company provides for phone service, so you’ll have two modems. Each company has different rules for this, so check our different pages to see what each company allows. Some won’t let you buy your own modem, if you have phone or voice service.

Puma 6 Chipset

Some cable modems have a Puma 6 chipset in them that can cause subpar performance. It can lead to delays (latency) in the data getting to you. This mainly affects some DOCSIS 3.0 modems. We’ve noted the ones with this chip. Most users won’t notice unless they are serious online gamers. We won’t get into the whole Puma chipset controversy, just letting you know it exists, in case you want to do further research or consider another modem.

New vs Used or Refurbished

You can save even more money buying a used or refurbished modem. We’ve had no problems with them. Just make sure that you buy it from a reputable dealer with a good return policy and warranty. Watch out for some used modem sellers and other used dealers. They could be selling modems that were rented by ex-customers of cable internet providers and never returned. If this is the case, your cable company will notice this when you hook them up and won’t authorize their use.

Price

All of these modems are reliable and built to last for many years. There is very little difference between them, except for number of download channels and those with routers built in. Price should be a main factor in deciding which one to buy.

bcam
Logo
Register New Account
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Compare
0