Which Comcast modem is best?
From technology aficionados looking for cutting-edge features and download speeds to budget-minded internet users, many people could benefit from buying a Comcast modem rather than renting one from the cable provider. The cost of a Comcast-compatible modem, like our top pick, the Arris Surfboard, is more than offset by improved performance and pays for itself in just a few months,
What to know before you buy a Comcast modem
Comcast has largely converted its U.S. network to its high-speed Xfinity service, which relies on DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 technology to deliver internet data at speeds up to (and in some places exceeding) 1 gigabit per second (Gbps). Most Americans can access these speeds — but only if the technology inside their home can handle it.
Current internet subscription
Having a super-fast modem will help you maximize your internet speed, but if you’re not subscribed to a high-speed plan, your modem will not go any faster than what Comcast is providing. Check your current internet subscription and find out what the maximum available speeds are in your area. Depending on your location, you may be able to upgrade your internet subscription to 1 Gbps and even 2 Gbps.
Advertised vs. actual speeds
If you think of the internet like a freeway, you get an idea of why speeds can vary so greatly, based on the age and physical condition of the road, the number of lanes, the time of day, and thus the amount of traffic on the road at any given time, and so on. As a result, the actual download and upload speeds to which you subscribe will almost certainly be somewhat lower than the maximum advertised speed. On the upside, buying a Comcast modem may boost your network performance much closer to the advertised speed you’re paying for.
What to look for in a quality Comcast modem
Comcast modems have evolved over the past decade into gateways that offer many key features for online access.
- Cable modem: A DOCSIS 3.0 or 3.1 modems is required to be fully compatible with Comcast’s high-speed network.
- Wi-Fi access point: Comcast-compatible modems increasingly include a built-in Wi-Fi access point, rather than requiring them to be purchased separately and attached via Ethernet cable.
- Ethernet router: Opt for at least four Ethernet ports on a Comcast modem. While they’re used less and less today, Ethernet ports provide a secure connection for many devices — particularly Wi-Fi extenders.
- Telephony port: If you subscribe to landline phone service through Comcast, a telephony port will allow you to plug a traditional telephone into the modem to make and receive phone calls. If you don’t use traditional phone service, this isn’t a must-have, but it is a good option.
- Cable jack: Comcast delivers both its internet and TV services (if you subscribe to TV) into the home over a single coaxial cable. Coax is still a very robust way to carry data, and a Comcast modem will take full advantage of this feature.
How much you can expect to spend on a Comcast modem
A DOCSIS 3.0 modem, typically with no Wi-Fi access point, can be found for as low as $39-$59. Modems ranging in price from $89 to $119 are mainly DOCSIS 3.0 compatible with many gateway features, such as Wi-Fi access and telephony ports, while Comcast modems at the high end, $129-$189, feature DOCSIS 3.1 compatibility and function as complete gateways.
Comcast modem FAQ
Is a 1 Gbps Comcast modem too much if you subscribe to a slower internet plan?
A. To optimize internet speed, purchase a Comcast modem that has a maximum speed that is higher than your actual subscribed speed. For example, if you subscribe to a 600 megabit-per-second (Mbps) internet plan, a Comcast-compatible modem with a maximum speed of 1 Gbps will allow you to take full advantage of your internet plan — running multiple 4K video streams, gaming, and holding video chats — as the modem will handle 600 Mbps without a problem.
Is it better to purchase just a modem or a gateway-type Comcast modem?
A. Purchasing a modem alone may save quite a bit of money upfront while delivering the performance you want. However, you’ll then have to buy a Wi-Fi router that is up to par with the high speeds you’re subscribing to. Those who want precise control over their in-home network may enjoy tuning these components. For most users, a higher-priced Comcast modem that functions as a full-featured gateway, with built-in Wi-Fi access, telephony and Ethernet ports, may be costly at first but much easier to set up and use.
What’s the best Comcast modem to buy?
Top Comcast modem
What you need to know: This is a gateway that hits all the marks, with a modem that can handle Xfinity’s next-generation broadband speeds.
What you’ll love: Its DOCSIS 3.0-compatible modem is great for internet speeds below 600 Mbps, and it has a slim profile that keeps it out of the way on your end table, desk, or shelf.
What you should consider: It can be a bear to install, although fortunately, Comcast tech support will walk users through the setup of approved devices.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top Comcast modem for money
What you need to know: The sleek outer case on this Comcast modem hides a bevy of performance features that help users get great internet speeds without overheating or dropping.
What you’ll love: A 16×4 channel setup ensures good upstream and downstream performance, and a bank of four Ethernet ports allows for secure wired connections. Its design is compact, but this modem rarely overheats.
What you should consider: A separate Wi-Fi access point is needed.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: For internet plans below 250 Mbps, this DOCSIS 3.0 modem/router combo is on point, delivering balanced performance for downloads and uploads.
What you’ll love: A streamlined setup process helps users get online right away, with the modem delivering data at speeds close to the subscribed rate. It’s a workhorse for heavy streaming or gaming, too.
What you should consider: There are no telephony ports and just two Ethernet ports.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Samantha Bookman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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