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Best gigabit modems of 2021 compared

John Schmidt

Nov 3, 2021 — 5 min read

Netgear Nighthawk CAX80 cable modem

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The best gigabit modems

When you partner a good gigabit modem with one of our picks for the best high-speed internet providers, you can significantly boost your internet speed. A gigabit modem is a type of router that uses new technology to increase your internet speeds somewhere between 1-10 gigabits per second. If you are paying for gigabit internet service, you should be taking advantage of it with a gigabit modem.

How we chose the best gigabit modems

When we identified the best gigabit modems for your money, we looked at many criteria, including speed, value, customer reviews and features. The modem had to offer DOCSIS technology to give you fast internet speeds.

Best gigabit modem for DOCSIS 3.1 affordability: Motorola MB8600

Motorola MB8600

Price: $139.99

The Motorola MB8600 DOCSIS 3.1 Cable Modem is an all-around great option for those looking for affordable and fast internet. If you’re looking for one of the most affordable introductions into the world of DOCSIS 3.1 speeds, this is the model you should check out. 

Pros and cons of the Motorola MB8600

  • Affordability, two-year warranty, compatible with DOCSIS 3.0 networks

  • Only uses coaxial

Best gigabit modem for modem-router combo value: ARRIS SURFboard SBG8300

Arris Surfboard SBG8300 cable modem router

Price: $259.99+

The ARRIS SURFboard is a popular gigabit modem series, and for good reason. The SBG8300 model is highly rated among users. The ARRIS SURFboard SBG8300 DOCSIS 3.1 Cable Modem offers four gigabit Ethernet ports and has a built-in Wi-Fi router. This combination modem can help reduce clutter by putting two boxes in one. You may also be able to save money by purchasing this one modem-router combo instead of purchasing both.

Pros and cons of the ARRIS SURFboard SBG8300

  • Space-saving combination of modem and router

  • Currently incompatible with some major U.S. providers, expensive if bought to be used only as a modem or router

Best gigabit modem for the middle-ground option: NETGEAR CM1200 Nighthawk

Netgear Nighthawk CM1200 cable modem

Price: $179.99 

The NETGEAR CM1200 Nighthawk Cable Modem offers DOCSIS 3.1, four gigabit Ethernet ports and more. It is one of the best-looking models listed here if that’s a consideration for you. The NETGEAR CM1200 has one of the highest Amazon ratings of any model on this list. This model offers three more Ethernet ports than the next step down, the CM1000.

Pros and cons of the NETGEAR CM1200 Nighthawk

  • Good looks, easy to set up

  • A bit pricey.

Best gigabit modem for gaming: NETGEAR Nighthawk C7800

Netgear Nighthawk C7800 cable modem

Price: $329.99

The NETGEAR Nighthawk C7800 is a serious cable modem and Wi-Fi router combo that gives you some of the fastest internet access available. We chose this model for its impressively fast Wi-Fi and DOCSIS 3.1 cable internet speeds. Those who want a gigabit modem for exceptional high-definition gaming might be interested in what the NETGEAR Nighthawk C7800 has to offer.

Pros and cons of the NETGEAR Nighthawk C7800

  • Extremely fast.

  • Expensive

Best gigabit modem for ease of use: ARRIS SURFboard SB8200

Arris SURFboard SB8200 cable modem

Price: $137.99

If you don’t need the Wi-Fi router that comes with the ARRIS SURFboard SBG8300, check out the ARRIS SURFboard SB8200. This is one of the most affordable options on this list and a great entry point into DOCSIS 3.1 speeds. This cable modem is compatible with Cox, Xfinity and other major cable internet providers in the U.S.

Pros and cons of the ARRIS SURFboard SB8200

  • Friendlier-looking than usual black cyborg options, affordable, quick and easy setup

  • Downgrade to two gigabit Ethernet ports, no compatibility with AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink and other DSL or fiber internet providers

Best gigabit modem for handling the future of the internet: NETGEAR CAX80

Price: $421.46

The NETGEAR Nighthawk CAX80 cable modem with a built-in Wi-Fi 6 router is the most expensive option on this list, but it is one of the best DOCSIS 3.1 modems you can buy. If you’re trying to prepare for the future of the internet, the NETGEAR CAX80 is ahead of its time. The CAX80 can handle up to eight Wi-Fi streams and speeds up to 6 Gbps. Most users won’t need this level of strength, but those who do may be interested.

Pros and cons of the NETGEAR CAX80

  • One of the most powerful options

  • One of the most expensive options, sometimes difficult to set up

Best gigabit modem for the most reliable and easy experience: Motorola MB8611

Motorola MB8611 modem

Price: $169.98

The Motorola MB8611 DOCSIS 3.1 multi-gig cable modem is one of the most popular options on this list. It’s affordable, easy to set up and offers plenty of features you might be looking for when switching to a DOCSIS 3.1-enabled modem, such as a 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port. This model pairs with any Wi-Fi router and has been approved to work with many top internet providers. If you’re looking for an easy experience with getting out of paying equipment rental fees from your provider, we suggest looking into the Motorola MB8611.

Pros and cons of the Motorola MB8611

  • Quick and painless setup, affordable, backward-compatible with DOCSIS 3.0

  • Only one Ethernet port

Best gigabit modem for budget DOCSIS 3.0 options: Motorola MB7621

Motorola MB7621

Price:$77.98

The Motorola MB7621 DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem is a great option for users who don’t need next-generation fast internet speeds. If you’re looking to save some money and you don’t need the latest, greatest and fastest modem, the Motorola MB7621 might be perfectly sufficient for your needs. It offers a gigabit Ethernet port that you can connect to your router or computer to potentially upgrade your internet speed.

Pros and cons of the Motorola MB7621

  • The most affordable option on this list, easy to set up

  • Not as lightning-fast as its DOCSIS 3.1 siblings

What to look for in a gigabit modem

Gigabit modems use DOCSIS technology to increase your internet speeds. DOCSIS 3.0 or higher allows you to get gigabit speeds through your coaxial cable internet connection. The best DOCSIS 3.1 modem for you largely depends on what you need it for. 

If you don’t have a router and don’t plan on buying one to go with your new modem, you’ll need to purchase a DOCSIS 3.1 modem-router combination model.

Take a look at the number of channels your prospective modem runs with. These channels show how many Mbps the modem can run. If you want to make sure the modem you’re looking at can handle gigabit speeds, be sure to aim for 24×8 channels as a minimum.

Last, and perhaps most importantly, double-check to make sure that the modem you’re thinking of purchasing is compatible with your internet provider. Check with your provider to see if a third-party gigabit modem is even a possibility for you. Many cable internet providers allow for gigabit modems, but fewer fiber optic internet providers allow them.

Need a faster internet plan?

Of course, all of this is for naught if your internet provider doesn’t offer gigabit service. A modem can only be as fast as the internet your provider offers. Find an internet plan that offers the fast speeds you need to explore, game and watch as much as you want. Allconnect makes it easy to find the fastest and most affordable internet providers in your area, so start shopping today.

The bottom line

Having the right combination of internet service provider, modem and router can vastly improve your internet speed. Remember to check out your current internet service provider plan to see how fast your internet is even allowed to run. You might not want to purchase equipment that allows for speeds your current plan doesn’t offer. Look for the signs of a good gigabit modem, take a look at your internet needs and find a well-reviewed option that fits your budget.

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John Schmidt

Written by:

John Schmidt

John Paul Schmidt is a freelance writer, podcaster, and sourdough enthusiast living in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. He has had thousands of articles, blog posts, and web pages published in newspapers, ma… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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