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The 5 Best Modem/Router Combos 2021

Ari Howard

May 20, 2021 — 9 min read

Wondering which modem/router combo you should get? We did the research and came up with the five best available options.

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If you are currently in the process of purchasing internet service, then you likely know renting or purchasing equipment is required in order to connect your home to the internet. However, there may be more options than you think for internet and Wi-Fi equipment. For instance, an increasingly popular option for purchasing internet equipment is an all-in-one modem/router device. If you want to learn more about all-in-one modem/router devices and what the best modem/router combos are currently on the market, then you are in the right place. 

What is a modem/router combo?

In order to access wireless internet in your home, you need two pieces of equipment: a modem and a router. You have the option to purchase this equipment separately or as a two-in-one modem/router device, known as a gateway device. The modem part is used for receiving internet signals sent by your internet service provider (ISP). It then converts those signals so your devices can connect. The router is essential if you want to be able to access Wi-Fi because it takes the modem’s converted internet signals and creates a wireless network out of them that all connected devices in the home can access. 

What are the benefits of a modem/router combo?

While you can purchase your two pieces of equipment separately, it is much more convenient to purchase a modem/router combo. Not only does a modem/router combo take up less space in your home, but it also cuts the set-up time in half. The main downside of buying the modem and router as one device occurs when you need to upgrade your gateway device either because the router or the modem is out of date or you have to replace the entire device, which is more expensive than just upgrading the modem or router separately. Overall, however, purchasing a modem/router combo is likely more cost-efficient than purchasing them separately. 

How we chose the 5 best modem/router devices 

If you are interested in purchasing a modem/router device, then you will want to consider several factors when choosing the right one for your needs. We have simplified the process for you by generating a list of the five best modem/router devices that cater to different consumer needs. Therefore, regardless of what type of gateway device you are looking for, there is bound to be a great option for you on this list. We researched the top 10 best-selling modem/router devices and narrowed this list down to our top 5, based on the following factors:

  • Supported speeds
  • Price and value
  • Features 
  • Specific customer reviews
  • What it’s best for: budgets, speeds, all-in-one, etc.

Our methodology

We included a wide range of gateway devices on our list in order to ensure everyone’s unique needs were met.

We included a wide range of gateway devices on our list in order to ensure everyone’s unique needs were met. For instance, while some consumers may just want the best modem/router for the cheapest price because they have a fairly low speed plan, others may be willing to pay a little more because they need a modem/router device that has great coverage and high-speed capabilities. In order to ensure all consumers are getting the best value for the type of modem/router device they need, we have broken down the top five list by the following categories: “best overall,” “best value,” “best for budgeters,” “best for gig internet,” “best for security” and “best for wide-coverage.”

Learn more about the Allconnect approach

The 5 best modem/router combos of 2021 

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Best overall modem/router combo: Arris Surfboard SBG7600AC2  

  • Max speeds: 1.4 Gbps
  • Best for plans up to 400 Mbps 
  • Compatible with all major cable providers 
  • Modem technology: 32×8 channels and 3.0 DOCSIS 
  • 4 1-gigabit Ethernet ports 
  • Under $200 

The Arris Surfboard SBG7600AC2 is one of the best modem/routers available for its price. This device currently has over 2,000 reviews on Amazon, with 74% of reviewers ranking it 5 stars. Its highest rated categories include “user interface,” “easy to install” and “Wi-Fi signal.” Although max speeds can reach up to 1.4 Gbps, the Arris Surfboard works best with speed plans around 400 Mbps. You can probably get away with using this modem/router if you have a speed plan between 400 and 600 Mbps, but you may want to consider upgrading to a higher quality modem/router. 

This Arris modem/router is not the most advanced device on the market, considering its DOCSIS standard is 3.0 and not 3.1 and its speed max is lower than many other device; however, it is all anyone with a speed plan of 400 Mbps and below needs to maximize their speeds throughout their entire home without overpaying. Plus, the Arris modem/router is great for streaming and live gaming due to the four 1-gigabit Ethernet ports included on the device and its high channel download/upload count (32×8). 

Best modem/router value: Motorola MG7700 

  • Max speeds: 1.9 Gbps
  • Best for speed plans up to 400 (600 Mbps for Comcast) 
  • Compatible with all major cable providers
  • 4 gigabit Ethernet ports 
  • Modem technology: 24×8 channels and DOCSIS 3.0 
  • Under $200

The Motorola MG7700 is best for a similar internet user as customers of the Arris Surfboard SBG7600AC2. The two devices are within $3 of one another on Amazon and have a recommended speed plan of 400 to 600 Mbps. The major difference between the two devices is that the Arris Surfboard has a higher channel count, while the Motorola has a slightly higher max speed (1.9 vs. 1.4 Gbps). In addition to superior max speeds, the Motorola MG7700 is also smaller in size. At only 1.5 pounds, the Motorola MG7700 is one of the smaller modem/routers available. 

The Motorola has over 4,000 reviews, which are positive but slightly less positive than the Surfboard modem/router. The Motorola has an average score of 4.4 stars (the Arris has 4.5 stars), with 72% of reviewers rating the Motorola modem/router combo five stars. Motorola scored the highest rankings in “easy to install,” “Wi-Fi signal” and ‘value for money.” 

Best modem/router for budgeters: NETGEAR C6220

  • Max speeds: 1.2 Gbps
  • Best for speed plans of 200 Mbps and below 
  • Coverage: 1,200 sq. ft.
  • Can handle up to 20 devices at a time
  • Compatible with all major cable providers 
  • 2 gigabit Ethernet ports 
  • Modem technology: 16×4 channels and DOCSIS 3.0 
  • Under $70 

If you have a speed plan of 200 Mbps or below, the Netgear C6200 is the modem/router for you. At only $67.95 on Amazon, the Netgear C6200 is an incredible deal. It is one of the least expensive modem/routers available, yet it barely sacrifices on any of the quality. If you live in a home larger than 1,200 sq. ft., however, you will likely want to upgrade to a more advanced modem/router. The biggest differences between the Netgear C6200 and higher quality modem/routers are that this device is best for a slower speed plan, has fewer gigabit Ethernet ports and a lower upload/download channel count. 

The Netgear C6200 has nearly 18,000 reviews on Amazon. Its average rating is 4.4 stars with 74% of reviewers rating the Netgear modem/router 5 stars. If you are interested in a modem/router that is simple and intuitive to use, this device is likely ideal for you. The Netgear C6200 ranked best in the categories “easy to use,” “easy to install” and “user interface.”

Best modem/router for gig internet: NETGEAR Nighthawk C7800

  • Max speeds: 3.2 Gig 
  • Best for speed plans up to 2 Gig 
  • Compatible with all major cable providers 
  • Coverage: 3,000 sq. ft. 
  • Can connect up to 45 devices at a time 
  • 4 gigabit Ethernet ports 
  • Modem technology: 32×8 channels and 3.0 DOCSIS 
  • Under $350

If you have a plan above 600 Mbps, then you will want to consider the Netgear Nighthawk C7800. At $329.99, the Netgear Nighthawk C7800 is one of the more expensive modem/router devices available. However, if you live in a larger home and have a fast internet plan, the Netgear Nighthawk C7800 is likely worth the investment. The only downside about the Nighthawk is that the modem technology is somewhat sub-par considering the price of the device. However, you will still likely receive the speeds and reliability you paid for. 

The Nighthawk modem/router has nearly 3,000 reviews on Amazon. This device received an average of 4 stars and 70% of reviewers rated the device 5 stars. Its top rated categories included “easy to install” and “user interface.”

Best modem/router coverage: NETGEAR Orbi AC2200 

  • Max speeds: 2.2 Gbps 
  • Best for speed plans up to 500 Mbps 
  • Coverage: 4,000 sq. ft 
  • Modem technology: 32×8 channels and 3.0 DOCSIS 
  • 4 gigabit Ethernet ports 
  • Compatible with all major cable providers 
  • Under $250

The Netgear Orbi AC2200 is the ideal modem/router for larger households. If you have a mid-tier speed plan (between 300 and 500 Mbps) and need your Wi-Fi to reach all rooms in your home, this is the modem/router for you. The Netgear Orbi AC2200 is $100 cheaper than the Netgear Nighthawk C7800 but can cover a wider distance by 1,000 sq. ft. If you have a smaller household and a plan around 300 Mbps, however, the Arris Surfboard SBG7600AC2 or the Motorola MG 7700 are more cost-efficient options. 

The Netgear Orbi AC22000 has nearly 18,000 reviews on Amazon. Its average rating is 4.4 stars with 74% of reviewers rating the device 5 stars. Finally, the Netgear Orbi modem/router’s top ranking categories included “easy to use,” “easy to install,” “user interface.”

What to look for in a modem/router combo 

Regardless of what your main criteria includes for a modem/router device, you will want to consider a few key factors before making your selection. 

Speeds: While it’s not necessary to get the highest quality modem/router device if you have a somewhat low speed plan (under 300 Mbps), you do want to ensure that your modem/router can handle your maximum internet speeds. If you purchase a modem/router that cannot reach your internet speed plan, then you will not be able to access the speeds you paid for. However, it’s also important to note that buying a modem/router with high speed capabilities will not provide you with faster speeds than what you paid for. That’s why you just want to get the best modem/router relative to the speed plan you have; not necessarily the best modem/router in general.

Range: Another important consideration when choosing a modem/router device is Wi-Fi coverage, especially if you live in a bigger house. If your home has multiple floors and rooms in it, a modem/router that’s capable of reaching far distances is a must for you. Otherwise, you will experience Wi-Fi dead zones in your home and lots of frustrating buffering. Therefore, when choosing a modem/router, make sure the range listed is large enough to cover your home. It’s also worth checking how many devices can connect at a time. If you end up with a modem/router device that isn’t capable of reaching everywhere in your home, however, you can always purchase Wi-Fi extenders

Pricing: Once you narrow down the modem/router devices that can accommodate your speed plan and cover your entire home, you will want to compare pricing. Pricing can range anywhere between $60 and $400, so make sure you aren’t overpaying! 

Modem technology: Although not particularly important to pay attention to because speeds, range and price will likely provide all the information you need, another way you can determine the quality of your modem/router is by looking at your device’s number of channels and DOCSIS (data over cable service interface specification) standard number. Channel numbers refer to how many downstream and upstream channels are available, which is largely what determines your internet’s bandwidth. All you need to know is you don’t want to go below 16×4 and the greater the channels, the greater the bandwidth. The DOCSIS number listed is the standard for high-bandwidth data transfers. The standard is generally either 3.0 or 3.1. You will likely only want to upgrade to 3.1 if you have a gig speed internet plan. 

ISP compatibility: Although most cable modem/routers are compatible with all major cable providers, make sure your desired modem/router is compatible with your ISP before you commit to purchasing. This can be an easy step to forget! 

How to set up your Wi-Fi modem/router combo 

No matter which modem/router combo you choose, you will be given instructions on how to activate and set up your device. Once you have your Wi-Fi modem/router hooked up, you can expect it to take up to 20 minutes to connect to the internet. The best part of owning a modem/router device is that setup time is cut in half because there is only one instead of two devices to hook up. 

Best modems and routers for providers 

Although all five of our listed modem/router combos are compatible with all major cable providers, if you want to learn more about the best modems and routers for your provider, you can click on the links below:

Spectrum: Best compatible modems and routers

Xfinity: Best compatible modems and routers

Need a faster, more reliable internet plan? 

Although upgrading your modem/router can help boost speeds and reliability, sometimes the fix isn’t that simple. If you’re not happy with your internet speeds or service, it may be time to switch plans or providers. Head over to our internet provider page for more information.  

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Modem/router combo FAQs

Are modems and routers the same thing?

No, but they work together to provide Wi-Fi throughout your home. A modem receives the internet signals sent by your ISP and then translates those signals into usable internet signals. The router then takes those internet signals and creates a wireless network out of them that all connected devices can access. The router isn’t necessary but is what allows devices to connect to the internet without an Ethernet cord.

In a way, yes. If you do not have a modem and router that is capable of reaching the speeds of your internet plan, you will have access to slower speeds than what you paid for. A poor quality modem and router can also be the reason for irregular speeds. A modem and router, however, cannot provide faster speeds than your selected speed plan.

Dual-band Wi-Fi, as opposed to single-band Wi-Fi, is a feature on routers that enables them to emit wireless signals on two separate frequency bands. While a single-band router would only emit frequency from a 2.5GHz band, a dual-band router uses both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. This additional frequency band helps increase speeds and improve connectivity by distributing traffic that is normally funneled through just one frequency band.

It can be. In terms of easier set-up and use overall, the modem/router combo is a better option. Plus, many modem/router combos are more cost-efficient than buying separate devices.

Yes. All three main types of internet service (cable, fiber optic and DSL) each require different modem technology. If you switch to a fiber optic provider, you will need to purchase a new modem.

Ari Howard

Written by:

Ari Howard

Associate Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content

Ari is an Associate Writer for the Allconnect team, focusing on broadband and wireless news, as well as broadband and TV provider deals. She recently graduated from Davidson College with a bachelor’s degree in… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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