A Guide to the Best Modem and Router Combos of 2022
Internet connectivity in our homes has practically become a necessity. And nowadays, there are all sorts of “smart” devices on the market, ranging from laptops and tablets to even kitchen appliances and light switches! The demand for wireless Internet connectivity has only grown. There are some instances where you’ll have to hook up two devices: 1) a modem, to receive Internet via a phone line or cable TV provider, and 2) a router, to allow other devices in your home to get Internet access. But there are also devices that can provide both functions, serving as a modem and router. These modem and router combos are easier and more convenient to set up. And they’re sophisticated enough to offer you fast Internet speeds for downloading and streaming content!
But knowing which modem and router combination to choose can be difficult, considering all of the specifications that you’ll see when shopping around. There will be a discussion of megabits per second, dual-band or single-band routers, Wi-Fi streams, and more. We hope to go through some of the specs in the Best Reviews Guide list of the top 10 modem and router combos. Hopefully, you won’t find all of these technical details so mystifying anymore!
Types of Modem And Router Combos
You’ll notice that modem-router combinations come in three main forms:
Cable Modems: If your cable TV company is also your Internet provider, you can use a modem/router combo that hooks up to the Internet by means of a coaxial cable to a cable TV jack. For example, the Motorola MG7700 Modem WiFi Router Combo hooks up to the cable TV jack in the wall with a coax cable. You then attach the power adapter and turn on the unit. The router provides you with 4 Ethernet ports, as well as Wi-Fi access.
Motorola MG7700 Modem WiFi Router Combo
Schematic for setting up the Motorola MG7700 Modem-Router
DSL Router Modems: “DSL” stands for “Digital Subscriber Line”. (You’ll also see the acronym “ADSL”, which stands for “Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line”. The “Asynchronous” means that there is a difference in upload and download speeds.) The Internet signal is sent over your phone line by your Internet provider, and a microfilter splitter divides the signal between your landline phone and the Internet signal.
An ADSL microfilter splitter
You use an RJ-11 cable to connect between the splitter and your modem/router combo. One end goes in the phone jack splitter, and the other end goes in the “Phone” jack on the modem/router. An example is the Actiontec 300 Mbps Wireless-N ADSL Modem Router (Model No. GT784WN).
Actiontec 300 Mbps Wireless-N ADSL Modem Router (Model No. GT784WN)
Ports on the Actiontec Modem Router
Optical Fiber Modems: There are some telecommunications companies that send their signals over optical fiber instead of copper wires. An optical signal is typically quicker and more reliable. An example is the Verizon FIOS Router.
Verizon FIOS Router
What reviewers say
Here are some reactions from the customers who tried hooking up a modem/router combo:
Saves on a rental fee: If you get your Internet service from your cable provider, having your own cable modem will save you on the rental fee for the modem/router. Depending on the service, that can be as much as $168/year. The cable/modem will pay for itself over time. A worthy investment!
Have to call Internet provider: Some customers said that they noticed an increase in Internet speed when they installed a new modem. But, at the same time, they had to call their provider to iron out some wrinkles that they had with the new technology.
Here are some tips on choosing the best modem and router combo for your needs:
Note which cable internet providers are compatible: If you get your Internet from a cable TV provider, check that the modem/router is compatible with your particular provider. For example, the Netgear Cable Modem WiFi Router Combo (Model No. C6220) will work with Comcast, Cox, and Spectrum, but not with Verizon, AT&T, or CenturyLink.
Dual-band: Most modems nowadays are dual-band. That means that they receive signals at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The 2.4 GHz frequency band is better for long-distance signals, at lower speeds, while the 5 GHz is better for higher-speed Internet over shorter distances.
WiFi 5 and WiFi 6: You’ll also see that some modem/routers are able to handle WiFi 6 (otherwise known as the IEEE 802.11ax standard), while others are still only able to work with WiFi 5 (IEEE 802.11ac standard). WiFi 6 has 12 component streams, while WiFi 5 has only 8 streams. More streams mean a higher connection speed, more ability for devices to communicate with the router, and thus more reliable connectivity. WiFi 6 will be better for hooking up many smart devices to your router—as many as 10 at a time!
DOCSIS: On cable modem/routers, you’ll see that they say either DOCSIS 3.0 or DOCSIS 3.1. DOCSIS stands for “data over cable service interface specifications”. A DOCSIS 3.0 modem is an older model and will be less expensive, but a DOCSIS 3.1 modem will be better for high-speed Internet and download and upload speeds as high as 10 Gigabytes per second and 2 Gigabytes per second, respectively.
USB port: You’ll notice that many modem/routers have a USB port as well. That’s handy for a number of things. You can hook up a non-WiFi printer to that USB port, and anyone on your network can use the printer. Or, you can hook up an external hard drive, and anyone on your network can access the content! This is safer than other data transfer methods since it’s password-protected.
We went through some of the items in the Best Reviews Guide list of the 10 best modem and router combinations. Investing the money in a new modem will save money on any rental fees, and will probably provide you with faster Internet speeds. That means it will be easier to download documents, pictures, and videos, and you’ll be able to watch streaming media with fewer delays. Check out which modem/router is best for your needs, and purchase one today!