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The best modem for most people
Compatible with the most ISPs, the MB7621 supports internet plans up to 600 Mbps. It’s widely supported, it has a two-year warranty, and it pays for itself in about eight months.
The Motorola MB7621 is reliable, supports the fastest internet speeds available to the vast majority of Americans, and offers compatibility with just about every non-gigabit plan from every cable internet service provider in the US—including Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum (formerly Time Warner, Charter, and Bright House), Cox, Suddenlink, Sparklight/Cable One, and WOW—which gives you flexibility if you move or switch ISPs. The MB7621 works well for plans up to 600 megabits per second, because it’s a DOCSIS 3.0 modem that can handle 24 downstream channels and eight upstream channels. It also includes a two-year warranty.
Same speeds, shorter warranty
The CM600 supports the same speeds as the MB7621, but it’s slightly more expensive and has a shorter, one-year warranty.
May be out of stock
The Netgear CM600 is a 24×8 DOCSIS 3.0 modem that supports the same performance levels as the Motorola MB7621, though it is slightly more expensive. The biggest downside is that, although the CM600 has positive reviews from owners, it comes with only a one-year warranty, whereas most modems come with a two-year warranty.
For plans up to 300 Mbps
Our former top pick is still a good choice if saving money is important to you, and as long as you haven’t upgraded to a service plan faster than 300 Mbps.
America’s average internet speeds measure around 100 Mbps, ranging from the low 20s to figures approaching 97 Mbps, depending on which survey you pick. If your plan is in that range and you don’t intend to upgrade beyond 300 Mbps anytime soon, we recommend the Netgear CM500. The CM500 matches the ISP compatibility of the pricier CM600, but its maximum download and upload speeds are lower (300 Mbps on the CM500 versus 600 Mbps on the CM600, though Suddenlink certifies it for 500 Mbps speeds). The CM500 has a good reputation for reliability, but like the CM600 it comes with only a one-year warranty.
(We recommend 16×4 modems like the CM500 even if your plan would work with a slower modem, because ISPs are dropping support for 8×4 modems. You’d save barely any money up front and have to replace your modem years earlier, so we don’t recommend it.)
For gigabit internet plans
The Motorola MB8600 is our pick if you already have gigabit internet services: It’s the least expensive DOCSIS 3.1 gigabit modem, has a two-year warranty, and has a good design.
If you already have a gigabit internet plan and your ISP allows you to use your own modem, the Motorola MB8600 is the best of the DOCSIS 3.1 modems that are widely available right now because of its relatively low price and its two-year warranty. You’ll need a DOCSIS 3.1 modem to guarantee gigabit speeds from most cable ISPs, and the MB8600 is also compatible with gigabit internet on networks that still use the DOCSIS 3.0 standard; for example, Sparklight/Cable One supports both DOCSIS 3.0 (32×8) and DOCSIS 3.1 modems for its GigaOne service.
Don’t get a gigabit modem unless you already have gigabit service or know it’s available. The added expense of the DOCSIS 3.1 modems isn’t worth it until you’re on one of these new (and pricey) plans—especially since your ISP may roll out gigabit over fiber rather than cable. And they may not even let you bring your own modem once they do roll out gigabit service.
Modem compatibility list, updated June 2020
|Cable modem||Comcast Xfinity||Spectrum||Cox||Suddenlink||Sparklight/Cable One||WOW||Mediacom|
|Netgear CM600 (24×8)||Up to 960 Mbps||Up to 400 Mbps||Ultimate Classic||Up to 500 Mbps1||Up to 600 Mbps||Up to 600 Mbps||n/a|
|Motorola MB7621 (24×8)||Up to 846 Mbps||Up to 400 Mbps||Ultimate Classic||n/a||Up to 300 Mbps||Up to 600 Mbps||n/a|
|Netgear CM500 (16×4)||Up to 372 Mbps||Up to 400 Mbps||Ultimate Classic||Up to 500 Mbps1||Up to 300 Mpbs||Up to 600 Mbps||n/a|
|Motorola MB8600 (DOCSIS 3.1)||Up to 1,000 Mbps||Up to 1,000 Mbps||Gigablast||n/a||Up to 1,000 Mbps||Up to 1,000 Mbps||Up to 1,000 Mbps|
Source: The NY Times
Keyword: The Best Cable Modem