[Buyer's Guide] Top 5 Cable Modems For 2017

Top 5 Cable Modems 2016

By now, we're sure you know that renting a modem from your ISP is a terrible idea and that buying your own modem makes a lot more sense. One question many readers had after reading our follow-up article on things to look out for when buying your own modem is which one would we recommend? While there are thousands of modems out there, we narrowed down our top 5 based on the following criteria:



1. Compatibility with ISPs
2. Price
3. Performance
4. Positive reviews

While the modems are ranked in order of preference, these are all terrific modems and you can't go too wrong with any of them. This is also why we didn't see a need to come up with a score to rank them.Now in full disclosure, there are affiliate links to Amazon for these products. We thank all of you for your support in checking the products out previously as they really helped to keep the site going. So without further ado, our top 5:

1. ARRIS SURFboard SB6183 - $88.99

Top 5 Cable Modems 2016 - ARRIS Surfboard 6183
Compatibility -  The ARRIS SURFboard SB6183 is compatible with most ISPs, including ComcastTimeWarner CableCharter and Cox, Mediacom and Bright House.

Price - A new SB6183 is currently retailing for $99.50. A little more expensive than the SB6141 but you're paying for the extra performance, assuming your ISP plan allows you take advantage of it.

Performance -  16x4 channel bonding of up to sixteen downstream channels and four upstream channels allows for data rates of 686 Mbps for downloads and 131 Mbps for uploads. This is an absolute beast of a modem and is ideal for HD streaming and gaming on multiple devices at the same time.

The SB6831 is DOCSIS 3.0 and IPv6 capable.

Reviews - The SB6183 is the number 3 bestselling modem on Amazon and has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 from nearly a thousand reviews.

While we're definitely impressed by the SB6183's capabilities, it's important to note that for most users with a SB6183, their speed will be limited by their ISP connection rather than their modem. Getting a SB6183 is all about future-proofing as your ISP enhances it's capability to provide faster speeds. This is especially more so in 2016, as the SB6141 is starting to get phased out.

2. ARRIS SURFboard SB6141 - $69.95

Top 5 Cable Modems 2016 - ARRIS Surfboard 6141

Compatibility - The ARRIS SURFboard SB6141 is compatible with most ISPs, including the big 4 of ComcastTimeWarner CableCharter and Cox. It is not compatible with Verizon FiOS or AT&T U-verse.

Price - At $83 for a brand new SB6141, the investment will pay off in 8 short months given the current rental price of $10 per month.

Performance - 8x4 channel bonding of up to eight downstream channels and four upstream channels allows for data rates of 343 Mbps for downloads and 131 Mbps for uploads. In terms of standards, the SB6141 is DOCSIS 3.0 and IPv6 capable.

Reviews - The SB6141 is the number 1 selling modem on Amazon and has a positive rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars from over 7,000 reviews. 

Overall, the ARRIS SURFboard SB6141 builds upon the success of the earlier SB6121 model, and provides compatibility, fast speeds and reliability at an affordable price. It makes streaming videos, gaming, shopping, downloading, high-quality voice and video conferencing, and peer-to-peer networking applications far more realistic, faster, and efficient than ever before.

19th Jan update: We've been reading reports from customers that our top pick, the SB6141 has been classified by Comcast as "end-of-life". This is true for customers who currently rent their modem from Comcast and they can swap their SB6141 for a newer modem.

For those who have already bought or are thinking of buying the SB6141, it continues to be supported by Comcast. However, this is dependent on ARRIS providing regular firmware updates for the modem, otherwise Comcast may classify the retail version as end-of-life as well.

As such, we're moving the SB6141 down to number 2 and moving the SB6183 up to number 1.   

3. Netgear CM500 - $88.93


Top 5 Cable Modems 2016 - Netgear CM500
Compatibility - Certified for Comcast Xfinity, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter

Price - At $100, the cost of the Netgear CM500 is around $13 less than that of the SB6183 for similar specs, which is a plus.

Performance -  16x4 channel bonding of up to sixteen downstream channels and four upstream channels allows for data rates of 686 Mbps for downloads and 131 Mbps for uploads. Like the SB6183 Ideal for streaming HD, 4K Video and gaming on multiple devices at the same time.

The Netgear CM500 is DOCSIS 3.0 and IPv6 capable.

Reviews - The 4th best selling modem on Amazon with a rating of 4.4 out of 5 based on 450 reviews. 

The Netgear CM500 is very much like the SB6183. Truly impressive specs that unfortunately most will not be able to fully take advantage of at the moment (unless you have an expensive connection). But if you're alright with spending a bit more with one eye on the future, then this is a great buy.

4. D-Link DCM-301 - $59.97


Top 5 Cable Modems 2016 - DLink DCM-301

Compatibility - Certified for Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Bright House Networks and more. Important to note that this modem is not compatible with Charter.

Price - The DCM-301 we found on Amazon retails for $70 which is a terrific value buy.

Performance - 8x4 channel bonding of up to eight downstream channels and four upstream channels allows for data rates of 343 Mbps for downloads and 131 Mbps for uploads. In terms of standards, the DCM-301 is DOCSIS 3.0 and IPv6 capable.

Reviews - The 9th best selling modem on Amazon with a rating of 4.5 out of 5 based on 224 reviews. Buyers highlight the minimal fuss and value you get for $70. "It just works", sums it up nicely.

The D-Link DCM-301's specs are similar to that of the ARRIS Surfboard 6141 but at a lower price. It is suitable for file sharing, audio and video streaming, Internet TV and website browsing but if you want to stream in HD or do some hardcore gaming, this is probably not the modem for you.

5. Zoom 5341J - $70


Top 5 Cable Modems 2016 -Zoom 5341J
Compatibility - Certified for ComcastTime Warner CableCox and more. Important to note that the Zoom 5341J is not compatible with Charter.

Price - Like the DCM-301, a brand new Zoom 5341J retails for $70, which is pretty cheap for a DOCSIS 3.0 modem.

Performance - 8x4 channel bonding of up to eight downstream channels and four upstream channels allows for data rates of 343 Mbps for downloads and 131 Mbps for uploads. In terms of standards, the Zoom 5341J is DOCSIS 3.0 and IPv6 capable.

Reviews - 14th on the best selling modems list with a rating of 4.5 out of 5 from 1,270 reviews. 

The Zoom 5341J's specs are similar to those of the best selling SB6141's at a lower price. Again, if it's basic surfing and streaming that you intend to do, this modem is more than enough. 

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So there you have it, our top 5 picks for modems to consider when buying your own. The best selling Arris SB6141 is perfect for ordinary surfing, video streaming and casual gaming at home. But as it starts to get phased out from end 2015 and if you want more performance for serious gaming or streaming in HD, then we'd advise looking into the Arris SB6183 as well as the Netgear CM500. The D-Link DCM-301 and Zoom 5341J are great value options if you're on a tight budget.

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