Why rent when you can buy?
Almost all cable companies are charging at least $5 a month to rent a cable modem from them. Comcast is now charging $11 a month, that's $132 a year or $660 in just 5 years. With new modems costing as little as $60 and used ones as low as $30, it makes sense to buy your own modem.
It's so simple to find a cable modem and set it up.
Just select your cable company from the list below or click on a tab at the top of this page.
We'll show you all the modems that are approved by your cable company to work on their system and are available through Amazon, Walmart or Best Buy. These modems are all approved by the cable companies as of November 2018. When you get your new modem, just hook it up, plug in a computer, open a browser and a page should appear instructing you on how to authorize your modem. In some cases, you'll need to call your cable company and give them the MAC address of your modem, which is located on a label on the back of the modem. Either way, a few minutes of your time can save you hundreds of dollars.
Cable Modem Buying Tips and FAQ's
Note for customers with telephone / internet bundles: For many cable customers, if you have your telephone service through your cable company, and paid to your cable company, you will need a different modem with telephone capabilities, otherwise known as an eMTA modem. Comcast / Xfinity Voice and Triple Play customers can buy their own eMTA modem which will handle telephone and internet. Read here for further information: Comcast Voice Modems.
Old Time Warner / Brighthouse / Road Runner customers (now Spectrum) can buy a separate modem for internet and have their rental fees waived for their telephone modem. Read here for further information: Time Warner, Road Runner and Bright House telephone customers). Same for Cox customers: Cox telephone customers
If you have an internet phone service such as Vonage, Magic Jack and other VoIP services, these WILL work. For others with phone service through their cable company, please read our review of a cheap alternative that we use both at work and at home, and highly endorse: Callcentric VoIP Phone Service.
Buy vs Rent
If you buy, you can save anywhere from $60 to $132 a year depending on your current and future rental fees. Cable companies have been raising rental fees recently and will continue to do so. If you rent, you aren't responsible if anything goes wrong, just return the modem for another one.
New vs Used
You can save even more money buying a used modem. Just make sure that you buy it from a reputable dealer with a good return policy and warranty. Watch out for some EBay sellers and other used dealers. They could be selling modems that were rented by ex-customers of cable internet providers and never returned. If this is the case, your cable company will notice this when you hook them up and won't authorize their use.
Will a DOCSIS 3.1 modem work even if I don't have gigabit service?
Yes, along as it is approved by your cable company. They are backwards compatible with DOCSIS 3.0 systems. Buying a DOCSIS 3.1 modem will really future-proof you, even if you don't need the speed today. Cable companies are offering faster and faster services and increasing the speeds of their current plans all the time.
Downstream and Upstream Channels
For DOCSIS 3.0 technology, channels are like traffic lanes. Each channel can theoretically carry 42.88 Mbit/s (38 Mbit/s in the real world) of data or internet traffic. With DOCSIS 3.0, these channels can be bonded together like a multi-lane freeway to get multiple times the amount of data through. To calculate the amount of data that a modem can move, multiply the number of channels by the data rate for one channel. Usually we're only concerned with the number of download channels because most people are downloading a lot more data than uploading.
Should I buy a modem with more downstream channels than I need?
The more channels you can get, the better your speed performance will be. Even though your modem, on paper, might have a maximum download speed above what your internet service speed is, some of those channels could have congestion from other customers. The more channels, the better chance to avoid that congestion.
All of these modems are reliable and built to last for many years. There is very little difference between them, except for number of download channels and those with routers built in. Price should be a main factor in deciding which one to buy.