There are many cable modem and router resources and buying guides out there. We even have a bunch of resources for you covering topics like:
- What a cable modem is and how it works.
- What even is a router?
- How to decide whether to buy or rent your devices.
- Should you get a combo device like a gateway instead?
At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong answer to how to choose your modem and router. Everything comes down to weighing the pros and cons to each device and how it helps you get the ideal network setup for your situations. Take in consideration things like which Internet service provider (ISP) you are with, your home size, your device and bandwidth usage, your budget, and more. This will all help guide you on whether to buy vs rent your cable modem or router and which devices to choose if you go on your own.
Choosing a Cable Modem
You need a modem if you want an Internet connection in your home. If you are renting through your ISP, you will be provided with a modern, approved device. But if you choose to buy your own device, there are two key components you will want to consider:
- DOCSIS standard – If you want superfast speeds (which you probably do), choose a modem with a DOCSIS 3.0 or DOCSIS 3.1 Depending on your intended Internet usage, you may not need up to 10Gbps speeds, but it’s something worth keeping in mind.
- ISP compatibility – Make sure your intended ISP supports your device before you purchase it. Each ISP will have a compatibility list of cable modems that are approvedfor their service.
Other than fast speed and compatibility, choosing a device is up to your preferences. As long as a modem checks the boxes of all your needs, it is the right device for you.
Choosing a Router
If you want WiFi, you need a router. Similar to choosing a modem, a router is the same way: whatever fits your preferences. If you rent from an ISP subscription, then you will be provided with a modern router. However, if you decide to buy your own, here are some key components to consider:
- WiFi 6 support – WiFi 6 (802.11ax) is the latest protocol and it offers the most support and reliability in speed, connection, and coverage.
- Built-in MoCA capabilities – Since WiFi is vulnerable to interference, chances are you will need to boost your network at some point. MoCA technology is a great way to do that. With a MoCA-enabled router, you can save on the number of adapters you need.
Choosing a Gateway
You can also choose to get a gateway, or cable modem router, which is a combo device of the two. Some people prefer to keep their cable modem and router separate for easier upgrades and customizations, while others enjoy the convenience offered by having one single device. Check out our Complete Guide to Cable Modem Routers to get a more in-depth idea about which network setup you should choose.