Let’s be real—your gaming performance is no longer just dependent on your skill. It’s no longer even dependent on the chosen platform that you’re playing on, be it a Windows PC, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4. Because so much of gaming is dependent on having an internet connection, we’re now at the mercy of the hardware responsible for giving us internet access. Modems, routers, bridges, and more. They’re the devices that allow us to play online, both competitively and cooperatively, and the quality of your hardware (coupled with your internet speed) will determine how pleasant your experience is. Below, we’re going to introduce you to the best cable gaming modem you can find in 2017. Additionally, we’ll toss a few router recommendations at you, and provide some helpful tips for milking that absolute most performance from your internet access.
If you’ve never given much more than a passing thought to the performance of your modem, it’s understandable. Not even the tech-savvy crowd is going to blame you for it. More than likely, when your internet service provider (ISP) came to set up the connection, you were given rental access to one of the company’s own modems. This can be problematic for two reasons, both of which you might not even know about!
First, the rental fee itself. It may not appear evident, but if you look at your bill, there’s probably a portion of it that’s being attributed to your ISP’s rental fees. Modems, wireless routers, and cable boxes aren’t just given to customers for continual use; they’re left in our homes as rental units, which we continually pay for as long as we’re subscribed to the service. As we’re going to show you in the article below, it can actually be far less costly, in the long run, to purchase your own modem and router, rather than paying ongoing rental fees.
The second problem has to do with the hardware itself. Admittedly, this is something of a subjective issue that depends on the hardware your ISP chooses to use. But in most circumstances, the hardware that you’re renting to maintain your internet connection just isn’t that good! Seriously, look at the make and model of your hardware, and then look up some other customers’ feedback online. Most users are going to discover that the rental hardware they’ve been paying for, months on end, is pretty bottom-of-the-barrel.
What’s worse? You can get a great gaming modem for just about any type of internet connection for the same amount that you’d end up paying to rent a crappy one from your ISP. All things considered (and depending on how high-quality of a model you opt for) you could comparatively pay off the purchase of a new modem in the space of a few months! It’s an exciting prospect, right?
However, not all modems were created equally, and not all of them are outright stellar for gaming.
What Makes a Good Modem?
Surprisingly, the things that make for a good modem can apply to just about any electronics purchase you make; it’s just difficult information to uncover unless you rely on other customers’ feedback. Thankfully, we have plenty of that!
The best modems are going to be sturdy, reliable, and long-lasting. Though technology standards change and improve in every sector of tech on a regular basis, you should be able to buy a modem that will last quite a few years. As long as you don’t make drastic changes to the type of internet services you’re using, you shouldn’t run into any problems.
Internet Access Types
First, it’s important to determine what type of internet access you’re using, in your home. Most users who have high-speed access do so with cable. DSL doesn’t achieve the speeds that most associate with “high-speed internet,” and fiber is only selectively available in heavily urban areas.
Because most gamers (who we’re aiming this article) use cable internet access, we’re going to focus on delivering useful information about cable modems.
Other Helpful Tips
Of course, there’s one thing that you should keep in mind before we get into the nitty-gritty concerning the best cable modems. No matter what we recommend, or what other users have to say, the best choice you can make is the one that fits your use case and your budget. Before committing any cash to a new purchase, check to see how much you’re paying on a monthly basis in rental fees, then tally that up to see how much it’s costing you per year.
What you should also do is check out your current internet speeds. This can be done easily, with useful tools like this one, or even just by Googling “internet speed test” and using the search engine’s integrated testing service. Both are remarkably simple to use and can tell you quite a lot about how well your modem is serving your needs. If you do decide to opt for a newer, better modem (we recommend it) then you can test your new speeds against what the old hardware was providing for you.
The Best Gaming Modem in 2017
Below, we’ve listed several of the best modems that you can purchase for home use in 2017. It’s important to realize that these devices aren’t going to perform miracles. If you’re suffering from slow speeds, you might want to check in with your ISP before placing all of the blame on your modem hardware.
However, for reasons listed above, using your own modem instead of the unit that your ISP is renting to you will save money, in the long run. In a win-win situation, the only thing that can make your new purchase an even better choice is being informed.
We’ve included two ARRIS products in our list because both of them are suitable for different types of users. Hence, they’re at very different price points. The SURFboard SB6141 is the cost cutters perfect package. This modem is priced below $70, which makes it something of a steal for how versatile it performs. It’s also a fairly sturdy device, which will stand up to much more than the rental unit your ISP has given you.
It has 8 downstream channels and 4 upstream channels, meaning that every multimedia experience you task your internet with is going to be blazing fast—as long as you’re paying for speeds that support it.
Though it’s not much more expensive than the model we’ve mentioned above, the SURFboard SB6183 is a different experience. It’ll run you anywhere between $20 to $30 more, placing it right around the $90 to $100 price range.
This model has 16 downstream channels, which means that it can support download speeds up to 686 Mbps. If that sounds outrageous, that’s because it is! Even though we cry against the idea of “future-proofing” elsewhere, this is pretty much as close as you can get with a cable modem, right now. At this price point, you’ll usually pay just as much over the course of 8 months of rental fees with your ISP. There’s truly no reason not to upgrade to a much better piece of hardware.
This particular modem model is only made to work with Comcast and Charter cable internet service. However, since Comcast is one fo the largest providers of service in the United States, that still means that we’re speaking to a rather large number of people with this recommendation.
It costs roughly $80, but you get a remarkably sturdy little product with that price tag. It’s well-ventilated, too; if you’ve ever checked in on your modem when it’s under heavy load, you’ve probably noticed that these types of devices can get rather hot! Because they don’t have any built-in fans (mostly, in order to keep their cost down) they depend on ventilation in order to keep cool.
Many people trust in the Netgear brand due to its reliable versatility. Most Netgear products, including modems, can be used with virtually any internet service provider that you want. This means that you never have to do very much research in order to determine whether it’s the right modem for you, or not.
The Netgear CM400 is probably the right modem for you, as long as you don’t mind the slightly higher price tag. This model retails for about $120. While that’s a bit higher than our other recommendations, it’s worthwhile if you can take advantage of its Gigabit ethernet port, or the Xfinity easy setup process.
Surprisingly, a good modem can be one of the easiest things to shop for, when you’re trying to kit out your home internet service. Next time you get a chance to look at your bill, find out how much you’re paying in rental fees, and stack that cost up against some of the best cable modems that we’ve recommended, above. Whether your internet service is primarily used for gaming or streaming, these are the best devices that you can buy in 2017. Each of them has a wealth of outstanding customer feedback to back them up. Any further questions about cable modems, high-speed internet, or online gaming? Let us know in the comments below!