The best cable modem does more than just connect your home to the internet. It can save you money over the long haul by putting a stop to monthly fee your internet service provider charges for renting you one of its modems, which can be costly. And if you're looking for a device that keeps more coin in your pocket while also delivering stellar performance, your best bet is the Arris Surfboard SB6183.
We've tested more than a dozen different devices, and the older SB6183 remains the best cable modem we've come across, thanks to its dependability, compatibility with a wide array of internet providers and two-year warranty just in case anything goes wrong.
To save a little more money, consider the Netgear CM500, which can typically be found for a little less than the SB6183, though sales often push that price even lower. You will have to make do with a year-long warranty on Netgear modems versus two years of coverage for Arris devices.
Here's a closer look at our top picks for the best cable modems out there.
Arris Surfboard SB6183
Top Cable Providers Supported: Comcast, Spectrum, Cox | Listed Download/Upload Speeds: 686/131 Mbps | Channels: 16 down, 4 up | Size: 5.2 x 5 x 2.1 inches | Warranty: 2 years
The Arris Surfboard SB6183 is the best cable modem overall because it delivers solid performance that will satisfy most home internet customers who don't pay for high-speed service. A two-year warranty gives the SB6183 an edge over Netgear's modems, like the CM500, which are backed by one year of protection.
At 5.2 x 5 x 2.1 inches, the all-white SB6183 can be tucked unobtrusively next to a router, cable box and whatever other hardware you have on hand. The coaxial-cable connector is a little too close to the power connector for my taste, but you're likely to have to deal with that only when setting up the modem.
The SB6183 favors a simple row of vertical indicator lights that are easy enough to spot, though the yellow lighting can be a little hard to see if your modem's in direct sunlight. Still, it's pretty easy to glance at the SB6183 to see if there's any issue with your internet connectivity.
Top Cable Providers Supported: Comcast, Spectrum, Cox | Listed Download/Upload Speeds: 686/132 Mbps | Channels: 16 down, 4 up | Size: 7.3 x 4.9 x 2.4 inches | Warranty: 1 year
There's actually very little performance difference among the best cable modems in our testing, so it's seemingly slight distinctions that separate these devices. Opt for Netgear's CM500, and you'll get a modem that's just as capable as the SB6183. However, Netgear only offers a one-year warranty, compared with two years from some of its rivals.
That said, the CM500 enjoys one edge over the SB6183 — it generally costs less, especially if you can find the modem on sale online so keep an eye peeled for the best tech deals when shopping for a cable modem. (Some sites do show a lower price for the SB6183, but that's often for a refurbished model.)
Netgear's 16 x 4 modem enjoys wide compatibility with internet-service providers, and its design makes setup a breeze. At 7.3 inches, the CM500 is a little taller than the SB6183, and I found its indicator lights difficult to see, although at night, you may appreciate the lack of a light show.
Like our other best cable modem picks, the CM500 gets generally good reviews on Amazon, though the retailer seems to combine reviews of all of Netgear's modems. That makes it hard to get a good read on what customers say about this specific model. Positive reviews cite the easy installation and wide compatibility with many top ISPs. The negative reviews complain of reliability, something to keep in mind given the CM500's one-year warranty.
Top Cable Providers Supported: Comcast, Spectrum, Cox | Listed Download/Upload Speeds: 960/240 Mbps | Channels: 24 down, 8 up | Size: 8.7 x 5.3 x 2.4 inches | Warranty: 1 year
While most homes opt for internet plans that promise speeds of around 100 to 300 Mbps, some people prefer higher-speed service. If your plan promises download speeds that top 300 Mbps, you'll want a cable modem that can take advantage of that greater performance. Netgear's CM600 is the best cable modem for those higher speeds.
Netgear's modem doesn't use the same Intel Puma 6 chipset that's been blamed for latency issues with some other high-speed modems. (There's a firmware update that resolves this issue, though ISPs roll out such updates on their own schedule.) Because of that, you can expect reliable performance without the lags reported by users with Puma-6-powered modems.
The CM600 is a little on the tall side, but it's got a funky futuristic look. Like other Netgear modems, it has a one-year warranty.
Top Cable Providers Supported: Comcast, Spectrum, Cox | Listed Download/Upload Speeds: 343/143 Mbps | Channels: 8 down, 4 up | Size: 8.5 x 7.7 x 2.6 inches | Warranty: 2 years
Not every home internet user needs to pay for a more expensive modem. If your service plan caps its speeds at 100 Mbps, TP-Link's TC-7610 modem can serve you ably without denting your budget.
The 8 x 4 cable modem has a pleasing oval shape and a two-year warranty. We did find its indicator lights hard to spot, though.
Arris Surfboard SB6141
Top Cable Providers Supported: Comcast, Spectrum, Cox | Listed Download/Upload Speeds: 343/141 Mbps | Channels: 8 down, 4 up | Size: 5.2 x 5.2 x 1.7 inches | Warranty: 2 years
A while back, the Arris Surfboard SB6141 was our pick for best cable modem as it features the great compact design of other Arris modems as well as dependable performance. It's since been supplanted by other, faster modems — such as the SB6183, also from Arris — as home internet demands have increased.
Still, if you don't pay for a higher speed plan, the SB6141 is a way to enjoy the fine performance of an Arris modem without paying for a faster model. And the two-year warranty doesn't hurt, either.
Top Cable Providers Supported: Comcast, Spectrum, Cox | Listed Download/Upload Speeds: 343/120 Mbps | Channels: 8 down, 4 up | Size: 3.9 x 2.8 x 1 inches | Warranty: 1 year
Another modem that works best in homes where internet service never tops download speeds of 100 Mbps, the Linksys CM3008 gets the job done without winning any beauty contests. The best we can say about its plain look is that the CM3008 doesn't take that much space. The compact design doesn't make it any easier to detect its status lights.
The CM3008 was one of the more expensive options out there when we first reviewed it, though these days, its price is more in line with what you'd pay for an 8 x 4 cable modem.