12 Best Routers and Modems for Spectrum Charter

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Using the right router and modem is an important part of getting the most out of your internet connection. If you’re a Spectrum (Charter in some areas) customer, you can refer to a list of models from the company that it recommends.

You’d be forgiven for looking at the list wondering, for example, which one is the best cable modem for Spectrum customers.

To answer that question, it’s worth looking at a number of factors. These include:

  • Supported top speeds
  • Price
  • Combo capabilities
  • Home network support
  • Ease of use
  • Dual-band capability
  • Support for current Wi-Fi standards

It’s also worth breaking down the recommendations between the best modem for Spectrum, the best router and the best combo. We’ll look at some of the basic issues everyone should understand on this topic, too, after going through the list.

Here are the top devices in each category:

Best Cable Modems for Spectrum Charter

  • 1. Netgear Nighthawk Cable Modem with Voice CM1150V
  • 2. Arris SurfBoard SB6121
  • 3. D-Link DCM 301
  • 4. Netgear C3000

Best Routers for Spectrum Charter

  • 1. Linksys EA7500
  • 2. Netgear Nighthawk R6700 Dual-Band
  • 3. Google Mesh Router System
  • 4. TP-Link Archer AX6000

Best Modem Router Combos for Spectrum Charter

  • 1. Arris Surfboard SBG8300 DOCSIS 3.1 Gigabit Cable Modem & AC2350 Dual Band Wi-Fi Router
  • 2. Asus Modem Router Combo – All-in-One DOCSIS 3.0 32×8 Cable Modem + Dual-Band Wireless AC2600 WIFI Gigabit Router
  • 3. TP-Link N300 Wireless
  • 4. Arris Surfboard SBG6900AC

Best Cable Modems for Spectrum Charter

1. NETGEAR Nighthawk Cable Modem with Voice CM1150V

Supported top speeds: One gigabit per second on Spectrum, and two GBPS on others
Price: $249
Ease of use: Extremely High

Pros:

  • Includes voice calling capabilities with support for two lines
  • DOCSIS 3.1 support, providing significant future-proofing
  • Handles concurrent connections well

Cons:

  • Poor support for other ISPs
  • Prone to overheating

If you’re looking to max out your internet speed, especially over a cabled connection, the CM1150V will provide an ideal option. One downside is that its good looks make some compromises that are questionable, especially in terms of high-performance workloads. It supports many concurrent connections at one, and that’s wonderful for business. However, you’ll need to keep it in a cool space because it can overheat when working under load.

Setup is easy. However, you will need to acquire a wireless router.

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2. Arris SurfBoard SB6121

Supported top speeds: 172 megabits per second
Price: $99
Ease of use: Medium

Pros:

  • Solid reverse-compatibility for DOCSIS going back to version 1.0
  • Excellent support for video streaming

Cons:

  • Relatively slow top speed
  • Purely a cable-only modem

Buyers looking for a cost-effecting option for a modem-only setup may gravitate to the SB6121. It’s not a world-beater, and you won’t want it if you’re paying for a gigabit-grade internet connection. However, if you’re looking for a middle-of-the-road solution at a fair price, the SB6121 is worth a long look.

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3. D-Link DCM 301

Supported top speeds: 100 megabits per second
Price: $55
Ease of use: Very high

Pros:

  • Cost-effective option that isn’t underpowered
  • Pours the speed into fewer channels
  • Strong downstream signal detection

Cons:

  • Fewer channels means less support for multiple devices
  • Poor build quality leads to some ending up broken from shipping

If you’re a gamer who needs to push most of your connection speed into a couple of devices, the DCM 301 will get the job done. The modem maintains an excellent signal, and that will help with lag.

On the other hand, it’s not a device meant for tons of concurrent users. Outside of a small office setting, it will get hammered. For individuals and small families, though, it’s an excellent value proposition.

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4. Netgear C3000

Supported top speeds: 150 megabits per second
Price: $150
Ease of use: Extremely high

Pros:

  • Limited wireless capabilities
  • Compact design
  • Lightweight
  • Dead easy self-installation option

Cons:

  • Somewhat pricey for the speed

The C3000 is a combo in the strictest sense, but the wireless is so bad you’ll probably want to disable wi-fi and add a router. It provides solid speed in a small and simple package, with performance characteristics similar to, if not slightly better than, the D-Link DCM 301.

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Best Routers for Spectrum Charter

1. Linksys EA7500

Supported top speeds: One gigabit per second
Price: $115
Ease of use: Medium

Pros:

  • External storage capacity, allowing it to serve as NAS
  • Solid media streaming, including support for USB storage devices
  • FTP capabilities, for file serving
  • Future-proof wi-fi technologies will provide competitive speed for years to come

Cons:

  • Somewhat feature-heavy, making setup a challenge for novice users
  • Limited support for many devices

The EA7500 is something of a hotrod built for straight-line speed. If you’re someone who wants a media server, low-latency for gaming, and excellent bandwidth for 4K streaming, you’ll adore the EA7500. The EA7500 is a little lacking in support for large numbers of users, making it less-than-ideal for offices. Most home users, though, will never notice unless they’re juggling 15 concurrent devices.

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2. Netgear Nighthawk R6700 Dual-Band

Supported top speeds: 1.3 gigabits per second
Price: $150
Ease of use: low

Pros:

  • VPN support out of the box
  • Excellent NAS options
  • Superb range

Cons:

  • Extremely large footprint
  • Poor low-frequency band performance

Netgear’s R6700 is another router that’s tilted heavily toward gamers and streamers. It’s an excellent no-compromises option for people who need speed, but it’s a bit of an eyesore physically. If you’re not trying to squeeze every ounce out of your connection, though, it might be a little expensive.

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3. Google Mesh Router System

Supported top speeds: 100 megabits per second
Price: $99
Ease of use: Medium

Pros:

  • Support for multiple mesh routers to provide signal through a house
  • Visually simple and easy to hide in homes

Cons:

  • Little control over the hardware
  • High power consumption
  • Poor top-line speed

Google Mesh isn’t designed to be a speed demon. It’s meant to provide coverage through a building. Especially for folks who live in tight urban spaces like townhouses, the Mesh makes getting signal to the furthest room simple. Just don’t demand more of it than it was designed to do.

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4. TP-Link AC4000

Supported top speeds: One gigabit per second
Price: $269
Ease of use: Medium

Pros:

  • Tons of I/O options, including USB 3.0
  • Excellent for environments with many devices
  • Solid file server capabilities

Cons:

  • Big router with an ugly design
  • Lacks WPA3 support, reducing security

If you’re a gamer who wants to have a LAN party or a business owner who needs to keep everybody’s phones and laptops connected, the AC4000 will keep your crew happy. Bands are accurately steered to myriad users through 8 antennas, providing solid directionality and stability. It’s a little expensive, and it’s not a perfect option for individual users. When you need tons of users on at once, though, it’s a system that’s hard to beat.

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Best Modem Router Combos for Spectrum Charter

1. Arris Surfboard SBG8300 DOCSIS 3.1 Gigabit Cable Modem & AC2350 Dual Band Wi-Fi Router

Supported top speeds: One gigabit per second on Spectrum, and up to 10 GBPS on others
Price: $298
Ease of use: Medium

Pros:

  • Support for 32 concurrent downstream channels, and 8 upstream
  • Connection speed capabilities should be future-proof for at least a decade
  • Top-tier multiband wi-fi support

Cons:

  • Possibly overkill for most home users

The SBG8300 is a beast built for business internet customers. Folks with larger families or many friends may also find it very useful. If you’re looking for the no-compromises answer and you don’t want to split up modem and router functions, the SBG8300 is the answer.

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2. Asus Modem Router Combo – All-in-One DOCSIS 3.0 32×8 Cable Modem + Dual-Band Wireless AC2600 WIFI Gigabit Router

Supported top speeds: 800 megabits per second
Price: $159
Ease of use: Medium-to-high

Pros:

  • Distinctive and small design
  • Excellent VPN support
  • Mesh compatible

Cons:

  • Not great as a router, especially for file transfers
  • Poor wi-fi range

The argument for the AC2600 is primarily its unique look. It’s not great for office applications, but it gets the job done for smaller apartments and houses. Mesh support makes its range much more extensible, though. Users who require VPNs will find it to be extremely convenient.

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3. TP-Link N300 Wireless

Supported top speeds: 30 megabits per second
Price: $19.99
Ease of use: Medium

Pros:

  • Small and simple design
  • Basic wireless support

Cons:

  • Poor support for more modern wireless standards
  • Extremely slow connection speeds for modern wireless

You’ll probably have no trouble using your phone with it to browse the web over wireless, but it’s going to be pure pain if you want 4K video on a TV. The TP-Link N300 is best for folks who have small apartments and slow connection speeds to start with. It’s a good model for someone who needs a cheap system that will just work.

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4. Arris Surfboard SBG6900AC

Supported top speeds: 680 megabits per second
Price: $199
Ease of use: High

Pros:

  • Long warranty
  • Very small footprint
  • Good 4K and HD streaming

Cons:

  • Older model with less support for newer wi-fi and security protocols
  • Poor build quality

This is something of the mid-tier champion of all these lists. It’s not the fastest, but it definitely will do the job for all but the heaviest 8K streamers. Unlike some other entrants, it’s fairly small and has a subdued appearance. The price is a tad high for a mid-tier offering, but it will work well for most gamers and home media viewers.

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FAQs About Modems, Routers and Combos

What Do Buyers Need to Know About Speed Ratings?

If you’re paying for cable internet, you probably want to run at least a few devices at once. Likewise, you’re probably someone who either games a lot or uses streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+. Simply put, you want to know that your configuration is going to provide respectable speed without latency or buffering issues.

You need to understand what a megabit is. People often confuse this with a megabyte, and ISPs don’t do much to fix the misunderstanding. Bits are the smallest individual pieces of data that can describe something. These are the ones and zeroes people are vaguely familiar with in the binary number system. One megabit is one million sets of these ones and zeroes, and one gigabit is one billion.

Bytes are comprised of 8 bits. If you divide your megabit speed by 8, this will give you a rough idea of how many megabytes you can download in a second. The number is a little fuzzy because there are some error corrections needed to keep things stable, but it works as a simple explanation.

Modem + Router or Simple Combo: Which Is the Best?

There are solid arguments for both types of setups. For someone who just wants a fire-and-forget system without much configuration, it’s probably best to invest in the best combo they can afford. Folks who need to operate fairly extensive networks behind their connections, such as at a large office, may prefer to a modem and several routers. Generally, this sort of user has little doubt about how they’re going to configure their network.

Bear in mind a combo can still be used with a router. For example, you might use your combo in your entertainment room while employing a mesh network to get a signal to a finished basement or attic. A combo doesn’t exclude the use of a router, although most folks don’t run enough devices or complex enough networks to justify the expense.

What’s the Difference Between a Modem and Router?

A modem is designed to negotiate your internet connection. It pings the cable line and sees what sort of response it gets. Once a response is returned, it will negotiate the signal strength to provide the fastest and most stable connection possible.
Your router, conversely, talks to all of the devices in your house. It creates a network of devices, and they can even talk to each other. For example, a USB-attached NAS can send files to your laptop or phone over the network through the router. In a modem-plus-router configuration, the router also sends all of your internet requests along to the modem. Likewise, it sends all the responses the modem receives back to the original devices that asked for them.

A combo simply brings these functions together in a single system. The combo doesn’t streamline the process dramatically, however, because the routing protocols still work the same way. Your main advantage for using a combo is that it consolidates the equipment you’ll require into a single unit.

Which Parts Do You Absolutely Need?

The modem is the only absolutely essential component. Modems can generally be connected to several devices over ethernet cables, although this is a pretty old-school setup that excludes many laptops, tablets, and cellphones. If you’re a hardcore desktop user, a modem-only setup might get the job done, but most users will find it to be too primitive. A router or combo is required for wi-fi connectivity.

How Do You Deal with Terrible Wi-Fi Signal?

Many users have luck with simply moving their combos and routers around until they find a perfect spot. Some buildings are painfully difficult to deal with, though, and getting wi-fi right may require more drastic measures. Moving up to a more powerful router or combo might do the job, but even that may not fix the issue in certain buildings. When all else fails, stringing a mesh network from one end of the building to the far side should do the job.

Why Does Support for Newer Protocols Matter?

The answer boils down to speed. Better DOCSIS support will give you a faster and more stable internet connection. Wireless gets the same benefit from newer wi-fi protocols.

All protocols are reverse compatible, though. If you’re not looking for the meanest low-latency gaming experience or the fastest 4K video, you might want to use cheaper and older equipment. Folks who want to max out their 150 Mbps to two Gbps connections, though, will need the freshest hardware to achieve that goal.

Are Spectrum modems any good?

What about the standard modems that come if you check the box when signing up with Spectrum? As of 2020, you’re likely to get shipped the Hitron Tech EN2251 modem. Anecdotal reviews such as on Reddit say that “Hitron is garbage“. Other comments say they had no problem with the modem, however, so there may be multiple factors affecting the speed and internet connection issues.

A similar modem, the Hitron EN 2250 shows a 3.5-star rating on Amazon. So it looks like if you go with the stock modem that Spectrum ships, you should expect a mediocre modem. If you have the time and are facing speed issues it could be worth trying a few and seeing which one gives you the best results.

Connecting to the Optimized Smart Home

Your modem and router are actually the hub of your entire optimized smart home. Without good internet speed and a great router to connect all the wifi devices throughout your home, you’ll have poor performance across all devices.

So think of the modem and router as the brain of your home. It’s critically important. So if you want to connect a smart alarm clock, smart blinds, security cameras or anything in your smart bedroom setup, it’s gotta go through this device first. Choose wisely.

Happy (internet) surfing!

Last update on 2020-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API