If you are in the market for a new cable modem, you might be considering a DOCSIS 3.1 modem. But, how can you know what is the best DOCSIS 3.1 modem on the market?
You should also know what to look for in a DOCSIS 3.1 modem as well as what makes it better than a DOCSIS 3.0 modem.
Whether you are a professional, working from home, or simply need faster internet, having the best DOCSIS 3.1 modem router combo or DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem can change your entire internet experience.
This is what you should know about DOCSIS 3.1 modems and why you need one.
What Is DOCSIS 3.1 And Its Benefits
The term “DOCSIS” means “Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification.” It is the cable standard that is use to transfer data across cable television systems, so cable companies can provide you with internet.
DOCSIS 3.1 has the best technology as far as cable internet goes. It supports speeds up to 10 Gbps, which normally is a speed that you would need fiber internet to get.
You will want to have a DOCSIS 3.1 modem to get the most out of your cable internet, but just having the modem is not a guarantee of speed. That is still determined by your ISP.
DOCSIS 3.1 modems are capable of up t o10 Gbps downstream and up to 1 Gbps upstream network capacity, which is incredibly fast.
It also has more of a usable spectrum and even support for QoS. It is also more energy efficient due to advanced energy management protocols that are built into the technology.
7 Best DOCSIS 3.1 Modems (2020)
1. Motorola MB8600
2. Netgear CM1200
3. Arris SBG8300
Modem Router Combo
4. Netgear CM1150V
For Xfinity Voice
5. Arris SB8200 Modem
6. Netgear CM1000
7. Netgear C7800
Modem Router Combo
1. Motorola MB8600 DOCSIS 3.1 Modem
Best DOCSIS 3.1 Modem (Editor's Choice)
Our choice for the best DOCSIS 3.1 modem is the Motorola MB8600. This is not a modem router combo.
This modem is built to give you the top speeds for cable internet that you can get while still being durable, reliable, and easy to use.
The MB8600 has a tower design with a black casing. It has excellent venting throughout the device as well, so it will not overheat and have better longevity than other modems might.
It is also smaller than many other modems and because of its tower design, it is much easier to find a good sport for it. This modem does not have a built-in router, but it will work with just about any router that you might want to use with it.
The MB8600 also has a Broadcom chipset that provides security from denial of service attacks. You will also get a 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet port to allow you to connect a router or any other device directly to it. The modem itself has an easy setup. It connects with just three connections: coax cable, Ethernet, and the power cable.
Looking at the performance for the MB8600, it is not only a DOCSIS 3.1 modem, but it also has DOCSIS 3.0 32x8 capabilities. This will give you the highest level of internet speeds that you can get from your ISP. The modem also has AQM for lower latency which will ensure your signal is not unduly disrupted.
The maximum internet download speed with this modem is 6000 Mbps. This router will really only be able to get the job done well if you have Gigabit internet through your ISP. It is true that even if you do not have Gigabit cable internet, this modem will still make the most of the speeds that you do have. Generally, you should not get any errors from this modem either, allowing it to keep running without any trouble.
2. Netgear Nighthawk CM1200 DOCSIS 3.1 Modem
For a high performance DOCSIS 3.1 modem, we suggest the Netgear Nighthawk CM1200. The Nighthawk line is powerful and reliable modems and routers, that it should come as no surprise that this model is also exceptional, even among the already-exceptional DOCSIS 3.1 modems.
The CM1200 has a slim and sleek modem and it can either stand vertically or just as easily be laid flat, letting the choice to be up to you.
This is unusual for a modem, so it is a nice perk. It is black and will be very easily to conceal if that is something that you prefer. It comes with two 1 Gigabit ports and one 2 Gigabit port to give you the fastest wired internet speeds possible.
Since this device is just a modem, there is no built-in router, so you will need to get a separate router if you want one. It will work with any WiFi router, in the event that you should like to add one onto your network. The modem comes with 4 x 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports, so you can plug in whatever device you want. It also combines two 1 Gigabit ports into one 2 Gigabit port.
The performance of the CM1200 modem is outstanding, which is why it is rated as the best performing of the DOCSIS 3.1 modems. It can easily work with cable accounts that have up to two Gigabits of speed, so you should be able to use up every bit of speed that you get from your cable internet package.
The setup of the modem is also relatively simple and should only take a few minutes to achieve. You might need to call Netgear if you wind up in any trouble from this to get them to ensure that the modem is compatible and that you have successfully installed. Thankfully, Netgear’s customer service is very helpful.
3. ARRIS SURFboard SBG8300 Modem Router
Best DOCSIS 3.1 Modem Router Combo
The best DOCSIS 3.1 modem router combo is the ARRIS SURFboard SBG8300. This modem uses a Surfboard Manager app on both iOS and Android devices for ease of use. That also helps with the settings on your modem.
The design of the SBG8300 is pretty great, actually. It is a tower design, but it is in the shape of a pyramid. It is easy to conceal and has a lot of excellent ventilation to keep it as cool as possible.
The device has 4 x 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports as well, so you can attach more devices to it as needed. The setup is quick and easy through the SURFboard app, so you will be up and going in no time.
The SMG8300 comes with a built-in, dual-band Wave 2 wireless router, so you will not have to get a separate unit for your wireless devices. Additionally, this modem has 32 downstream x 8 upstream DOCSIS channels as well as 2 downstream x 2 upstream OFDM channels.
This is how the modem is able to really keep up with the speeds that we have come to expect from our modems. The modem is also simple to setup, but you will need to double check with your service provider that it is compatible. This device works best for cable plans with speeds up to 4 Gbps, since it can over that level of speed.
One of the best things about this modem is that it is capable of true Gigabit download speeds, which is important if you have a Gigabit plan through your ISP.
The router is decent, offering both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands with MIMO antenna configuration. This will allow you to stream along the 5 GHz band and keep devices that you only use for browsing on the 2.4 GHz band.
4. Netgear CM1150V DOCSIS 3.1 Modem
For Xfinity Voice
If you are looking for a modem that works with Xfinity Voice, look no further than the CM1150V DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem. This modem offers amazing speeds that are sure to provide the best online experience possible.
As a bonus, it is also easy to setup and can be accomplished in only 5 minutes, taking away a lot of the heavy work of getting a modem up and running.
The CM1150V has an upright tower design. This allows it to stay well-ventilated and cool. The overall design is great; however it does have a precarious stand that could tip over without much provocation. It would be best to keep this modem in a location where it is unlikely to be bumped.
The link aggregation combines two 1 Gigabit ports into a single 2Gigabit port to give you even faster speeds through that connection. It would work really well with a router, but any device that you might want to attach to it will get a great amount of speed.
The four 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports will give you the fastest wired speeds possible as well. It also has two telephone ports that will prioritize voice over internet if you are using Xfinity Voice.
The CM1150V can easily handle online streaming, easily taking on multi-player gaming and 4K HD streaming. This is important if you have a network that streams from multiple devices regularly.
You will notice a great amount of speed capabilities from this Nighthawk modem overall, including speeds up to 2 Gbps. Additionally, the CM1150V has 32 x 8 channel bonding.
The modem is easy to setup as well, which might be surprising since it also has Voice capabilities. Essentially you connect the coax cable, connect Ethernet cable, plug in the telephone jack from the modem to your phone, and plug in the power outlet.
It’s a few cords, but easy to do. If you're interested in VoIP, don't forget to check out our guide about the best cable modems with a phone jack.
5. Arris SURFboard SB8200 DOCSIS 3.1 Modem
Another great DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem out on the market is the Arris SURFboard SB8200. This is a very high speed modem, even for a DOCSIS 3.1.
Let’s start by looking at the design of the Arris SURFboard SB8200. This is a relatively small modem that will not take up much space at all. It is a tower design with a white casing.
While most tower modems naturally are cooler and have good ventilation, unfortunately, this modem does not. The SB8200 runs the risk of overheating easily, most likely due to the quantity of components that have been put together in a small package.
The modem comes with two 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports that are capable of link aggregation. This means that you can easily have a place to plug in a router if you wanted to. The setup for the modem is quick and simple. Arris has customer service available to chat with as well if you run into any trouble.
The speeds on this modem are excellent. The max download speed that this modem can reach is 10 Gbps. This level of speed is practically unheard of in the world of cable internet, so it is astounding.
Most cable internet companies are not going to be able to offer that level of speed, but if you do have this modem, you will be ready for when the speeds are able to increase, ensuring that your modem will not need to be replaced any time in the near future.
It also has 32 x8 channel bonding, which is what you want from a modern modem anyway, especially if you have any gamers in the home or if you are doing a heavy amount of streaming. This is the way that modern modems are going to continue to move, allowing you to multi-task within your network without suffering any kind of slowdown or lag.
6. Netgear CM1000 DOCSIS 3.1 Cable Modem
Another DOCSIS 3.1 modem that you might want to take a look at is the Netgear CM1000. We already know that Netgear’s modem and router technology is outstanding, so this modem already has a good reputation.
The design of the CM1000 is what you would expect to see from a Netgear modem. It is a tower design, sitting upright rather than laying down. It has a black case with lots of venting on it to try to help keep the device cool. The modem is so slim, however, that the cables plugged into it can easily make it topple.
The modem also does come with a Gigabit Ethernet port so that you can plug in a router if you want to use one. The setup for the modem should take you less than five minutes as well, so there is not a learning curve to contend with.
Really, by comparison to the other DOCSIS 3.1 modems that we have looked at, this one is pretty basic. It still performs well and will do its job with your Gigabit internet, but it has fewer bells and whistles than some of the other modems out on the market.
It does perform at 1 Gbps, which is what you should expect from a DOCSIS 3.1 and it does come with the most current modem technology, so this might work well for users who do not want too much to try to figure out.
Even though this is a modem and does not have the same technology as a router, the CM1000 is still excellent to use if you have more than one user streaming.
If you do add on a router, the modem will be able to handle heavy traffic without slowing you down. You are limited by the single Ethernet port, but if you add on a router with more ports, then you will have endless abilities for speed and streaming.
7. Netgear C7800 DOCSIS 3.1 Modem Router Combo
DOCSIS 3.1 Modem Router Combo
The last modem that we are looking at for the DOCSIS 3.1 is the Netgear Nighthawk C7800. This is a modem router combo unit, so it is both a DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem as well as a wireless router.
The design of the C7800 is a little bit bulky, kind of like a brick. It is flat and will not be easy to conceal if you wanted to. It has four high-gain antennas that can help boost your wireless signal throughout your network, though they are also a little on the bulky side. You will want to keep your modem in a well-ventilated location to ensure that it does not overheat.
The modem has with four 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as two high-speed USB 3.0 ports. This will give you incredible and reliable connected speeds, whether you want to plug in an HDTV, gaming console, or simply get a fast speed to your computer. It also has parental controls and it supports WEP and WPA/WPA2 wireless security protocols for improved safety.
The speeds for the C7800 are excellent, reaching up to 2 Gbps. Even if you are only paying for 1 Gbps, having this modem that is capable of more will allow you to get the most out of the speeds that you do pay for.
The best thing about getting a DOCSIS 3.1 modem is that it is future-safe. When internet technology advances and speeds continue to improve, you will not need to replace your modem, since it is already built for speeds that might not be available yet.
Taking a look at the built-in router, the C7800 can cover up to 3,000 square feet with wireless coverage as well as up to 45 connected devices. The wireless speeds can reach up to 3200 Mbps as well, which is incredible. This modem router combo is built to perform.
Factors To Consider When Getting A DOCSIS 3.1 Modem
The first consideration that you need to make when buying a DOCSIS 3.1 modem is whether it will work with your ISP. It is a great idea to have a DOCSIS 3.1 modem, but it will only work with cable internet.
You also will not get the most for your money unless you are also paying for Gigabit internet. Some ISPs cannot work with DOCSIS 3.1 yet, so check with them first to confirm compatibility.
The second consideration that you need to make when buying a DOCSIS 3.1 modem is what kind of speeds it offers. It is standard for DOCSIS 3.1 to be able of at least 1 Gbps, but you should look at the speeds that are supported by your ISPs and how fast can you get your modem running.
If you know that you are going to use the modem to its limit, you will want a higher speed modem where possible.
Do not forget to look for Ethernet ports in your DOCSIS 3.1 modem. Most modems come with an Ethernet port already, but often it is only one.
When you have just one port, but need more, you will need to look into getting yourself a router to add ports. It would be easiest if you can just plug devices directly into the modem in order to get that uninterrupted connection. .
DOCSIS 3.1 vs. DOCSIS 3.0: What's The Difference
The two common types of DOCSIS that you will come across with modems are 3.0 and 3.1. 3.0 has been on the market since 2006.
It was introduced to allow modems to bring in more than one internet data stream at a time and increase your bandwidth. With 3.0, the modem must be able to have four channels to handle the increased flow of traffic. DOCSIS 3.1 was introduced in 2013.
This protocol uses new specs to increase the size of the channels, so that it can carry larger amounts of data at a time, resulting in much faster internet.
What ISPs Support DOCSIS 3.1 Modems & Gigabit Internet?
If you are looking to see whether your ISP can upgrade your cable internet to Gigabit internet or support DOCSIS 3.1, the best place to start would be to ask your ISP directly.
If you are just looking to see what options are out there, any of the major cable internet service providers are moving to supporting Gigabit internet. This includes:
- Comcast Xfinity
There are other cable companies out there that will also support DOCSIS 3.1. You should check with your local cable providers and see what your options are.
Outside of cable Gigabit internet, there is also fiber internet. Fiber is known to be the fastest type of internet and easily can offer Gigabit internet. Regardless, if DOCSIS 3.1 is the technology that you want, you have to verify that your ISP or the ISPs available to you even support it.
Not all cable ISPs have the ability to use a DOCSIS 3.1 modem, especially since it is the latest in cable technology.
One other consideration to think about is that even if one ISP can offer Gigabit internet in one location does not mean that it is universally available everywhere. You need to speak directly to the ISP to get some answers.
Do You Need A Gigabit DOCSIS 3.1 Modem For Fiber (FiOS) Internet?
It is natural to think that you would want the best modem option when you are getting the fastest type of internet on the market.
But when it comes to fiber, not only do you not need a DOCSIS 3.1 modem, you do not need any modem. Fiber internet uses an ONT box that is placed directly in your house.
You would then attach a router, not a modem, to the ONT box to extend the coverage and connect other devices. DOCSIS modems are for cable internet only, so it will not work with either DSL or fiber internet.
While you really cannot go wrong with any of the DOCSIS 3.1 modems that we have looked at, we do still have a favourite.
Our choice for the best DOCSIS 3.1 modem is the Motorola MB8600. This modem has everything that you would want from a modem that is a stand-alone modem, giving you the speeds and reliability that you want.
The highest performing modem that we came across was the Netgear Nighthawk CM1200. This modem is capable of a lot and will ensure that your work or streaming will not be interrupted due to a modem issue.
DOCSIS 3.1 modems are the way the future of cable internet is going. You should find out whether your ISP offers Gigabit internet to get the most out of your DOCSIS 3.1, if you don’t know already. The truth is that any of these modems will not disappoint you, as long as you have or can get Gigabit internet.
Hey, it’s James here. I’m the founder and editor here at RiverstoneNet.com. I’m a network engineer during the day and a blogger at night. Let me know if I can help you with choosing a new modem/router or troubleshooting your Internet connection.