8 Best Modems for Gaming

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What is the best modem for gaming? This page explains all and helps you to avoid common buying blunders. See, every modem serves the same purpose, but they don’t all perform equally. There wouldn’t be a need for buyer’s guides if they did. Keep reading if you could use some help. You’ll know how to choose the ideal model for your gaming needs by the end of this piece.

TP-Link TC-7620 Modem
Max DL Speed: 686 Mbps
ISP compatible, eliminates rental fees, 16×4 channel bonding, long warranty.
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Best Value
NETGEAR CM1000 Modem
Max DL Speed: 1 Gbps
Elegant design, quick 5-minute set up, reliable, built for speed, DOCSIS 3.1.
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Top Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk CM1200
Max DL Speed: 2 Gbps
Streamlined design, quick set up, supports 2Gbps speeds.
Check Amazon

Modem Vs. Router

There’s often confusion among new gamers between routers and modems. That can be with functionality or not knowing whether they need one, the other, or both. A modem connects directly to the internet via your Internet Service Provider or ISP. You extend that internet connection by attaching the router to the modem. It then sends the signal wirelessly to your internet-connected devices.

So, the router is also a box, but its job is to deliver the internet to the user. It connects to your modem so it can “route” the signal to any internet-ready devices (see image below). That’s how a router connects your computers and gadgets to the home WiFi.

Modem Vs Router

Hardwired gaming

It’s also possible to hardwire devices to routers using Ethernet cables. There are good reasons why serious gamers choose a hardwired setup over wireless. A high-speed compatible ethernet cable ensures a more reliable and faster connection than WiFi. The result is consistent speeds and zero lag.

Cable Modem Buying Considerations

There are several buying considerations when you upgrade your gaming modem. Jump to the reviews if you know what you need or keep reading if you’re unsure. It’s important to understand product compatibility, DOCSIS, and modem-router all-in-one combos.

Product Compatibility

Buying a modem means you don’t have to rent one. Not all cable modems are compatible with your Internet Service Provider (ISP), though. You don’t want to buy a product only to find your ISP doesn’t approve it for use on the network. It’s an easy problem to avoid if you make sure the modem is ISP certified. A new device should have this information somewhere in its description.

Modem or Modem/Router Combination?

It costs more to buy a modem and router as separate items. However, a dedicated router offers advanced security functions. The modem-router combo is a good investment if you’re solely a home user. However, it’s not ideal if you also use your setup for business purposes.

The advantages of a modem/router combination are:

  • Slightly cheaper to buy
  • Fewer moving parts and only one line
  • Easier to use at the beginner level

The downside is that you don’t get to control the software or updates—your ISP does. That means they can push firmware updates to your device, whether you want them or not.

The advantages of a separate modem and router:

  • It’s easier to upgrade your home router networking capability
  • Gamers only need to upgrade routers, not working modems
  • Get to control the router’s settings and firmware
  • Better overall performance due to the previous point
  • Little or no dealings with the ISP
  • Get to place the router in the perfect spot

So, if you want more influence, advanced controls, and placement choices, buy separate devices.

Modem Download/Upload Speeds

Download and upload speeds matter as they relate to how much volume moves at a given time. It’s a bit like water pressure in that sense. Many manufacturers only show download speeds in product descriptions. Upload speeds are typically much slower. Also, the makers don’t usually give any more information than the numbers. That’s not helpful to the novice buyer, so let’s break it down.

In theory, a modem with a speed of 1Gb (gigabit) can pull 1000mbps (megabits per second) from your ISP. However, it’s necessary to understand the restrictions. It’s not possible to use more data than your internet package allows. The higher the speed cap, the more data you can draw. It’s important to know your Mbps (megabits) from your MB (megabytes) too.

The tech world uses Mbps to describe internet connection speed and MB for file size and storage space. There are 8 bits to 1 byte, 1,000,000 bytes to 1MB, and 1000MB to 1GB (gigabyte).

Understanding DOCSIS

All the newer modems show DOCSIS somewhere on the description. The makers assume buyers know what it means, which is presumptuous of them. DOCSIS is an abbreviation for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification. It’s a protocol that allows an ISP to deliver its internet service via a coaxial cable. And a “protocol” is a set of events or rules for transmitting data between devices.

The DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 seen on product descriptions are the version numbers. The difference between them is speed. DOCSIS 3.1 is notably faster than 3.0, which has a max speed of 1Gbps. Thus, DOCSIS 3.1 is a better investment if your ISP offers rates above 1Gbps. If not, version 3.0 is adequate. Moreover, a quality DOCSIS 3.0 modem costs less than a 3.1 model.

Modem Channel Bonding

All modems have several download and upload channels, with more of the former than the latter. Let’s take a product with the number 16 x 4 as an example. That tells us it has 16 channels available for downloading, and 4 for uploading. Channel bonding splits web traffic amongst multiple internet connections to make data flow more effective. Thus, more channels result in faster data rates.

The best way to look at a modem’s bonded channels is like highway lanes. More lanes on a highway mean there are fewer jams and bottlenecks to slow the flow of traffic.

About My ‘Best Modem for Gaming’ Guide

There are so many modem and modem/router combos around today. Shopping for a new product is overwhelming for the inexperienced buyer. I scrutinized several dozen products and came up with a shortlist of 8 devices. I based my choices on the opinions of gaming experts, real user feedback, and personal know-how. There’s something for everyone here, with products from all price categories.

The first three reviews are the Editor’s Choice for Best Budget modem, Best Value, and the Top Pick. I’ve ordered the remainder by price, lowest to high.

Modems for Gaming Comparison Table

1. TP-Link TC-7620 High-Speed Modem | Best Budget

TP-Link TC-7620 High-Speed ModemView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5

The Editor’s Best Budget choice goes to the TP-Link TC-7620 DOCSIS 3.0 High-Speed Cable Modem. It’s an affordable product that promises lag-free gaming and impressive HD streaming.

  • Best feature 1: Hassle-free set up for beginners
  • Best feature 2: Fast data transfer
  • Plus points: ISP compatible, eliminates rental fees, 16×4 channel bonding, long warranty
  • Minus points: Heft, runs hot

Compatible with US providers: Cox, XFINITY from Comcast, and Spectrum, etc.

TP-Link TC-7620 Cable Modem Highlights

This modem is a well-made product with a sleek, aesthetically pleasing matt black curved form. The Dual-Stack supports both IPv4 and IPv6 that future-proofs the modem for the next generation. It’s also an excellent example of how you can end monthly cable modem rental fees. The advanced 16×4 channel bonding gives 16 downstream and 4 upstream for fast, reliable throughput.

The TP-Link DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem is a breeze to set up even for the novice user. First, connect the included coaxial cable to the modem. All you do then is connect the router or computer to the modem with the Ethernet cable. You can activate the device by contacting your ISP or use the self-activation process. The setting up procedure is fast and hassle-free either way.

The Not So Good

This modem is quite heavy and lands with a bang if knocked over. The weight is also a pro as it keeps the device steady. Just make sure it sits in a place where it’s unlikely to get knocked over. It also needs to be a well-ventilated space. High-speed modems can get hot, and this one’s no different. It’s reliable, though, but some users prefer to use a small table-top fan nearby to keep it cool.

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Tech Specs
Brand: TP-Link
Color: Matt black
Series: Cable modem only
OS: Windows, Mac, UNIX Linux
Gigabit Ethernet Ports: 1Gb
DOCSIS: 3.0 & 1.0, 1.1, 2.0
Max Download Speed: 686Mbps
Max Upload Speed: 143Mbps
Product Weight: 1.2 lbs.
Dimensions: 5.57 x 4.93 x 2.28”
Warranty: 2 years
The Pros
Hassle-free set up for beginners
Fast data transfer
ISP compatible
Eliminates rental fees
16 x 4 channel bonding
Supports IPv4 & IPv6
Excellent value
Extended warranty
The Cons
Heavy device
Runs hot

2. NETGEAR CM1000 Cable Modem | Best Value

NETGEAR CM1000 Cable ModemView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

NETGEAR’s reliable, high-speed CM1000 Cable Modem gets the Best Value slot. It’s an affordable product with an elegant, space-saving design that blends right in.

  • Best feature 1: Built for speed, ideal for multi-player gaming
  • Best feature 2: Works seamlessly with any WiFi router
  • Plus points: Elegant design, quick 5-minute set up, reliable, built for speed, DOCSIS 3.1
  • Minus points: Only 1 Ethernet port, only 256MB of RAM, modem only (no router)

Compatible with US providers: Spectrum, COX, Xfinity by Comcast, others.

NETGEAR CM1000 Modem Highlights

The NETGEAR CM1000 takes just 5 minutes to set up and continues to be a popular choice for gamers. It should pay for itself in about one year since you no longer need to rent your modem. It’s made for high speed and thus ideal for multi-player gaming. Consider this device if you have cable plans up to 1Gb rates. The CM10000 works like a dream with any WiFi router connected to its ethernet port.

This modem boasts DOCSIS 3.1 that delivers 32×8 channel bonding for faster broadband speeds. The result of that is consistent high download speeds even when there’s congestion on the network.

The Not So Good

This modem only has 1 Gigabit Ethernet port, so that may be a deal-breaker for some. A few users may find the 256MB of RAM limiting, but it depends on needs. The NETGEAR CM1000 is only a modem. That’s only a con if you buy it expecting a built-in WiFi router, as some people do. Jump to the modem-router combos reviewed below if you’re interested in an all-in-one product.

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Tech Specs
Color: Black & silver
Series: CM1000
Connectivity Technology: WLAN, LAN
Ethernet Ports: 1 x Gb
USB Ports: None
Max Download Speed: 1 Gbps
Product Weight: 2.14 lbs.
Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.4 x 5.9”
The Pros
Elegant, space-saving design
Quick 5-minute set up
Compatible with most major ISPs
Built for speed
Perfect for multi-player gaming
Works with any WiFi router
Reliable, consistent performance
No WiFi limits
DOCSIS 3.0 technology
32×8 channel bonding
Value for money
The Cons
Only 1 Ethernet port
Only 256MB of RAM
Modem only (no router)

3. NETGEAR Nighthawk CM1200 Cable Modem | Top Pick

NETGEAR Nighthawk CM1200 Cable ModemView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5

Another NETGEAR product makes the first three. The top pick goes to the company’s Nighthawk CM1200 Cable Modem. It’s an ultra-high-speed gaming and 4K HD streaming device.

  • Best feature 1: Powerful & fast modem for multi-player gaming
  • Best feature 2: Compatible with all routers
  • Plus points: Streamlined design, quick set up, supports 2Gbps speeds, versatile connections
  • Minus points: No internal router, quite pricey

Compatible with US providers: Xfinity by Comcast, Cox, Spectrum, others.

NETGEAR Nighthawk CM1200 Modem Highlights

NETGEAR’s Nighthawk CM1200 Cable Modem is a fast, powerful, and reliable product. The streamlined vertical design is simple yet elegant. Setting this device up takes only a few minutes, and you don’t even need to contact the cable provider. It’s the modem to consider if you have a cable plan capable of 2Gb speeds. There are no WiFi limits, so you can pair it with any router of your choosing.

The Nighthawk CM1200 comes with 4 Gb Ethernet ports for ultra-fast wired connections. That can be your router, computer, game box, printer, or whatever other devices you need wired.

The Not So Good

It’s a modem-only, so no built-in router. I mention that not because it’s a con, but because some novice buyers expect an all-in-one product at this price. Thus, you must connect the CM1200 to a router. An excellent choice for serious gamers is the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 AX6000, but any router will do. Lastly, a high-end modem/router setup like this comes with a high price tag.

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Tech Specs
Color: Black and gray
Series: CM1200
Connectivity: Ethernet, WAN
Ethernet Ports: 1
USB Ports: None
Max Download Speed: 10 Gbps
Max Upload Speed: 2 Gbps
Product Weight: 2.25 lbs.
Dimensions: 6.1 x 3.4 x 10.3”
The Pros
Smart, streamlined design
Quick, 5-minute set up
Powerful, fast, and reliable
Perfect for multi-player gaming
Compatible with most cable providers
Works with all routers
Versatile connections
The Cons
No built-in router
Quite expensive

4. ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 Cable Modem for Gaming

ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 Cable Modem for GamingView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

Meet the ARRIS SURFboard SB6190, a superb cable modem in its price category. It’s the most affordable product on review and suitable for gaming, UHD streaming, and multiple device use.

  • Best feature 1: Affordable choice for online gaming
  • Best feature 2: DOCSIS 3.0 Technology
  • Plus points: SURFboard Manager app, versatile, gigabit ethernet port, extended warranty
  • Minus points: No built-in router, needs regular resets (some users only)

Compatible with US providers: Most US ISPs, including Cox, Spectrum, Xfinity, and others.

ARRIS SURFboard Cable Modem Highlights

This modem supports DOCSIS 3 0. It has 32×8 (32 downstream + 8 upstream) channel bonding. You can expect 1.4 Gbps download speeds and 262 Mbps upload. Smartphone control is easy, thanks to the ARRIS SURFboard Manager App. Not everyone’s a fan of the app, but it gets the job done. Its basic interface is especially helpful for less experienced users.

The ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 Cable Modem is quite versatile considering its price. It works with most US cable providers, is IPv4 & IPv6 compatible, and has a 1Gb Ethernet port. And the two-year extended warranty shows the company’s confident in its product.

The Not So Good

It’s a modem only, so there’s no built-in router. Consider the ARRIS SURFboard SBG8300 below if you need both. One of the reasons the SB6190 didn’t get the Best Budget slot is because some users need to reset it regularly. It’s the only way they can fix performance issues. It’s not a problem that everyone experiences, though. Thus, it may be a potential ISP-related conflict rather than the equipment.

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Tech Specs
Brand: ARRIS
Color: White
Series: SB6190
Gigabit Ethernet Ports: 1
USB Ports: None
Max Download Speed: 1.4 Gbps
Product Weight: 1.12 lbs.
Dimensions: 6.4 x 2 x 8.7”
The Pros
Affordable modem for gaming
Easy to set up and use
Fast speeds for its class
DOCSIS 3.1 Technology
Smartphone app control
Broad ISP compatibility
Versatile product
Extended warranty
The Cons
No built-in router
Regular resets (some users only)

5. Linksys CM3024 High-Speed Cable Modem

Linksys CM3024 High-Speed Cable ModemView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

Linksys’ CM3024 is a high-speed cable modem with an affordable price tag. It’s compatible with all the major ISPs and a capable device for gaming and HD media streaming, etc.

  • Best feature 1: Ideal modem for online gaming & HD media streaming
  • Best feature 2: Clearly labeled diagnostic LEDs
  • Plus points: Plug-n-play set up, compatible with most ISPs, DOCSIS 3.0, well-priced
  • Minus points: Modem only, runs quite warm,

Compatible with US providers: Time Warner Cable, Comcast Xfinity, Cox, Charter, Cablevision, others.

Linksys CM3024 Cable Modem Highlights

This modem pays for itself in a year or less with the money saved on rent. It has a sleek, uncluttered tower design, and an easy 3-step plug-n-play set up procedure. Linksys’ CM3024 24×8 modem delivers reliable high-speed connections for cable plans up to 300Mbps. The 24 download (DL), 8 upload (UL) bonded channels, and DOCSIS 3.0 brings out the best in your broadband connection.

The 5 LED indicator lights on the tower are a welcome touch. They let you know which of the modem’s components are working. There’s an LED for Power, Downstream, Upstream, Status, and Link. On the back of the modem is a Reset Button, Power Button, 1Gb Ethernet Port, and a Cable Port.

The Not So Good

It’s only a modem, so there’s no built-in WiFi router functionality. It’s always worth pointing this out in reviews as some users buy these products unknowingly. The modem runs quite warm but not insanely hot like some do. Even so, it’s a reminder to place the device in a well-ventilated location.

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Tech Specs
Brand: Linksys
Color: Black
Series: LKSCM3024
Gigabit Ethernet Ports: 1
USB Ports: None
Max Download Speed: 960 Mbps
Operating System: PC, Mac
Product Weight: 2.25 lbs.
Dimensions: 1.77 x 6.97 x 8.03”
The Pros
Great modem for online gaming
Clearly labeled status LEDs
Quick Plug-n-play set up
Compatible with all routers
Compatible with most ISPs
High transfer speeds
The Cons
Modem only (no WiFi router)
Runs quite warm

6. MOTOROLA MB8600 High-Speed Cable Modem

MOTOROLA MB8600 High-Speed Cable ModemView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

Next up is the MOTOROLA MB8600 Future-Proof Cable Modem. It’s an upright device with an aesthetically pleasing design and plenty of features to boot.

  • Best feature 1: Superb modem for bandwidth-intensive gaming
  • Best feature 2: Supports DOCSIS 3.1 Standard
  • Plus points: Elegant design, ultra-fast, 4 LAN ports, reset & power buttons, extended warranty
  • Minus points: Size, built-in no router, instructions vague in parts

Compatible with US providers: Xfinity X1, Comcast Xfinity, CableOne, and Cox, etc., for all speeds.

MOTOROLA MB8600 Cable Modem Highlights

MOTOROLA’s stylish MB8600 cable modem is quick to set up with just 3 connections. There are 5 status LEDs on its front panel. The device is compatible with all popular US cable providers and works with any router. It’s an excellent choice for gamers and heavy HD streamers who use gigabit internet plans. Built-in DOCSIS 3.1 and 3.0, 32×8 capabilities ensure ultra-fast and consistent internet speeds.

Active Queue Management (AQM) vastly reduces or fully resolves internet latency issues. That’s especially welcome for online gaming and live video conferencing. On the rear of the modem are 4 LAN ports, 1 WAN port, Reset and Power buttons. MOTOROLA backs the MB8600 with a 2-year warranty.

The Not So Good

This cable modem is quite large and won’t fit into some tight spaces or smaller network cabinets. It’s a modem only, so it doesn’t come with a WiFi router. You can connect it to any Mesh WiFi and Whole Home WiFi systems. The instructions get a lot of criticism, especially from inexperienced users. They can be confusing and vague in parts. However, Motorola’s technical support service is first-rate.

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Tech Specs
Brand: Motorola
Color: Black
Series: MB8600
Gigabit Ethernet Ports: 1
Total LAN Ports: 4
USB Ports: None
DOCSIS: 3.1 + 32×8 3.0
Surge Protection: Yes
Operating Temp: 32°–104° F
Max Download Speed: 1000+ Mbps
Product Weight: 1.15 LBS.
Dimensions: 7.9 x 2.2 x 7.2”
The Pros
Elegant, space-saving design
Quick and easy to set up
Superb device for intensive gaming
Versatile cable modem
Ultra-fast speeds
4 LAN ports
Reset button
Extended warranty
The Cons
Quite large for a cable modem
Modem only, no router
Vague instructions

7. ARRIS SURFboard SBG8300 Modem + Wi-Fi Router

ARRIS SURFboard SBG8300 Modem + Wi-Fi RouterView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

The penultimate review is for the ARRIS SURFboard SBG8300 cable modem and WiFi router. The 2-in-1 convenience and tower design keep your arrangement tidy and well-organized.

  • Best feature 1: Offers a jitter-free, zero buffering experience for online gaming
  • Best feature 2: Space-saving 2-in-1 tower design
  • Plus points: Quick set up, ultra-fast speeds, DOCSIS 3.1, works with Alexa, future-proof
  • Minus points: Problematic SURFboard Manager App, 2-in-1 device

Compatible with US providers: Cox, Xfinity, Spectrum, and many others.

ARRIS SURFboard SBG8300 Modem/ Router Highlights

ARRIS’ Surfboard SBG8300 is a modem-WiFi-router combo, which means two devices in one unit. It has an aesthetically pleasing, space-saving tower design that tapers at the top. This DOCSIS 3.1 modem/router works with cable internet plans up to 4 Gbps. Add to that a jitter-free, no buffering experience, and you can see why it’s a popular choice for online gaming.

There are no diagnostic LEDs on the front as with some products. On the rear are 4 1Gb Ethernet ports for wired devices such as computers, gaming consoles, and Smart TVs, etc. The ARRIS SURFboard Manager App has its critics (see below). Even so, it has most of what you need for smartphone management control. The app also has a setup Wizard, WiFi Speed Tests, and Parental Controls.

The Not So Good

The Surfboard Manager App for iOS and Android smart devices doesn’t have too many fans. It’s limited in features and doesn’t always work as it should. But it is an app, and a major update could make this criticism void overnight, so fingers crossed. Being a 2-in-1 device means you lose both your modem and your router if the product breaks beyond repair. It’s something to think about.

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Tech Specs
Brand: ARRIS
Color: Black
Router: AC2350 Dual-band Wi-Fi
Series: SBG8300
Gigabit Ethernet Ports: 4
USB Ports: None
Max Download Speed: 10Gbps
Connectivity Technology: WiFi, wired
Product Weight: 3.3 lbs.
Dimensions: 2.87 x 8 x 9.33”
The Pros
Modem-router combo (also a con)
Future-proof product
Space-saving Tower design
Jitter-free, zero buffering
Ideal gaming device
Quick set up wizard
Ultra-fast speeds
Versatile ports
App control
Works with Alexa
The Cons
Below average app
Expensive to replace a 2-in-1 modem-router

8. NETGEAR Nighthawk C7800 Modem- Router Combo

NETGEAR Nighthawk C7800 Modem- Router ComboView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

The final review for this updated gaming modem guide is for another Netgear product. This one is the company’s Nighthawk Cable Modem-WiFi/Router Combo (C7800).

  • Best feature 1: Excellent product for HD gaming and 4k streaming
  • Best feature 2: Modem + multiple device router all-in-one
  • Plus points: Streamlined design, wide coverage, channel bonding, versatile ports, WPS button
  • Minus points: It’s a combo (see cons), pricey

Compatible with US providers: Cox, Xfinity by Comcast, and others.

NETGEAR Nighthawk Modem-WiFi C7800 Highlights

Netgear engineered its Nighthawk Cable Modem WiFi Router/Combo to outperform its rivals. Its 32×8 channel bonding and DOCSIS 3.1 keeps consistent WiFi speeds even at congested peak hours.

This combo has a flat horizontal design with 4 amplified antennas and Beamforming+ technology. It’s a good-looking device, but not as space-efficient as the more familiar tower units. It’s another product built for high speeds, and a perfect tool for cable plans up to 2Gbps. The WiFi router gives around 3000 sq. ft. of coverage and supports 45 internet-connected devices.

Versatile Connections & Safety

Gamers and HD streamers welcome the 4Gb Ethernet ports for wired connections. Think computers, game boxes, storage drives, and printers, etc. To the right of the Ethernet ports is a Power ON/OFF button and a Reset. There are also two high-speed USB 3.0 ports on the side of the unit. WiFi speeds up to 3200Mbps make the C7800/AC3200 a capable combo for multi-player gaming and 4K streaming.

Security and safety feature highlights are WEP/WPA/WPA2 security protocols and parental controls. You can set the Parental Controls remotely using a regular smartphone and the Netgear Genie App.

The Not So Good

Modem-router combos are space-savers and offer a cleaner setup. The downside is if one part develops a fault or you have an accident. You’d then have to replace your router and modem or get another combo if the problem was unresolvable. It’s quite an expensive piece of equipment too, and therefore takes longer to pay for itself. It’s still an excellent investment and cheaper than separate units.

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Tech Specs
Color: Black w/ red stripe
Series: C7800-200NAS
Connectivity: WiFi, Ethernet
Gigabit Ethernet Ports: 4 x 1Gb
USB Ports: 2 x 3.0
Max Download Speed: 1 Gbps
Product Weight: 3.15 lbs.
Dimensions: 10.4 x 12.4 x 7.5”
The Pros
Modem + router (also a con)
Streamlined horizontal design
Future proof product
Ultra-fast speeds
4 amplified external antennas
Ideal for HD gaming & 4k streaming
Lag-free online gaming experience
Wide WiFi coverage
32×8 channel bonding
Versatile ports
The Cons
It’s a 2-in1 (see review)
Quite expensive
0/50 ratings