Best Cable Modem Wireless Router

I’m looking to go to a wireless router and cable modem combination. Right now the pick is the NightHawk AC3200; between the NAS and DS DAC with IPAD controlling and streaming using Roon. Any suggestions on a better cable modem & wireless router combination?

Who’s your cable provider? I use Comcast and just upgraded (for free!) from a WW2 looking cable modem + LinkSys WiFi router to an Xfinity branded, Cisco made combo unit. I don’t recall the Cisco model #, but it’s labelled XB3. My internet speed is over 5× faster and the built-in router is Gigabit whereas the retired LinkSys was 100 Mbps. I also find WiFi coverage better through the house.

I’m pleased with the improvement in performance, and the retiring of a now superfluous router (and Ethernet cable, and wall-wart power supply). One guys experience.

Chris V

If you use Comcast Xfinity… I suspect the other providers have about the same technology, a few items you may consider…

I chose to use my own Asus wireless router, and turned off the advanced functions of the Xfinity router. Call Comcast and ask their technition to put your Xfinity modem into “bridge mode”… this shuts off all home networking functions. This allows me to control my home network independently of Xfinity technologies. In doing so, you have to know what your are doing to manage your home network and install a home wireless router.

1 - The Xfinity router does a few things for you (I turned all of this stuff turned off):

  • Xfinity router/modem provides three wireless networks all live when it is installed. The first two are what you know to be your home network and you get 2.4GHz and 5GHz to connect to (shows up on a device as two networks). 5GHZ is faster but you have to be close to the router to get the speeds and 2.4GHz is slower but can cover your whole home (most of the time). I had Comcast turn this off, their phone tech “level 2” will do this no questions asked.
  • The other network is Comcast’s public network system… yes, your home is a public network “hot spot” wi-fi node… and you didn’t even ask for it. It shows up as “xfinity” but has some other names depending on the vintage. Comcast will tell you that network does not slow your home network down or affect the link to your home… Comcast will deactivate this public node at your request… took a “level 2” tech over the phone to do it. They won’t hassle you.
  • Xfinity modem/router will assigne IP addressees to your home devices (a DHCP server function), I had them turn this off also… when any new device is turned on in you home, either wired or wireless, the device “announces” itself and asks anything that is listening to assign it an IP address. The Xfinity modem/router will respond and assign an address to that device. It then remember that address so there are no duplicate assignments (what is called a “lease”).
  • IIRC, the Xfinity modem has some Ethernet ports on the back, these are now deactivated
  • In short, I had Comcast turn my fancy Xfinity home wireless/DHCP router into an old fashioned dumb cable modem (albeit a super fast one).

2 - I installed an Asus RT-AC66U-B1 wireless router and use this router for all home network functions (just make sure the Ethernet ports are all gig speed)

  • The Asus router provides DHCP services, assigns IP addresses to all devices… but I don;t use this feature … I did not turn it off as I have guests and the occasional random piece of equipment coming in and out of the network, I just don;t use it as I assign static addresses to all devices in my home.
  • I assign my own, static, IP addresses to each device from cell phones, PCs, printers, audio equipment, NAS… everything. I do this because I found devices can get stupid when they talk to each other if swap out equipment or have a long power failure. Remember when your PC all of a sudden can’t find the printer and you have find that install disk all over again? Go into your router and see what range the router will assign addresses, and then assign a number outside that range to each of your devices. Keep this list in a spreadsheet. Trust me on this one, assigning your own addresses makes life easier in the long run.

3 - ALL my important equipment is wired via Ethernet cabling. I wired my whole home up myself with nice Leviton jacks. CAT5 is fine… anything more is BS because there is no formal standard and you are being lied to. I will say, however, that much of the CAT5 cable you buy at the big box stores is crap… it may pass CAT5 electrical performance, but it can be brittle and crack if bent back and forth too many times. RF rejection is built into the CAT5 standard… actually not to protect the cable signal, but because the cable is designed to carry high-speed Ethernet (high frequencies), it actually becomes a broadcast antennae and the FCC requires the cable to be constructed (clever random twists) to not radiate… and therefore is pretty good at not picking up EMI.

4 - The Asus router, like many, only have 4-5 ports on the back and that is not enough, so I have a few other Gig-ether switches in the system. Just stick with a name brand as they all must adhere to the same standard to even call themselves Ethernet. Don;t waste money here but don’t buy the cheapest either. I have short Ethernet cables connecting the router to each of my gig-ether switches. The performance is so amazingly fast, you don;t have to worry too much about how your hook all this up.

5 - My NAS, Asus Router, Xfinity cable modem, ether-switches and cable patch panel are all located in a top shelf of a closet all powered to a dedicated APC battery backup… the NAS talks to the battery and shuts itself down gracefully when the power level is at 50% or lower.

Bruce in Philly

I use an Asus RT-AC66U-B1 wireless router… I like it but these things are deep into their lifecycle and have become commodities… and most name brands are really good now. The manufacturers are “making up” dumb features that you don’t need anymore. Don’t spend over $100 and don’t buy the cheapest no-name product. Besides 5ghz wireless and gigabit ethernet ports, the only other feature I need is port forwarding because I use FTP to interact with my website… but few need this feature and ALL routers have this capability (just confirm gig-ethernet because as of just a few years ago, not all had this).

Something to keep in mind when you read about router features: gig ethernet is so blazingly fast… well, nothing you are going to put on your network needs this. Your connection to the net is way way slower, music streaming is way way slower, watching cat videos is way way slower… writing to a disk drive, even a SSD, is way way slower… even if you do all of this at the same time which I do, with my wife upstairs streaming music, my network is half asleep. Don’t believe the hype. We live in good times for this. (BTW, because I am a geek, I pay for a higher-speed service from Comcast and my home gig Ether is still way faster.)

Below is my network diagram… I also have layouts of my floorplans with jack numbers and all the electrical outlets mapped to the circuit breaker map.

Bruce in Philly

Personally, I’ve never used the WiFi provided by my internet-service provider’s modem/router. I view WiFi on a modem/router as an add-on and usually not the best solution, especially depending on one’s house size and layout. Plus, WiFi technology moves much quickly than your internet-service provider’s access technology, so being able to upgrade the two independent of one another is a big benefit.

I have FiOS internet service (formerly from Verizon, now from Frontier) and I use their provided modem/router simply as a modem, which is then connected to an Eero mesh-wifi device which acts as my network firewall. This eero device is then connected into my whole-house Gigabit Ethernet wiring and I have two additional eero devices connected in other areas of my two-story townhouse.

Best Regards,

Dan W.

With FiOS here we never got a modem from them and we just hook our own router (and now Orbi) directly up. The installer never gave us their modem/router/WiFi box and tho their phone service gives me crap whenever I call them, I remind them that I never got a modem from them and have never needed it (for FiOS.)

I’ve got to say that the Orbi has been a pleasure to setup and use. Good defaults, painless setup, better coverage and better throughput than my previous Nighthawk X4 AC2350 dual band WiFi router (and X4 range extender.) My wife’s laptop was always having problems connecting to the NAS and now it just works. It may be my imagination but I think my system sounds better too, but if so, it’s subtle.

1 Like

What disks/ssd’s do you use? :open_mouth: Gigabit network can be real bottle neck if you move/copy large files especially between ssd’s. 10Gbit would be pretty fast nowadays. :slight_smile:

I would also recommend Asus AC66 or 68. Rock solid performance for many years. But today I would go for PFsense and Ubiquity AP-s.

Good question… To be totally honest, I am making a few assumptions here. I am assuming the comparison when writing to a SSD is that the source is either another disk drive on your network, such as from you NAS, or from the 'net. In both these cases, a SSD is really a non-issue as your speed will be limited from the source… not the speed of your SSD.

The reason I noted the SSD, is from my experience, some folks think if they buy one, everything speeds up… as anyone who has been around IT knows, speed is always limited by the slowest component or link. I was heading off a common false assumption about system performance.

After all of that, I always buy or install the fastest components I can buy (withing reason) because over the long run, you will need it. In time, you will slowly swap out this for that, upgrade this over there etc… and the fast link today will be the slowest tomorrow. In short, speed is good.

BTW, the reason I wrote the long posts above was to target novices… There is so much stuff out there to consume, it is easy to get lost and pay too much for stuff you don’t need or can’t use. Techies love and make good use of advanced stuff… I am not dissing cool tech… but for the average person who is wrestling with home networking… well that is why I posted the stuff above.

Mr Cardri is considering a $225 wireless router and by the cluing in his post, I suspect he/she is a bit of a novice… if he/she is a bit of a novice, then he/she is probably wasting about $150.

Bruce in Philly

1 Like

I also have Comcast.
Keep in mind that you are billed monthly for the rental of the Comcast modem.
Years ago I switched to my own modem and I don’t have to pay for the Comcast modem.