Better to have Modem and Router separate?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Merkava_4, May 16, 2017.

  1. Merkava_4 macrumors 6502a

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    California
    #1
    I'm having to switch from AT&T to Comcast and I don't want to spend the $10 per month rental fees indefinitely. My head is swimming from all the product research I've been doing on modems and routers. The manager at BestBuy said to get the modem and router separate because the all-in-one units run too hot. I like the idea of having everything in one box because that means only one cord to plug into the wall. Doing a search and reading all the past threads, it seems none of you people ever talk about the all-in-one units and rarely talk about modems. Most of the conversations are usually about routers only. If any of you can recommend a cable modem and a router I'd be very grateful. I live in a small single story 1200 sq/ft. house and I'm usually running my Mac laptop by itself most of the time. I can't see myself ever running more than a computer, TV, and printer at one time. Oh and the connection speed is only going to be 25mbps. I'm wondering why Apple never made an all-in-one modem/router combo.
     
  2. daflake macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 8, 2008
    #2
    I prefer it that way... I have used combined units before and when you have an issue, it becomes hard to work around. Don't know about the "too hot" claim as that sounds bogus to me, but I hated being tied to one system. I prefered the Motorola Surfboard series, and have had an Apple Extream for years. Was a pretty solid setup and should be sufficient for what you are doing (provided you can still get the Apple router). If not, take a look at some of the Asus, D-Link, or Netgear. Any of them will do what you need.
     
  3. DualShock macrumors 6502

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    Jun 29, 2008
    #3
    It's not so much that the all-in-one's get too hot, it's that if it fails you will need to replace the whole thing instead of just the part that fails. Like if your router fails, you can still temporarily connect your computer to the cable modem to get internet access while you replace the router.

    I have had good luck with The Wirecutter, they do reviews of stuff with easy to understand language. Currently they are recommending the Arris Surfboard SB6183 cable modem (which I am also using on Comcast), and the TP-Link Archer C7 (v2) router. You can easily get both for about $200 combined.

    The SB6183 will be overkill for your 25 Mbps speed, but since you can easily find it for about $80, there's really no reason to get a slower one. At least you'll be ready in case you want to upgrade your speed.

    Also I don't think this will apply if you are getting phone service from Comcast. In that case I think you may need to use their equipment instead, but I'm not sure because I don't have phone service through them. Maybe someone else knows about this situation.
     
  4. smallcoffee macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    Get a used Motorola surfboard modem and a time capsule or airport router from Apple.
     
  5. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    #5
    I prefer a separate setup myself. That way I can pick the best of both types.
     
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G3

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #6
    You might consider just going with what Comcast provides for, say, the first 4-6 months while you get things sorted out.

    It will give you additional time to research routers, modems, and combination units (usually called "residential gateways").

    Even with a gateway, you might -still- consider a 3rd-party router unit, such as a "single" Netgear Orbi, eero, google wifi, etc. If you ever end up in a bigger place, you can "add on" satellites to these for a "mesh" type system.
     
  7. spooklog macrumors newbie

    spooklog

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    New Hampshire
    #7
    Simple advice: Buy a modem, and a router, and try them out. If the setup for either one doesn't work for you, return/exchange it. Best Buy is pretty good for returns; I do this sort of thing all the time.
     
  8. greywolfe macrumors member

    greywolfe

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    #8
    Agree with above.
     
  9. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    Oct 25, 2008
    #9
    Though Comcast might give you a set of modems and modem/router combos they accept, you should ask them if they do the support to update the modem side on those listed as "approved." In some cases, the provider will not update those modems and the make of the modem may not offer any assistance either. Once you find this out, then you can figure out what best serves you.

    For me, I prefer separate modem and router. It is more about what I want out of the router side that mattered (to me) that I wouldn't get from a combo device.
     
  10. DualShock macrumors 6502

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    #10
    http://mydeviceinfo.xfinity.com/
     
  11. Merkava_4 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    What do you guys think about an Arris SB6183 modem with a refurbished Apple Airport Extreme router?
     
  12. bopajuice macrumors 6502a

    bopajuice

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    Mar 22, 2016
    #12
    I've had 2 modems and two routers go bad but not at the same time. I also upgraded the router when 802.11ac became the norm, and the modem when docisis 3.0 became the standard. If I would have been using an all in one it would have been more expensive.

    If you are satisfied with your current speed and provider and don't plan on upgrading as new tech is adopted, then maybe an all in one would work.
     
  13. Merkava_4 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    Do you guys know if an older MBP like mine is equipped to receive both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands or just 2.4GHz ?
     
  14. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

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    #14
    If memory serves me correctly then I think that 5 GHz support was introduced in 2006.
     
  15. Merkava_4 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    If that's the case Nermal then that would be fantastic. The MBP is a mid 2007 model A1226.
     
  16. DualShock macrumors 6502

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    Jun 29, 2008
    #16
    That will work fine. I have the same setup. I have the latest Airport Extreme (the one that looks like a small white tower) that supports 802.11ac.

    It appears that your laptop support 802.11n, based on this:

    http://www.everymac.com/systems/app...k-pro-core-2-duo-2.2-15-santa-rosa-specs.html

    Most likely it supports the 5 GHz band. 802.11n defines both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz operation, though not every machine will support 2.4 GHz.
     
  17. techwarrior macrumors 6502

    techwarrior

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #17
    I prefer separate devices, easier to upgrade either without much hassle. DOCSIS standards are improving, Wi-Fi's next generation may be around the corner, and 5G may change the way we buy internet services. If carriers start offering 5G home service as has been reported, swap out for a 5G modem, and continue using your own router.

    If nothing else, owning your modem will pay for itself in less than 1 year vs $10\mo to rent.

    I have been using a Motorola DOCSIS 3 modem with Comcast for several years, and have swapped out routers several times. Currently using a refurb Time Capsule AC. Apple's refurbs are as good as new, so that sounds like a great strategy. At 25Mbps, just about any DOCSIS3 modem will do the job, unlikely you would notice any difference with more expensive units, so save your $$$ and go with any DOCSIS3 modem that fits the budget.
     
  18. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

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    #18
    This is the perennial "separates vs. all-in-one" discussion, and it barely matters what we're talking about, from home stereo to computers to kitchen appliances.

    Overall, it's cost and convenience vs. flexibility and features. The latter comes at a higher cost, usually for both equipment and energy usage, often with larger footprint, greater complexity...

    I don't think there's a single, right answer. If purchasing/interconnecting the equipment is a hobby in and of itself, or you have a complex networking environment, then separates is the way to go - more decisions and interconnections to make, more items to troubleshoot, potentially superior performance, some additional "survival scenarios," and greater pride of ownership. If your interest leans towards compactness, ease of installation and use, and top performance at every level is less important...

    In this case, separates means two items that may fail, rather than one, and another interconnect point that's also a potential point of failure. The cost of both will be higher than the price of the all-in-one. Sure, you may be able to maintain your WiFi network if the modem crashes and (literally) burns, or keep one device hardwired to the Internet if the WiFi router burns (presuming you have a computer with an Ethernet port). If you have a complex networking environment with local servers of various sorts and multiple users dependent on those locally-shared resources, this is a significant consideration. However, for the typical household user, whose only shared network resources are internet access and a printer, this approach is overkill. For most users of this sort, internet access is far more important than that printer - if the modem goes down, the wifi network has little or nothing to do. Regardless of which fails, the solution is to use more cellular data - fire up the cell phone's cellular hotspot. To print, USB or use the printer's built-in wifi router (if it has one).
     
  19. Tzerlag macrumors regular

    Tzerlag

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    #19
    I switched to comcast triple play (phone, internet, tv). I already owned a WNDR3700 router, and upgraded to an Arris TM822 telephony modem. I've had this setup for four years and I'm very happy.

    I didn't want to rent a modem from Comcast. And I wanted to continue using the dual band gigabit router for my Cat 6 Ethernet-cabled intranet.

    Saving the $10 rental fee was a risk if the modem died early but has paid off. Owning the modem paid for itself after 20 months.

    One problem I had in my area, I could not access some of the benefits of my cable tv subscription, namely watching most shows on my wireless devices (mainly iPads). The xfinity network would not recognize my modem as my "home network". The recent upgrade by xfinity StreamTV app has solved that minor annoyance. I now watch shows from my X1 DVR recordings and OnDemand on my iPad. (I don't know how much of this is a function of subscription and/or location.)

    Another consideration is that xfinity modems function as hotspots for nearby xfinitywifi users unless you specifically disable the modem from doing so. I don't have an opinion because it doesn's apply to me, if it did I'd investigate if there's any drain on my resources or not.
     
  20. ekko20six macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
    #20
    Having your own router separate from the ISP provided modem has a few benefits some already touched on:
    - if something is up with the internet, restart modem - whole network doesn't have to go down (this is the main reason I like them separate)
    - you can usually control more of the settings in your own router and just have he modem in bridge mode - depending on your ISP they may lock down or completely lock out advanced settings in their supplied unit
    - you can change ISPs and thus supplied modems without having to reconfigure your network. I use assigned IPs per device so they always have the same address, handy for things like remote connection
    - using your own router, you can keep up with the latest iteration of WiFi far faster than what your ISP will, who may take some time to offer newer standards by way of newer models
     
  21. Merkava_4 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    California
    #21
    DualShock - Right now I'm comparing an Apple Airport Extreme/ARRIS SB6183 modem setup to an ARRIS SBG7580-AC all-in-one router/modem combination. They would be about the same price out the door if I purchased a refurbished Airport Extreme as opposed to brand new. I like the idea of having one device as opposed to two separate devices for the ease of technical support in case something goes wrong; for example: the modem manufacturer blaming the router manufacturer and visa versa. However, if you think the Airport Extreme/ARRIS SB6183 modem setup would offer better WiFi performance, please say so! :)

    http://www.arris.com/surfboard/products/wi-fi-cable-modems/sbg7580-ac/
     
  22. techwarrior macrumors 6502

    techwarrior

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    #22
    There are modems without WiFi\Router. I use Motorola Surfboard DOCSIS 3 (model SB6120), this and similar "dumb" modems run around $50 rather than the $200 the unit you are considering. I recall Arris bought Motorola's modem business, so Arris brands are probably just newer versions of Motorola modems.

    AP Extreme will cover Wi-Fi for most homes, but if you have a large home, additional access points can help extend the coverage. Airport Express run in the $99 range new, and might occasionally be found as refurbs, or can be picked up on eBay for around $50. AP Express is nice for airplay music to remote locations in your home as well as extending your network range.

    If your ISP service is only 25Mbps, any DOCSIS 3 modem will be overkill, so going the extra cost won't do much for you. I have the 50Mbps service and typically see 60+Mbps speeds with my setup. Similarly, since 25Mbps is going to be the bottleneck, faster WiFi is only going to help with local file transfers and streaming local content. So, either WiFi option will give you pretty equal internet speeds.
     
  23. Merkava_4 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    techwarrior - My house is only 1200 sq/ft. Do you think the Airport Extreme will cover that?

    Which router are you using with your Motorola modem?
     
  24. millerj123 macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 6, 2008
    #24
    Wow, that is a huge improvement from when I got stuck with Comcast 3 years ago, although their "supported" choices are pretty crappy. Back then, it was impossible to find out what they supported from their website.

    I hated Cox, and despise Comcast.

    I bought an Arris, and have it plugged into a Linksys/Cisco wifi/ethernet switch.
     

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