1. Modem Buying Guide
 
Modem Best Sellers
ARRIS/Motorola
SBG6580 SURFboard
DOCSIS 3.0 Cable
Modem and WiFi-N
Router

$129.97
ARRIS/Motorola
SB6121 SURFboard
DOCSIS 3.0 Cable
Modem

$69.99
ARRIS/Motorola
SB6141 SURFboard
DOCSIS 3.0 Cable
Modem

$88.24
See more Modem


Buying the best modem for your needs

best modem

A modem buying guide

When you decide it is time to buy modems, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. Modems come in a variety of types, and each has its unique modem functions and advantages. As you look at the different types of modems, think about the following items before you buy a modem to meet your needs.

>> The difference between cable and DSL

When looking for the best modem, first think about broadband modems: cable and DSL modems. The primary difference to observe between the two is availability and speed. DSL modems are available anywhere that telephone service is accessible in your area. Cable modems are also widely available except in some rural areas. DSL lines are faster when you are physically closer to the routing station, and cable modems are faster when there are less people hooked into your particular line. When you buy modems, it is important to first determine the kind of service available in your area. For download and upload speeds of each of the modems refer to the chart below. It is important to note that an ADSL line is basically two DSL lines wrapped in one, and thus can get some very good download and upload speeds.

Subscription level

Cable

DSL

Low end download speeds 1 Mb/second 128 Kb/second
Low end upload speeds 128 Kb/second 128 Kb/second
High end download speeds 100 Mb/second 24 Mb/second (ADSL)
High end upload speeds 8 Mb/second 1.4 Mb/second (ADSL)

>> Consider the types of modems

types of modem

When figuring out how to buy the best modem, consider different types of modems available. There are three main types to consider, and they differ based on speed and computer compatibility.

  • Hardware modems have built-in hardware chips and process data internally. They do not use the computer for processing information and save a lot of the computer's energy. This modem is perfect for slower and low-end computers.
  • DSP modems have similar processing power to hardware modems but use the computer a little bit more to process information. This modem design is great for mid-range performance computers.
  • Software based modems almost entirely depend on the computer for processing incoming and outgoing information. This modem is great for high performance computers with good processing power.

When you buy modems, it is important that you first determine the type of computer you have. This will often help you decide which of these three modems is best for you.

>> Consider types of modem interface

When wondering about the best modem to buy, look at the different types of interface. Each has its own specific modem advantages.

  • Internal - Internal modems are connected to the main board of your computer either through PCI or ISA type connections. Generally, a computer will have a built-in PCI modem, which can be either DSP or Software modems. You need to install internal modems on your computer. Although this is not difficult, it requires getting inside your computer's internal system. Internal modems have some advantages. They do not need an external power source, and they do not need cables or take up an external port, like a USB. Moreover, internal modems consume little energy and save space.
  • External - There are three types of external modems: serial, USB and PC card. This modem design is connected to the computer using one of the serial ports on the back of the computer (serial modems), USB connections (USB modems) or PC card slots (PC card modems). External modems have some advantages. They are easy to install and can be connected to other computers by simply connecting cables. External modems also feature indicator lights, which help you read the status of the modem and troubleshoot it when necessary. Also, you do not need to reboot the whole computer to reboot the modem.

Decide which modem interface best suits your needs and is most convenient for you to make your modem comparison.

>> Other types of external-type modems

modem function

When looking for the best modem to buy, consider a few different types of external modems.

  • Fax modems receive and send data as well as pictures. You can send all your documents and any files you like from your computer directly to a fax machine or another computer with a fax modem. With this modem design, the information is sent via telephone lines in just minutes, and it is easier and faster sometimes than using printers and fax machines directly.
  • Intelligent modems contain internal read-only memory (ROM) and feature sophisticated processing and diagnostic feedback with itself. They also offer a variety of modem functions, including multiplexing, error detection, encryption, security restriction and retransmission.
  • Short haul modems are smaller than typical modems. They transmit data at medium to high rates in both directions and can control other remote devices in the network. Short haul modems do not need a power source and connect to your computer using a serial port. They are best for business use.

>> Consider modems and routers

When determining what the best modem to buy is, ask yourself how you would like your router. Modems as single standalone models are called bridge modems. Bridge modems convert incoming information to something a router can read and send to your computer. You can buy a modem and a router separately. This will require an Ethernet crossover cable to connect the two devices. Alternatively, when figuring out which modem to buy, you may want to consider a combination of a modem and a built-in router. This will have multiple Ethernet receptors so you can connect any number of computers. It will also save you space and eliminate the need for a lot of cables.

>> Would you like a wireless modem?

When looking for the best modem to buy, consider wireless models. Wireless modems are available for both laptop and desktop computers. Laptops have a built-in wireless modem, which connects to Wi-Fi or a wireless router for internet. You can also consider a personal computer memory card (PCMCIA) or a USB wireless adapter, peripherals which need installation, in order to obtain a wireless connection. For desktop computers, wireless modems need a card to be installed. An antenna attached to the card allows the computer to connect to the wireless router. Much like laptops, desktop computers can also have a USB wireless adapter to obtain a wireless connection.

When determining which modem to buy, take wireless speeds and range into account. There are three different protocol types to look at. Refer to the chart:

Protocol

Speed

Indoor range

Outdoor range

Wireless B 11 Mb/second 125 feet 460 feet
Wireless G 54 Mb/second 150 feet 460 feet
Wireless N 150 Mb/second 300 feet 700 feet

Searching the many modem brands and getting the right one will affect how, and how fast, you get your internet connection. Browsing through these considerations is a good idea. Make sure to distinguish between the different modems, their speeds and capabilities and whether you are working with a laptop or a desktop computer.

See more buying guides

Modem Best Sellers

ARRIS/Motorola SBG6580 SURFboard DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem and WiFi-N Router

ARRIS/Motorola SB6121 SURFboard DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

ARRIS/Motorola SB6141 SURFboard DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

Netgear DM111PSP Broadband ADSL2+ Modem

D-Link ADSL2+ Ethernet Modem
$129.97 $69.99 $88.24 $49.99 $46.99
See more Modem
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