When setting up a home network, many face the choice between modem router combo vs. separate devices. While most, if not all, ISP companies often offer combo packages, some users still opt to customize their setup.
There are valid arguments for both options, and the choice ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences.
In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of both modem router combos and separate devices, as well as their use cases, to help you make an informed decision.
What is a Modem Router Combo?
Also known as an all-in-one or gateway device, a modem router combo is a single device that combines the functions of a modem and a router. A modem is a device that connects your home network to the internet, while a router is a piece of hardware that allows multiple devices to connect to the network and share the internet connection.
A modem router combo essentially performs both of these functions, eliminating the need for two separate devices.
Popular Modem Router Combos
These popular modem router combos are designed to provide high-speed internet and wide Wi-Fi coverage for a superior home networking experience:
- ARRIS SURFboard SBG7600AC2 – Boasting a 32×8 channel bonding and an AC2350 dual-band Wi-Fi, this device is perfect for bandwidth-intensive activities like streaming, gaming, and heavy downloads. The SBG7600AC2 also features a sleek design, user-friendly setup, and advanced security options to provide an exceptional internet experience. It is also compatible with major US cable providers.
- NETGEAR Nighthawk C7000 – This modem router combo supports 24×8 channel bonding and AC1900 Wi-Fi, making it ideal for HD streaming and online gaming in larger households. Designed for compatibility with major cable ISPs, the Nighthawk C7000 comes with the NETGEAR Genie app for easy setup and management. It also provides advanced security features to keep your network safe and secure.
- Motorola MG7700 – Featuring a 24×8 DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem and an AC1900 dual-band Wi-Fi router, this device is perfect for busy households that require steady connections for multiple devices. The MG7700‘s easy installation process and advanced security options make it a top choice for those looking to upgrade their home network.
Pros of Modem Router Combo
Let’s explore the advantages of modem router combos that can elevate your home networking and simplify your internet setup:
- Convenience – The biggest advantage of a modem router combo is the convenience of having one device instead of two. You only need to manage one instead of two devices with separate settings. Like when your gateway goes offline, you don’t need to guess which hardware to troubleshoot.
- Space-Saving – A modem router combo takes up less space compared to having separate devices. It is perfect for people who live in small apartments or have limited space for networking equipment.
- Easy Setup – Setting up a modem router combo is much easier than setting up separate devices. You only need a single device to connect to the internet, and it will take care of the rest.
- Cost-Effective – Modem router combos are generally cheaper than buying a separate modem and router. It is a cost-effective solution for people who are on a budget.
- Less Clutter – This setup reduces the clutter of cables and devices in your home network. With only one device to connect and power, you’ll have fewer cords and a cleaner appearance in your networking space.
- Unified Firmware Updates – With a modem router combo, you only need to worry about updating one device’s firmware, streamlining the maintenance process. This helps ensure that your home network stays up-to-date with the latest security patches and performance improvements.
Cons of Modem Router Combo
While modem router combos offer many benefits, it’s essential to understand their drawbacks as well. Let’s examine the potential cons of these all-in-one devices:
- Limited Customizability – One of the biggest drawbacks of a modem router combo is the limited customizability. Since it is a single device, you cannot customize the modem and router settings separately.
- Must Upgrade the Whole Setup – With a modem router combo, you cannot upgrade the modem or router independently. If you want to upgrade your modem or router, you will need to replace the entire device, which can be costly.
- Compatibility Concerns – Not all modem router combos are compatible with all internet service providers (ISPs). You need to make sure that the modem router combo you choose is compatible with your ISP before purchasing it.
What is a Separate Modem and Router Configuration?
In the realm of home networking, separate modem and router configurations involve using two distinct devices to manage your internet connection and distribute it among your devices.
The modem serves as the gateway between your home network and the internet service provider (ISP), converting incoming signals into a digital format your devices can understand. On the other hand, the router’s primary role is to create a local network, whether in bridge mode or access point setup. This enables multiple devices to connect simultaneously and share the internet connection provided by the modem.
Pros of Separate Modem and Router
Let’s now consider the pros associated with a separate modem and router configuration, so you can see if this option is the right fit:
- Customizability – The biggest advantage of having a separate modem and router is customizability. You can customize the modem and router settings separately to optimize your home network for your specific needs.
- Easily Upgradeable – With a separate modem and router configuration, you can upgrade them independently. If you want to upgrade your modem or router, you only need to replace one of the devices at a time.
- Compatibility – Separate modem and router setups are compatible with all internet service providers (ISPs). You can choose the modem and router that best suits your needs and budget without worrying about compatibility issues.
- Easier Troubleshooting – In a separate modem and router setup, it’s easier to identify and troubleshoot potential issues. If a problem arises, you can quickly determine whether it’s the modem or the router that is causing the issue, which simplifies the process of resolving connectivity problems.
- Reduced Heat and Better Ventilation – Separate devices tend to have better heat dissipation and ventilation, which can contribute to their longevity and overall performance. Modem router combos can sometimes suffer from heat-related issues due to their compact designs. This can possibly impact their performance and lifespan.
Cons of Separate Modem and Router
- More Space Needed – Having a separate modem and router takes up more space compared to a modem-router combo. You need to have a dedicated space for both devices.
- Extra Costs – Separate modem and router are generally more expensive compared to a modem router combo. You need to purchase two devices instead of just one.
- More Complexity – Setting up a separate modem and router can be more complex than setting up a modem router combo. You must deal with two devices and their separate settings, which can be overwhelming for non-techies.
- Potential for Mismatched Performance – When using separate devices, it’s crucial to ensure that the modem and router handle the same performance levels to maximize your internet speed. If either device has a lower performance capacity, it can bottleneck the entire network, leading to suboptimal results.
The choice between a modem router combo and a separate modem and router configuration largely depends on your specific needs and use cases. Let’s take a look at some scenarios where one option may be more suitable than the other:
- Small Apartments or Limited Space – If you live in a small apartment or have limited space for networking equipment, a modem router combo is the best option. It is a space-saving and cost-effective solution that allows you to have internet connectivity without the need for space for two devices.
- Customizability – If you want to customize your home network settings to optimize your internet connectivity, a separate modem and router are your best option. You can tweak the modem and router settings separately to suit your specific needs.
- Budget-Friendly – If you are on a tight budget, a modem router combo is a cost-effective solution. It is generally cheaper than buying a separate modem and router.
- High-Performance Networking – If you need high-performance networking for gaming, streaming, or other data-intensive tasks, a separate modem and router setup is the way to go. You can choose a high-performance modem and router that can handle your specific needs. Router modem combos are usually for more general purpose
- Future-Proofing – If you want to future-proof your home network, a separate modem and router are the best option. You can upgrade the modem and router independently as new technologies become available without having to replace the entire setup.
Making a Decision: Modem Router Combo vs. Separate Devices
Choosing between a modem router combo and a separate modem and router setup largely depends on your specific needs and intended use.
A modem router combo is a convenient, space-saving, and cost-effective solution, but it has limited customizability and upgradeability. While a separate modem and router configuration is more customizable and upgradeable, it takes up more space and is generally more expensive.
Make sure to consider your specific needs, budget, and future-proofing requirements before making a decision. If you are a gamer or streamer, you may want to choose a separate top-of-the-line modem and router. If you only use your internet to stream video or surf the web or have limited space, a router modem combo makes more sense.
Ultimately, both options can provide you with reliable and high-performance internet connectivity. One may be more suitable than the other, depending on your unique circumstances.