What is a Modem Router Combo?

Modem router combo title page

Buying a modem and router for your home internet can be a daunting task. There are many different modems and routers to choose from and it can be overwhelming. On top of that, if you don’t buy the right devices your internet speed can be greatly reduced.

Thankfully, there’s an easy way to solve this problem.

The solution is a modem router combo device.

A modem router combo is a home networking device that combines the functionality of a modem and router into one device. It functions the same way as a separate modem and router does, in that it establishes an internet connection to an internet service provider (ISP) and broadcasts a wireless network.

In this post we’ll take an in-depth look at modem router combinations so you can determine if it’s the right device for your home network.

What Does a Modem Router Combo Do?

Let’s start with the basics here.

A modem and router combination device provides you with all you need to access the internet from your home. This includes connecting your home to your ISP, as well as providing a wireless network for your devices.

It’s basically a one-stop shop for your home internet.

What Is the Difference Between a Standalone Router and a Modem Router Combo?

You’re probably wondering what the difference is between a regular router and a modem and router combination device.

The biggest difference is that a router on its own doesn’t provide you with all you need to access the internet.

A router allows your devices to interact with the internet once an internet connection is already in place. It’s also used to take the already-established internet connection and create a wireless network in your home for your wireless devices to access the internet.

The key here is that on its own, your router can’t provide your devices with access to the internet.

That’s where the modem comes in.

A modem provides the internet connection that the router uses to make a wireless network. You need both a modem and router to create a working home internet network.

Using a router on its own to access the internet would be like trying to drive a train without train tracks. It simply won’t work.

That’s why a modem and router combination device can be so useful. As long as you have an internet plan, you can be confident that your home network will work well.

What Does a Router and Modem Combination Device Look Like?

Now that we know what a modem router combo does, let’s dive into what they look like.

The biggest difference you’ll notice is that modem and router combination devices are much simpler than standalone modems and routers.

In a combination device the modem and router are already connected within the piece of equipment. In other words, you don’t have to do anything to make sure they’re working properly with each other.

When the modem and router are separate, they need to be manually connected. On top of that, each standalone device needs its own connection to a power source, so each one will have its own power cord. Combination devices only need one power cord because it’s only one device.

Here’s what the front of a modem router combination device looks like:

modem router combo front

See? It looks pretty clean and simple.

Now, let’s take a look at the front of a modem and router that are standalone devices.

Front of standalone modem
The front of a standalone modem
Front of standalone router
The front of a standalone router

Not too overwhelming at this point right?

You might think differently after comparing the back of a modem router combination device and a standalone modem and router.

Here’s what the back of a modem router combination device looks like:

back of modem router combo

Just like the front, the back of the modem router combo is very simple as well.

How about the modem and router standalone devices? How do they look?

Here’s what the back of a standalone modem looks like:

Back of standalone modem

Seems simple enough. In fact, it doesn’t look too different from the modem router combination device.

What if we throw a router into the mix? What does the back of a standalone router look like?

Back of standalone router

As you can see, the back of a standalone router is much more complex than the back of a modem router combination or a standalone modem.

This level of complexity is what can make a non-technical person feel uneasy. Especially considering the fact that you need to make sure both the modem and router are connected correctly when you buy them as separate devices.

Reasons to Buy a Modem Router Combination Device

A modem and router combo can be very useful depending upon your personal situation. Before running out and buying one, it’s important to understand the benefits of these devices.

Let’s take a look at the situations where a modem router combo provides the most value.

Reasons to buy a modem router combination device

When You Want an Easy Solution That Works Well With Your Internet Plan

I’ll just come out and say it.

Finding a modem and router that maximizes the speed of your internet plan can be a challenging task.

If you buy a standalone modem or router that doesn’t meet the needs of your internet plan, it can greatly reduce your internet speed. The last thing you want to do is pay a lot of money for a high speed internet plan and not get the most out of it.

I know, this is an intimidating concept.

In buying a modem router combo, you can save yourself hours of researching which individual modems and routers would optimize your internet speed. On top of that, you can rest easy knowing your modem and router will work well together.

A modem router combination removes several of the variables that go into your home internet speed. The less factors you have to worry about when setting up your home internet, the easier it is to get the performance you want out of your internet plan.

If You Want a Simple and Easy Way to Set Up Your Home Internet

I hinted at this earlier when detailing what a modem router combination looks like, but it’s important to hammer this point home.

If you don’t consider yourself a technical person and you get overwhelmed by the gadgets in your home, a modem router combo may be a great option for you. They’re much easier to configure and manage than individual modems and routers.

Sure, modem and router combos may not be as customizable as standalone devices, but if you’re not a very technical person you probably wouldn’t be utilizing those capabilities anyway.

With a modem router combo you’re choosing simplicity and functionality over high customizability. In other words, you’re ensuring your modem and router work well together at the expense of some advanced technical features.

If you just want a solution that will give you good internet performance and you’re not worried about squeezing every last drop of horsepower out of your internet devices, a modem router combination may be a good choice.

If You Want Your Internet Devices to Take Up as Little Space as Possible

This should be fairly obvious at this point.

When you have a separate modem and router, you’re dealing with two devices. That means you need to have the physical space for both of them in your home.

This doesn’t mean you can stack them on top of each other either.

Modems and routers need to be in open spaces that get good air flow. If you don’t give these devices enough space, you run the risk of your modem or router overheating.

Nobody wants that, especially the internet users in your home.

The other consideration is that each device has its own power cord. Thankfully, it’s good practice to plug these devices into a surge protector.

If you already have a surge protector and it’s running short on available outlets, it’s much more convenient to only need one for your home internet setup. This is a minor consideration because surge protectors are cheap, but it’s still a consideration nonetheless.

The bottom line is, if you’re going for a minimalist look with as few devices and tumbleweeds of cables as possible, a modem router combination device is worth considering.

If You Want to Save Money on Your Home Internet Setup

Another consideration to think about is your budget.

In general, modem router combinations are cheaper than buying a modem and router separately.

If you’re on a tight budget, you can probably save a few bucks by buying the combo device.

One thing I will add is that you should keep your future plans in mind here. If you plan on upgrading your internet devices in the future, with a separate modem and router you can upgrade each one individually.

Separate devices can save you money in the long run, because if you want to upgrade a modem router combo you have to buy a whole new one each time you want to upgrade.

In addition, router technology has been advancing much faster than modem technology. As a result, you can probably get away with upgrading your router a few times before you have to upgrade your modem. In this scenario it’s cheaper in the long run to have a separate modem and router.

With that said, if you don’t see your internet needs changing and don’t plan on upgrading your devices anytime soon, you’ll probably save some money by buying a modem router combo.

Should I Buy a Modem Router Combo?

If you like what you’ve read so far about modem router combinations, I have some advice before you run out and buy one.

Test drive one first.

In many cases if you rent a router from your ISP, they’ll provide you with a modem router combination device.

I’d suggest keeping what you have now and renting a modem router combination device from your ISP for a few months. They’re usually pretty cheap to rent (around $10 per month), so it’s worth trying one out. Worst case scenario is if you don’t like it, you can go back to what you were using before.

Keep in mind that the devices provided by your ISP are pretty general in nature and usually aren’t designed for your particular internet plan.

What does this mean?

It means you can probably get slightly better performance out of a modem router combo that you buy for your specific internet plan. In other words, if you like the performance you get out of the device you get from your ISP, you’ll probably be able to get even better performance if you buy your own.

You’ll ensure you’re happy with your decision if you try before you buy. Even if you’re curious about how modem router combinations work, it’s worth the short money to find out for yourself.

What Modem Router Combo Should I Buy?

If you’re convinced that a modem router combo is the best fit for your home, there are a few I can recommend.

The Budget Friendly Option

If you just want a modem router combination that works and you have basic internet needs, you can get really good bang for your buck with the Netgear C6220.

This modem router combo supports internet speeds up to 200 Mbps. This means it’ll work well for you if your internet plan is for speeds up to 200 Mbps. If your internet plan provides more than 200 Mbps, you’ll want to go in a different direction.

Most small families should get good performance out of their internet with 200 Mbps. If this is your situation, give this device a shot.

For More Demanding Internet Needs

If you need more than 200 Mbps to satisfy your internet needs, you can take a step up with the Arris Surfboard SBG7600AC2.

The Surfboard can support internet speeds up to 800 Mbps, so it’s a step up from the Netgear C6220. This’ll be a better fit for larger families where there are multiple people on the internet at all times.

If you have multiple people streaming and gaming at the same time, you won’t have any problems with this modem and router device (as long as your internet plan can support it).

This router is more expensive than the Netgear C6220, but it serves as a good middle ground if you want a good option that isn’t super expensive.

If you’re looking for off-the-charts performance at a higher price point, check out the next modem router combination device on the list.

Top of the Line

If you want to swing for the fences and budget isn’t a concern for you, you might want to try the Netgear Nighthawk AX6000.

This modem router combination is one of the best in the business. It will undoubtedly meet any of your home internet needs.

If you want to online game? Check.

If you have a large family that always has multiple devices streaming? Check.

If you have a blazing fast internet plan? This device has you covered.

In addition to the fact that it can support gigabit internet speeds, it also has WiFi 6 capability. This is the latest and greatest WiFi technology that allows for faster internet speeds. WiFi 6 can also support more devices at the same time when compared to the previous WiFi technology.

If you decide to buy this device you’ll future-proof your home internet and you won’t have to buy a new modem router device for a long time.

Wrap Up

I hope you now have a good understanding of what modem router combination devices are, and why you might want to consider buying one.

If you have any questions or want to share your experiences with these devices, please feel free to drop a comment in the section below.

If you found this reading interesting, check out some previous posts on similar topics:

Can a Modem Overheat? What to Look For

Can a Router Overheat? A Detailed Analysis

Does a Router Affect Your WiFi Speed?

Does Your Modem Affect Your Internet Speed?

Can an Ethernet Cable Slow Your Internet Speed?

Ross Ricky

Ross Ricky is an engineer and cybersecurity professional who wants nothing more than for you to get the most out of your home network.

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