The 9 Best Modems For Time Warner & Spectrum

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Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive

This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in March of 2016. Spectrum, formerly Time Warner Cable, is one of the largest internet service providers in the USA. While they do provide run-of-the-mill modems, savvy consumers often prefer to use their own equipment to maximize bandwidth and system management, and save on rental fees. We've analyzed a bunch of options to determine which models will give you the best performance and most consistent connections. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best modems for time warner & spectrum on Amazon.

9. Arris SurfBoard SB6183

8. Netgear CM1100

7. Netgear CM500

6. Netgear CM1000

5. Motorola MB8600

3. Arris SurfBoard 8200

2. Netgear CM600

1. Motorola MB7621

Editor's Notes

May 12, 2019:

First of all there are a few things to look out for when buying modems right now. One, don't buy a combination modem and router. Just don't do it. Due to federal law, they can't be periodically updated the same way that standalone devices can, and they're prone to causing problems. Second, avoid anything built around Intel's Puma 6 chipset -- this group generally includes all DOCSIS 3.0 modems with 32X8 channel bonding (DOCSIS 3.1 models with 32X8 bonding are fine) and some with 24 downstream channels. Intel hasn't released a software/firmware fix for it in years, and it looks they can't/won't ever do so. In the mean time it's up to the modem manufacturers themselves to do so, and it's very hard to tell if they've fixed the latency spikes or the possible security exploits within the hardware. Regarding these two points, we promise that all of the items on our list are 1) standalone modems, and 2) not reliant on the Puma 6 chipset, so you can safely choose from any of these without fear of ever having to pursue Intel in a class-action lawsuit.

Finally, When dealing with Spectrum, sometimes you'll run into activation issues with newer modems, especially on faster plans. It varies based on region, but it's entirely possible that the newest modems are simply not on the ISP's "approved" list and they'll give you the run-around when you try to activate it. Notably, some of Netgear's most well-engineered units seem to fall into this category, and you may not be able to strong-arm tech support into approving it and activating it over the phone. Never fear, though, Netgear WANTS you to use their modem and they're fully invested in getting it hooked up. We've heard of many instances where contacting Netgear's customer support and cluing them into the situation gets results, but only after they look into the situation themselves. Is this somewhat of a hassle? Yes. Is Spectrum lagging behind in their certification and firmware adoption process? Also probably yes. But the bright side is that it will (probably) only get better from here. Although do be warned, if you plan on subscribing to gigabit service, it may not be sometime until mid-2019 or later that you're even able to use you own modem. On the other hand, most provider regions currently supply the Technicolor 4400, Spectrum's dedicated gigabit-class modem, free of charge. Chances are that by the time they start demanding a rental fee for it, they'll likely have approved one or two third-party devices.

With all that out of the way, you can go in one of three directions. You can go for an inexpensive choice that will serve you just fine for many tasks, like the Arris SurfBoard SB6183, Netgear CM500, or the TP-Link TC-7650. You can shoot for one in the middle of the pack that's a little more pricey, like the Netgear CM600 or the Motorola MB7621, which are relatively affordable but will certainly satisfy all but the most demanding users for years. Alternately, you can go for the very best, with the Arris SurfBoard 8200, Motorola MB8600, or Netgear CM1000, and if you're really ambitious, the Netgear CM1100. But, again, be aware that these may require an extra phone call or at least a little extra wait time to get activated. They should work, however, and well before they've gone obsolete, it's likely that some of them will be approved for use with gigabit-class plans.

The Pros and Cons of Owning Your Own Cable Modem

When you rent a modem, there is no way of knowing how many other customers used and abused it before canceling service and sending it back.

With Time Warner Cable charging $8 per month and Comcast charging $10 per month to rent a TWC- or Comcast-approved modem, it comes as no surprise that owning your own modem can save you hundreds of dollars by the end of its third year of use, making everything you save after that just icing on the cake.

That said, there is much more to owning your own cable modem than just saving money. As with owning your own house or car or computer, there are advantages as well as disadvantages.

When you purchase a new modem, you know how old it is. This is rarely the case when you rent from your cable provider. When you rent a modem, there is no way of knowing how many other customers used and abused it before canceling service and sending it back. Indeed, there is a pretty good chance that whatever modem your cable provider sends you is more than just a few years old. It may have even been punched or kicked a few times by angry or frustrated customers when it wasn't working properly.

On the downside, you no longer have the option of asking your service provider to send over technical support to help you with your network settings or to diagnose any problems you might be having. As with owning a car, you are responsible for finding a mechanic and you are responsible for footing the bill.

However, if setup properly, a new modem that meets your cable provider's requirements should last at least a good three years before showing any signs of wear and tear. And after three years, you will have saved enough money avoiding rental fees to purchase up to three additional modems.

It may seem a bit difficult at first figuring out how to setup your wireless network and password, but in the end everything pays for itself.

Choosing the Right Cable Modem for You

The key to choosing a cable modem is making sure that it supports whatever download speed your particular plan provides. Time Warner Cable, for example, currently offers internet plans with download speeds ranging from 2Mbps to 50Mbps. What this means is that while there are indeed modems capable of supporting download speeds of well over 600Mbps, not even Time Warner Cable's fastest internet plan is going to allow you to use such modems to their fullest potential.

Time Warner Cable, for example, currently offers internet plans with download speeds ranging from 2Mbps to 50Mbps.

Some of those modems do, however, have built-in routers that will, of course, allow multiple computers on a local area network to send data back and forth at breakneck speeds, but if you're like me and all you own is a single computer and all your data comes directly from the internet as opposed to other computers within your vicinity, then owning such a modem is what you might call overkill.

However, considering most people today prefer to avoid Ethernet in favor of WiFi, it is important to keep in mind that your new modem's built-in router may only be half or a third as fast as you think it is. This is due to many factors, not the least of which includes other electronic appliances and devices, such as a pair of Bluetooth headphones or a 2.4GHz radio control car.

In other words, if you plan to go wireless with an internet plan that has a maximum download speed of 50Mbps, you don't want to buy a 60Mbps cable modem because the best you are going to get out of it, if you are lucky, is about 30Mbps, leaving you paying for download speeds you will never get to experience. So while a 600Mbps modem may seem like overkill, a 300Mbps modem will ensure that you will always get the 50Mbps download speeds you are paying for regardless of how many friends are playing with their smartphones while hanging out at your place watching movies stream on Netflix.

The First Step to Ensuring Your New Modem Works

Before doing anything else, contact your internet service provider for a full list of compatible modems. Not all modems work with all types of service. For example, if you are using Time Warner Cable, you will want to steer clear of DSL modems regardless of whether or not they best fit your personal budget.

All of the modems featured in our list are compatible with Time Warner Cable.

All of the modems featured in our list are compatible with Time Warner Cable.

Next, you will want to make sure that your modem of choice is also compatible with your computer's operating system. Most modems connect directly to your computer's Ethernet card, in which case the only driver you need to worry about is the driver for that card. However, some modems connect via WiFi or USB, in which case you will need to install the driver included with your new modem.

Regardless of whether or not you need to install new drivers for your new modem, it is always good practice to check your computer for any old drivers that you no longer require, and which may be incompatible with any new drivers that you install, and promptly remove them. Once you've done that, you're free to install your new modem.

Thus, the first step to ensuring your new modem works is not only to make sure you purchase one that is compatible with your internet service, but to remove any and all signs of your old modem from every device you intend to connect to the new one.

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Christopher Thomas
Last updated on May 13, 2019 by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.


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