Best Modems For Fiber Optic Internet

Lara Vukelich
July 28, 2021

Importance of Having a Good Fiber Optic Modem 

If you have fiber optic internet service, you need a fiber internet modem that can keep up with those fast speeds. While few modems are designed specifically for fiber, many DSL or gigabit modems offer a fast enough connection to handle your fiber speeds. Modems can be wired or wireless, but connecting your fiber optic internet modem to a router via Ethernet can often provide the best service.  

Fiber Optic Modems at a Glance

DeviceBest ForPriceJ.D. Power Ratings*Perks
Motorola MB8600 DOCSIS 3.1 Cable ModemOverall performance
$$
806/1,000 pts.• Built-in DOCSIS 3.1
• Active Queue Management
NETGEAR Gigabit Cable ModemHigh-speed budget modems$826/1,000 pts.• Fast download speeds
NETGEAR Cable Modem CM1000High-end modems$$826/1,000 pts.• Compatible with most routers
• Compatible with most ISPs
ARRIS SURFboard SB8200 DOCSIS 3.1 Gigabit Cable ModemMax speeds$$803/1,000 pts.• Two Ethernet ports
ASUS AX5400 Dual Band WiFi 6 xDSL Modem RouterModem/router combo$$$811/1,000 pts.• Modem and router in one
• Plug and connect easy setup

*J.D. Power 2020 Wireless Router Satisfaction Report (out of 1,000 points)

Best Overall Fiber Internet Modem:

Motorola MB8600 DOCSIS 3.1 Cable Modem

Motorola’s MB8600 modem can offer super-fast speeds and is a good choice for anyone on a gigabit plan. The built-in DOCSIS 3.1 and DOCSIS 3.0 32×8 capabilities deliver top internet speeds across most compatible ISPs. Despite the moderate cost, the expense will be more affordable over time than a monthly rental. Other notable features include flexible compatibility with most routers and Active Queue Management (AQM), which prioritizes internet activity. 

As far as customer ratings, Motorola doesn’t score particularly high with J.D. Power for routers/modems. However, this model scores highly with Amazon users; it has a rating of 4.6/5 stars. 

Pros and cons of Motorola MB8600 DOCSIS 3.1 Cable Modem internet

Pros

  • Recommended for speeds up to 1000 Mbps
  • Secure internet access

Cons

  • Not compatible with AT&T or Verizon
  • No telephone jack

Best High-Speed Budget Buy Modem:

NETGEAR Gigabit Cable Modem

In order to get those faster speeds without breaking the bank, consider the NETGEAR Gigabit Cable Modem. Like similar products, this modem needs a wireless router to connect to your WiFi. But once you do that, you’ll be able to attain the highest speed possible at 1 Gbps. 

Plus, at a very reasonable price, the NETGEAR Gigabit Cable Modem is the most affordable product on our list. It also comes with DOCSIS 3.1, providing you with download speeds up to 10 times faster than DOCSIS 3.0. Your modem is still compatible if your ISP only offers a DOCSIS 3.0 network, but will be limited in its speed.

For the company as a whole, NETGEAR ranked the highest in the J.D. Power report among our choices. In addition, this specific modem received 4.5 stars on Amazon reviews.

Pros and cons of NETGEAR Gigabit Cable Modem internet

Pros

  • Competitive pricing
  • Fast download speeds

Cons

  • Longevity might be an issue

Best High-End Modem:

NETGEAR Cable Modem CM1000

The NETGEAR Cable Modem CM1000 is compatible with major ISPs like Xfinity, Cox and Spectrum. Like the company’s Gigabit modem, this fiber optic model comes with speeds of 1 GB and DOCSIS 3.1 compatibility. While it’s a little pricier than our other NETGEAR selection, it’s compatible with all wireless routers. 

You’ll also benefit from an easy five-minute setup process. Simply plug your coax cable into the modem, then either activate it with your ISP on the phone or connect the modem to your computer and follow the instructions. Finally, you’ll just need to connect your fiber optic modem and router with an Ethernet cord. 

This NETGEAR CM1000 comes with 4.5 stars on Amazon from over 11,000 reviews. Plus, you have the flexibility to bump up to even faster speeds (including 2,000 Mbps) at a higher price. If you don’t need that much speed, you can stay in the same series but opt for a less expensive device with speeds between 100 and 500 Mbps.

Pros and cons of NETGEAR Cable Modem CM1000 internet

Pros

  • Compatible with most major ISPs
  • Compatible with all wireless routers
  • Easy setup process
  • Speeds up to 1 GB

Cons

  • Cost

Best Modem for Maximum Speed:

ARRIS SURFboard SB8200 DOCSIS 3.1 Gigabit Cable Modem

If you’re looking for a fiber optic modem that can facilitate the fastest speeds possible, then check out the ARRIS SURFboard SB8200. For a reasonable price, this option can handle a maximum download speed of 10 Gbps — by far, the fastest modem we’ve evaluated. For gaming, 4K streaming and homes with multiple family members on different devices at once, this could be the right modem for you. 

The SB8200 comes with two Ethernet portals and is nearly 10 times faster than most other modems on the market. That said, ARRIS as a whole didn’t receive a strong rating from J.D. Power in 2020, coming in last among the brands we highlighted. 

But this specific modem does earn 4.5 stars on Amazon from a total of over 3,700 customers. Interestingly, you can also choose between a black or white modem — an option we haven’t seen from competitors. It might not matter to everyone, but for those who prefer a certain aesthetic, it is a nice touch.

Pros and cons of ARRIS SURFboard SB8200 DOCSIS 3.1 Gigabit Cable Modem internet

Pros

  • Can handle speeds up to 10 Gbps
  • Great for gaming, 4K streaming and multiple devices
  • Has two Ethernet ports

Cons

  • Cost
  • Low customer satisfaction scores on J.D Power

Best Modem-Router Combination:

ASUS AX5400 Dual Band WiFi 6 xDSL Modem Router

If you want a modem-router combination, this model might be for you. The ASUS AX5400 combines features like speeds up to 5400 Mbps and new-generation WiFi 6. It’s fast enough to maximize your fiber optic cable connection and limit the lag for mobile gaming. There is even a designated gaming port for the truly devoted.  

ASUS ranks just below the industry average on the J.D. Power report from 2020, and this device has earned a 4.7 out of 5 on Amazon. The main drawback of the ASUS AX5400 is the price. As the most expensive selection on our list, it’s an investment rather than an impulse purchase. 

Pros and cons of ASUS AX5400 Dual Band WiFi 6 xDSL Modem Router internet

Pros

  • Combines modem and router in one
  • Commercial level security with ASUS AiProtection Pro
  • Works with Alexa

Cons

  • Not as affordable as other options
  • WiFi 6 may not be compatible with all ISPs

Tips for Buying a Modem

  • Determine the monthly equipment rental fee from your internet service provider. Figure out how long it would take to recoup the cost and start saving by purchasing your own modem.
  • Find the maximum download speed with your current internet plan. Make sure your modem has the capability to keep up so you can enjoy the full benefits of your internet.
  • Check what DOCSIS classification your ISP offers. Your modem doesn’t necessarily need to match, but it does need to be compatible, especially if your modem comes with a higher DOCSIS than what your ISP has.

Need a Fiber Optic Internet Plan?

A modem is only as good as your internet plan. If you’re looking for fiber optic internet in your area, use our ZIP code tool to find providers near you.