Best Gaming modems in 2023
If you’re looking for the best gaming modems, you’ve come to the right place! Time to wave goodbye to that ISP modem that’s been the culprit for innumerable disconnections, frustrating lag, and triple-digit ping? We can’t blame you, especially if you dabble in competitive online games where a solid and reliable internet connection is crucial when vying for that coveted win or tackling an MMORPG dungeon with your online crew.
While ISPs revel in pushing their own boxes (and pocketing the monthly rental fee in the process) as a magic bridge granting you access to the delights of the internet and hours of unbridled gaming fun, you don’t need to settle for a bare-bones, feature-lacking modem that only just about does what it’s supposed to.
On the contrary, shopping around for a third-party modem from networking mainstays such as Netgear and co can land you a device that often costs less in the long run than monthly rentals and boasts better gaming-geared features designed to deliver the reliability chops required for competitive gaming.
In this guide, we’ve hand-picked some of the best modems for gaming that will make you regret not switching up your current setup sooner.
Products at a Glance
How we picked the best modems for gaming
ISPs design and manufacture their modems as cheaply as possible, which means buying a third-party modem will likely result in a significantly improved gaming experience out of the box. Factors such as supported speeds, technology features, price, and value set third-party options apart from one another, and these very factors guided us as we searched out the best for the demanding gamers out there.
With quite a few options to choose from, we’ve slimmed down our picks to five modems perfectly equipped to deliver an uninterrupted and reliable internet connection for gaming. You’ll find they cover a range of budgets and use cases to cater to as many of you, and your specific needs, as possible.
Read on to find out all the essential information about each in the form of a brief review sided by quick-fire pros and cons and a ‘Things to Consider’ section packed with some helpful info about shopping for a new modem for gaming.
Best Gaming modems in 2023
- Wi-Fi 6
- Up to 6000 Mbps
- DOCSIS 3.1 modem
- 32x8 channel bonding
- 3,000 square foot Wi-Fi coverage
- Large unit
As far as consumer-level home networking devices go, there’s little out there that rivals the power and feature set of the Netgear Nighthawk CAX80. It comes at a price – over $400 – and a footprint to match but is at the cutting edge of home internet.
So what makes the Netgear Nighthawk CAX80 such a fantastic solution for gamers? To start, the unit is a router-modem combo, meaning it marries a Wi-Fi 6-ready router pushing Wi-Fi speeds up to 6,000 Mbps with a built-in eight-stream (32×8 channel bonding) and DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem cable of theoretical internet speeds up to 10,000 Mbps.
Jargon aside, this combination allows the Netgear Nighthawk CAX80 to deliver the fastest cable internet speeds available, both wired and wireless, subject to an ISP plan to match, without the need to rent an ISP-vetted modem and own a standalone router.
The device can dish out sustained and efficient internet service to up to eight devices simultaneously at blisteringly fast speeds. In practical terms, you are looking at online gaming and streaming in 4K on a host of devices simultaneously, free of lag or latency.
The Netgear Nighthawk CAX80’s appeal also extends to the details. It’s compatible with all major service providers, features four Gigabit Ethernet ports as well two-port aggregation for multi-gig 2.5G wired connections, a Wi-Fi range of 3,00 square feet, and a selection of gaming-friendly features such as Smart Connect optimal band selection. Easy setup is baked into the Nighthawk app, as is VPN support and a full suite of security features to stay protected from cyber threats via Netgear Armor.
- Up to 4,200 Mbps
- Wi-Fi 6
- DOCSIS 3.1 modem
- 5,000 square foot coverage
- Wi-Fi Mesh satellite system
Another heavy hitter from the networking wizards at Netgear, the Netgear Orbi Whole Home WiFi (CBK752), is designed to deliver lightning-fast speeds both through Wi-Fi and wired LAN connections and stellar long-range coverage at up to 5,000 square feet thanks to a mesh satellite system.
The Netgear Orbi Whole Home WiFi (CBK752) is an all-in-one solution, too, so you not only get a solid router supporting the WiFi 6 standard and speeds up to 4,200 Mbps (or even 6,000 Mbps with the latest version) but also a cutting edge DOCSIS 3.1 modem with 32×8 channel bonding that pairs seamlessly with the most popular cable internet providers out there.
The mesh system is unquestionably a highlight and adds tons of value for gamers. The Orbi ships with two units, a base router modem, and a satellite extender. Rather than a basic signal booster, the satellite is more or less a second base unit that utilizes tri-band technology, specifically a dedicated Wi-Fi link with the Orbi Router on a 2.4 GHz band pushing 1,200 Mbps, to ensure an interrupted connection to beam signal to the farthest reaches of any home.
Additionally, the satellite features two fully-fledged Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired gaming on PC or console that completely removes any ping or lag issues. You can even add extra satellites to the mesh, each granting a further 2,500 square feet of coverage per unit.
The Netgear Orbi Whole Home WiFi (CBK752) also comes with the full panoply of Netgear goodies such as Netgear Armor, Beamforming, MU-MIMO, easy installation and management through the Orbi app, Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands, and certification for Spectrum, Cox, and Infinity plans.
While impressive in upping your gaming experience, the Netgear Orbi Whole Home WiFi (CBK752) is expensive, notably if you factor in additional satellites.
- Up to 1,900 Mbps
- 1,800 square foot coverage
- Built-in 32x8 channel bonding and DOCSIS 3.1 modem
- Certified by most major ISPs
- No Wi-Fi 6
While the above two picks set the benchmark for what we can expect from modems for gaming, the return on investment only comes about after several years. For those eyeing up a long-term upgrade, this is no issue, but for more thrifty users, it’s hard to reconcile a sizable down payment in the face of a comparatively modest monthly rental fee.
The Netgear Nighthawk C7000 serves the latter group well with a price tag sitting at just north of $150, allowing it to pay for itself in more or less a year. Under the hood, the Netgear Nighthawk C7000 houses a Wi-Fi 5 router pushing speeds up to 1,900 Mbps and a built-in 32×8 channel bonding and DOCSIS 3.1 modem certified by major ISPs such as Spectrum, Xfinity, and Cox.
Plan compatibility varies between supplies, but the Netgear Nighthawk C7000 pairs handily with up to 800 Mbps ISP speeds as a general rule. Do check beforehand to make the most of your plan, though.
Ideal for more modest homes, the Netgear Nighthawk C7000 offers support for up to 30 devices and Wi-Fi coverage up to 1,800 square feet aided by Beamforming+ technology and amplified antennas for targeted signal distribution. The box itself is a sleek, all-black streamlined unit with four Gigabit Ethernet and two USB ports on the back for that lighting fast wired internet connection.
The absence of Wi-Fi 6 is arguably the Netgear Nighthawk C7000’s biggest flaw, but one that’s congruent with the price tag. Wi-Fi 5 remains the dominant standard, and most homes are yet to incorporate Wi-Fi 6-ready devices into their network. From a gaming perspective, Wi-Fi is always secondary to a solid and reliable wired connection, which the Netgear Nighthawk C7000 delivers.
- Speeds up to 800 Mbps
- 32x8 channel bonding and DOCSIS 3.1 modem
- Great price
- No router combo
- Only two Gigabit Ethernet ports
Among the most exciting devices under the best modems for gaming is the Arris Surfboard SB8200, a budget-friendly modem that leverages DOCSIS 3.1 technology and channel bonding support.
Arris is ever on the rise, taking over Netgear in the new spot among the most prominent modems on the market. The firm’s $150 Surfboard SB8200 makes for a perfect addition to any gamer’s networking configuration, allowing for seamless connectivity with several of the largest providers, including Cox, Xfinity, Spectrum, and more.
The device itself comes with 128MB of NAND storage, 3Gb of RAM, and supports an internet plan with up to 800 Mbps. Unfortunately, the SB8200 doesn’t come with more than two Gig ethernet ports and no additional router combo, so you will have to go get that yourself.
- 32x8 channel bonding and DOCSIS 3.1 modem
- Theoretical speeds up to
- 2,500 Sq ft coverage range
- No Wi-Fi 6
The Motorola MG8702 is one of the best modems for gaming simply for its extremely high coverage range, which spans a whopping 2,500 square feet. While quite expensive, costing about $225, this modem comes equipped with a built-in router and allows users to connect up to four varied devices with its four gig ethernet ports.
The MG8702 also has DOCSIS 3.1 technology, a step above its predecessor which gives users a future-proofed system that can boast speeds of up to 3200 Mbps. It features AQM (active queue management) support, which means it essentially limits latency and streaming lags, all too important for hardcore gamers.
Although you may only be able to hardwire in four main devices with an additional USB port, the MG8702 can have a total of 40 devices connected at once due to its MU-MIMO functionality. That’s another perfect addition for gamers and content creators alike.
Things To Consider
Do You Need A Gaming Router?
So what sets a gaming modem apart from a straight modem? It’s all in the details and centers mainly on prioritizing traffic to gaming devices to reduce latency, lower ping, and funnel that precious bandwidth to where it matters. Gaming modems do this even when other devices are connected to the network.
Much of this is done via integrated technologies and quality of life features such as Beamforming to ensure an uninterrupted route-optimized connection to gaming servers, band and channel wizardry, bespoke operating systems, a dashboard for fine-tuning the gaming experience, and so on.
Types of Modems
If you do anything before buying a gaming modem, check whether it is indeed compatible with your chosen ISP. Most will work with all the major internet service providers – Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox in the US, Sky, BT, TalkTalk in the UK – but there are different types of modems, which can throw a spanner into the works.
DSL Modem – the most common type of modem out there, DSL modems use phone lines to beam internet to a home. Most consumer modems are DSL-type devices.
Cable Modem – more popular in the US, this type of modem uses cable television networks to allow homes to access the internet.
Satellite Modem – as the name implies, these modems communicate with a satellite transceiver.
Gigabit Modem – High speeds modems geared towards large businesses and expensive professional-grade ISP plans.
Ports and Connectivity
Any self-respecting online gaming enthusiast swears by a wired Ethernet connection when firing up their game of choice. Wi-Fi has its place for web browsing, content consumption, smartphones, and home appliances but doesn’t cut the proverbial mustard for those that need a lag-free, low ping experience, especially if jumping in on more than a casual basis. Despite some major improvements in recent years, Wi-Fi is still prone to the occasional issue so go wired if given the option.
To that end, look out for the number and type of ports built into a modem before committing to a purchase. Most tend to offer at least a duo of Ethernet LAN ports, ideal if you’re running a simple setup with a single desktop gaming rig and possibly a gaming console. For those with more elaborate setups, it’s possible to find modems with more ports, but expect to pay a bit more for that extra connectivity.
If you are set on a wireless connection, consider modems that offer the latest and fastest 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 standard. It’s impressive tech that irons out many of the issues of Wi-Fi 5 and provides the most reliable wireless gaming experience to date. Naturally, you’ll need a compatible device, so don’t spend more on a redundant feature if your PC doesn’t support the standard.
Do gaming modems make a difference
A typical or standard router is more than enough for most online games, but if you want to take things to the next level you’ll want to get a gaming modem. It’s really the faster speeds that’ll result in smoother gameplay that’s the main benefit here, so if you’re playing fast-paced first person shooters, you’ll benefit from a gaming modem.
Is a gaming router overkill?
Honestly, for most gamers, it can be. But if you’re a serious gamer or professional, have a huge house, or just have a lot of people on the same internet, we’d recommend getting one.
What is the best modem for gaming?
From our list, we’d say the best gaming modem would be the Netgear Nighthawk CAX80.
An uncompromising powerhouse, the Netgear Nighthawk CAX80 is a prime replacement for your ISP modem router if your budget can stretch to its eye-watering $400 + price tag. It features all the bells and whistles to deliver a premium gaming experience with blisteringly fast wireless speeds provided by Wi-Fi 6 and equally impressive wired speeds thanks to housing the latest modem technology.
The Netgear Orbi Whole Home Wi-Fi (CBK752) offers a clever solution for gamers playing in larger homes that require a long-range router modem. Wi-Fi 6, DOCSIS 3.1, 5,000 square foot coverage, and a mesh satellite system with its very own wired Ethernet ports – expect low ping, low lag gaming from this speedy router modem.
The Netgear Nighthawk C7000 makes our list as one of the best router modems combos around chiefly because it offers excellent performance while paying for itself in under a year.
Our value pick is the TP-Link Archer CR700. It may lack Wi-Fi 6 but still pushes great speeds both wired and wireless, all while keeping costs below $100.
Lastly, gaming on a reliable and stable connection doesn’t have to cost a fortune, as exemplified by the highly affordable Linksys CM3016. Functional and to the point, it’s a modem-only unit designed to deliver fast wired internet to your gaming devices.
Our guide to the best modems for gaming now comes to an end. Feel free to drop any questions or concerns in the comments section below.