DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line, which is an internet network that uses telephone lines to transmit digital data.
With a DSL internet connection, the internet service provider (ISP) uses telephone lines to carry the signals directly to the home where a DSL modem receives and converts the signals to internet service.
The most common type of residential DSL service is ADSL, or asymmetrical DSL. In this type of DSL internet service, the data transfer rate is greater in one direction, typically downloads. This means DSL internet plans are likely to feature higher download speeds than upload speeds.
Other common types of DSL service include SDSL, which have symmetrical upload and download rates, and VDSL, which has a “very high” data transfer rate.
What we like
High availability – DSL is one of the most available types of internet service, covering about 87% of the U.S.
Low cost – Since DSL uses existing telephone lines, costs are often lower than cable or fiber optic internet.
Speed consistency – DSL internet is less likely to experience slowed speeds and lag during peak usage times.
Easy installation – Your DSL modem plugs into a phone jack, making installation quick and easy.
Things to consider
Low speeds – Phone lines do not support the higher bandwidth you’d get from cable or fiber, so DSL internet typically will not offer the fastest available speeds.
Speed attrition – The farther away your home is from the ISP or an extender, the slower your speeds are likely to be.
Fewer bundle options – DSL internet providers may not offer TV services in your area, meaning you may have to build a TV and internet bundle with two providers.
Top DSL internet providers by availability
Max speed range
5 – 100 Mbps
0.5 – 15 Mbps
20 – 100 Mbps
3 – 115 Mbps
25 – 232 Mbps
Is DSL internet right for you?
Many areas with access to a DSL internet connection also have the option of satellite, cable or possibly fiber optic internet as well. Each internet type varies in availability, pricing and speeds. Here is how each service type ranks.
Availability: Lower than satellite, higher than fiber, about the same as cable
While satellite internet is the most widely-available internet type, DSL internet is not far behind, with availability in around 87% of U.S. households. Like satellite internet, DSL is a great option for rural areas. Access to a telephone line is likely all you need to get DSL internet, which makes it a great option in areas where cable internet is not available or desired.
Pricing: Lower than most other internet types
Along with availability, low plan pricing is another potential benefit of DSL internet. Depending on where you live and which DSL providers are available, standalone internet service could start as low as $20/mo. This is lower than most cable providers, and significantly lower than satellite internet service.
Speeds: Lower than most other internet types
In many areas, DSL internet’s fastest speeds are comparable to the lowest speeds you could get with a cable or fiber-optic internet connection. The fastest DSL internet speeds available range from around 100 to 200 Mbps, which are good internet speeds, but availability is highly limited. More common DSL speeds are around 24 Mbps or lower. Plus, the farther you are from your DSL ISP, the slower your speeds are likely to be.
How fast is DSL internet?
DSL internet speeds vary by provider and location, but speeds typically range between 1 and 24 Mbps. Faster speeds ranging from 50 to 200 Mbps may be available in select areas.
Proximity to the ISP or an extender also plays a role in what DSL speeds are available. Increased distance from the ISP can result in slower available speeds. This is why DSL speeds can vary greatly from ZIP code to ZIP code where other internet types may not see as much speed variance.
Does the type of cord you use make a difference? It can. Uncover which one is best for your internet connection.
At a glance, Ethernet cables appears to be little more than bulky phone cords. They are vastly different, however, and the type of Ethernet cable you use can have an impact on your internet connection and speeds.
Ethernet cables come in different categories, each identified as “Cat” followed by a number. The most common Ethernet types are:
Understanding the capabilities of each cable category is important when choosing the right one for your home. Learn more about Ethernet cable categories to identify the best one to set up your internet service.
What are the categories and how might they help you
Max speed transmission
Cat 5 – outdated and hard to find
Before internet plans with speeds of 100 Mbps and higher were so common, Cat 5 cables were sufficient for nearly every home network. However, as the availability of faster internet continues to rise, Cat 5 cables have become as obsolete as non-HD TVs. Therefore, even if your internet plan doesn’t offer speeds up to 100 Mbps, a Cat 5 cable will likely not be your best option simply because they are hard to find new.
Average price for 12 ft cable: N/A
Go with Cat 5 if: You already own a Cat 5 cable and your internet plan is lower than 100 Mbps.
Upgrade to Cat 5e if: You need a new cable. A new Cat 5e will be much easier to find than a Cat 5 cable and will support faster speeds if you decide to upgrade your internet plan in the future.
Cat 5e – the current standard
Low-cost and capable of supporting gig internet, Cat 5e (Cat 5 “enhanced”) replaced Cat 5 as the Ethernet standard. Cat 5e supports up to 1,000 Mbps and is built to reduce crosstalk — unwanted transfer of signal between the cables — for a more consistent connection. This is the most common type of Ethernet cable because it supports speeds up to 1 Gbps and typically costs less than Cat 6 or Cat 7 cables.
Estimated price for 12-ft. cable: Less than $10
Go with Cat 5e if: You want an affordable cable that will do the job.
Upgrade to a Cat 6 if: You want higher bandwidth and the option of a “shielded” cable, which reduces crosstalk and signal interference.
Cat 6 – higher bandwidth, possibly shielded
Standard Cat 6 cables support the same speeds as Cat 5e but give you more than double the bandwidth. The higher bandwidth helps reduce download and upload times, especially if you are transferring files from one computer to another via a Cat 6 cable.
Another potential benefit of Cat 6 cables is shielding. This is a thin protective barrier around the wires inside the Ethernet cable which further protects them from crosstalk and interference. Not all Cat 6 cables come with this feature, however, so look for “STP” or “shielded twisted pair” when shopping for Cat 6 cables.
Estimated price for 12-ft. cable: $10-$15
Go with a Cat 6 if: Your internet plan speeds are 1,000 Mbps or less and you want higher bandwidth for faster downloads and uploads.
Upgrade to Cat 6a if: You have an internet plan with speeds above 1,000 Mbps or anticipate getting a faster plan in the future.
Cat 6a – 10x the speeds, double the bandwidth
Cat 6a (Cat 6 “augmented”) gives you a big jump in both speeds and bandwidth over the Cat 5e and Cat 6, supporting up to 10,000 Mbps and 500 MHz. Plus, all Cat 6a and higher cables feature a shielding designed to eliminate crosstalk almost entirely
Though probably more than the average user needs, Cat 6a cables will deliver a fast, reliable connection. It’s also safe to say this cable will support your high-speed internet connection for years to come, even as faster cable and fiber-optic internet speeds become available.
Estimated price for 12-ft. cable: $15-$20
Go with Cat 6a if: Your internet plan speeds are higher than 1,000 Mbps. You want a cable that likely won’t be outdated in two to three years.
Upgrade to Cat 7 if: You want a cable that supports slightly higher bandwidth and will cost you around the same price as a Cat 6a cable.
Cat 7 – a little higher bandwidth than Cat 6a
Cat 7 cables are the latest generation of Ethernet cords available but have little to offer compared to Cat 6a aside from slightly higher bandwidth. Both support speeds up to 10,000 Mbps, but the Cat 7 supports 600 MHz of bandwidth compared to the 500 MHz of Cat 6a. The higher bandwidth frequency does allow for faster data transfers, so if you plan on downloading or uploading large files, the extra bandwidth the Cat 7 gives you may be worth it.
Estimated price for 12-ft. cable: $15-$25
Go with Cat 7 if: Your internet plan speeds are higher than 1,000 Mbps and want a cable that supports high bandwidth.
Upgrade to Cat 7a if: You want a cable that supports the highest bandwidth available.
Cat 7a – the best, and priciest, you can get
Cat 8, the next generation of Ethernet cables, is on the horizon but for the time being, Cat 7a (Cat 7 “augmented”) is the highest-performing Ethernet cord available. Like the Cat 6a and Cat 7 cables, the Cat 7a supports speeds up to 10,000 Mbps, but the max bandwidth is much higher at 1,000 MHz. Again, this cable is probably much more than the average user needs, but it’s ideal for those who want the best cable now and a great one for future internet services.
Estimated price for 12-ft. cable: $25-$35
Why choose Cat 7a: You want the top-of-the-line connection and don’t mind paying a little more for it.
A high-speed internet plan will only go so far if you have a slow modem or router. With Viasat internet, you can rent a Viasat modem from the company. Still, there are some reasons to consider buying your own. Rental fees can seem cheap at first, but you can end up paying more than if you bought it in the first place. Thankfully, many modern 2-in-1 router modems can serve as a Viasat compatible modem. So, when looking for the best modem for Viasat, there can be quite a few to consider.
Viasat 2-in-1 modem and router reviewed
Up to 5,000 sq/ft coverage, up to 25+ devices
Best all-around router
ARRIS Surfboard SBG7600AC2
DOCSIS 3.0, 32×8 channels
Multiple internet devices
NETGEAR Nighthawk C7000
DOCSIS 3.0, 24×8 channels
VIASAT WiFi Gateway Modem
3×3 channels, Viasat certified modems
DOCSIS 3.1, 2.5 gigabyte Ethernet port
ASUS Modem Router Combo
DOCSIS 3.0 32×8 channel bonding
Gaming or streaming on multiple devices
ARRIS Surfboard SBG10
DOCSIS 3.0 16×4 channel bonding
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router
Netgear Armor security
Best 2-in-1 for the Unlimited Bronze 12 plan: ARRIS Surfboard SBG10
The Arris Surfboard SBG10 has the speed potential to handle any of the Viasat plans. Still, it may perform better with the slower plans. This device can serve as a Viasat modem router combo. Meaning it can handle both wired and wireless networks. It has an AC1600 dual-band Wi-Fi router and two-gigabit Ethernet ports. It has 16×4 channel bonding, allowing it to process 16 streams of data being downloaded and four streams being uploaded.
For casual, everyday internet use with multiple devices, this device could function well on the Viasat Bronze and Silver plans. While the features and speeds aren’t incredible for the industry, they’re more than enough to handle most satellite internet plans for casual use, and it comes at a relatively low price.
Best 2-in-1 for the Unlimited Silver 25 plan: ARRIS Surfboard SBG7600AC2
The ARRIS Surfboard SBG7600AC2 comes with a DOCSIS 3.0 modem and AC2350 dual-band Wi-Fi built-in. This 2-in-1 offers four gigabit ports for high-speed wired connections. The device has 32×8 channel bonding, enabling it to manage many internet devices at once. The manufacturers recommend it for internet plans up to 600 Mbps, making it functional for any of the Viasat plans. Especially for busy households that run many internet devices simultaneously, this can be a suitable Viasat router modem combo.
This 2-in-1 comes at a higher price than some alternatives but can still save money over renting. For those who may consider switching providers in the future, it’s important to know that this device won’t work with DSL or fiber internet providers.
Best router for the Unlimited Gold 50 plan: NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WIFI Router
The NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi router offers an extensive set of features. This device can handle up to 25 internet devices at a time, running at fast speeds. With the Viasat Gold plan, you won’t be able to unlock the full potential of this router, but it still has much to offer. The NETGEAR Armor security system is included as a free 30-day trial, providing heightened home internet security on top of the DOS protection, VPN and a firewall. When it comes to additional features, the router has a whole suite, including dynamic QoS, smart connect, beamforming plus and others, making it a solid choice as a Viasat router.
The speeds of Viasat internet plans will limit some aspects of this router, but it still has plenty to offer. The combination of price and features make a persuasive argument. Many of the features, ranging from security elements to the number of devices supported, are helpful even without the fastest internet plans.
We did the research so that you can get the best internet connection possible with your new modem. Check out our guide to the best cable modems of 2021.
Why purchase a modem instead of renting?
If you are considering buying a modem instead of renting one from your internet service provider (ISP), you’re not alone. Many providers charge high monthly fees for a subpar modem. This was prevalent in the industry because the equipment fee was included on your bill regardless of whether you used the company’s modem. However, providers can no longer do this as a law was passed at the end of 2019, known as the Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019, that prevents ISPs from charging an equipment fee if customers want to supply their own equipment. This law went into effect in the beginning of 2021.
Due to this law, it may make sense for you to buy your own modem. It can save you money in the long-term and it will allow you to buy the highest quality modem available. A high-quality modem is essential for accessing the fastest speeds and the most reliable connection. Keep in mind that when you buy a modem, customer support from your ISP will not apply to the equipment.
How we chose our favorite cable modems
We looked into eight of the most popular modems and then narrowed it down to five based on the following criteria:
Price and value
We put extra weight into supported speeds and value. Since customers have different needs for a modem based on their internet speed plan and budget, we included a wide range of options instead of merely choosing the five most advanced modems on the market.
Each modem is considered the best in one of five key categories: best value overall, easiest set-up, best for streaming and gaming, best for a gigabit internet plan and best for budgeters. Our picks include: the Arris Surfboard SB6183, the Motorola MB7420, the Motorola MB7621, the Motorola MB8600 and the Netgear CM500.
The benefits of a cable modem
The modem is how your home is able to receive internet. The modem is the device that receives signals from your internet service provider and then translates that data into signals your devices can connect to. However, not all modems are made equally which is why it’s important to purchase one that will ensure fast speeds and reliability without breaking the bank.
With just a modem, your household will be required to use an Ethernet cord to connect your devices to the internet. If your household plans to rely on Ethernet cords occasionally or all of the time, then you will likely want a modem that offers multiple Ethernet ports. Using an Ethernet cord directly from your modem is a good way to boost your internet connection.
If you want to be able to connect to the internet through Wi-Fi, on the other hand, then you will also need to purchase a router. Another popular option is to purchase a gateway device, which functions as both a modem and a router.
The top 5 cable modems of 2021
Arris Surfboard SB6183
Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox
All cable providers
Best for streaming/gaming
All cable providers
Best for gigabit internet
Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox
All cable providers
Best overall: Arris Surfboard SB6183
Max possible speeds: 686 Mbps
Modem technology: DOCSIS 3.0 and 16×4 channels
Pricing: under $60
Compatible with: Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox
Gigabit Ethernet port: 1
Bonus feature: Small enough to fit on a shelf
The Arris Surfboard SB6183 is a great option for households with a 300 Mbps plan or below. This Arris modem costs $59 and is only 5 X 5 X 2.1 inches, which is one of the smallest sizes available. This means you can put it just about anywhere. There are currently over 20,000 reviews on Amazon and 77% of reviewers rated the Arris Surfboard SB6183 5 stars.
Although max speeds reach 686 Mbps, households with a speed plan higher than 300 Mbps should either opt for the more expensive Arris Surfboard model, the Arris Surfboard SB6190, which Amazon is currently selling for $97.90 or choose a different brand. The Arris Surfboard SB6190 is ideal for internet plans between 300 and 600 Mbps. If you have an internet plan faster than 600 Mbps, you should probably choose one of the DOCSIS 3.1 modems.
Easy set-up: Motorola MB7420
The Motorola MB7420 is an affordable and reliable option for households with a speed of 300 Mbps or below. At $58.99, this modem is one of the best values around. This Motorola modem has received over 5,000 reviews, with 74% of reviewers rating the modem 5 stars. The average score for both ease of installation and use is 4.6, which is incredibly high. You can learn all about the set-up process in Motorola’s Quick Start manual.
Best for streaming/gaming: Motorola MB7621
Max possible speeds: 1,000+ Mbps
Modem technology: DOCSIS 3.0 and 24×8 channels
Pricing: under $80
Compatible with: All cable providers
Gigabit Ethernet ports: 1
Although max speeds for the Motorola MB7621 is 1 Gig, it is recommended for internet speed plans of 650 Mbps. At $77.98, this is a great option for a modem for households with a middle-tier speed plan (300 to 650 Mbps) that likes to stream, game and work from home. The Motorola MB7621 has nearly 7,000 reviews on Amazon and 77% of reviewers gave the device 5 stars.
Best for Gigabit internet: Motorola MB8600
Max possible speeds: 1,000+ Mbps
Modem technology: DOCSIS 3.1 and 24×8 channels
Pricing: under $200
Compatible with: Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox
Gigabit Ethernet port: 1
No matter what internet speed plan you have, the Motorola MB8600 can handle it. Amazon ranked this modem No. 4 for computer networking modems and 81% of reviewers gave it 5 stars. The Motorola MB8600 is ideal for households with a gig plan. There is likely no reason to purchase their modem if you have a plan below 600 Mbps. If your household has Xfinity’s 2 Gig speed plan then you will want to purchase this modem but with the 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port.
Not only can the Motorola MB8600 handle extremely fast speeds, but it also provides extremely low latency, which is ideal for heavy online gaming and video conferencing. The only downside is that it’s expensive. Amazon is currently selling it the 1 Gbps Ethernet port modem for $149.99 and the 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port for $169.99. If your household isn’t currently able to buy a gig speed plan, but are interested in purchasing it once it becomes available in your area, we would recommend investing in the Motorola MB8600.
Cheapest: Netgear CM500
Max possible speeds: 680 Mbps
Modem technology: DOCSIS 3.0 and 16×4 channels
Pricing under $60
Compatible with: All cable providers
Gigabit Ethernet ports: 1
The Netgear CM500 is best for budgeters with a speed plan of 300 Mbps or below, which is most consumers. At $58, the Netgear CM500 is a great value and will work with any cable ISP. If you have a speed plan above 300 Mbps, you can opt for one of Netgear’s more expensive modems, but its value isn’t as good as other high-tier modem brands.
The Netgear CM500 has received nearly 26,000 reviews on Amazon and 73% of customers rated it 5 stars. Out of all the categories, the Netgear CM500 ranked highest on ease of use.
How to choose the best cable modem for your home
If you aren’t sure how to choose a modem, consider these five key factors.
Speed: On every modem, there will be a listed download/upload speed. Although it is not necessary to purchase the modem with the highest download/upload speeds, it is important that you buy one that matches or surpasses your internet speed plan. For instance, if you have the Spectrum plan that offers 200 Mbps, you will want to make sure that your modem offers at least those speeds. Otherwise, you will not receive the speeds you paid for.
Price and value: It is not necessary to buy the most expensive modem if your internet plan is more basic. However, if you have a high-speed internet plan, such as 940 Mbps or higher, you will likely want to invest in the best modem available to you to ensure you are able to access the high speeds you paid for.
Channels: Every modem will have listed the number of downstream and upstream channels available. This just means how many channels are available for both downloading and uploading. The greater the channels, the faster the speeds. Don’t worry too much about this number as the maximum speed listed will provide all the information you need; however, a good rule of thumb to follow is to ensure the modem you are considering offers at least 16×4 download and upload channels. We didn’t include any modem on our list below this number.
DOCSIS standard: On every modem there will be the acronym DOCSIS (data over cable service interface specification) followed by a number, either 3.0 or 3.1. This number is the standard for high-bandwidth data transfers, which boils down to broadband speeds and channels. Think of the difference between DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 as the difference between 4G and 5G. If the modem says DOCSIS 3.1, your modem reaches the highest standard, just like if your smartphone is labeled as 5G. For most users, DOCSIS 3.0 is sufficient. You will only want to upgrade to DOCSIS 3.1 if your internet plan offers gig speeds (940 Mbps or higher). Otherwise, it’s an unnecessary expense.
ISP compatibility: Although most modems are compatible with any internet service provider, you will want to double check that the modem you want to choose is compatible with your ISP. This is the simplest part of the process but the most important step not to skip over.
Unsure about this gear? We’re here to help. Find out what this equipment does and how you can save money on your internet bill.
On a surface level, the difference between a modem and a router is simple: a modem connects you to the internet, and a router provides the Wi-Fi, or wireless connection, throughout your home.
Knowing more about how your modem and router work and interact with your internet-capable devices can save you money, time and frustration. We break down these crucial components so you can decide what you need to get the most out of your home internet connection.
What is the difference between a modem and a router?
Before Wi-Fi was a thing, most homes only had one desktop computer (if any!), and the only device you needed to connect your computer to the internet was a modem. Around 2001, Wi-Fi exploded in popularity, causing the number of Wi-Fi devices per home to skyrocket and the addition of a home wireless router to be indispensable.
What does a modem do?
Your modem is your home’s connection to the internet.
A modem receives signals from your internet service provider (AT&T, Cox, Spectrum, etc.) and translates them for your devices to use.
Every modem is assigned a unique IP address, similar to a Social Security number, that can identify the device on the World Wide Web. Term to know: IP address — An IP address is an identifying number for your network that lets the web know where to send information. Or, put another way, if you didn’t have an IP address, it would be like having a home without a mailing address.
What does a router do?
Your router is the middleman between your modem and your internet-connected devices, such as laptops, smartphones and smart TVs.
A router creates a local area network (LAN) around your house which allows multiple devices to connect to your Wi-Fi connection.
Term to know: LAN — Think of a LAN as an invisible “bubble” around your home in which your Wi-Fi signal lives. Without a router, you would not be able to have a Wi-Fi connection and would have to plug each device directly into a modem using an Ethernet cable.
What is a gateway 2-in-1 device (a modem and router combo)?
A gateway is a router/modem combo, also called a wireless gateway.
In the past, routers and modems have come as two separate devices that work in tandem, but now, it’s more common to see gateways.
A gateway replaces the need for two separate devices. It simplifies set-up and takes up less space. Many internet service providers (ISPs) offer these 2-in-1 options for rent or purchase. Term to know: Gateway — A device that performs all the functions of both a modem and a wireless router.
Modem vs. router: Which is better?
Technically speaking, a modem is fundamentally more important than a router because you wouldn’t be able to connect to the internet without one. However, as consumers collectively move away from standard computers and rely more on handheld devices, such as smartphones and tablets, having Wi-Fi can seem as crucial as water.
What is a modem used for?
A modem transmits, receives and converts data. Whether you use DSL, cable, fiber or satellite internet, a modem is the device that translates signals from its digital or analog form to what you see on your screen. In other words, a modem gets the internet to your devices. A modem can function independently from a router.
What is a router used for?
A router is used to distribute the Wi-Fi signal throughout an area, thus creating a wireless network. A router cannot work without a modem. Though these two devices can look similar, a router will often have external antennas and multiple Ethernet ports.
Knowledge of internet filtering settings and state laws is the first step to keeping your kids safe on the internet.
Most internet service providers include parental controls with their plans to help keep kids safe online, but they don’t offer the same settings. Have conversations about internet safety with your kids, and make a list of the parental controls you need. This will give you an idea of what to look for when researching internet service providers (ISPs).
Tips to keep your kids safe online
It’s important for parents to be informed about their kids’ digital lives, especially when it comes to issues that involve their safety. These simple tips can help make sure their online experience is a positive one.
Set up internet filtering
Use your router or internet service provider’s security app to configure child-safe internet filtering. This works just like the filtering system on library and public school computers and lets you control which websites your child can access.
Block websites and keywords you don’t want your child to access
Blocking websites and keywords is the easiest way to ensure your child only has access to trusted internet content. You can block websites and keywords through your router or internet service provider’s security app.
Another way to configure internet filtering is by only allowing your child access to certain websites and keywords. Rather than blocking specific content, you grant access to approved website URLs and keywords. This means all other content is blocked.
Schedule when your child can access the internet
Setting an internet schedule, or a window of time when your child has internet access, is another great option for keeping him or her safe online. Similar to blocking websites and keywords, you can set up access times through your router or internet service provider’s security app.
With an internet schedule, your child will only be able to browse the internet during designated times. So, if you set a start time of 4 p.m. and an end time of 8 p.m. for Monday through Friday, then your child will only be able to get online during this window.
Limiting the time spent in front of the computer may also benefit your child’s development. When creating an internet schedule for your child, make sure they have enough time for homework and some social activities.
Add your “trusted devices” to bypass parental control settings
Some internet service providers let you set your personal devices as “trusted devices.” These devices will be able to access websites blocked by parental control settings. This way, you can keep parental controls in place on your child’s devices while bypassing them on your own.
We give you all the info you need to pick the best DSL modem for your needs.
What is a DSL modem and how does it work?
These days, home and business internet connections can be received via satellite, cellular network, fiber, cable or phone line. The most common form of connection for home internet service is a digital subscriber line or DSL. A DSL internet connection provides internet through copper wires in your phone lines. An essential part of this connection type is a DSL modem and router — but this won’t be the dial-up modem and slow speeds of the dial-up internet of old. DSL can provide broadband speeds, depending on the provider.
Why are DSL modems important? They allow data from your internet service provider (ISP) to be sent to the devices that you want to connect. Think of the modem as the translator in this interaction, offering communication between your computer and your ISP to keep information flowing between the two.
DSL modems come in standalone form, which is great for a wired connection. But if you want to use the internet wirelessly, you will need a modem and router or a DSL modem router combo. A router creates a wireless network that you can connect to with your devices in order to get an internet connection. A DSL modem router combo builds this functionality into a single device.
What are the benefits of DSL modem?
A DSL modem is essential for anyone with a DSL internet connection. The modem allows you to connect to the internet that is provided through your phone line. By connecting a device to your DSL modem, you will be able to browse the internet. With a higher speed connection, a modem will allow you to do things like stream video content and play online video games.
A DSL modem router combo provides additional flexibility by allowing you to connect to the internet wirelessly in your home. This gives you more freedom to move around and connect to the internet even if you are not in the same room as the modem.
How we picked the best DSL modems
Picking out a DSL modem or modem router combo can be a challenge, but you can more easily navigate this task if you know what to look for. In order to help you in your search, we’ve curated a list of the five best DSL modems that cater to different needs. We scoured through many of the most popular, best-selling and most talked about DSL modems on the market in order to select our top recommendations. We used the following factors to generate these recommendations:
Price and value
Specific customer reviews
What it’s best for: budgets, speeds, all-in-one, etc.
Best overall DSL modem: Motorola MD1600
Solid high-speed connection
4-gigabit Ethernet ports
Compatible with most DSL providers
Dual-band connection for connecting multiple devices
There’s nothing more valuable for a modem than stability, and the Motorola MD1600 is one of the most reliable modems on the market. It’s not the fastest option on the market, but with gigabit Ethernet ports, you’ll be able to get high-speed connections when wired — and speeds that are more than capable of keeping you connected with streaming or gaming when you go wireless.
Customer reviews indicate that the Motorola MD1600 is a solid modem router combo, and the dual-band connection allows multiple devices to be in use without interrupting each other. If you’re looking for a DSL modem that will give you a consistent connection that will provide speeds, this is an ideal option.
Best budget-friendly DSL modem: Netis DL4323
Solid bang-for-your-buck performance
Up to 300Mbps
Smart features for optimizing connection
Works with most carriers
If you’re looking for a router that will provide you with a solid internet connection but won’t require you to break the bank, the Netis DL4323 will get the job done. It provides more than adequate connection speeds and uses some smart technology to help route traffic in a way that makes sure you don’t experience slowdowns even with multiple devices connected and in use at the same time.
This router is compatible with most major DSL providers, but you’ll want to make sure that it works with yours before buying. Also, don’t expect the absolute top performance here — it is a budget modem, after all. But you should be able to do things like stream high-definition video and game with no problem with this modem.
Best high speed DSL modem: C4000LG CenturyLink DSL Modem
Up to 3 Gbps Speed
160MHZ Channel Support
Dual-core processor for improved performance
DSL port for more DSL connections
If you need the fastest speeds imaginable, the C400LG CenturyLink DSL Modem is what you need. This modem is all about speed. It is capable of providing a connection of up to 3Gbps, which is more than enough to stream 4K video and game without any lag or delay. More than that, it’s capable of handling multiple connections that eat up lots of traffic at the same time.
This modem is only compatible with some DSL providers, so check before buying. But if you need a fast and reliable connection, it’s your best choice. Media lovers, people who have set up their own media servers and gamers are most likely to benefit from a modem like this.
Best DSL modem for gamers: NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 D7000
Modem Router combo
Four Ethernet ports
Up to 1300Mbps
Dual-core processor for improved performance
NETGEAR genie app for managing connections
Netgear has managed to brand itself as the company that can provide high-seed, reliable internet service and the Nighthawk DSL modem router combo does not disappoint. It’s capable of gigabit quality speed, and with the dual-core processor, it is capable of both delivering a stronger signal and prioritizing traffic. That means no buffering for your streaming video and no lag in your gaming just because someone else is connected and browsing the web.
The Nighthawk doubles up as a modem and router, providing a direct, wired connection or a wireless one that should be able to reach most corners of your home thanks to the strong signal. The Netgear genie app gives you additional control over your home’s Wi-Fi, which is handy for anyone looking to prioritze gaming or media.
Check out our top picks to find the one that’s right for you!
A DNS, or Domain Name Server, is what helps translate human-friendly URLs into computer-friendly IP addresses. This is what enables your devices to connect to the internet and access the content you want to see.
When people change their DNS, it’s usually to enhance either performance, security or both! And while there are many paid options, we’re always fans of freebies. Below, we’ll take a look at what to consider when switching your DNS and the 14 best free DNS servers to do it with.
What to consider when switching your DNS
A few things to note before we dive in:
Default DNS vs. third-party DNS – When you have internet service, your internet service provider (ISP) has a default DNS which your network uses to connect to the web. ISPs can collect data on customers and their internet activity. A third-party DNS can do the same, though it becomes more difficult to attribute the connection to specific individuals or households.
Free DNS vs. paid DNS – Beyond the obvious financial difference between a free and paid DNS, free options typically have fewer features. A paid DNS will have more advanced security and performance functionality, as well as better customer support and more customization options. Generally speaking, a free DNS will work for most purposes.
Public DNS vs. private DNS – A public DNS is available to the general population and it typically comes from your internet service provider or a dedicated DNS provider. A private DNS is typically used by companies to give employees easier access to internal-only websites/IP addresses. Typically, you’re on a public DNS at home and either a private or public one at work.
Best free DNS servers of 2021
Owned by Cisco, OpenDNS has two free options: Family Shield and Home. Family Shield is good for parents who want to make sure their kids can’t access inappropriate content. Home focuses on internet safety and performance.
The “fastest DNS resolver on Earth,” Cloudflare’s free DNS service has:
Unmetered mitigation of DDoS
Shared SSL certificate
184.108.40.206 with Warp
A Cloudflare subproduct, 220.127.116.11 with Warp is designed for mobile devices. When you download the app on your smartphone or tablet, it “replaces the connection between your phone and the internet with a modern, optimized, protocol.” They also pledge never to sell your data, which is always a bonus.
Google Public DNS
Google’s own DNS product is also free. It focuses on “speed, security, and validity of results.” It only offers DNS resolution and caching — there is no site-blocking with Public DNS.
Comodo Secure DNS
Comodo Secure DNS’s cloud-based Secure Internet Gateway Gold package is free (up to 300,000 monthly DNS requests). This gets you:
Protection from advanced threats, phishing, malware and C&C callbacks
Web filtering for 80+ content categories
Web access policy protection on and off-network
Real-time visibility for all connected devices
Quad9 emphasizes security, privacy and performance — the company was founded on the goal to make the internet safer for everyone. It blocks malicious domains, phishing and malware while maintaining your anonymity. Quad9 is constantly expanding to new regions. Right now, it comes in at No. 8 on the DNS Performance Analytics and Comparison ratings.
Verisign Public DNS
Verisign touts its superior stability and security features, plus the fact that they don’t sell user data to any third-party companies or for selling/targeting ads. Verisign became Neustar UltraDNS Public in the fourth quarter of 2020 after an asset sale on October 9.
At its core, OpenNIC is an attempt to combat censorship. Volunteer-run, this free DNS server makes the entire web accessible to everyone. They also prevent “DNS hijacking” which is when an ISP takes over commonly mistyped URLs.
Completely run and funded by founder Thomas Steen Rasmussen, UncensoredDNS is based in Denmark. It’s a great option for those local to FreeDNS, complete with security features, performance enhancement and reliability.
Both free and paid versions of CleanBrowsing are available. The free DNS server focuses on privacy, especially for households with children. It comes with three free filters and blocks most adult content.