9 Best Spectrum Approved Modems In 2022

This is our review of the best cable modems for Spectrum in 2022.

Go to the list.

Spectrum modem and router

As a Network Engineer, I have tested and researched which modem is best for Charter Spectrum. 

And I have concluded that the Arris Surfboard SB8200 is the best cable modem for Spectrum. Because it’s a future-proof and high-performing modem for a fair price. 

But every person has different internet needs and wants, with varying internet plans, home sizes, and preferences.

Thus, I have put together this list of the top 9 best Charter Spectrum approved modems, so you can pick the one that fits you the best. 

Keep reading to learn them. 

Top 9 Modems Approved for Spectrum 

9 Best Charter Spectrum Compatible Modems 

Here are short reviews of the best-certified modems and gateways for Charter Spectrum. 

#1 Arris Surfboard SB8200 (Editor’s Choice – Cable Modem)

The Arris Surfboard SB8200 is the best option for you who wants to get a modem and then forget about it. 

To begin with, the SB8200 will work for any Spectrum internet plan. This is thanks to it being a DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem with a max speed of 2000 Mbps.

This is also what makes it future-proof. Because when Spectrum upgrades its internet to DOCSIS 3.1, you won’t have to get a new modem. And since DOCSIS 3.1 is backward compatible, it will work with DOCSIS 3.0.

Furthermore, the SB8200 has a thing called ethernet aggregation. This allows you to combine two Ethernet ports into a single data stream. This data stream has a max speed of around 2000 Mbps, double what a single Ethernet port is capable of.

This feature is, however, not very beneficial today. Since Spectrum is yet to offer an internet plan exceeding 1 Gbps to its customers. But it makes the modem more future-proof. 

Though, I don’t recommend the SB8200 if you are switching to fiber in the foreseeable future. Because this modem is an investment for the future. 

Suppose you are switching soon. Then you should get a modem with the minimum requirements for your current internet plan (see table under “speed”).

Altogether, the Arris Surfboard is a modem you can get and then ignore. Because it will be enough for years to come. 

Read the full review.


#2 Motorola MB8611 (Best Performer – Cable Modem) 

The Motorola MB8611 is the best cable modem if you are looking for pure performance. Working for internet plans up to 2500 Mbps.

These are speeds so fast that Spectrum is yet to offer them to consumers. Enough to watch more than a dozen 4K movies simultaneously.

Such speeds are possible because the modem is DOCSIS 3.1 with a 2.5G Ethernet port. Instead of the usually 1G port. 

You can think about the MB8611 as a more extreme version of the SB8200, with it being faster, newer, and even more future-proof. 

This, however, also makes it more excessive. Because remember, a modem can only provide you with the internet speed of your internet plan. 

Thus, I recommend the Motorola MB8611 for Spectrum customers who want the best of the best. 

Read the full review. 


#3 Netgear CM500 (Budget-Friendly – Cable Modem) 

Note: Some areas such as NY don’t support DOCSIS 3.0 modems anymore, so proceed with caution.

The Netgear CM500 is a good option for you with the Spectrum Internet 400 plan or below that aren’t interested in future-proofing. But rather just want something that works now. 

Overall, CM500 is a value-packed modem that will provide you with a reliable internet connection for a good price. 

But as Spectrum moves towards DOCSIS 3.1, it’s unclear how long this cable modem will be enough. 

Therefore, I should note that if you get this cable modem, you might have to get a new one in the future. 

That said, if you have a slower internet plan and want to save some money now, the Netgear CM500 is a solid option. 


#4 Netgear CM1000 (Runner Up – Cable Modem) 

The Netgear CM1000 is another DOCSIS 3.1 modem that will work for any Spectrum internet plan. 

It’s very similar to the SB8200 but lacks Ethernet aggregation. Thus, it only works with internet plans up to 1000 Mbps. 

This makes it less future-proof than the other DOCSIS 3.1 modem in this list and, therefore, in my view, a worse option.

That said, you can still consider the CM1000 if you prefer Netgear or if it’s on sale. It’s future-proof, and as long you don’t upgrade to an internet plan exceeding 1000 Mbps in the future, it really doesn’t matter.

Overall, the Netgear CM1000 is another DOCSIS 3.1 option for any Spectrum customer who prefers Netgear. 

Read the full review.


#5 Motorola MB7220 (Most Budget-Friendly – Cable Modem)

Note: Some areas such as NY don’t support DOCSIS 3.0 modems anymore, so proceed with caution.

If you have Spectrum Internet 100 and are on a strict budget – the Motorola MB7220 is a solid option. 

It’s a “just enough” modem that will serve you well now. Still, if you want to upgrade your internet plan (or Spectrum increases its speed), it will bottleneck your internet. 

The reason for this is because it’s a DOCSIS 3.0 modem with 8×4 channels. Which is the lowest requirement for a cable modem to work with Spectrum. 

This might make the MB7220 more expensive in the long run. Since you might have to get one of the faster modems in a year or so anyway. So keep that in mind if you decide to get this one.

That said, if you want to save money now and don’t have a fast internet plan, it’s an option.  


#6 Netgear CAX80 (Premium Option – Modem/Router Combo)

The Netgear Nighthawk CAX80 is one of the fastest gateways we have tested, and it will work for any Spectrum internet plan.

We didn’t find its max speed since the internet plan we had access to only reached 800 Mbps. 

That said, it did reach 800+ Mbps from 5 feet, 583.15 Mbps from 25 feet, and 298.47 Mbps from 50 feet. All using the 5GHz channel. 

These results are excellent for a modem/router combo, enough for a family of 7+ to use the internet without any issues. 

Range-wise, the CAX80 also performed well, reaching about 90-100 feet. This should be enough for any but the largest homes. Particularly if you place it somewhere closer to the center of the house. 

The cable modem in the CAX80 is DOCSIS 3.1, which, as previously explained, makes it future-proof.  

The biggest drawback with the CAX80, however, is its lack of features. Because it misses things like Parental controls that allow you to restrict your kid’s activities on the internet and QoS, which will enable you to prioritize applications on your network. 

This is a common theme in gateways and is one of the reasons I recommend separate devices.

Moreover, the CAX80 can sometimes be a bit excessive. Especially if you have a slower internet plan. Thus, I recommend it for you that have the Spectrum 1 Gig plan particularly. 

Read the full review.


#7 Motorola MG8702 (Best Value – Modem/Router Combo)

The Motorola MG8702 is the best modem/router combo for the Spectrum 400 Mbps plan or below. 

It averaged 518.51 Mbps from 5 feet and 272.03 Mbps from 25 feet during testing using the 5GHz network. 

These are good results that will be enough for a family of 5 to use the internet without issues. 

The range of the MG8702 is also good, managing to reach about 80-90 feet. This will be enough for most homes. But if you have a larger home with thick walls, you might experience some dead spots. 

The cable modem is DOCSIS 3.1, which is why it’s future-proof and will thus likely work for years to come. 

The biggest con the MG8702 is the same as the other modem/router combos. It lacks extra features. Specifically, it lacks Parental Controls and QoS. 

Altogether, the MG8702 is a solid and reliable gateway that will provide you with fast internet access. Just avoid it if you have the Gigabit plan and/or want extra features. 


#8 Netgear C7000 (Runner Up – Modem/Router Combo)

Note: Some areas such as NY don’t support DOCSIS 3.0 modems anymore, so proceed with caution.

The Netgear C7000 is a suitable option for you that wants a gateway and have the Spectrum 200 Mbps plan or below. 

In testing, the C7000 reached 370.47 Mbps from 5 feet, 132.82 Mbps from 25 feet, and 70.11 Mbps from 50 feet. Also using 5GHz band. 

This performance is decent and enough for a family of around 4 people to use the internet simultaneously without any issues.  

Its coverage matches its speed pretty well, reaching about 70-80 feet. This will be enough for a normal-sized home. But if you have something larger, you might experience some Wi-Fi dead spots. 

The cable modem is DOCSIS 3.0 with 24×8 channels. This makes the modem enough for the Spectrum 400 Mbps plan. 

But the thing is, as the router only reached 370.47 Mbps, I’m heisted to recommend it for the 400 Mbps plan. 

But if you are okay with the slight loss in speed, you can get this device with that plan as well.

Overall, the Netgear C7000 is a good modem/router combo that you can get if you want to save some money


#9 Motorola MG7540 (Budget-Friendly – Modem/Router Combo)

Note: Some areas such as NY don’t support DOCSIS 3.0 modems anymore, so proceed with caution.

The Motorola MG7540 is the best modem/router combo for you on a budget with the Spectrum 200 Mbps plan or below. 

In testing, it reached 301.85 Mbps from 5 feet, 102.38 Mbps from 25 feet, and 49.06 Mbps from 50 feet. All using the 5GHz band. 

These results are nothing special, but considering the price, I think they are good enough. It will be enough for a family of around 3-4 people to use the internet without any issues. 

The biggest drawback with the MG7540 is its range. In testing, it only reached about 60-70 feet. This will be enough for a normal-sized home if it’s placed somewhere closer to the middle of it. But honestly, it fits best for the average apartment. 

The cable modem is DOCSIS 3.0 with 16×4 channels. This makes it enough for the 400 Mbps plan. But as the router only reached 301.85 Mbps, I would not recommend using it with that plan. 

The MG7540 also lacks extra features like Parental Controls and QoS. But as it’s a cheaper option, it’s more forgiving. 

Altogether, The Motorola MG7540 is a good budget option for you with a slower internet plan that isn’t looking to upgrade your internet plan anytime soon. 

Read the full review.


Full List of Charter Spectrum Approved Modems

Here is a list of all Charter Spectrum compatible modems. [1, 2]

Puma Chipset is a problematic chip some modems use. I would strongly recommend modems that don’t use it. No means it doesn’t have it, while Yes means the modem haves it.

“Speed” is the fastest plan the modem is approved for. So 400, for example, means that the modem is approved for any internet plan up to 400 Mbps.

Take the “speed” with a grain of salt if it’s a modem/router combo. As they often provide Wi-Fi which isn’t really good enough for that internet plan.

What to Consider Before Buying a Modem for Spectrum

Here are some of the most important things you need to consider before buying a third-party modem for Charter Spectrum. For a more in-depth guide, check out the modem buying guide. 

DOCSIS

DOCSIS is the telecommunication standard that gets you cable internet. [3]

When getting a cable modem, you have two options with Spectrum. Either DOCSIS 3.0 or DOCSIS 3.1. 

The difference between the two is that DOCSIS 3.1 is newer and faster while DOCSIS 3.0 is cheaper. 

Personally, I recommend getting a DOCSIS 3.1 modem for Spectrum. Because it will future-proof your modem when you either get a faster internet plan or Spectrum upgrades all their networks. 

However, I should note that if you are either switching ISP or to fiber in a year or less. Then it might make more sense to get a DOCSIS 3.0 modem. It all depends on your current internet plan. 

Because suppose you are switching. Then you should get the minimum requirements for your internet plan (see table under “speed”)

DOCSIS 3.1 Benefits

  • Faster
  • Lower latency
  • Future-proof

DOCSIS 3.0 Benefits

If you want to go deeper into the pros and cons of each option, check out DOCSIS 3.1 vs. 3.0. 

Channel Bonding

If you choose to get a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem, you also need to consider how many channels you need. 

For Charter Spectrum, you need at least 8×4, and at most 32×8. 

The first number stands for downstream channels and the second for upstream channels. More channels equal more bandwidth. [4]

Check the table below to see how many channels you need for each Spectrum plan.

Speed

Spectrum has four main internet plans. These are Internet 100, Internet 200, Internet Ultra, and Internet Gig. 

When getting yourself a Spectrum-approved modem, it needs to support your current internet plan at least. 

Because otherwise, it will bottleneck your internet connection, and you won’t get the internet speeds you are paying for. 

Here is a table with what DOCSIS and channels are compatible with what Spectrum plan. 

Spectrum Packet DOCSIS Channels
Spectrum Internet 100 3.0 or 3.1 8×4 or more
Spectrum Internet 200 3.0 or 3.1 16×4 or more
Spectrum Internet Ultra 400 3.0 or 3.1 16×4 or more
Spectrum Internet Gig 1000 3.1 N/A

Some might also argue that a DOCSIS 3.0 modem with 32×8 channels is enough for the Spectrum Internet Gig plan. 

And even though such a modem might work, I would strongly advise against it as Spectrum states that you need a DOCSIS 3.1 modem. [5]

Approved & Compatible With Spectrum

For a modem to work with Spectrum, it first and foremost needs to be a DOCSIS 3.0 or 3.1 cable modem. 

If it’s a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, it moreover needs to have 8×4 channels or more. 

This is against what you will find on the Spectrum site, which says two 4×4 modems are approved for Spectrum. 

This is not up to date, and after talking with the support, they confirm that such modem will likely not work. 

Furthermore, I also recommend that you get a modem that Spectrum has approved. This means that they are tested the modem and can guarantee that it will work with your Spectrum Internet. 

All modems in the 9 best cable modems for Spectrum are approved, and for even more options, check out the full list. 

Modem/Router Combo or Separate

When buying a modem, you must choose if you want a modem/router combo or separate devices. 

The difference is that a modem/router combo is a modem and a router in the same devices. 

While separate is a standalone modem that connects with a router through an ethernet cable. 

Both options have pros and cons, but as a Network Engineer, I recommend separate devices. 

This is because separate devices allow for changing one device if it breaks or needs an upgrade. It also allows for higher performance and more customization. 

This is not to say that modem/router combos are worse in every way. They do have less of an upfront cost and are often easier to set up. 

Spectrum has plenty of both options in their approved modems list, so in the end, it’s up to you. 

Separate Pros

  • Better performance
  • Can change one device instead of both
  • More network control

Combo Pros

  • More convenient
  • Often easier setup
  • Cheaper upfront cost

Check out separate devices vs. gateway for a more detailed overview. 

Ethernet Port

An interesting thing with DOCSIS 3.1 modems is that the ethernet ports most often constrain the modem’s speed. 

This is due to a standard ethernet port only supporting around 1 Gbps (940 Mbps, to be exact). 

Therefore, it’s often worth looking into the ports of a cable modem. Especially if you get a DOCSIS 3.1 modem. 

Because to combat this limit, many modems have either ethernet aggregation or a 2.5G ethernet port. 

The 2.5G ethernet port is just what it sounds like, an ethernet port capable of 2500 Mbps instead of 940 Mbps. 

While ethernet aggregation is when you can combine to 1G ethernet port into a single data stream that supports speed up to 2000 Mbps. 

Home Size

If you get a modem/router combo, you should also consider the size of your home. 

Because a larger home might necessitate a better router, while a smaller one might get away with a cheaper one. 

I tried to determine the range of all the modem/router combos I tested, but it is hard to know exactly since I don’t have the right equipment. 

But you can find my estimates in the overviews above. 

You can also get a Wi-Fi extender if you find that your home gets too many dead spots. Even though, in my experience, it’s better to get a higher-performing router instead.

Voice Support

If you have Spectrum voice service, then you need to get a modem from Spectrum. Because none of the approved modems will work with Spectrum Voice. 

This leaves you with two options. Either only get one of the telephone modems from Spectrum and use it for internet and telephone service. 

Or get two modems, one telephone modem, and one approved modem. 

You can then get a splitter and connect the internet to the approved modem and the telephone line to the telephone modem. 

You need to call Spectrum and inform them of it. Because things need to rearrange so it will work.

I would also recommend explaining to them what you are doing to get guidance with the process. 

Even though I should note that this is not necessary for most. 

How To Install A Spectrum Modem

This is how to install a Spectrum modem. 

  1. Find a location with good air circulation. So the modem doesn’t overheat. If you have a gateway, also try to place it in the center of your home. This is to avoid Wi-Fi dead spots. 
  2. Connect the coax cable and the power cord. Also, connect the router with an ethernet cable if you have separate devices. 
  3. After that, you need to activate the modem.  You can either do that here or call Spectrum. They will ask for the device’s MAC ID, which you can find on the bottom of the modem. 
  4. The rest is different for every modem. But follow the setup guide that comes with it.

Spectrum Internet Plans

Charter Spectrum has four main internet plans. Here they are and what cable modem and gateway I recommend for each internet plan. [6]

FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions about Spectrum third-party modems. 

Which is the best modem for Spectrum?

After much testing and talking to Spectrum, we concluded that the best modem for Spectrum is the Arris Surfboard SB8200. Because it’s fast, future-proof, and goes for a fair price. 

Do I need a DOCSIS 3.1 modem for Spectrum?

If you need a DOCSIS 3.1 modem or not depends on two factors. Where you live, and your internet plan.

If you have a Gigabit plan you always need a DOCSIS 3.1 modem. And if you live in certain areas such as New York and Wisconsin you also need DOCSIS 3.1 modems.

Contact Spectrum and ask to be sure.

My Verdict

Spectrum has a long list of approved modems, and after much testing and consideration, I have concluded that the best modem for Spectrum is the Arris Surfboard SB8200. 

Because it provides a fast and future-proof internet connection for a reasonable price.

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