Modem Router Combo vs Separate

Modem Router Combo vs Separate – Which is Better

If you are planning on setting up an internet connection at your home or office, and don’t know much about the components required or how things usually work, this guide is just for you. Since most people have now started to work from home, a broadband connection seems like a necessity. However, most people get confused about whether to buy a modem or router. Even if you search on the online marketplace, you will come across options that offer functionalities of both modem and router in a single physical device. So, all of this clutter creates confusion in mind whether you require a modem, or a router, or both?

Although you can connect to the internet and use it if you have a cable modem. But, do you need a router if you have a modem? That actually depends on your usage, if you have to connect only one computer to the internet, a cable modem would do the job. On the other hand, a router comes in handy if you want to use the same internet connection on multiple devices.

As you ask your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to set up the connection, most of them would suggest you opt their own device which offers both the functionalities of modem and router in a single physical device, called Gateway. But, is that a wise choice to make or you should set up your internet connection using a separate modem and router? Thus, if you want to find out the answer, read the article until the end to know if “Is it better to have a separate modem and router?”

Modem & Router

In the modem router combo vs separate faceoff, we would choose to purchase separate equipment for our personal use. But that does not mean the combo is entirely a bad option to choose. So, before you decide that if you need to purchase a cable modem and router separately, you should thoroughly know your needs and what these devices actually do.

What is Modem?


Before you ask yourself the question that “What is better, modem router combo or separate?”. You should know what a modem actually does. As you opt for an internet plan from your ISP, the cable modem is actually a physical device which is quite an essential part since it is responsible to receive the signals from your ISP.

Modem basically stands for Modulator-Demodulator which receives the modulated signals from the sender’s end (your ISP) and demodulates it back at your end and sends the signals to the connected device so that you can have access to the internet connection.


  1. Allows the connected device to access the internet.
  2. Available at cheaper prices as compared to a modem-router combo.
  3. Opportunity for future upgrades.


  1. Only one device is allowed to connect.
  2. Less Security.

Our Recommended Modems:

Best DOCSIS 3.1 Modem Motorola MB8600
Best Overall Modem Arris Surfboard SB8200

What is a Router?


Since a Modem only offers internet connectivity to a single device, a router can do the job if you need to connect multiple devices at the same time. Basically, a router is a physical device that fetches up internet signals from the modem and routes it on various streams so that multiple devices can have access to the same internet connection at the same time.

However, a router can not do the job of receiving signals directly from the ISP, so a modem should necessarily be there to complete this networking channel. Moreover, a modem is capable of providing wired internet connection only whereas a router can distribute the signals wirelessly, which we normally call Wi-Fi.

So, do you need a router if you have a modem? Certainly not, if you only need to connect one device. However, the more practical answer would be yes! Because a router can offer you Wi-Fi connectivity and also the freedom to connect multiple devices at once. 


  1. Allows you to set up a Wi-Fi connection.
  2. Freedom to select personalized settings.
  3. Multiple devices can be connected in one instance.
  4. Easy setup and installation.
  5. Better control over your network.
  6. Increased Security


  1. Separate routers are slightly expensive.

Our Recommended Routers:

The Fastest Router Tp-Link Archer
Best Router for Gaming Asus RT-AC88U (AC3100)
Best AC1750 Router Linksys EA7300
Best Mesh Wifi System Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-fi 6 (AX11000)

Benefits of Separate Modem and Router

Benefits of Separate Modem and Router

As we are discussing combo modem router vs separate, there are a lot of benefits of having separate components rather than the combo. So, let’s discuss them one by one.

1. No Rental Fees

Since both the equipment will be of your own, there will no longer be any need to pay rent to the ISP. It might feel a little expensive at the beginning, but if you think of it from a long-term perspective, this one-time investment is obviously a better option.

2. Better Performance

As there are a variety of routers and modems available to choose, that too with the latest technologies, surely you can experience better performance of your internet connection if you choose the right components.

3. Freedom to place the router as per your preference

To set up the Wi-Fi connection at home or office, the placement of the router should always be somewhere in the middle of the house. So, it is easily possible to do it if you have a separate router since you can use cable extensions and place your router wherever you want. You can do that with a modem router combo too, but that would be a little tricky as you will need to call your ISP to set it up for you. 

4. Easy to Upgrade

Mostly, we see the wireless technologies are changing at a great pace, and it is a lot easier to upgrade to the latest technologies if you have a separate modem and router. Otherwise, upgrading the whole modem router combo would be very expensive.

Modem Router Combo

Do you need a Router if ou have a Modem

Usually when you set up a new internet connection, most likely your ISP would ask you to use their Modem Router combo. If you opt to choose this option, your ISP will be charging you monthly rental fees for the equipment. It is only good if you have to use the connection for a limited period of time. However, if you are thinking about having the internet subscription for a long time, you should get your own modem router combo in that case. Since there are many modem router combos available from various well-known brands, you can easily find one that suits your requirements. But, will this system be as reliable as when you use the connection with a separate router and modem? Let’s find out.


  1. One device for every function.
  2. The overall price is cheaper as compared to purchasing the units separately.
  3. Updates are provided by the ISP itself.
  4. Takes up less space.
  5. ISP will handle the one-time setup process.


  1. Difficult to troubleshoot problems
  2. Less Control over the network
  3. Upgrading to a new one is expensive and not practical.
  4. Security features are very limited.

Our Recommended Modem Router Combos:

Best High-Speed Modem Router Combo Arris Surfboard SBG8300
Best Overall Modem Router Combo Netgear C7800
Best Mid Range Modem Router Combo Netgear NightHawk C7100V

Benefits of Modem Router Combo

Benefits of Modem Router Combo

If we compare the combo modem router vs separate equipment option, there are also some advantages of this system until and unless you are paying rent for it.

Since there are multiple router-modem combos available to purchase, that too from well-known brands like Netgear, Arris, etc. What are the factors that make them good over the separate ones?

1. Less Expensive

If we compare modem router combo vs separate, the combo is definitely a one-time investment and comes for a relatively cheaper price as well. However, it is so until you wish to upgrade to a new one. Because upgrading will be a much practical option if you own separate devices. Otherwise, if upgrading is not what you are after, you can choose the combo too.

2. Easy to Set up

Since there is only one device that you need to deal with, the setup process becomes way easier. And, most of the work will be done by the ISP itself, so you can just sit back and relax if you want.

3. ISP handles the Updates

Since ISP will be handling the setup process, you can ask them to push regular firmware updates as well. Thus, it adds up more convenience for you when it comes to maintenance.

Modem Router Combo vs Separate

Combo Separate
Easy to set up
Better Performance
Control over the network
Less Expensive
Less Maintenance Required
Better Upgrade opportunities
Better Security
Network Expandability
Extra Features

Is it better to have a separate Modem and Router?

As you can see, the modem router combo is a good option to choose if you are looking to have a convenient experience. But, if you are more concerned about the quality of your internet connection and network, buying the devices separately makes more sense. Not only you will be able to apply personalized settings, but it will also be a much wiser option since there are so many upgrading opportunities open for the future. Although handling the router and modem separately can be difficult for the new users. Also, buying the equipment separately promotes better security for your network which is quite necessary to have these days. Thus, we want to conclude that it is better to have a separate modem and router.

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