Author Topic: Modem + Router Recommendations  (Read 2546 times)

Beach_Stache

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Modem + Router Recommendations
« on: January 17, 2017, 01:07:05 PM »
Hi All,
DW and I both work from home full time so need good enough internet speeds.  We also have no cable TV so stream everything.  Our current setup is Internet through Cox Cable and we run wireless, running through a Motorolla Surfboard Modem to a Cisco Linksys E12000 Router.  We have 2-3 computers hooked up, Chromecast, 1 tablet and a few phones.  Having a good stable internet connection is crucial for our jobs and entertainment.

Our Modem & Router are both probably 7 years old, they do the trick so I'm hesitant to buy something new.  Speeds are a bit slower and on the seldom occasion I go into the office I come back home and realize how slow things are.  I probably have to reset our equipment a few times/week b/c it goes down and I VPN to work so that disconnects a few times/day which takes about 2-3 minutes to reconnect.  Not a huge deal but can be a bit of a pain.

We have Cox Internet Premier b/c it was the same price as basic.  Here is what we are paying for:
Download: 150 Mbps
Upload: 10 Mbps

When I do the speed test here is what I actually get:
Download: 10 Mbps
Upload: 37 Mbps

I imagine our speeds are getting slowed by our old modem and router and my parents have an all in one which seems pretty good with fast speeds and no disconnects.  Does anyone have any good recommendations for a new combo modem/router that will get us max speeds for what we are paying for?  It's been so long and there are so many options that I really don't know what I'm looking at, and don't want to pay extra for something that will be above what we are paying for.
Thanks!

JLee

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Re: Modem + Router Recommendations
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2017, 01:23:50 PM »
I would find a modem that's on the compatibility list provided by Cox.  I have had good luck with the Motorola Surfboard line - just get something newer.

If you want a solid router and wireless that will be expandable and basically never have downtime, look at the Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite and Ubiquiti access points.  That will require some level of networking knowledge to set up -- if you're not interested in something quite as involved, I'd recommend whatever Wirecutter recommends: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-wi-fi-router/

acroy

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Re: Modem + Router Recommendations
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2017, 01:34:47 PM »
We have Cox Internet Premier b/c it was the same price as basic.  Here is what we are paying for:
Download: 150 Mbps
Upload: 10 Mbps

When I do the speed test here is what I actually get:
Download: 10 Mbps
Upload: 37 Mbps

Something may be screwy with settings, channels, firewall...
You are getting 1/15th the download speed you are paying for, but somehow 3-4 times the upload speed.
Suggest troubleshooting the system you have first (update software, check settings etc) before throwing parts/money at it.

JLee

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Re: Modem + Router Recommendations
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2017, 01:38:27 PM »
We have Cox Internet Premier b/c it was the same price as basic.  Here is what we are paying for:
Download: 150 Mbps
Upload: 10 Mbps

When I do the speed test here is what I actually get:
Download: 10 Mbps
Upload: 37 Mbps

Something may be screwy with settings, channels, firewall...
You are getting 1/15th the download speed you are paying for, but somehow 3-4 times the upload speed.
Suggest troubleshooting the system you have first (update software, check settings etc) before throwing parts/money at it.

Consumer-grade gear is notorious for unreliability.  An Edgerouter Lite is really the way to go, but unfortunately is a bit more complicated than many may want to deal with.

Beach_Stache

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Re: Modem + Router Recommendations
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2017, 01:44:44 PM »
Thanks, I'm really looking for plug and play.  Once upon a time I liked messing with this stuff but I really can't afford any downtime b/c of work and the streaming for the kids so would prefer a modem/router combo that you plug in and it takes you through a few steps to setup your password and then you are off and running.

I guess I'm not tied to a modem+router combo, I just figured it might save some money and complexity.  I really hate not knowing if a problem lies with the modem or the router.  I'm sure I could troubleshoot a bit but am just a bit lazy or uneducated, take your pick.

JLee

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Re: Modem + Router Recommendations
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2017, 01:55:04 PM »
Thanks, I'm really looking for plug and play.  Once upon a time I liked messing with this stuff but I really can't afford any downtime b/c of work and the streaming for the kids so would prefer a modem/router combo that you plug in and it takes you through a few steps to setup your password and then you are off and running.

I guess I'm not tied to a modem+router combo, I just figured it might save some money and complexity.  I really hate not knowing if a problem lies with the modem or the router.  I'm sure I could troubleshoot a bit but am just a bit lazy or uneducated, take your pick.

The problem you're going to run into is there aren't really any high end combo devices.  A modem/router combo that also does wifi is basically three devices in one, and you're going to get shitty consumer-grade reliability.

I would start with plugging the modem directly into your computer to see what your internet speeds are then.  A good modem and a router from the Wirecutter site linked above will be about as good as you're going to get without getting into more network configuration.

ketchup

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Re: Modem + Router Recommendations
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2017, 01:59:59 PM »
I'd look at the compatibility list by your ISP (Cox) and go with whatever's currently recommended, making sure it supports DOCSIS 3.1 (I think that's the current version).  Beyond that, there's not much to do there.  Mine's a D-link and I think it was $60 two years ago.

I just replaced my router two months ago when the old one (Cisco circa 2010) crapped out completely and went with this guy: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JZFG6QS/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Daley

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Re: Modem + Router Recommendations
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2017, 03:19:45 PM »
Given the age of your modem and the cap on the speeds, I suspect part of the reason why you're not getting your full paid for throughput is possibly due to using an old DOCSIS 2.0 modem. The old Surfboard, 5xxx series, right?

This said, it doesn't wholly account for your speeds (unless you swapped up/down numbers, than this would 100% explain those numbers), as DOCSIS 2.0 can still support ~40Mbps down and ~30Mbps up. It's probably problems elsewhere as well, such as WiFi interference. Never do Speedtest speeds from a WiFi connected device to determine what you're getting from the ISP. Hardwire ethernet. Always.

A newer Motorola/Arris Surfboard should be fine if the modem's an old DOCSIS 2.0 model. Something like the SB6121 should be fine, and should be plenty cheap used, and less than $40 new if bought online in brown box (non-retail). The modem is rated for 172Mbps down and 131Mbps up, and supports 1000BASE-T ethernet output (1000Mbps), so no bottlenecks there. To swap modems, you'll have to buy the new one and then call Cox technical support to update the account with the new modem's MAC address to get the thing working. They'll walk you through it.

The other part is partly your router. The E1200 is only 100BASE-TX (100Mbps) on the ethernet end despite the WiFi 802.11n spec on the thing supporting throughput up to 300Mbps. Now, 100Mbps is still technically pushing way more than you theoretically need from the internet to your wired systems, so you probably don't need to replace this piece of equipment. Just know that you're not technically able to max out the speeds that Cox is gouging you for with this in place. If you feel moved to replace it, Ubiquiti makes a good router, as they do good WiFi equipment... after all UBNT equipment is the poor man's Cisco in SMB/SME deployments, but I don't recommend it for most people. Why? Because it's not really worth the price premium for most home users. The trusty, rusty Asus RT-N16 is still a dynamite router if you swap out the crappy stock firmware with a build of DD-WRT (I'd personally recommend dd-wrt.v24-30880_NEWD-2_K3.x_big), Tomato or OpenWRT, any of which is easily done (if you closely follow directions and) if you feel moved to replace the router, and can still be found new for around $80, or used for well under $50. (Fiddle with it for an hour, and it should be rock solid 'til it 'aint no more.) This would remove the other major network bottleneck to utilize Cox's full provided bandwidth (not that you'll ever actually see or use it 99% of the time anyway). If you feel moved to keep the hardware you have, however, you may still find some stability improvements migrating the E1200 over to DD-WRT/Tomato/OpenWRT as well... but if it isn't broke, don't fix it.

If you're over-reliant on WiFi, know that the slice of wireless spectrum the stuff uses is crowded and crowded spectrum introduces noise. Where there's noise, there's slower throughput. The max WiFi speeds are theoretical max under lab conditions. You can improve things by doing site surveys and seeing which band clusters are least crowded to use and that sort of thing to improve reliability, but the best reliability improvement is hard wire ethernet for work systems.

Of course, this is only part of it all. You could theoretically have wired ethernet ports that only support 100Mbps on your computers (unlikely but possible), or 802.11b/g WiFi only chipsets which are capped to 11/54Mbps respectively (again unlikely but possible), but those are device specific bottlenecks.

A lot could be going on, and without a modem model, I can't be certain that it's not contributing, but as you can see from the rest, you should be able to better tell where those bottlenecks are and how to alleviate them with the right equipment for the right price.

Hope this helps!
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 03:27:43 PM by I.P. Daley »

JLee

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Re: Modem + Router Recommendations
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2017, 03:54:47 PM »
Given the age of your modem and the cap on the speeds, I suspect part of the reason why you're not getting your full paid for throughput is possibly due to using an old DOCSIS 2.0 modem. The old Surfboard, 5xxx series, right?

This said, it doesn't wholly account for your speeds (unless you swapped up/down numbers, than this would 100% explain those numbers), as DOCSIS 2.0 can still support ~40Mbps down and ~30Mbps up. It's probably problems elsewhere as well, such as WiFi interference. Never do Speedtest speeds from a WiFi connected device to determine what you're getting from the ISP. Hardwire ethernet. Always.

A newer Motorola/Arris Surfboard should be fine if the modem's an old DOCSIS 2.0 model. Something like the SB6121 should be fine, and should be plenty cheap used, and less than $40 new if bought online in brown box (non-retail). The modem is rated for 172Mbps down and 131Mbps up, and supports 1000BASE-T ethernet output (1000Mbps), so no bottlenecks there. To swap modems, you'll have to buy the new one and then call Cox technical support to update the account with the new modem's MAC address to get the thing working. They'll walk you through it.

The other part is partly your router. The E1200 is only 100BASE-TX (100Mbps) on the ethernet end despite the WiFi 802.11n spec on the thing supporting throughput up to 300Mbps. Now, 100Mbps is still technically pushing way more than you theoretically need from the internet to your wired systems, so you probably don't need to replace this piece of equipment. Just know that you're not technically able to max out the speeds that Cox is gouging you for with this in place. If you feel moved to replace it, Ubiquiti makes a good router, as they do good WiFi equipment... after all UBNT equipment is the poor man's Cisco in SMB/SME deployments, but I don't recommend it for most people. Why? Because it's not really worth the price premium for most home users. The trusty, rusty Asus RT-N16 is still a dynamite router if you swap out the crappy stock firmware with a build of DD-WRT (I'd personally recommend dd-wrt.v24-30880_NEWD-2_K3.x_big), Tomato or OpenWRT, any of which is easily done (if you closely follow directions and) if you feel moved to replace the router, and can still be found new for around $80, or used for well under $50. (Fiddle with it for an hour, and it should be rock solid 'til it 'aint no more.) This would remove the other major network bottleneck to utilize Cox's full provided bandwidth (not that you'll ever actually see or use it 99% of the time anyway). If you feel moved to keep the hardware you have, however, you may still find some stability improvements migrating the E1200 over to DD-WRT/Tomato/OpenWRT as well... but if it isn't broke, don't fix it.

If you're over-reliant on WiFi, know that the slice of wireless spectrum the stuff uses is crowded and crowded spectrum introduces noise. Where there's noise, there's slower throughput. The max WiFi speeds are theoretical max under lab conditions. You can improve things by doing site surveys and seeing which band clusters are least crowded to use and that sort of thing to improve reliability, but the best reliability improvement is hard wire ethernet for work systems.

Of course, this is only part of it all. You could theoretically have wired ethernet ports that only support 100Mbps on your computers (unlikely but possible), or 802.11b/g WiFi only chipsets which are capped to 11/54Mbps respectively (again unlikely but possible), but those are device specific bottlenecks.

A lot could be going on, and without a modem model, I can't be certain that it's not contributing, but as you can see from the rest, you should be able to better tell where those bottlenecks are and how to alleviate them with the right equipment for the right price.

Hope this helps!

Thanks for dropping in!  I agree that Ubiquiti gear is too complicated for most users, but as this case involves two people working from home, the added initial complexity may pay off in the long run (i.e. enterprise-grade uptime).

Daley

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Re: Modem + Router Recommendations
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2017, 04:40:20 PM »
Thanks for dropping in!  I agree that Ubiquiti gear is too complicated for most users, but as this case involves two people working from home, the added initial complexity may pay off in the long run (i.e. enterprise-grade uptime).

Agreed, and it's a perfectly good way to skin a cat, though it's why I suggested the Asus RT-N16 with DD-WRT/OpenWRT as it can do likewise for a third the cost (considering all equipment needed) with about the same level of initial setup complexity. Absolutely love the RT-N16 for these sorts of things, especially for the price. In fact, an RT-N16 with or without a UniFi deployment can be a killer combo for budget enterprise-uptime level networking with a lot of usage scenarios. At the end, we're just offering two different ways to skin the same cat for the same pelt.

What can I say, though? I'm always hyper mindful of other's bottom line. :)

Beach_Stache

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Re: Modem + Router Recommendations
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2017, 05:11:06 PM »


Agreed, and it's a perfectly good way to skin a cat, though it's why I suggested the Asus RT-N16 with DD-WRT/OpenWRT as it can do likewise for a third the cost (considering all equipment needed) with about the same level of initial setup complexity. Absolutely love the RT-N16 for these sorts of things, especially for the price. In fact, an RT-N16 with or without a UniFi deployment can be a killer combo for budget enterprise-uptime level networking with a lot of usage scenarios. At the end, we're just offering two different ways to skin the same cat for the same pelt.

What can I say, though? I'm always hyper mindful of other's bottom line. :)
[/quote]

Thanks, so it sounds like you're saying that I can leave my Motorolla Surfboard SB6180 Modem but get the Asus RT-N16.  Are you referring to this one:
https://www.amazon.com/802-11b-g-n-Gigabit-Wireless-300Mbps-support/dp/B01LZ6G472/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1484697996&sr=8-2&keywords=Asus+RT-N16+DD-WRT

Why is the setup so complicated for this?  I'm fairly computer literate, I can follow instructions but am no networking guru by any means, so just don't want to get in over my head.  Thanks.

Another Reader

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Re: Modem + Router Recommendations
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2017, 05:18:13 PM »
People say it's foolish to rent these from the cable provider.  I disagree.  With Comcast, by the end of a year in service, I have to reset the thing once or twice a day.  Speed slows to a crawl.  After a couple of calls to The Worst Customer Service In the World, I have enough ammo to pack up the offending equipment and drive it to the Comcast store to trade it for the latest thing.

Daley

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Re: Modem + Router Recommendations
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2017, 06:06:00 PM »
Thanks, so it sounds like you're saying that I can leave my Motorolla Surfboard SB6180 Modem but get the Asus RT-N16.  Are you referring to this one:
https://www.amazon.com/802-11b-g-n-Gigabit-Wireless-300Mbps-support/dp/B01LZ6G472/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1484697996&sr=8-2&keywords=Asus+RT-N16+DD-WRT

Why is the setup so complicated for this?  I'm fairly computer literate, I can follow instructions but am no networking guru by any means, so just don't want to get in over my head.  Thanks.

If you have a SB6180, then yes, it's a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, and you should be able to get full speed off the thing. This means that your problem is elsewhere, unfortunately. Makes things more complicated. I wouldn't even consider replacing the existing router until you can figure out where the failure point is and can cap out bandwidth on it, though I'd still probably not replace it personally (just personally switch firmware - like I said, uptime and stability matters, and 100/10Mbps throughput from Cox is still overkill for what you actually need). Your reported speeds make zero sense given the hardware you report if you're measuring on a wired connection.

That said, yes, that's the router, but there's cheaper listings on Amazon. The upgrade/switch to DD-WRT is actually quite simple, about as easy as the E1200 initial install. You just need to make sure the settings are cleared and set to factory before and after the flash, use the right initial flash build, and then switch to the preferred build from there. As for setup complexity, you've got a lot more features and options in the firmware than with most consumer builds. As long as you don't go fiddling with stuff you don't understand, however, most of the default settings are fine. Just remember to clone over an ethernet MAC address from a computer for using on the WAN port with your cable modem during setup. Again though, for the sake of uptime, don't fix what 'aint broke.

Take the time and track down why you aren't capping out at 100/10 on your existing hardware first.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 06:08:06 PM by I.P. Daley »

JLee

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Re: Modem + Router Recommendations
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2017, 07:03:42 PM »
Thanks, so it sounds like you're saying that I can leave my Motorolla Surfboard SB6180 Modem but get the Asus RT-N16.  Are you referring to this one:
https://www.amazon.com/802-11b-g-n-Gigabit-Wireless-300Mbps-support/dp/B01LZ6G472/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1484697996&sr=8-2&keywords=Asus+RT-N16+DD-WRT

Why is the setup so complicated for this?  I'm fairly computer literate, I can follow instructions but am no networking guru by any means, so just don't want to get in over my head.  Thanks.

If you have a SB6180, then yes, it's a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, and you should be able to get full speed off the thing. This means that your problem is elsewhere, unfortunately. Makes things more complicated. I wouldn't even consider replacing the existing router until you can figure out where the failure point is and can cap out bandwidth on it, though I'd still probably not replace it personally (just personally switch firmware - like I said, uptime and stability matters, and 100/10Mbps throughput from Cox is still overkill for what you actually need). Your reported speeds make zero sense given the hardware you report if you're measuring on a wired connection.

That said, yes, that's the router, but there's cheaper listings on Amazon. The upgrade/switch to DD-WRT is actually quite simple, about as easy as the E1200 initial install. You just need to make sure the settings are cleared and set to factory before and after the flash, use the right initial flash build, and then switch to the preferred build from there. As for setup complexity, you've got a lot more features and options in the firmware than with most consumer builds. As long as you don't go fiddling with stuff you don't understand, however, most of the default settings are fine. Just remember to clone over an ethernet MAC address from a computer for using on the WAN port with your cable modem during setup. Again though, for the sake of uptime, don't fix what 'aint broke.

Take the time and track down why you aren't capping out at 100/10 on your existing hardware first.

IMO a solid first step would be to connect a computer directly to the modem and see what speeds you're seeing.  If you're not getting advertised speeds, call the ISP and make sure there's nothing wrong with your account setup.

People say it's foolish to rent these from the cable provider.  I disagree.  With Comcast, by the end of a year in service, I have to reset the thing once or twice a day.  Speed slows to a crawl.  After a couple of calls to The Worst Customer Service In the World, I have enough ammo to pack up the offending equipment and drive it to the Comcast store to trade it for the latest thing.

I bought a quality modem and had zero problems with it until I moved years later..it's still probably perfectly fine, though I haven't used it in a while now. The benefit of buying your own equipment is that you're not stuck with bottom-of-the-barrel gear from an ISP, and that $6/mo modem rental fee will buy a new modem more than once a year anyway.