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Modem/Router Suggestions?

I've been looking to upgrade the modem for my house. My current modem is said to be out of date and is keeping my family from taking new advantage of Comcast's current XFINITY coverage.

For reference, I live in a two-story house with a backyard and 5+ rooms. The modem is in my room, which lets me enjoy direct connections of my consoles to the router, although I still have the occasional slow speed. Even worse, the connection I get downstairs when using my iPhone or iPad is abysmal. According to Comcast, i-devices are affected the most from my outdated equipment.

A Comcast rep recommended this modem/router hybrid, which is not only equal in performance to Comcast's own rental unit (I buy our own modem so we don't have to pay rental fees), but the rep also said I could take the old router I have and put it downstairs, and have it act as a separate source for people downstairs to connect to.

Sounds good, but the modem is a bit pricey, so I wanted to verify if that's the way to go, or if there are cheaper alternatives that work equally well.

And before you ask, Opting out of Comcast is not an option. It's what we're stuck with for our location, so please don't flood the thread with the Comcast hate. I'm no fan myself, but we can't switch.

Posts

  • MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
    http://m.thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-cable-modem/

    That is $100 cheaper than what Comcast recommended. If you want to use your current modem downstairs, you'll need to buy a third party wifi router since it doesn't have any wireless capability on its own.

    You could also pick up any one of a number of wifi range extenders that will link up with your new modem/router combo and work better for the rest of the house.

    I recommend you buy the new modem/router first and see how much better all the other devices connected to it.

    I'm curious. If you use that current modem, you have some sort of secondary router for wifi. What is it that you're using? What connects to the Ethernet jack of that modem when it's set up at your home?

  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    First off, thanks for the recommendation.

    Second, my setup may be the case of ignorancce, so forgive me if I'm not answering correctly. I have the modem that was linked in OP, and a linksys router connected to it. The router is how my house gets wireless access, while I also get the priviladge of enjoying a direct connection (though even that's been pretty crappy stream-wise of late). It helps being the only one in the family who comes closest to grasping this internet stuff.

    We actually have two wireless connections we can use, the standard one and 5GHz. The latter is rarely used as the connection distance is significantly shorter, and I don't see much benefit to it anyway.

  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    Don't bother with the gateway that the Comcast rep recommended. The only reason to buy that is if you have telephone service through them. Even then, it's several years old, and Comcast is not providing new firmware for it.

    The modem mugsley recommended is great, and I would start there. Once you provision the modem, check your speeds, and you should have a good idea about whether your router needs replacing. My guess is it will need to be replaced, but get the new modem in place first.

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  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    Oh, how many square feet is your home? What are the walls made of?

    And what's your budget? Because mesh network solutions have gotten awesome and easy to use, but they're pricey.

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    WiiU: Windrunner ; Guild Wars 2: Shadowfire.3940 ; PSN: Bradcopter
    Mugsley
  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    edited February 21
    Square feet is approximately 2500. Walls are not concrete, forgot the name.

    For the modem, is it worth paying extra for the increased download speed?

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MA5U1FW/?tag=thewire06-20&linkCode=xm2&ascsubtag=WC12298&th=1

    I care more about streaming speed than anything else. I've had some HD stuff hitch lately, so that's more important than downloads.

    Professor Snugglesworth on
  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    Don't look at the download speed. You're never going to get close to either number, especially from Comcast. It's the channels you want to pay attention to, as the more channels you have, the better your modem will deal with congestion and the less likely you are to see significant drops in your speeds during peak times.

    That said, the 16/4 channels of the SB6183 are probably more than sufficient, and 32/8 are going to be overkill. I'd stick with the lower end one.

    Your walls: most people don't have concrete walls. Are they sheetrock? Plaster? It makes a difference. Sheetrock is usually fine with a good single router, but plaster is going to kill your wifi signal, so you'll want a more thorough solution.

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    WiiU: Windrunner ; Guild Wars 2: Shadowfire.3940 ; PSN: Bradcopter
    a5ehren
  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    edited February 21
    Sheetrock is what we have.

    Our service is also XFINITY cable+internet, if that matters.

    Professor Snugglesworth on
  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    That doesn't matter. As long as you don't have phone, it doesn't really matter. Sheetrock is also a great thing, really, since it impedes signal way less than any other material.

    So yeah. Get that modem and see how it does with your router. If it doesn't work well and your speeds still suffer, it's time for the router to go as well.

    But make sure to test with a wired connection too. If your wired connection is still slow, then you have a line problem that Comcast needs to fix.

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    WiiU: Windrunner ; Guild Wars 2: Shadowfire.3940 ; PSN: Bradcopter
  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    Ordered the modem, should be arriving today or tomorrow.

    Any configuration suggestions, other than a personal password? Do I have to reset anything on the old modem, or can I just swap it out and go from there?

  • MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
    You'll need to call Comcast and give them the MAC address of the new modem before it will work. At least, I had to do that the last time I dealt with them........9 years ago.

    It's worth shutting off the router while you hook up the modem, then let it reconnect to everywhere. This could take some time and possibly some fiddling but shouldn't be too bad.

    Shadowfire
  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    Yeah, Comcast will have to provision that modem. It usually takes a phone call and about 45 minutes.

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    WiiU: Windrunner ; Guild Wars 2: Shadowfire.3940 ; PSN: Bradcopter
  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    Yeah, figured that was the case. Not the first time I've had to do that.

    But after it's activated, any particular settings I should configure for the best possible connection?

  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    Nothing on the modem that matters is user configurable. It gets a provisioning file from the head-end once it is authorized.

    ShadowfireASimPerson
  • MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
    "No"

  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    I'm a doofus: when I was asking about configuration settings, I actually meant the router, not the modem.

    Anyway, I managed to install the modem, and it was surprisingly painless: instead of having to call Comcast, the Xfinity page just opened up automatically so I could connect the new device. For once a Comcast thing happened quick and without issue.

    As for any improvements, this was the speed test I ran before switching modems:

    JI4stZ6.jpg

    And here's the speed test with the new modem:

    fIbRPzx.jpg

    So...about the same?

    I haven't tested it extensively yet. This was done through my desktop, which is directly wired to the router, so I still need to try some wireless devices long range.

    But I'm prepared to upgrade the router as well if that's what I need to do. Here's my current router.

    So let me know, thanks.

  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    Try and connect your computer directly to the modem, and get us a speed test then. If it's still 30Mbps, then Comcast has some 'splainin to do.

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    WiiU: Windrunner ; Guild Wars 2: Shadowfire.3940 ; PSN: Bradcopter
    LD50
  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    Here are the results with my desktop directly connected to the modem:

    JaAgO7O.jpg

    Yeah....that's a big difference.

    So does this mean I need a new router next? If so, what do you recommend?

  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    Yeah, it's time for a new router.

    For what I recommend, that depends entirely on your budget. Could be the Archer C7 or Netgear AC1750 if you're on a budget. Or, considering the size of your house, you could spend more and deal with a mesh networking solution. I'm a huge fan of the Eero system. I've set up nine different homes so far, from two stations up to a giant house that needed eight. They're magical, but pricey.

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  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    edited February 26
    How do the Eero routers work? Looks like you put a bunch of them around the house?

    Do they act as independent routers that you connect to, or is there a "main" one while the others are extenders?

    Looks like Amazon has a three-pack sold by a third party for $135, so I wouldn't mind this option if it works better. Just wondering how complicated/simple it is to get going.

    Professor Snugglesworth on
  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    They create a mesh network, and they're stupid easy to set up. You do it all through an app on your phone. Put the first one at your router, plug it in, and the app finds it and sets it up. Once that's done, it asks if you want to set up another unit, you place that where you want it and the app adds it to the network and sets it up. Repeat as needed.

    About mesh networks: they create one big network that blankets the home. It's one SSID, one password, so no matter what device you're using, you sign in once and the Eeros hand off devices seamlessly, both between the access points, and between the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands as necessary.

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  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    That sounds awesome. Think I'll give that a try. Three of those should be enough to cover the upstairs, downstairs, and downstairs living room/back yard.

    But hang on, I still use my old router? So I connect one of them to my Linksys router, and the others are plugged by themselves around the house, is that correct? Or would I still need to replace my router with a more modern one?

    Either way, if it takes up an ethernet port, that means I would have to give up one of my devices being connected directly to it. Not the end of the world, but still.

  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    That sounds awesome. Think I'll give that a try. Three of those should be enough to cover the upstairs, downstairs, and downstairs living room/back yard.

    But hang on, I still use my old router? So I connect one of them to my Linksys router, and the others are plugged by themselves around the house, is that correct? Or would I still need to replace my router with a more modern one?

    Either way, if it takes up an ethernet port, that means I would have to give up one of my devices being connected directly to it. Not the end of the world, but still.

    Throw the old router away.
    Modem -> Eero -> wired device.

    If you have more than one device in your room that needs a wired connection, you'll need to get a wired switch. That's how my wife and I have her computer, my tower, and my work laptop all plugged into a similar setup.

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  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    So I don't need the router period with this setup. Gotcha.

    Link to wired switches? Is that basically like a USB hub?

  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    Yeah, so there are switches and hubs. Hubs transmit data all over the place, switches target specific MAC addresses by memory. The gist is that a switch will give the full speed to all devices connected, but is a fair bit more expensive. Also, you're never going to get over Gigabit speeds from Comcast, so meh. You can use a hub just fine, and they're inexpensive.
    https://www.amazon.com/TP-Link-Gigabit-Ethernet-Desktop-TL-SG105/dp/B00A128S24/ref=sr_1_1?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1488161938&sr=1-1&keywords=gigabit+hub

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  • a nu starta nu start Registered User regular
    I got the Netgear Orbi because I had a need for more than one port on each unit. It's how I discovered I'm getting way more internet than I'm paying for. Maybe something to look at if you want the extra ports without the extra equipment.

    Number One Tricky
  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    I dislike the Orbi because it's not as easy to set up or as modular. They have separate routers and satellites, nothing is interchangeable. They're not good about dealing with wired units as access points. They're also much more expensive and they're ugly. At least the Eero can sit out of the way because it's small. The Velop (which I use) can't hide very well, but at least it doesn't look ugly. The Orbi isn't bad.. it's just not great for the cost.

    And, as popular as they are, Netgear has a real problem with security.

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  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    Ordered the Netgear AC1750 and the eero Home WiFi System (Pack of 3).

    An Amazon seller was selling the latter for $135. It claims to be a 3 pack, but I ordered the Negear in case it ends up being a single eero (which I'll then return).

    I'll see which one works as advertised, and return one of those once I'm done. Ideally I want that eero pack for that price, because $400 is simply above my price range.

  • dporowskidporowski Registered User regular
    See what wireless you were using on Mr. Old Router. If it had a 2.4 and a 5ghz option, it's possible that the only one supporting N/C/whatever "fast" is these days is 5 only. My router is like that; I have a 2.4 network for a/b/g, and a 5 for n+.

    Might not matter, and the AC1750 is good stuff, but you know, maybe save a couple bucks.

  • a nu starta nu start Registered User regular
    Looks are one thing, but I had zero problem setting up the Orbi. Plugged in the main and it automatically changed the default gateway to de-conflict with the modem. Plugged the satellite and I don't think I even had to press the sync button. For my circumstances (computer being on the other side of the house from the modem), it was the best one available without having to wait weeks to have something shipped to me.

    Granted, it's not for everyone, but I can't complain.

    Number One Tricky
  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    a nu start wrote: »
    Looks are one thing, but I had zero problem setting up the Orbi. Plugged in the main and it automatically changed the default gateway to de-conflict with the modem. Plugged the satellite and I don't think I even had to press the sync button. For my circumstances (computer being on the other side of the house from the modem), it was the best one available without having to wait weeks to have something shipped to me.

    Granted, it's not for everyone, but I can't complain.

    617Mbps down...

    The jealousy burns deep within me.

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    WiiU: Windrunner ; Guild Wars 2: Shadowfire.3940 ; PSN: Bradcopter
  • MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
    @Professor Snugglesworth just so you know ahead of time, I tend to do the exact same thing you're doing; where I buy a few options and return what doesn't work. When you return to Amazon, they'll deduct return shipping from your refund. Not a huge deal, but The More You Know.jpg.

  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    Mugsley wrote: »
    @Professor Snugglesworth just so you know ahead of time, I tend to do the exact same thing you're doing; where I buy a few options and return what doesn't work. When you return to Amazon, they'll deduct return shipping from your refund. Not a huge deal, but The More You Know.jpg.

    Never had to pay for return shipping. Not sure if that's due to being a Prime member or what.

    Recently I haven't even had to drop off returns. I just pick the option to have UPS pick it up.

  • MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
    Hm. Odd. I'm also a Prime member, but when I click through for returning something, they deduct ~$7 from the refund value. It's possible I'm doing something wrong.

  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    Installed the Netgear AC1750. New speed test:

    Fcgf0Tk.jpg

    Alright, now we're talking.

    So when I was asking about configuration settings before, I meant router settings. Aside from setting up my own network name and password, anything else I should change? Channel? Security type? etc?

  • MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
    I prefer WPA2 security but if you're in a house and people nearby aren't douchebags about stealing your network, you can go as far as you want for passwords and such.

    There's an Android app called Wifi Analyzer that will help you find clear channels for the wifi antennas, but it shouldn't matter much unless you have a very clogged channel.

    It's up to you if you want to change your DNS settings to Google or another instead of the default.

    a5ehrenShadowfire
  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    Go turn off "wifi protected setup" if there's an option for it. It's pretty much totally broken from a security perspective (only 11k guesses to brute-force the PIN).

    Switch the security mode to WPA2 if it isn't the default with a decent length (but memorable and easy to type) passphrase. WEP and WPA1 are not secure.

    Switch the DNS to OpenDNS or Google (same instructions, but the addresses are 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4) instead of your ISP if you want.

    Like Mugs said, channel selection can be aided by Wifi Analyzer if you have an Android device. This is a bigger problem on the 2.4G band - you'll want to pick whichever of channels 1, 6, or 11 that has the least congestion.

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    Shadowfire wrote: »
    Yeah, so there are switches and hubs. Hubs transmit data all over the place, switches target specific MAC addresses by memory. The gist is that a switch will give the full speed to all devices connected, but is a fair bit more expensive. Also, you're never going to get over Gigabit speeds from Comcast, so meh. You can use a hub just fine, and they're inexpensive.
    https://www.amazon.com/TP-Link-Gigabit-Ethernet-Desktop-TL-SG105/dp/B00A128S24/ref=sr_1_1?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1488161938&sr=1-1&keywords=gigabit+hub

    Hubs don't exist anymore. The growth of consumer networking gear and the reduction in cost of low power processors made switch prices drop like a rock over a decade ago.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum
    a5ehren
  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    What are the advantages of switching the DNS to Google?

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    What are the advantages of switching the DNS to Google?

    Reliability, mainly. 8.8.8.8 is rocksolid.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum
    Shadowfirea5ehren
  • LD50LD50 Registered User regular
    Also security/integrity. Some isps redirect traffic for non existent urls to "search" pages with monetized links. IE, if you went to weddings.com but the website doesn't exist instead of ending up at a "this page doesn't exist" error message you end up at a list of monetized links to wedding shit.

    Also the dns records from the isp are commonly somewhat old. So you're getting more up to date dns records when you use Google.

    a5ehren
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