What’s The Difference Between A Router & A Modem?

Whether you know it or not, you use a modem & router. They might look the same but the difference will become apparent after reading below.


A modulator-demodulator is what we call a modem.

It’s the hardware device that converts digital data into analog signals to be transmitted over telephone lines, cable lines, or radio.

There are two common types, a cable modem & a DSL modem. They both do the same function, the only difference is that one connects to a phone line and the other to a cable connection.

Your modem’s speed should be greater than your internet download speed that you pay for. Otherwise, you will not be able to get the full speed you are paying for.


A router is a networking device that directs traffic to and from the internet into your devices.

It is the gatekeeper for your PCs, phones, and any other wired or wireless devices.

One of the other primary functions of a router is to control access between networks. It is what protects you from hackers on the internet.

Your router’s maximum transfer speed should be equal to or greater than your modem speed.

Do I need both?

Technically you could connect one computer directly to your modem, but this is not a safe thing to do.

You will want to have a router so that you can connect multiple devices and have Wi-Fi.

An advantage to having a separate modem & router is that you can replace/upgrade one without the other. But if you don’t want separate devices, you can always get a router-modem combo.

Buying Guide

If you plan on buying your own modem or router, be sure that you get one that is approved by your ISP.

Cable Modems

Best Overall

686 Mbps DOCSIS 3.0

Best on a Budget

100 Mbps DOCSIS 3.0


2 Gbps DOCSIS 3.1


Top Pick


Runner Up

Archer A7

Honorable Mention


Cable Modem Router Combo

1.3 Gbps DOCSIS 3.0
Wi-Fi ac2600 (4×4)


Modems and routers have two different purposes. You will use both in your home network. Upgrading either can improve speed and performance. If you do upgrade your router, you might want to look at The Best Location For A WiFi Router.

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