So you just got new broadband service from Comcast and are interested to know which Wi-Fi router you should buy to go along with it?
Here’s a hint: Any modern consumer grade router available from Amazon, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, etc will work.
Unlike Google Fiber, which forces you to use their “Network Box” (which is equipment they place in your house, called a CPE), Comcast gives you the freedom to use your own router. Depending on the area you live in and the type of service you order, you may actually be required to have your own router.
Most of the time, a modem/router combo is installed – which spares the customer from having to provide a router if they don’t want to. We generally don’t like modem/router combos, since they are typically a jack of all trades and master of none.
Luckily, the Comcast modems can usually be put into “bridged mode”, which effectively disables the built in router functionality so that your preferred router can perform those duties. It is best to avoid connecting routers back-to-back after all, to prevent configuration and performance issues associated with double NAT.
So what is the best router? Our recommendation is the NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750 Dual Band Smart WiFi Router, Gigabit Ethernet (R6700):
We like that it is a Tri-band router that supports the newest wireless standard, 802.11AC. It has the capability to handle the speeds that you can get from Comcast.
With Comcast, in some areas, you can get Gigabit service (and beyond) via fiber, but the majority of consumers are still on their cable network with service being delivered via the DOCSIS standard on traditional Coax cable. Speeds available to these customers usually top out around 300Mbps currently, which is still smoking fast!
Many routers that are more than a couple of years old will still have a Fast Ethernet WAN port on them, meaning that they top out at 100Mbps. You wouldn’t want to use this type of router with a 300Mbps service for obvious reasons – you simply won’t get anywhere near the speeds you are paying for.
The R6700 has a gigabit WAN port and is built to actually provide a Gigabit worth of actual throughput. Not all routers can make this claim.
The wireless radio on the R6700 can also support full Gigabit – under the right environmental conditions, of course (which applies to all routers, regardless of brand).
A few other things we really liked about this router: It supports several additional features that you may or may not want to take advantage of, including Quality of Service (QoS). QoS can prevent bandwidth hogs (such as large downloads) from ruining the experience of any real time applications such as VOIP calls or video streaming that is going on at the same time.
After all, no one likes it when their Netflix stops to buffer. This router can prioritize streaming traffic so that the large download doesn’t affect anyone else in the house, for example.
The router also has excellent range for larger homes, has parental controls to help keep your kids safe online, and supports all of the current common WiFi security standards. It is also very reliable and doesn’t need to be rebooted frequently.
Additionally, it sports four wired Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as a USB 3.0 port – which can be connected to an external hardrive and then used as a NAS device to share files over the network.
Again, any recent router should work fine with Comcast, but the Netgear R6700 is our choice based on the features, performance, reliability, and price.
- AC1750 WiFi-450+1300 Mbps speeds
- 1GHz Dual Core Processor
- Ideal for homes with 12 or more WiFi devices
- Advanced features for lag-free gaming
- Prioritized bandwidth for gaming, streaming videos, or music
Andrew Namder is an experienced Network Engineer with 20+ years of experience in IT. He loves technology in general, but is truly passionate about computer networking and sharing his knowledge with others. He is a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and is working towards achieving the coveted CCIE certification. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.