Best Cable Modem
If I were in the market for a cable modem so I could forgo those pesky
rental fees, I'd pick up Motorola's SB6141 Surfboard DOCSIS 3.0 cable
modem. So far the Motorola SB6141 is the best cable modem for TWC
(Time Warner Cable)
Someone pointed out that Comcast's modem list shows the SB6141
does not support IPv6. However, this list seems to be not accurate
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because Motorola's website shows that the Motorola SB6141 does
support IPv6 and as such the Motorola SB6141 remains a good pick...
The Motorola SB6141 now has 1 ethernet output port and the image has
been updated to reflect that. This isn’t an issue for most people since
you probably have a router for Wi-Fi anyway. The price of the Motorola
SB6141 has been reduced so buying one makes more sense than ever.
Recently, Time Warner Cable (TWC) joined the ranks of Comcast and
Cox by charging $4 a month to lease one of their subpar (read: dated)
cable modems. Here’s one way of getting around it, as noted in ―How to
Beat Time Warner’s Bullsh*t Modem Rental Fee.‖ (To be fair, Comcast
and Cox have been charging subscribers a whopping $7 a month to
lease cable modems for some time.)
Should you decide to buy a modem as a Time Warner customer, it’ll take
23 months to recoup the cost of buying a modem like the Motorola
SB6141, and at the other two carriers it only takes 13 months—not to
mention you can always sell the modem if you ever decide to for a few
Let’s assume you want the most future-proof cable modem currently
available and that you’re subscribed to a fairly high-speed service plan.
If those two variables are checked off, then the Motorola SB6141 is the
right choice for you. Why? For starters, It’s approved for use with
Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox. It earned 75% five-star reviews
on Amazon and the lowest percentage of one-star reviews at 3.1.
In dslreports.com’s FAQ about which cable modem they’d recommend,
their answer is officially this:
―I would have to update this question every week, so I won’t provide a list here. Let’s
just say that Motorola Surfboard line seems to be the favorite among a lot of people
This is what an owner of the Motorola SB6141 has to say:
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bomb, April 19, 2012
“…Anyone that has broadband should have this modem at home. This modem
increased our speed by 10 MPS plus... Very easy set up works like a dream and
has 1 gig network connect. Don't worry about a fancy box its whats inside that
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To back that up, the Comcast community on dslreports.com has been
the most vocal about the topic and consistently recommended or
concluded that one of Motorola’s Surfboard modems is the best in
annual polls since 2004. And according to Jeff Heynen an analyst at
Infonetics, a telecom market research firm, the Motorola SB6141 is the
most popular DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem in terms of units sold.
What is DOCSIS?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of why the Motorola SB6141 is a good
pick, it’s worth getting the lowdown on what the heck this DOCSIS
standard is all about. In a nutshell, Data Over Cable Service Interface
Specifications standard has allowed traditional cable television operators
the ability to deliver high-speed Internet service over their existing hybrid
To date there have been four versions as governed by CableLabs, a
non-profit R&D consortium founded in 1988 by cable operators to
oversee the certification of DOCSIS compliant equipment. Each
successive iteration has improved the performance and added new
features. For instance, the jump from 1.0 to 2.0 resulted in more
upstream bandwidth. The jump from 2.0 to 3.0 is one of speed. DOCSIS
3.0 bundles multiple channels for one data stream at the same time,
which obviously increases bandwidth over a single channel.
How about the other competing modems?
First off, avoid anything that’s a hybrid cable modem/wireless router
(otherwise known as a gateway). Hybrid modem/routers can be hard to
troubleshoot and if yours kicks the bucket, you’ll be left without any
Internet service at all until a replacement can
Other notable contenders to the Motorola
SB6141 include the Zoom 5341J, which is a
popular one amongst the Comcast and Cox
crowd but not quite as popular or written
about as Motorola’s Surfboard line.
Given that the Motorola SB6141’s closest
competitor is the previous generation
Motorola SB6121, which has been around much longer and has more
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street credit, the Motorola SB6141 is worth considering because it is, in
theory, a faster portal. The Motorola SB6141 can bond eight
downstream channels and four upstream channels (8×4) topping out at
over 300 Mbps down and 100 Mbps up, whereas the Motorola SB6121
only supports four-channel bonding (4×4) both ways, reaching speeds of
up to 160 Mbps down. It also only costs $10 extra so you might as well
spend a little extra now to future proof your setup.
Click on this link to find out how the Motorola SB6141 compares against
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy
By S. Taylor (WV)
to setup, very stable speeds, June 21, 2013
“…I am with TWC and previously was leasing their Cisco 2100 modem. After
the fee started ($5 a month) for having their modem I did a little research and
decided on this. As of this writing, my speeds have been more consistent than
they ever were with any modem i've had previously.
The setup was simple, get the MAC address from the bottom and call TWC and
they will add it to your account. Very happy with this item…”
Futureproofing your hardware
Realistically, you’d never be able to reach those speeds regardless.
Stephen Froehlich, the principal analyst at IHS’s Telecoms & Media
group, had this to say:
“As far as I know, no US cable operator currently exploits the full capability of an 8×4
DOCSIS 3.0 modem, but they are instead only running a maximum of 3×1 on their
plant. Therefore, an 8×4 modem will last longer, but it won’t run faster right now.”
So why stick with the Motorola SB6141? Well, if you’re a Cox subscriber
at the highest service tier (Ultimate), for example, you’re going to need
an 8×4 cable modem starting next year. Todd C. Smith, the Media
Relations Director at Cox told us the following:
―We have started to require DOCSIS 3.0
8×4 devices because of our plans to
extend 100 Mbps speeds to additional
markets next year (we currently offer it
in one market on the residential side
(Rhode Island) and multiple markets on
the business side).
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We are in the process of configuring all markets to bond 8 channels.
Some are already there and all will be by end of next year.‖
Based on region and tier of service, Time Warner Cable does require
the use of an 8×4 cable modem, says a TWC rep. Comcast doesn’t
require subscribers to have an 8×4 cable modem at this time and says it
is only utilizing 4×4 channel bonding for its 200 Mbps service tier.
But it’s important to note that you don’t need to have a service plan that
exceeds or even comes close to 100Mbps for your cable company’s
infrastructure to require your modem to be DOCSIS 3.0 compatible. And
while most of the major providers in the US haven’t fully deployed the
DOCSIS 3.0 infrastructure or even support 8×4 channel bonding, they
likely will within the next two years.
There are also some chatter on the forums that an 8×4 cable modem
could deliver a more consistent service experience but that has very little
to do with the cable modem itself. In fact, it really has more to do with
your provider’s backend, says Froehlich.
―As for reliability, that has much more to do with the condition of a cable
plant than anything else. What I see more often than anything else (in a
Time Warner plant) is that the network equipment doesn’t have a battery
backup, so its subject to power outages. As DSL is built to telco reliability
standards (which includes many hours of battery backup), it tends to be
more reliable in terms of uptime.‖
Now, just because there’s a huge push to upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0
modems that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to fork over more than
$100 right now. But here’s where it comes down your individual cable
company and where you are located—
If you want to be safe, it is recommended that you go for the Motorola SB6141.
But if you want to save $10 now, call your provider and ask if your tier of
internet speed (or the tiers you want in the future) require DOCSIS 3.0 or if
DOCSIS 2.0 will be okay—and for how long until DOCSIS 3.0 is required. Also
ask how long DOCSIS 2.0 modems will be supported.
If you’re a Time Warner Cable subscriber, for instance, you could get by
with a DOCSIS 2.0 modem for a while since the deployment of the 3.0
infrastructure isn’t yet ubiquitous. But certain tiers of service require a
3.0 cable modem (please see the chart below) even WITHOUT reaching
the theoretical caps of the DOCSIS specification, because the carriers
have infrastructure that requires more bonded channels.
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The same goes for all the other major providers in the US, including
Comcast even though the 3.0 infra structure has been fully deployed. On
August 29, Comcast posted to their Xfinity forums that customers with a
DOCSIS 1.1 cable modem would need to upgrade to a DOCSIS 3.0 as
the dated models would be end-of-lifed, meaning you won’t be able to
use it with Comcast.
If you’re a Cox subscriber, you’ll have to pick based on your level of
service. Again, only those with the Ultimate service tier are required to
have an 8×4 cable modem.
If you’re a Charter customer it gets a bit tricky. New customers are
issued a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem and are not allowed to use their
own. Existing customers who have been using their own modem and
haven’t switched to Charter’s new plans can continue to switch up
modems as they please.
If you happen to be in the latter situation, then your best bet is the
Motorola SB6121 or Linksys DPC3008 or 3010. But call Charter
customer support before you go ahead and purchase a different cable
modem. I received mixed answers from their PR team and online
customer support. Unfortunately, it’s hard to say what cable modems
they are issuing as it varies based on location, warehouse and
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technician but they appear to be issuing the Linksys DPC3000. Again,
call ahead of time and inquire.
A good thing with renting: if you live in an area with a lot of weird power
fluctuations and have seen a lot of cable modems get fried because of
lightning storms and whatnot, renting means if it breaks the cable
company will have to support and replace it.
Wrapping it Up
Few, if any, professional reviewers have taken the time to test cable
modems. But we’re confident based on our research that the Motorola
SB6141 is the best DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem available today for those
with super fast Internet service. The slightly older Motorola 6121 is a
more economical alternative for more economical service plans but that
$10 in savings will definitely be cut short as the Motorola SB6141 will
stay relevant for at least a year or two longer when your carrier requires
If you are interested, you can find out how which gives you more value –
The Motorola SB6141 or SB6121.
Here are some experiences shared by owners of the Motorola SB6141
who are Time Warner Cable (TWC) subscribers:
5.0 out of 5 stars This
Modem Rocks on TWC, March 25, 2013
If you are looking for a replacement modem or just want to alleviate the cable
company rental charges, I'd make this your first choice. My bandwidth use to
be all over the place. From 5,600kbps to 32.000kbps and never the same or
steady. With the Motorola SurfBoard SB6141 holds a steady signal of
24,500kbps and the peeks are as high as 85,000 to 45,000. They always fall
back to average of 25,000kbps, on occasion it will stay higher on slow customer
use, late at night and early in the am.. I have been using it for 3 weeks now and
I steam live auto racing, Netflix, Hulu,and more on many computers at the
same time all day and night. It even helped my i Racing. There is no lag and no
dropouts and even has a cool website menu to see what the modems doing and
to restart it.
Its worth the money just to upgrade to the DOCSIS3 modem if for nothing else.
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Thanks for reading this,
This Modem still rocks. Its so fast I wish I did It long time ago. I still can stream
3 or 4 computers and do iRacing at the same time with no lag. Throughput
never falls below 24Mbps and even higher boost than this winter, high as
between 45-85Mbps. There may be other modems that stack up but I
recommend this one I helped pave the path for US Robotics during the land line
5.0 out of 5 stars Works
real well on TWC, March 30, 2013
Works well with time warner cable. Its a better modem than the one they were
providing me by far. I am getting faster speeds It's small and so far trouble
free. We purchased this for about 100.00, a Roku for about 100.00 and an
Obi100 for about 40.00 and now we have free phone with google voice,
everything we could ever need to watch on tv with the Roku and our cable bill
went from 190.00 per month down to 57.00 (and that is with turbo boost). That
is around 1600.00 we will have extra per year to spend on whatever we want.
5.0 out of 5 stars Connect
the Motorola Surfboard easily on TWC, then
forget it!, January 12, 2013
By Gloria R. Nash "Speaker, Author" (New York, NY)
Rather than paying a monthly fee, as my ISP, Time-Warner Cable, was suddenly
asking me to do, I opted to purchase the Motorola Surfboard SB6141 modem. I
was not really sure of what to expect from this modem that TWC was
recommending that I buy. I'd never had any issue with the modem they had
supplied me with. It had even outlasted three routers! I took the risk, however,
and hoped for the best when I purchased this modem a few months ago.
The modem was a breeze to set up. The box is so plain with so few buttons that
it would be hard to not create a proper connection---even for the most
technically challenged person. So far, I'm happy to report that this modem is
working well, silently in the background, as I would expect it to.
I highly recommend the Motorola Surfboard SB6141.
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5.0 out of 5 stars New Motorola Modem
January 13, 2013
By R. Manning (Greensboro, NC USA)
puts old modem to shame,
There are 2 reasons I bought this modem: 1) the Time Warner Cable-issued
modem I had been using was ancient (>5 years old) and 2) I was seriously irked
by TWC's new policy of charging users a "modem lease fee." Really? For an
obsolete modem I'd been using for years?
Anyway, set up couldn't have been easier. Attach TWC coax cable, run network
cable from modem to wireless router, and power up. Then I called TWC
technical support and gave them the modem's MAC address printed on the
bottom of the modem. They activated it and I was in business! For me, the
speed increase was amazing. Running TWC's speed test, I got a download
speed of almost 17Mbps, which compares to results with the old modem of
well under 10Mbps.
All in all, I am extremely pleased with my Motorola Surfboard SB6141.
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy
November 20, 2012
installation, 50% speed improvement, very stable,
By PC (United States)
I replaced my old DOCSIS 2.0 modem with this unit, which is on Time-Warner's
recommended list for those who want to buy their own modem instead of
renting one from them.
It only took a few minutes to install, mostly waiting on hold for Time-Warner
to enter the unit's "MAC Address" into their databases. There are many very
clear, simple videos on the internet about how to install it, if you're not
experienced with such things. The installation was "plug the cables in, plug the
power cord in, and you're done". As soon as the new modem's "MAC Address"
was entered by Time-Warner, the modem immediately began working. The
MAC Address is on a sticker on one side of the unit.
I then ran the speed tests at [...] and also the speed tests at [...]. Both internet
speed test sites showed a 50% download speed increase compared the older
modem (20 megabits/sec increased to 29.6 megabits/sec, the maximum
allowed by our "Turbo" plan with Time-Warner Cable). This high download
speed was much more stable throughout the day. With the older modem I
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would regularly experience wide swings in download speed and periods of
freezing as well as some periods of very slow speed. I have not had to reboot
the new modem due to stalling, slowdowns, or any other issues. It works fine
with my VPN service, too.
As background info, I have a Netgear WNDR3700 N600 router connected to this
cable modem and it continues to work well with our 7 Apple Wi-Fi devices and
our 5 wired ethernet devices. There have been no issues with this modem or
any need for rebooting it. Its Wi-Fi performance is excellent throughout our
house, including the basement and extending into our yard. It was easy to
setup, with a reasonably user-friendly menu accessible through your web
browser. I didn't have to make any changes for the router to link up to the new
I hope others have similar success with this modem if you decide to buy it. I
highly recommend it without reservation.
Be smart. Stop your TWC modem rental and get your Motorola
SB6141 from Amazon now and get super fast speeds as well as save
Click here to buy the Motorola SB6141 cable modem.
Click button to buy from Amazon
If you are looking to achieve that user experience you are looking for,
you might want to connect your Motorola SB6141 to a good wireless
router. Find out more here:
Netgear R6300 Router|The Best Wireless Router
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