Best RCN Approved Modems [Full List]

Note, no device can get you faster internet speeds than your internet plan provides.

Also, get the device you need. A modem and a router are not the same things. Some types of internet require both others only one. If you are uncertain, click here

This is a list of all RCN-approved modems with short reviews for the top 6. 

RCN Modem

As a Network Engineer, I have spent a lot of time reading and talking to RCN to figure out which are the best RCN-compatible modems. 

And I have concluded in agreement with RCN – that the ARRIS Surfboard S33 is the best modem for their internet. 

Arris Surfboard S33

ARRIS Surfboard S33 – Editors Choice’s

Best Overall

  • Type: Cable Modem
  • Works up to: 2500 Mbps
  • Channel: 32×8
  • DOCSIS: 3.1
  • Warranty: 2 years

But the truth is that everyone has different internet circumstances. 

Thus, I have reviewed the 6 best RCN modems. Allowing you to pick the one that fits you the best. 

Let’s dive in!

Top 6 RCN Compatible Modems

  1. ARRIS Surfboard S33 (Editors Choice’s – Cable Modem) 
  2. NETGEAR Nighthawk CM2000 (Best Performer – Cable Modem)
  3. Netgear CM500 (Budget-Friendly – Cable Modem)
  4. Motorola MG7700 (Best Value – Modem/Router Combo
  5. Netgear Nighthawk CAX80 (Best Performer – Modem/Router Combo)
  6. Motorola MG7315 (Budget-Friendly – Modem/Router Combo)

6 Best RCN Compatible Modems

Here are the top 6 best RCN-certified modems. Pick the one that fits your circumstances. 

#1 ARRIS Surfboard S33 (Editors Choice’s – Cable Modem) 

  • Type: Cable Modem
  • Max speed: 3500 Mbps
  • Recommended for speed: 2500 Mbps or below
  • Channel bonding: 32×8
  • DOCSIS: 3.1
  • Ethernet Ports: 1 x 1G & 1 x 2.5G
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Chosen as: Best Overall

If you call RCN and ask them what third-party modem they recommend, they will recommend the S33 for most customers.

This is because the S33 is a high-performing good value cable modem. 

It has a max speed of 3500 Mbps. This translates to a real-world speed of around 2500 Mbps, give or take 10%. 

These speeds are enough to stream multiple 4K movies and play any game at the same time. And as for now, RCN has no internet plan which will match this modem. [1]

Therefore, I recommend this modem to anyone with their 500 Mbps plan or above who wants to future-proof their modem. 

Just note that this modem does not come with coaxial or ethernet cables. You need to buy them separately. 

#2 NETGEAR Nighthawk CM2000 (Best Perform – Cable Modem)

  • Type: Cable Modem
  • Max speed: N/A
  • Recommended for speed: 2500 Mbps or below
  • Channel bonding: 32×8
  • DOCSIS: 3.1
  • Ethernet Ports: 1 x 2.5G 
  • Warranty: 1-year
  • Chosen as: Best Performer

I recommend Netgear Nighthawk CM2000 if you want the fastest internet possible. 

This is because it is one of the highest-performing modems out there, with a real-world speed of about 2500 Mbps. Enough to support all RCN internet plans by miles. 

To put 2500 Mbps in perspective, it could download HD movies in 2.5 seconds. Of course, you won’t get 2500 Mbps with it. Since RCN doesn’t have such a plan yet. 

This makes the modem a bit overkill. That is for now, anyway, because as RCN begins to roll out DOCSIS 3.1, they might very well have such a plan. 

Therefore, the CM2000 makes a good option for someone who wants to future-proof their modem.

#3 Netgear CM500 (Budget-Friendly – Cable Modem)

  • Type: Cable Modem
  • Max speed: 500 Mbps
  • Recommended for speed: 300 Mbps or below
  • Channel bonding:16×4
  • DOCSIS: 3.0
  • Ethernet Ports: 1 x 1G
  • Warranty: 1-year
  • Chosen as: Budget-Friendly

The CM500 is the modem I recommend if you have the 250 or 50 Mbps RCN plan and do not plan to upgrade your internet any time soon. 

It has a real-world download speed of 300 Mbps and an upload of around 80 Mbps. This makes it a perfect fit for those plans. But a bad fit for any faster internet. As it won’t be able to support the speeds. 

And with a 1-year warranty, you do not need to worry that it will break. Because if you get unlucky and it breaks, you can simply get a new one. 

This modem is perfect if you want a reliable and cheap modem for a good price. Just don’t buy it if you plan to upgrade soon. 

#4 Motorola MG7700 (Best Value – Modem/Router Combo

  • Type: Modem/Router Combo
  • Max speed: 1000+ Mbps
  • Recommended for speed: 600Mbps or below
  • Channel bonding: 24×8
  • DOCSIS: 3.0
  • Ethernet Ports: 4 x 1G
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Chosen as: Best Value

If you want a gateway and have the RCN 500 Mbps plan or below, I recommend the Motorola MG7700. 

The gateway has a real-world speed of around 600 Mbps and an upload speed of 160 Mbps. Enough to watch multiple 4k movies at the same time. 

The router also comes with a wireless Wi-Fi power boost. This amplifies the wireless signal, so it gives better coverage. 

This is a good feature, but nothing groundbreaking. The coverage will be enough for any small or medium-sized home, but large homes will experience Wi-Fi dead spots. 

The router is also dual-banded, which means you can choose between a 2,4GHz network and a 5GHz network.

The difference being that 5GHz delivers faster speed while 2.4GHz has better range. [2

Overall I find the MG7700 a good value for the money option. Just don’t get it if you have the 940 Mbps RCN internet plan. 

#5 Netgear Nighthawk C7800 (Best Performer – Modem/Router Combo)

  • Type: Modem/Router Combo
  • Max speed: 3200 Mbps
  • Recommended for speed: 2000 Mbps or below
  • Channel bonding: 32×8
  • DOCSIS: 3.1
  • Ethernet Ports: 4 x 1G
  • Warranty: 1-year
  • Chosen as: Best Performer

If you have the RCN 940 Mbps plan, then the Netgear Nighthawk C7800 is a good option. Even though it might be a little bit of an overkill since its real-world speed is around 2000 Mbps. 

And together with an upload speed of around 200 Mbps and DOCSIS 3.1, it will be good enough for years to come. 

The router is also dual-banded, which means you can switch between a 2.4GHz network and a 5GHz network. 

And as mentioned earlier, this is good because 2.4GHz has better coverage while 5GHz is faster. 

On the router page, they advertise that the router has a Wi-Fi coverage of 3000 sq. Ft. You should take this number with a grain of salt. As the tests they performed are outside and in perfect circumstances. 

The actual coverage of the router is probable around 50% of what’s advertised. Nevertheless, it still has a good range. And therefore, I recommend the C7800 to you with a larger home. 

#6 Motorola MG7315 (Budget-Friendly – Modem/Router Combo)

  • Type: Modem/Router Combo
  • Max speed: 343 Mbps
  • Recommended for speed: 200 Mbps or below
  • Channel bonding: 8×4
  • DOCSIS: 3.0
  • Ethernet Ports: 4 x 1G
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Chosen as: Budget-Friendly

If you don’t use too much internet and want to save money, then the MG7315 is a good option. 

It has a max speed of 343 Mbps, which translates into a real-world speed of around 200 Mbps. 

The reason the real-world speed is slower is that the max speed gets tested during perfect circumstances. And thus, becomes higher than what you will get in the real world.

This makes the MG7315 a great option if you have the RCN 50 Mbps plan. 

But a not as good option for you with the 250 Mbps plan. This is because there is a big possibility that the modem will only give you an internet speed of 200 Mbps.

So if you plan to buy it and have the 250 Mbps plan, you are risking losing some speed. 

Also, don’t buy this gateway if you have a large home. Because it does not have the strongest Wi-Fi signal. 

List of RCN Approved Modems

Hre is a list of all RCN-approved and compatible modems which I put together when researching for this article.

BrandModel #With RouterChannelsDOCSISPuma ChipsetVoIP
NetgearCG3000Dv2 N450Yes8×43.0NoNo
TP-LinkARCHER CR500Yes16×43.0NoNo
TP-LinkARCHER CR700Yes16×43.0NoNo

Puma Chipset is a problematic chip some modems and routers use. I recommend avoiding models using it. 

“Yes” means that the modem uses it, and “No” that it doesn’t.

What to Consider When Buying A RCN Approved Modem

There are a couple of things you should consider when you buy an RCN-compatible modem. Here are the most important ones. 


You should buy a modem that at least supports the speed of your internet plan. This means that if you have the RCN 250 Mbps plan, the modem you buy should support 250 Mbps at a minimum. 

Also, note that the max speed advertised for the modem is not a speed you should care about. 

Instead, you need to look at the real-world speed, which always is substantially lower than the advertised speed. 

This is because the advertised speed is what the device is capable of during perfect circumstances. 

(Sometimes, however, they only mention the real-world speed and not the max speed.) 

There are two main factors to look at to know how fast a modem is. The first one is what DOCSIS it’s using. And the second thing is how many channels it has. 

If you have RCNs 940 Mbps plan, you can get DOCSIS 3.1, as this version is for gigabit internet. But if you have a slower internet speed, a DOCSIS 3.0 modem will be enough. 

When getting a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem, it will have different amounts of channels. It can look like this; 16×4. 

16×4 means that the modem has 16 downstream channels and 4 upstream channels. The more channels, the faster internet does the cable modem support. So when you buy a modem look at the DOCSIS and channels to decide the speed. And then pick a speed which is good enough for your internet plan. 

Combo vs. Separate

Another thing you must decide before you buy an RCN-compatible modem is whatever or not you want separate devices or a modem/router combo (gateway).

The difference is that a gateway is a modem and a router in one device. While separate is one standalone modem and router connected through an ethernet port. [3]

As a Network Engineer, I recommend most to have separate devices. This makes it possible to only change one if it breaks or needs an upgrade. It also will allow for a faster and better internet connection. 

A gateway can be a better option if you have limited space or want an easy set-up. And since RCN uses cable internet, there are plenty of good compatible gateways to choose between. 

If you want to feel uncertain about what to get, then check out Combo Vs. Separate – which is best for you? 

Compatible Requirements

RCN does not have a list of approved modems like most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have. Instead, they have specs requirements that a modem must have to work with their internet. These requirements are: 

  • DOCSIS 3.0 or DOCSIS 3.1 certified
  • At least 8 downstream channels
  • If you have fiber-to-the-home service, then you need to use an RCN internet device. 
  • Can’t be a cable modem with eMTA (modem with telephone lines)
  • Not using EURODOCSIS (only in America)

All these things are nothing you need to think about as long as you pick a device in the RCN-compatible modem list. Or any of the top 6 that are reviewed (which also are in the list). That is as long as you don’t have fiber or eMTA.

Note: The Motorola MB8600 DOCSIS 3.1 doesn’t work RCN even though it checks all the requirements.

Home Size

Home size is only something you need to take into consideration if you buy a gateway. This is because then you also buy a router. 

If you have a larger home, you need a stronger Wi-Fi signal. So you get complete coverage. If you have a smaller home, you can get away with a weaker signal. 

Therefore, you must either buy a better gateway or a WI-Fi repeater if you have a large home.

RCN Internet Modem Recommendations

RCN offers four different internet speeds in their plans. Here you can see what DOCSIS and channels that I recommend in a modem for each speed. You can also see a modem and a gateway that fits these criteria. [4]

You can always get a better modem or gateway than what I recommend. But avoid getting a worse one.

Download SpeedUpload SpeedRecommended DOCSISRecommended ChannelsRecommended ModemRecommended Gateway
50 Mbps103.08×4CM500MG7315
250 Mbps153.016×8CM500MG7700
500 Mbps203.1 or 3.024×8S33MG7700
940 Mbps203.132×8S33CAX80

Buy Vs. Rent

RCN charges a fee of $15 a month to rent a modem from them. This fee is not the highest but neither the lowest of all ISPs. I would still strongly recommend you buying your modem if you have RCN. 

$15 a month makes $180 per year. This is enough to buy yourself a high-performing modem. And if you buy a cheaper device, it will be pay off itself in as little as 3 months.

So, this is why I recommend you buy a modem. 

But note that I’m somewhat biased. I do make a small commission if you buy any of the modems I have recommended. 

For a more detailed overview, check out buying vs. renting a modem & router – which is best?

Benefits of Buying an RCN Compatible Modem

As mentioned before, I do think it’s better to buy a modem than rent it. Here are some of the main reasons why. 

Monthly Fee

RCN has a monthly fee of $15 a month that you get if you rent a modem. This means that you pay $180. Enough to buy a pay of a modem in 3 to 20 months, depending on what you get. 

Faster Internet

Getting a third-party modem will also enable you to receive a faster internet speed. As the rented devices you get from RCN are not the best. Buying a high-performing third-party option will give you a faster internet speed. Note, however, that if you buy a cheaper device you could get a slower internet speed.

More Control

A third-party modem will enable you to get a device with features that fit you. This could be VPN support, parenting control, or guest networks. Things that RCN’s modem does not support. This enables you to have more control of your network. 


Here are some common questions regarding RCN and third-party equipment. 

How do I set up a third-party modem with RCN?

This is a short description of how to set up a modem with RCN. 

  1. Pick a good location with good air circulation. 
  2. Follow the set-up manual that comes with the device.
  3. Call RCN and give them the device’s MAC address and, they will activate it. 

Click here for a more complete guide. 

Can I always use a third-party modem?

No. If you have RCN fiber, you can’t use a third-party modem but need a device from RCN. You can also not buy a third-party modem if you are a Digital Phone customer. Then you must use RCN EMTA.

Can I buy a modem from RCN?

No. RCN only rents their modems. If you want a modem of your own, then you need to buy a third-party modem. 

For more questions visit RCN FAQ page.

My Verdict

From all the modems in the list, I concluded that the ARRIS Surfboard S33 is the best option for most RCN customers. 

And if you would call RCN and ask, they would agree with me and recommend you the same modem. 

This is because ARRIS Surfboard S33 is a high-performing modem for a fair price that will most likely work for years to come.