Motorola MB8611 vs. Arris Surfboard S33 – Which Is Best For You?

The key difference between the Motorola MB8611 and the Arris S33 is the ISPs they are compatible with and the amount of LAN ports they have. The Arris S33 is compatible with more ISPs and has an extra 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps) LAN port. 

If you want an extra 1 Gbps LAN port or you have an ISP that is incompatible with the MB8611, the S33 is the better choice. 

Motorola MB8611

Better Setup & Design

  • Performance – Loser
  • Compatibility – Loser
  • Design – Winner
  • Setup – Winner
  • Value for Money – Tie

Arris Surfboard S33

Better Overall

  • Performance – Winner
  • Compatibility – Winner
  • Design – Tie
  • Setup – Tie
  • Value for Money – Tie

I’m Jon, a home networking guru. I currently use the MB8611 for my home’s Internet, but I almost bought the S33 instead. I made this guide to help you decide which of these top-performing modems is best for your home Internet. 

So keep reading to learn more. 

Key Takeaways

  • The Motorola MB8611 and Arris S33 both support up to 2.5 Gbps (2500 Mbps) Internet plans. 
  • The Arris S33 has an extra 1.0 Gbps LAN port (in addition to its 2.5 Gbps port) but does not support port bonding. 
  • The Arris S33 supports more ISPs than the Motorola MB8611 (which is incompatible with just a few).
  • The MB8611 and S33 are both affordable and similarly priced. 

Motorola MB8611 & S33 Compared

Here is a brief comparison of the key specifications of the Motorola MB8611 and Arris S33. 

Modem Motorola MB8611Arris Surfboard S33
Recommended forPlans up to 2500 MbpsPlans up to 2500 Mbps
Tops Speeds2500 Mbps (2.5 Gbps)2500 Mbps (2.5 Gbps)
Compatible ISPsComcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum, Cox, Grande, Suddenlink, WOWArmstrong, Atlantic Broadband, Comcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum, Cox, GCI, Grande, Mediacom, Midco, Suddenlink, WOW, Sparklight, Optimum, RCN, Wave
Not supported ISPsAstound Broadband (RCN, Grande, or Wave), OptimumN/A
Ports1 × 2.5 Gbps LAN & 1 × Coax1 × 2.5 Gbps LAN, 1 x 1.0 Gbps LAN, & 1 × Coax
Ethernet aggregation NoNo
DOCSIS 3.13.1 
Dimensions7.25 × 2.25 × 7.88 inches5.14 x 1.8 x 4.74 inches
Weight18.4 ounces16.32 ounces
Recommended forPlans up to 2500 MbpsPlans up to 2500 Mbps

MB8611 Review

The Motorola MB8611 is one of the fastest and most future-proof DOCSIS 3.1 modems available. It supports cable Internet plan speeds as fast as 2500 Mbps (2.5 Gbps). And while most ISPs today only have max speeds of around 1000 Mbps, getting this modem is a great way to future-proof your network and prevent the need for upgrading for many years. 

I personally use the MB8611 for my home Internet (1200 Mbps plan), and I can confidently say that it is easy to set up, reliable, fast, reasonably priced, and hasn’t caused me any headaches. 

However, if you have Astound or Optimum ISPs, it won’t work. And if a slower Internet plan (i.e., slower than 1000 Mbps), the MB8611 may be overkill. 

Still, if your ISP is planning speed increases in the next few years, you’ll be prepared with the MB8611. On the other hand, if your ISP is rolling out a Fiber Internet network instead, don’t get this modem– pick a lower-cost one instead. 


Unlike cable Internet, Fiber Internet doesn’t use modems, so you’d be wasting money on a modem you won’t need once you upgrade. 

See our entire review of the Motorola MB8611 cable modem for more details. 

S33 Review

Like the MB8611, the Arris S33 is a future-proof and fast DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem, supporting Internet plans up to 2.5 Gbps (2500 Mbps). But unlike the MB8611, it has a second LAN port that handles speeds up to 1.0 Gbps (1000 Mbps). 

But to use both LAN ports (the 2.5 Gbps and 1.0 Gbps ports) with separate IPs for Internet service, your Internet plan must support two static IPs. Most ISPs charge extra for this. Otherwise, the second LAN port can connect directly to a computer.

You also can’t use port bonding/Ethernet aggregation with the S33’s two LAN ports– each acts as a standalone link, unlike other modems with two LAN ports. 

In terms of compatibility, the S33 works with just about every ISP. In fact, we haven’t heard of any ISP offering cable Internet that it isn’t approved for. 

Overall, the S33 is fast, easy to set up, affordable, and works with just about every ISP. 

To learn more details about the Arris S33, read our complete review

Performance – Winner Arris S33

The Arris S33 doesn’t necessarily have better performance than the Motorola MB8611. In fact, for most uses, they have the exact same performance and work with plans up to 2.5 Gbps.

However, the Arris S33 has one extra feature that sets it apart from the MB8611– an extra LAN port. In addition to its 2.5 Gbps port, it has an extra 1.0 Gbps port. 

You can use this additional LAN port to connect directly to a computer or a separate router to create a secondary network in your home. 

But to use this second port, you will need two static IPs from your Internet Service Provider (sometimes this costs extra). 

That said, if you don’t plan to use the S33’s secondary LAN port, the MB8611 is on par with the S33’s performance

Both are DOCSIS 3.1 cable modems, which is the newest standard for the cable transmission of Internet Protocol (IP) data services after DOCSIS 3.0. 

DOCSIS 3.1 is faster, more secure, uses less power, and has lower latency than DOCSIS 3.0. 

Most ISPs are already updated to DOCSIS 3.1, but some are still on DOCSIS 3.0. 

If your ISP is still on the DOCSIS 3.0 standard, these two modems will still work since they’re backward compatible. But, they would be overkill for those Internet plans. 

Learn more about this in our DOCSIS 3.1 vs. 3.0 guide

Compatibility – Winner Arris S33

Simply put, the Arris S33 is compatible with more ISPs. That said, the Motorola MB8611 isn’t bad– there are just a few ISPs it isn’t approved with. 

“Approved” means a modem has been tested and verified to work with an ISP. If your ISP isn’t listed on the modem’s incompatible and approved list, that doesn’t mean it won’t work. It likely just hasn’t been tested or documented yet. 

The Motorola MB8611 does not work with these ISPs: 

  • Astound Broadband (including RCN, Grande, and Wave)
  • Optimum

MB8611 Supported ISPs

Here are all the ISPs that are compatible with the Motorola MB8611: 

  • Comcast Xfinity
  • Charter Spectrum
  • Cox
  • Grande
  • Suddenlink
  • WOW

The MB8611 may be compatible other ISPs not on this list. If you’re unsure,  contact your ISP to ask them if it works. 

S33 Supported ISPs

The Arris S33 is approved for the following ISPs:

  • Comcast Xfinity
  • Spectrum
  • Cox
  • Astound Broadband (Grande)
  • Astound Broadband (RCN)
  • Astound Broadband (Wave)
  • Breezeline (formerly Atlantic Broadband)
  • Mediacom 
  • Optimum (in some areas)
  • Sparklight 
  • Suddenlink (careful on plans slower than 200 Mbps)
  • WOW! 

Note: we haven’t heard of any ISP that isn’t compatible with the Arris S33. That said, if your ISP isn’t on this list, contact them to verify. 

For more details on approved modems for each ISP, read here

Design – Motorola MB8611

From a design standpoint, I think the Motorola MB8611 is better. It looks more modern and sleek and blends in better than the Arris S33. However, both are slim and have a vertical orientation that doesn’t take up much space.

That said, the S33’s design isn’t bad. In fact, we like that it is so small (5.14 x 1.8 x 4.74 inches). But its color scheme could be off-putting to some. 

The bright white and light grey colors of the S33 are reminiscent of early 1990s PCs. Typically modems in this league are sleek and black or dark gray. But some may enjoy this old-school look. 

The MB8611 features gray and black colors with rounded corners, which is more visually appealing. But I may be biased since I own one (but I keep it inside a built-in cabinet). 

Another downside of the S33 is its status light. That’s right– it has a large, solo status light that changes colors depending on its connection status. It is very bright and can light up an entire room in the dark. 

On the other hand, the MB8611 has the classic vertical multiple LED arrangement common on most modems. Its lights aren’t as bright, and you don’t have a lookup a color decoder chart to figure out what they mean. 

On the back of each modem, you will see a 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port, a coax connection, a reset button, and a power port. In addition to those connections, the S33 has one 1.0 Gbps Ethernet port. 

Setup – Motorola MB8611

Setting up the Motorola MB8611 and Arris S33 was mostly quick and easy. It took just a few minutes to set up the MB8611 and a bit longer for the S33. 

The S33’s setup was somewhat confusing and clunky. Arris recommends using their mobile app to set it up, which isn’t the most intuitive. Just calling your ISP is much easier. 

Here are the basic steps to set up the MB8611 and S33: 

  1. Connect the power cable to the back of the modem and the wall and the coax cable to the back of the modem. 
  2. Power on the modem and wait for the lights to turn on. 
  3. Connect an Ethernet cord to the back of the modem and the other end to your router or computer. 
  4. Connect your computer to your router’s network. 
  5. Open any web browser on your computer, and your ISP’s self-activation page should load automatically. If not, just call your ISP and tell them your modem’s MAC address (located on its back or bottom label) to activate it.  

After set up, you can type into your browser’s URL bar and hit enter to load the modem page. 

You can view your network’s logs, status, and additional information on this page. [1]

Read each modem’s instruction sheets for more details and how to set up the S33 and MB8611

For more general info on setup, check out our guide to setting up a cable modem.

Value – Draw 

The Motorola MB8611 and Arris S33 are available for nearly the same affordable price

And while the S33 has an extra LAN port, the average person likely won’t use it. Otherwise, the S33 and MB8611 deliver the same performance, top speed (2.5 Gbps), and aren’t much different.

So either modem is a great choice. But if you have Astound Broadband (including RCN, Grande, and Wave) or Optimum for an ISP, choose the S33 since the MB8611 isn’t compatible with them. 

Or, if you want the flexibility of having an extra LAN port, pick the S33. 


Here are some common questions about the Motorola MB8611 and Arris S33. 

What if my ISP isn’t on the approved list of both the MB8611 and S33?

If you’re ISP isn’t on either approved list, it probably just means it hasn’t been tested on the network yet.

In that case, contacting your ISP and verifying if the modem works before you buy it is best. 

Why do I need a 2.5 Gbps modem like the MB8611 and S33 if my ISP only offers 1 Gbps?

You may only have a 1 Gbps Internet plan now, but ISPs routinely upgrade their network infrastructure.

So getting a faster modem like the MB8611 or S33 will help you prepare for future speed increases without having to upgrade to a new modem. 

What is the main difference between the S33 and MB8611? 

The main difference between the Motorola MB8611 and Arris S33 is that the S33 has two LAN ports– a 2.5 Gbps port and a 1.0 Gbps, whereas the MB8611 has a single 2.5 Gbps port. The S33 is also compatible with more ISPs. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Motorola MB8611 and Arris S33 are both fast and future-proof DOCSIS 3.1 cable modems. They each are reasonably affordable and support Internet plans up to 2.5 Gbps (2500 Mbps). Most ISPs only offer max speeds of around 1000 Mbps, so either modem is a great investment that will prevent you from upgrading for many years. 

The main difference between them is that the S33 has an extra 1.0 Gbps LAN port (along with a 2.5 Gbps port) and is compatible with more ISPs. The Motorola MB8611 has a single 2.5 Gbps, which is sufficient for most people and doesn’t work with Astound Broadband (RCN, Grande, or Wave) and Optimum ISPs. 

So, you can choose either modem and be confident you’re getting the best performance available. But if you have an ISP that isn’t compatible with the MB8611 or like the idea of having the extra LAN port, choose the Arris S33. 

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