Router vs. Modem Router Combo

When it is time for you to buy a new router or modem, you will inevitably be faced with the question: should you get a combo unit? While combo units are common, you might prefer having a separate router from your modem. This is what you need to know.

When You Don’t Need A Modem

Let’s start by reviewing when you don’t need a modem at all, so a combo unit would not even help you. This most commonly occurs if you have a fibre internet connection, because fibre does not use modems.

Instead, you have an ONT box that the router will directly wire into. Buying a combo unit will simply not work, since there are not modems that work with fibre. Here's a list of the best routers for Frontier FiOS.

Another instance where you should not get a modem is when your ISP insists that you use their gateway. If this sounds like your ISP, you might be able to disable any built-in router to use your own, but you will still need to keep the modem they require, negating your need for buying one of your own.

What A Router Does

Just to stave off any confusion, let’s go over what a router does. A router is a device that plugs into a modem or ONT to literally route the internet to other devices.

Wireless routers travel along radio signals, delivering internet to your wireless devices. While most routers are wireless routers, there are wired routers that are used mostly in businesses that need them.

Routers come with a myriad of features and securities, keeping your network locked down while still carrying an internet signal across your entire network.

Benefits Of Modem Router Combos

Getting a combo unit has several advantages that you will need to consider. Here are a few:

  • Less expensive: Buying a modem router combo is going to be less expensive than buying two separate units. Combo units have a built-in discount since it is really only once device. You can usually save around $120/year if you get a modem router combo for Cox or any other ISP.
  • Easier to update: Because you are only working with one device, it is easier to keep track of updates. That said, you do not get separate updates, so you might not be getting the best updates possible to your firmware.
  • Simpler set up: When you are working with only one device, you only have to set up one device. That will save you a lot of trouble and headache, since it is only one line and one device to deal with.

Benefits Of A Separate Router

Getting a separate router also has its advantages.

  • Better upgrade: Since routers update more often than routers do, when you have separate units, you will have a better opportunity to update your devices. You will be able to get the timing right based on new rollouts. With a modem, the ISP controls any firmware updates, but with a separate unit, most vendors provide regular updates for routers, correcting any issues faster and increasing your overall security.
  • More control: When you have separate units, you will have more control over your settings as well as your firmware. You can even update the router with third-party firmware if that is something that you are interested in or something you want to have a choice about.
  • Better performance: When you have separate devices, you will have more control over the features that you choose. You can get the features that you need from each device, giving you the best of both devices. You can get a more advanced model of each type of device, giving you the best overall performance possible.

Who Benefits From Separate Devices

The internet users who benefit the most from separate units are typically gamers who need a more dedicated device to work with. Some of the more tech-focused users out there will prefer the custom settings that you can get from separate devices as well, but ultimately, it just comes down to your expectations. Also, if you're looking for a router for your apartment or house, you want to have a device that provides enough wireless coverage.

Most people can use a combo unit without any trouble. It is simpler for the average user, who is doing the regular amount of browsing and streaming. If you need more capabilities, features, and security, it might be better for you to consider getting separate units that provide more choices.

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