Although Optimum has gone by many names - first, it was Cablevision. Now it goes by Altice USA - one fact remains the same; saving on your internet plan is as simple as purchasing your own Optimum-friendly hardware. It’s also a great way to boost speed and range so that you can experience fast, reliable Internet throughout your home or office.
Most homeowners that opt to buy their own router and modem (rather than rent one from an ISP directly) claim that it quickly pays for itself within the first year.
So if you're ready to stop renting your hardware and make the smart investment into your internet usage, this guide will help you choose the right router/modem for your Optimum plan.
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Routers & Modems For Optimum Compared
1 WAN, 4 LAN, 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0
Up to 3000 sq. ft.
Up to 4000 sq. ft.
4 Ethernet, 2 USB 3.0, 1 eSATA
Up to 2500 sq. ft.
Modems & Routers – What's The Difference?
Even if you don’t consider yourself tech-y, The Wirecutter offers a clear explanation of modems vs. routers that anyone can understand:
“Your modem is a box that connects your home network to the wider Internet. A router is a box that lets all of your wired and wireless devices use that Internet connection at once and also allows them to talk to one another without having to do so over the Internet.”
It’s possible to purchase a modem-router combo that’s all-in-one (which many internet service providers do), but the much better option is to buy separate devices for each. It’s possible to keep the same modem for years since modem technology changes slowly, but routers need to be replaced more often for better coverage and faster internet speed.
Selecting Optimum Compatible Modem & Router Devices
Every internet user has different needs. An avid gamer will have a very different set of requirements than someone who just casually browses the web. You should consider your specific types of internet activity and the number of users that are consistently connected to your WiFi network as well as the number of total devices.
Optimum Internet Plan
The key to finding the best router and modem for Optimum is to choose devices that are compatible with your current internet plan. Read the fine print of your plan carefully before you go out and buy a modem for Optimum or wire up a new router.
The main difference in plan options has to do with overall speed. These are the most popular speed packages available:
Mbps refers to megabits per second, and it’s a measure of Internet bandwidth. Bandwidth is the download rate of your internet connection. It is the maximum speed at which you can download data from the Internet, so higher bandwidth means faster speed.
Nowadays, many routers come with additional security features, like built-in firewalls and VPN functionality. Choosing a secure router is a smart investment, especially since the risk of cyberattacks is so much greater than it used to be.
Compatibility & Functionality
The maximum speed of your modem depends on the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS), a telecommunications standard used to provide internet access over a cable modem. The newest standard is DOCSIS 3.0, which is what most ISPs require when you choose to rent a modem through them.
You’ll need to look closely at the provider’s requirements before landing on a modem for Optimum cable. Not every modem will be compatible with your internet plan, specifically that DOCSIS standard we just talked about.
Since you’re buying this modem on your own separately from Optimum, it’s up to you to get it up and running. You’ll want to choose one with an easy setup/configuration process, but also one that is easily maintained.
Price & Warranty
Price is an important thing to consider when deciding on the best modem and best router for Optimum, especially if you’re trying to save by not renting a router from the provider.
But cost isn’t the only important consideration - remember, you’ll be saving money in the long run by not renting, so try not to feel bad about spending a bit extra for better performance and enhanced security.
6 Best Optimum Compatible Modems & Routers Reviewed
1. MOTOROLA MB7420
- This 16x4 DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem provides...
- Cable modem's Ethernet port connects to a...
- Requires cable Internet service. Certified by...
- Setup is fast and easy with a few quick steps...
Best Modem for Optimum
Lightning-fast DOCSIS 3.0
Not only is the Motorola MB7410 the best modem for Optimum, but it’s also been ranked as the best DOCSIS 3.0 modem for Optimum. This piece of hardware by tons of ISPs, including Comcast XFINITY, Spectrum, Time Warner Cable, Cox, BrightHouse, and yes, Optimum.
The key feature that makes this the best Optimum modem is the 3.0 protocol, which operates up to 16 times faster than the outdated DOCSIS 2.0 at a maximum of 686 Mbps. It’s built with a Full-Band Capture digital tuner that ensures a faster, more reliable internet connection.
You can connect your computer, TV, gaming laptop, or wireless router to the cable modem’s Ethernet port, but keep in mind that this modem does not have a built-in wireless router and does not have a telephone adapter or phone jack. If you’re looking for a built-in wireless router, you'll need to go with the Motorola MG7310, MG7315, MG7540, or MG7550 instead.
The average cost on savings for internet users who opt-out of their ISP’s rental program is about $120 per year ($10/month), and what’s even better is that this modem is one of the more affordable models on the market. Setup is fast and easy with a few quick steps that are clearly described in the modem’s Quick Start Guide.
The main complaint about choosing the MB7420 is that the device produces a lot of heat when it’s working at full capacity. It won’t be hot to the touch or anything like that, but it does tend to get warm. Aside from this minor flaw, the positive features of this cable modem make it an excellent choice for Optimum users.
2. ASUS RT-AC66U
- 1GHz CPU powers dual-band 3x3 802.11ac Wi-Fi...
- Monitor and manage your network with ease...
- Effortless router setup with ASUSWRT...
- Integrated USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports enable...
Best Router for Optimum
1 WAN, 4 LAN, 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0
Up to 3000 sq. ft.
Intuitive ASUS Router App
ASUS is a well-respected name in the laptop industry, but many people don’t know that ASUS also manufactures some quality router models. Actually, the best wireless router for Optimum is made by this company. The RT-AC66U by ASUS dual-band WiFi router is an excellent choice for the most advanced Optimum 1 Gig internet plan since it has a max speed of 1750 Mbps.
It’s not just fast, but it also has a responsive coverage area for large homes with a range of up to 3000 square feet. It has a powerful CPU (processor) and works with 802.11ac WiFi technology, the wireless standard that most modern cell phones, laptops, and tablets follow.
Even if you're not tech-savvy, you'll have no trouble monitoring and managing your mobile device's network using the intuitive Asus Router App. This app gives you complete control of your network - everything from setting parental controls to prioritizing gaming activities.
The best part of all is that your network has extra security with a built-in firewall with SPI intrusion detection and DoS protection.
You even get additional security through AiProtection, which is powered by Trend Micro and provides multi-stage protection from vulnerability detection to protecting sensitive data. The setup and configuration process is described as "effortless." It supports a variety of operating systems, including Linux, Windows 7, 8 (and 8.1), and 10 and Mac OS X or higher.
This router's design is a bit problematic for some since the 3 antennas aren’t removable and can easily get in the way. But for the price, it’s hard to beat the performance of the RT-AC66U router.
3. NETGEAR Orbi AC2200 (CBK40)
- Delivers seamless internet connectivity and...
- Eliminates Wi-Fi dead zones and buffering —...
- Cable modem is up to 32X faster internet for...
- Maintains speed even as more devices use your...
Best Cable Modem Router for Optimum
Up to 4000 sq. ft.
For large homes or offices, the best option for optimizing an Optimum internet plan is to install a mesh WiFi system like the Netgear Orbi AC2200.
This is the best modem router combo for Optimum users who need to provide an internet connection to a large coverage area. Installing this system completely eliminates dead zones and delivers consistent, reliable Internet to 4000 square feet of space.
The best part of the Orbi is that it replaces both your cable modem and router and can save a lot of money in ISP equipment rental fees (up to $156 every year). It maxes out at a speed of 2.2 Gbps (that’s 2200 Mbps), which means that it’s not only the best cable modem router for Optimum, but also the fastest.
Let’s focus on the modem aspect of this mesh system. Thanks to the DOCSIS 3.0 protocol with 32 x 8 channel bonding, this cable modem provides Internet that’s up to 32 times faster for smooth, uninterrupted connections and max download speeds. And with the tri-band technology, this device maintains speed even as more devices use your WiFi simultaneously.
The most obvious complaint about the Orbi is the high cost, but remember, this is an all-in-one system that also includes a satellite extender in addition to the cable modem and WiFi router. It’s definitely a pricey cable upgrade, but if you’re looking for a top performer, this is it.
4. NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S R7800
- Fast wifi performance: Get up to 2500 square...
- Recommended for up to 45 devices: Reliably...
- Wired Ethernet ports: plug in computers, game...
- Loaded with advanced technology: Designed...
Value for Money Optimum Router
4 Ethernet, 2 USB 3.0, 1 eSATA
Up to 2500 sq. ft.
Smooth streaming and gaming
Another reliable option from Netgear is the Nighthawk X4S R7800, a smart WiFi router that lives up to the Netgear reputation but doesn’t cost nearly as much as the all-in-one mesh system. If you’re on the hunt for the best router for Optimum 300 or 400 internet plans, but don’t want to break the bank, this is one to be considered.
This is a top pick among gamers since the wireless speeds max out at 2600 Mbps, the coverage area is 2500 square feet, and it can handle up to 45 devices at a time. It’s also great for reliably streaming videos on Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Prime Video, or any other streaming service you’re subscribed to.
The real reason that this is the best value for money router for Optimum is that it’s loaded with advanced technology, including a 1.7GHz dual-core processor, 4 amplified antennas, beamforming, MU-MIMO, dynamic QoS, Amazon Alexa Voice Controls, and more.
It’s also built with security in mind and supports WPA2 wireless security protocols with guest WiFi access, DoS, firewall, VPN, and more.
Many routers lack the right combination of ports, but this is another area where the X4S R7800 scores extra points. It’s built with 4 ethernet ports to plug in computers, game consoles, streaming players, and other nearby wired devices for a direct connection.
You’ll also be able to share a storage drive/printer with any connected device or create personal cloud storage to access from anywhere thanks to the two 3.0 USB and one eSATA ports. The only thing it’s missing is a USB 2.0 port.
5. NETGEAR CM1000
- Compatible with all major cable internet...
- Save monthly rental fees: Model CM1000...
- Built for ultimate speed: Best for cable...
- Works with any Wi-Fi router: Connect any...
Value for Money Optimum Modem
Up to 1 Gbps
5-minute setup in 3 steps
If you already have your router needs taken care of, but you’re still searching for an Optimum modem that offers the best value, check out the Netgear CM1000 cable modem. This is meant for cable plans up to 1 Gigabit, so it’s best for Optimum 1 Gig customers.
If you’re on a different Optimum plan, there are other options available that support different download speeds.
Although it’s not compatible with Verizon, AT&T, CenturyLink, DSL providers, DirecTV, DISH, and any bundled voice service, Optimum customers have been turning to this modem with no issues for a while now. It’s been helping them boost network performance and save on monthly rental fees (up to $168 per year for some ISPs, but more like $100/yr for Optimum).
The CM1000 works with any WiFi router by connecting the router to the modem's ethernet port to support all your wireless devices. It has 1 Gigabit Ethernet port and is engineered with 32x8 channel bonding, OFDM 2x2, and DOCSIS 3.1.
Setting up this modem can be done in about 5 minutes and involves 3 easy steps. First, plug the coax cable into the modem, then activate the device by either connecting an Ethernet cable to your computer and following the on-screen setup or calling your cable provider (in this case, Optimum) to activate the modem over the phone.
Once that’s done, just connect the modem to your router by an ethernet cable.
6. NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8
- WIFI 6 – STREAM EVERYTHING AT EPIC SPEED:...
- WORKS WITH ALL INTERNET PROVIDERS: Replace...
- EASY TO SET-UP AND MANAGE: Connects to your...
- USB CONNECTIONS: Share a storage drive with...
Best Optimum Smart Router
WiFi 6 + 8 streams
Netgear is clearly a top contender when it comes to choosing Optimum-compatible hardware. We’ve already covered 3 products from this manufacturer, so let’s finish with one more. The Nighthawk AX8 router from Netgear isn’t nearly as affordable as the Nighthawk R7800, but it's the much more advanced option.
So what makes this a more advanced router? First off, the AX8 works with existing WiFi devices and new WiFi 6 devices like iPhone 11, Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy S10. Secondly, it’s built with 8 simultaneous streams, which provides more capacity so more devices can use WiFi simultaneously without slowing the network down.
If you’re not already convinced that this is a "smart" router, the advanced features will help get you there. This router is loaded with high-tech features, like 4 amplified antennas, Beamforming+, MU-MIMO, Dynamic QoS, Smart Connect, OFDMA, Alexa Voice Control, and more.
You’ll be able to share a storage drive with any connected device and even create personal cloud storage to access remotely using the two 3.0 USB ports.
With this router, you’ll never have to worry about a weak network ever again. This device is compatible with Netgear Armor, which protects your network and connected devices from just about any internet threat.
Armor provides the best-in-class anti-virus, anti-malware, and data protection for all your smart devices, smartphones, and computers. It comes at an extra cost, but Netgear lets you try it out for free for 30 days to decide if it’s for you.
All of these features come at a price, which is the only major drawback of the AX8. It’s pricey, but the majority of Optimum users who have invested in this smart router agree that it’s worth every penny.
Separate Modem & Router vs. Modem-Router Combos
Most service providers, including Optimum, rent out their hardware as a combo device, meaning that your modem and router operate all-in-one. But the way to go is actually to buy your own separate modem and router. There are a few reasons why having a separate modem and router will better serve your internet needs, including:
There are a few benefits to choosing a modem-router combo, like a lower initial cost (usually) and easier setup with just one device. Still, these perks don’t measure up to the advantages that come along with using separate hardware.
Optimum Modem & Router Setup - Tips & Tricks
The only major downside of investing in your own modem and router rather than renting one from Optimum is that you’ll have to set it up on your own. At first, you might be overwhelmed with all of the buttons and cables, but it’s actually very simple when you follow these basic steps:
- 1Connect the router to the modem: Start by connecting your modem to the WAN port with an Ethernet cable. The WAN port looks the same as the LAN ports, but it’s often a different color and spaced apart from them and is specifically meant for connecting router-to-modem.
- 2If your modem has a compatible app, connect: While you wait for your router to start up and create a network, download the app that’s associated with the modem’s manufacturer. Most modems can be set up by following simple prompts displayed on an app, so utilize this.
*Note: If there is no compatible mobile app, you’ll have to connect a computer manually to the router using an Ethernet. Once you’re connected, visit the router’s configuration page for instructions.
- 3Create your username and password: If you’re using an app, it should automatically walk you through setup procedures, and this includes creating an app name (AKA an SSID) and password.
- 4Continue with router setup: Once again, the app should also walk you through how to set up other settings such as parental controls, automatic updates, and more. You can tweak these settings and more later from the app, but pay attention to try to learn the basics early on.
Lynksys also provides a helpful guide to setting up Optimum Online with a router.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Do I need a modem and router for Optimum?
If you choose not to pay the rental fee through Optimum, then yes, you’ll need to purchase your own modem/router. Be sure to choose wisely; there are plenty of compatible modems for Optimum and routers that will work, but this doesn’t apply to all devices on the market.
How can I boost my Optimum WiFi signal?
According to Online Tech Tips, here’s the easiest method for improving network performance:
“Wireless AC has pretty much become the standard, but if you have not yet upgraded to a Wireless AC router and are still using Wireless G or N, you may want to consider upgrading. Wireless AC has proven to be a much more capable technology that not only produces greater WiFi range but improved and more consistent signal strength as well.”
Is it okay to buy refurbished Optimum routers online?
Absolutely, just make sure to pay extra close attention to the reviews and make sure the seller has a good reputation before buying anything refurbished or renewed.
The good news is that if you buy a refurbed product on Amazon, the policy says that “you are eligible for a replacement or refund within 90 days of receiving the product if it does not work as expected.”
Let’s do a quick recap. The best modem for Optimum is definitely the Motorola MB7420, mainly because it operates on the newest DOCSIS 3.0 protocol. The best wireless router for Optimum is the ASUS RT-AC66U, and the best modem and router combo for Optimum is the NETGEAR Orbi all-in-one device.
The main takeaway here is that you should never be pressured to rent hardware directly from your ISP. There are many modems and routers available on the market that are compatible with your internet plan, so it’s time to stop paying upwards of $10 every month to rent your modem router for Optimum.
Holly Curell is a US-based freelance writer & editor extraordinaire. With over a decade of writing technical manuals, blog articles, & even company communications, Holly has a passion for providing value to readers on everything she knows about tech-related topics. When she’s not writing, Holly enjoys reading, hiking, wine, & wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s. Holly is currently based out of North Carolina, where she lives with her husband Ken & their three children.